colbert

Should we laugh or cry?

Comedian Stephen Colbert’s analogy hits the mark on the absurdity of Jeff Session’s cannabis views. Colbert was responding to the following Sessions comment about combatting violent crime:

I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use.  But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable.  I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store.  And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.  Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.

Sessions’ comment about marijuana being sold in every corner store is fallacious, though cannabis being legalized and normalized enough to be sold in corner stores would not be such a bad thing anyway, so long as those sales are confined to adults. Further, any “suggestions” about marijuana’s ability to ease heroin addiction are based on scientific evidence. But what’s truly ridiculous about Sessions’ comments, and what Colbert is responding to in the above, is the notion that cannabis is only “slightly” less awful than heroin. Nobody has ever died of a cannabis overdose compared to the estimated 91 deaths per day from opioid overdoses. Cannabis is not chemically addictive. Cannabis can be used as medicine. Neither of those things can be said for heroin. Equating the two of them is a flat out lie and a harmful one at that as it minimizes our country’s massive heroin problem.

Comparing cannabis to heroin is like comparing a paper cut to a gunshot wound or a rain cloud to a monsoon. Not only are they not the same. Colbert gets it, but our country’s top attorney apparently does not.

 

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This quote from AG Sessions is the smartest thing he’s said on cannabis so far. Despite his well-established loathing for marijuana, Sessions here indicates respect for the Cole Memo, though it remains to be seen whether he will uphold the Memo in its entirety. The Cole Memo is an internal Department of Justice memo outlining how the Department should proceed in enforcing federal law in state-legal cannabis states. It reveals the DOJ’s tue priorities when it comes to marijuana, such as preventing distribution to minors, preventing revenue from marijuana sales from going to cartels and other criminal enterprises, and preventing marijuana possession and use on federal property.

Sessions still has an irrational hatred of cannabis as in the same interview where he talked of upholding the Cole Memo, he launched into the following diatribe:

I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use.  But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable.  I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store.  And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.  Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.

Here’s the thing. How Jeff Sessions personally feels about cannabis should be irrelevant. The truth is that the majority of states have chosen to legalize cannabis and the voice of those people should be respected. There are plenty of people who do not think it wise to consume cannabis, yet still believe (for all sorts of reasons) that it should be legal. We can respect that as a personal choice. Is it possible that as much as Sessions hates cannabis that he realizes that the voice of the people and legal consistency and fairness and justice and, yes, states rights, should trump (pun only sort of intended) that?

Time will tell.

Cannabis lawyers

How refreshing: a politician who thinks sensibly about cannabis. Prime Minister Trudeau is correct: you don’t need to enjoy marijuana or want access to it to support its legalization. Legalization speaks for itself. It’s good for the economy as it creates jobs and generates tax revenue. It’s good for those that use cannabis medicinally and/or recreationally and it’s good for disempowering the black market. The regulation of which Trudeau speaks is both practical and based on actual evidence from places that have already legalized. What a welcome difference from Jeff Sessions’ comments, about which we wrote last week and other cannabis comments the Trump administration.

We aren’t asking for much. Just common sense, not scare tactics.

 

sean

White House Press Secretary and public enemy Sean Spicer is anti-science and a liar. His attempt to link cannabis to the opioid crisis in this country directly conflicts with the actual evidence. First off, marijuana is not an opioid. Opioids are highly addictive and neurologically dangerous, whereas cannabis is neither. Second, and as we wrote just last week, a recent study out of Mount Sinai showed cannabis to be medically useful in easing the withdrawal symptoms and cravings of heroin (an opioid) users. The opioid epidemic costs the United States $78 billion per year and cannabis could help that. On top of this, multiple studies have shown that opioid use actually declines fairly substantially in states with legalized cannabis. See this serious study as an example. Third,  rendering legal cannabis illegal again will not somehow put the entire genie of cannabis consumption back in the bottle. In other words, fully enforcing federal laws against marijuana businesses and users will not make illegal cannabis disappear.

If the DOJ starts cracking down on state legal marijuana businesses and users, the impact on cannabis consumption, especially by routine users, will almost certainly be minimal. Does anyone not remember how prevalent cannabis was before it was legalized? And unleashing a federal firestorm will lead again to arresting mostly young, poor people of color. See Marijuana And Racism: Bearing The Blunt Of The Problem. It will also mean that criminals will go back to profiting from cannabis at the expense of regulated and taxed businesses that provide real jobs and real state tax revenue. See Marijuana Legalization: Bad for the Cartels, Better for All and Cannabis Creates Jobs.

There’s no way state-legal recreational marijuana could cause further “blossoming” of the opioid addiction crisis. There is no way that state-legal recreational cannabis is anything but good for our economy. There is no way that state-legal weed is anything but good for reducing crime. Most importantly, it is no longer the will of the people of the United States to criminalize cannabis by adults. The health and economic benefits of cannabis legalization significantly outweigh any “danger” Spicer wrongly attributes to cannabis. His views on cannabis are a misguided mixture of out-of-touch conservatism and stigma.

Will the Trump administration really lead us back into the dark ages on cannabis? We have our doubts on this. See What Will “Increased Enforcement” Against Recreational Marijuana Really Mean. But it is unequivocally up to us, the people, to ensure that our democratic experiments with marijuana remain intact.

Cannabis business lawyers

Dr. Hurd, the Ward-Coleman Chair of Translational Neuroscience and the Director of the Center for Addictive Disorders at Mount Sinai, speaks here to cannabis’ medicinal properties. She has extensively studied whether marijuana can help ease withdrawal symptoms in heroin users, and her work was published in the journal Trends in Neurosciences this past Thursday. Dr. Hurd’s work was inspired by the ever-increasing issue of opioid addiction, which has become a huge epidemic in the United Sates–an epidemic estimated to have economic costs of at least $78 billion in the US alone. The overprescribing of opioids leaves many addicted to legal drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, but it also is a gateway to heroin addiction for far too many.

