Drug Legalization Daily + Files

Smoking marijuana won’t prevent COVID-19

Click on Detroit, January 13, 2022, https://www.clickondetroit.com/health/2022/01/13/cannabis-and-covid-key-differences-between-cbd-cbda-and-cbga/, Cannabis and COVID: Key differences between CBD, CBDA and CBGA

A study published this week by researchers at Oregon State University found some hemp compounds have the ability to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells. Findings of the study led by Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute, were published this week in the Journal of Natural Products. Hemp, known scientifically as cannabis sativa, is a source of fiber, food and animal feed, and multiple hemp extracts and compounds are added to cosmetics, body lotions, dietary supplements and food, van Breemen said. Read more here: Study: Cannabis compounds prevent coronavirus from entering human cells “We identified several cannabinoid ligands and ranked them by affinity to the spike protein,” van Breemen said. “The two cannabinoids with the highest affinities for the spike protein were CBDA and CBGA, and they were confirmed to block infection.” So what’re the differences between CBD, CBDA, CBGA and marijuana plants you’d buy at a dispensary? CBD CBD, an abbreviation for cannabidiol, doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects. It’s likely what you see at some pharmacies, health stores or dispensaries. It’s a very versatile compound, which makes it ideal for oils, gummies, lotions, creams and other products. Hemp contains a lot of CBD. But CBD is not the compound that was tested in the Oregon State study. CBD is activated in hemp plants from its original form — CBDA. CBDA CBDA, known as cannabidiolic acid, is secreted in the stems, leaves and flowers of a cannabis plant. When the plant undergoes activation (a process with heat), the acid is removed from the CBDA, activating CBD. They have similar compounds, but CBDA is not as versatile. It’s usually extracted by “juicing” plant material, and can be added to foods, drinks, or used in tinctures, concentrated herbal extracts. But basically, CBDA is the raw form of CBD. And it’s not as easy to find. But you can buy it. (It has not been studied as much as CBD) CBGA CBGA, known as cannabigerolic acid, is considered the “mother cannabinoid,” because without it, there is no CBD, CBDA or THC. CBGA compounds are similar to other cannabinoids, but it hasn’t been studied nearly as much as the others. It’s non-intoxicating. Enzymes called synthases are responsible for converting the CBGA into molecules such as THCA, the raw, unactivated molecule that converts to THC after heat is applied. Again, you can find this in oils and tinctures online, but it’s harder to find and at times, pretty expensive, because it’s harder to extract. What about smoking marijuana? At this point, it doesn’t appear that just smoking marijuana, even a heavy CBD strain, will produce the effects reported in this study. We don’t have enough information to suggest it. CBDA or CBGA products, like oils, offering these in their raw form, do not work the same in marijuana products, which usually include high levels of THC, the psychoactive compound that makes you high. And before trying something new, do your research, talk to your doctor and make sure it’s something you should bring into your life. Check out Project CBD for some information on getting started.

Cannabis prevents COVID-19 infections

Rick Sobey, 1-12, 22, Boston Herald, Stay high-drated: Cannabis compounds can blunt COVID-19 infection, researchers find, https://www.bostonherald.com/2022/01/12/stay-high-drated-cannabis-compounds-can-blunt-covid-19-infection-researchers-find/

New research showing cannabis compounds could blunt the virus that causes COVID-19 can really toke one’s breath away. Hemp compounds, known scientifically as Cannabis sativa, can prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells, according to Oregon State University researchers. The scientists found that a pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, blocking a critical step in the process the virus uses to infect people. “These cannabinoid acids are abundant in hemp and in many hemp extracts,” said Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute. “They are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and have a good safety profile in humans,” he added. Their research showed the hemp compounds were equally effective against variants of SARS-CoV-2 — including the alpha variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and the beta variant B.1.351, first detected in South Africa. Hemp is a source of fiber, food and animal feed, and multiple hemp extracts and compounds are added to cosmetics, body lotions, dietary supplements and food. The pair of cannabinoid acids that bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein are cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA. Also, the spike protein is the same drug target used in COVID-19 vaccines and antibody therapy. “These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans,” van Breemen said. “They have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2. “CBDA and CBGA are produced by the hemp plant as precursors to CBD and CBG, which are familiar to many consumers,” he added. “However, they are different from the acids and are not contained in hemp products.” Findings of the study led by van Breemen were published in the Journal of Natural Products. “As a complement to vaccines, small-molecule therapeutic agents are needed to treat or prevent infections by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its variants, which cause COVID-19,” the paper reads. “Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2,” the research states. Van Breemen said resistant variants could still pop up amid widespread use of cannabinoids, but that the combination of vaccination and CBDA/CBGA treatment should make for a much more challenging environment for the virus

Can’t solve voting inequality – large numbers of restrictions on non-felons

Reid Wilson, 1-4, 2022, The Hill, States prepare for new round of voting wars as midterms approach, https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/588058-states-prepare-for-new-round-of-voting-wars-as-midterms-approach