Dr. Hurd’s findings show that opioids are far more neurologically dangerous than cannabis. Further, she asserts that not only does cannabis have therapeutic properties, it can reduce heroin cravings and restore some of the neurobiological damage caused by opioid use as well.

The DEA decided against rescheduling cannabis last year on the grounds that marijuana is not a commonly accepted  “safe and effective” medicine. The DEA has us in a catch-22, since a large part of the reason cannabis is not commonly accepted as medicine by the scientific community is because there is a dearth of high-level cannabis research because of cannabis’ federally illegal status. One can only hope that with new research such as Dr. Hurd’s, the DEA (and the federal government in general) can begin to accept that marijuana is shockingly safe and does have medicinal qualities, and then move forward accordingly. If truly accomplished scientists are declaring cannabis to be a non-addictive and effective medicine, as based on their own rigorous scientific research, it is high time (pun intended) the DEA catches on.

Neil

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch points to one of the major issues posed by a federally illegal substance being state legal in some states. Though it is for the most part true that dispensaries (in Colorado and other states with legal cannabis) will not be raided by the Feds simply for legally distributing marijuana, they remain federally illegal.

And really, whether you think cannabis should be legal or illegal, we ought to be able to agree that a betwixt and between situation is not good for anyone. Does it make sense for something to be federally illegal in all fifty states, and yet enforced by the Feds in just some of them? This sort of situation weakens the rule of law and that is bad for just about everyone. And if cannabis is going to be legal (which it should be) cannabis businesses should be treated by the “tax man” just like any other business. Fairness requires that and the unfairness of the current situation is bad for everyone.

The sooner cannabis is legal nationwide and the sooner those in the cannabis business are treated by the law no differently than those in any other legal business, the sooner our entire country will benefit.

Do you agree?

demaurice

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA)’s recently proposed taking a “less punitive” approach to players’ “recreational” cannabis use, DeMaurice Smith astutely points out that a player’s cannabis use should not simply be assumed to be for “recreational use.”  In a recent survey, 42% of surveyed NFL players stated they knew a teammate who became a painkiller addict and 59% said they worry about the long-term effects of painkillers. When asked if fewer players would take painkillers if marijuana were an allowed substance, 61% said yes. In other words, cannabis would (and already does) make for an excellent substitute for prescription painkillers.

As such, the NFL needs to look at cannabis as an option for its players. A number of NFL players have spoken out about their own medicinal marijuana use and called for the NFL/NFLPA to remove marijuana from its list of banned substances. Eugene Monroe, whose website is dedicated to the issue, is a prime example of this. Another is former Chicago Bear, Jim McMahon, has talked about how medical marijuana helped him stop using the prescription narcotics he was given to cope with debilitating health problems stemming from his NFL career.

It just seems cannabis would make for a terrific option for players who participate in such a rough and injury prone sport.

What do you think? Would you be comfortable with NFL players using marijuana medicinally? Recreationally? Does trying to distinguish between medical and recreational cannabis make sense for the NFL? Does it ever make sense?

 

Willie_Nelson_2009 QS

Musician and well known cannabis consumer Willie Nelson is right on the nose with this recent quote. Though legalizing marijuana has undoubtedly increased access to it (and in a multitude of forms that aren’t just smokable flower), making marijuana illegal again in all states would not cause all consumers to stop dead in their tracks and quit utilizing weed. As the United States learned during the Prohibition Era with alcohol, and as we learned again during the decades-long ridiculous War on Drugs, limiting access to something doesn’t make it go away–it only forces consumers to purchase it illegally. Making cannabis illegal again in a currently cannabis-legal state would only cause consumers to start smoking unregulated cannabis, and also cause those states to cease reaping the economic benefits of being able to collect cannabis taxes.

And who would that prohibition benefit anyway? Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his hatred of weed and its proponents? Those who cannot seem to let go of the stigma attached to marijuana despite living in a country with overwhelming support for cannabis legalization in some form?

As Willie says, “they should have learned that” prohibition is the wrong idea. But have they?

jeff-sess-quote

Despite our strong dislike of Jeff Sessions’ views on cannabis, he actually makes a very good point here. It is indeed a concern that Congress has made the possession and distribution of marijuana an illegal act, as that is definitely not something “desired any longer.” With over half the country supporting legalization of recreational marijuana and far more people favoring legalizing medical marijuana, what’s truly criminal is maintaining our outdated and undesired federal cannabis laws. Why continue playing games by saying it’s illegal, but we as the federal government will not fund certain enforcement actions? Why keep laws that have become irrelevant and unwanted? Weak, unpopular and unenforced laws weaken the concept of law as a whole.

As Sessions essentially says, Congress should get off the pot and “pass the law to change the rule.” It is time and just about everybody would benefit.

 

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Cannabis medicine maker and educator Chrystal Ortiz’ ideology on pot touches on two important points: that cannabis should be freed and that humans should be free to experience it. Cannabis grows naturally, but with stigma and misinformation attached; enough stigma and misinformation to keep it federally illegal and away from many who could benefit from it.

Comedian Bill Hicks made a similar point when he said, “Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit . . . unnatural?”

And of course it is unnatural. Not only because cannabis grows naturally, but also because it’s unnatural (and unnecessary) to keep a harmless plant away from adults who wish to use it. It’s an issue of personal freedom.

What more can we even say?