HOENIX — State legislatures will begin debating changes to voting rights and election administration laws in the coming days after an unprecedented wave of reforms passed in the wake of the 2020 presidential election. At least 74 such measures have been pre-filed in 11 states, according to a count maintained by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. Of those, 13 measures filed in four states would restrict access to the ballot. That’s in addition to dozens of bills that would restrict or expand voting rights, or change the way elections are run, that were proposed last year and will carry over into the legislative sessions set to begin this week, including 88 bills across nine states the Brennan Center counted as “restrictive.” “There’s a lot more attention on election law,” said Arizona state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R), who has sponsored election-related bills in recent years. “It’s not a game. It’s serious, and when you change something, especially in election law, it has significant ramifications and its ripple effect is felt far and wide.” Legislators in Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania will debate measures that would allow elections officials to purge voters from the rolls if they are inactive. In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, legislators will consider adding criminal penalties for elections officials who mail out unsolicited absentee ballots. And legislators in more than a dozen states will consider new or expanded identification requirements for voters at the polls. Democratic legislators are mounting their own push to expand voting access, part of a national mission to put voting rights at the center of the party’s platform ahead of the November midterm elections. “There is a concerted effort for us not just to play defense, but to go on offense. This is a pivotal moment in our history, I can’t stress this enough,” said New York state Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D), who chairs the state Senate Elections Committee. “It has been only when we have gone on offense, when we have taken the fight to the voters, when we have been successful.” Myrie will introduce what he called a New York version of the Voting Rights Act, giving new oversight of election procedures to the state attorney general and creating a presumption of the right to vote. He will also introduce legislation to make permanent drop boxes for absentee ballots, a practice New York temporarily adopted during the coronavirus pandemic. In Arizona, Ugenti-Rita plans to offer legislation that would make school board elections partisan, similar to measures in several other states. She is also drafting legislation that would expand the margin by which automatic recounts would take place. “I think we’re living in denial if we’re going to continue to believe that politics doesn’t play a major role in school boards,” Ugenti-Rita said in an interview. “To me, there’s nothing wrong with being political. It’s not a bad thing, but let’s stop pretending that decisions aren’t being made without thinking of one’s political viewpoint and perspective.” The wave of new action comes after one of the most active years on election legislation in recent memory. Last year, 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting, according to the Brennan Center’s tallies. Among those measures were dramatic overhauls passed in Georgia and Texas that earned national headlines for cracking down on voting access. Some of those new laws spawned from baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election, in which President Biden ousted Donald Trump in a number of closely contested states. Partisan reviews of election results in states like Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia and Texas produced no evidence of misfeasance or malfeasance, but the effort to undermine confidence in the vote by Trump and his allies have spurred new bills that would allow partisan reviews of election results. Legislators in Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Tennessee have already pre-filed measures to allow reviews of election results. Half the states passed another 62 laws that expanded the right to vote last year; most states controlled entirely by Democrats passed measures expanding voting access. Democrats are increasingly alarmed at Republican efforts to win control of the levers of election administration, both through legislation that disempowers existing administrators and through candidates running for offices that oversee those elections. “There is a slow burn insurrection happening across the nation. It is a five alarm fire and anyone that cares about our democracy should be extremely alarmed about how fragile that democracy is looking,” Myrie said. “They’re doing it under the cloud of the Big Lie.” Ugenti-Rita, who voted to allow the so-called election audit in Arizona but who turned against the process after auditors botched their work, said some election reform efforts had become partisan performance art. “There’s a lot of political people that are using this issue because right now it’s a major issue for voters. But whether they can transition from just talk to actual reform and change is yet to be seen,” she said. “There’s a difference between members opining and talking about it and stroking their constituency and actually doing something about it.”

Drug legalization does not increase traffic accidents

Johnny Green was originally published on Cannabis & Tech Today, 12-31, 21, Study Debunks Major Anti-Cannabis Talking Point: Marijuana Legalization Not Tied To Increase In Traffic Injuries, https://www.benzinga.com/markets/cannabis/21/12/24196730/study-debunks-major-anti-cannabis-talking-point-marijuana-legalization-not-tied-to-increase-in-t?utm_campaign=partner_feed&utm_source=SmartNews&utm_medium=partner_feed&utm_content=site

Canada was not the first nation to legalize cannabis for adult use. That title will always go to Uruguay, which legalized cannabis roughly half a decade before Canada. However, Canada was the first G-7 nation to legalize cannabis for adult use, and still remains the only G-7 country to do so. Canada’s legalization model is much more open compared to Uruguay, with anyone of legal age being able to make a purchase since the start of legalization in Canada in 2018. The North American country instantly became a unique public policy experiment, and lawmakers and cannabis enthusiasts from around the globe have watched closely as things have unfolded. One thing that cannabis opponents claimed would happen is an increase in issues on public roadways, predicting a type of inevitable “stoned driver epidemic.” A new study sheds light on why that claim is proving to be false as time has gone by. No Increase in Traffic Injuries A study at the University of British Columbia, led by affiliate associate professor Dr. Russ Callaghan, recently explored traffic crash data in Canada. The goal of the study was to see if traffic injuries spiked after Canada legalized cannabis for adult use, which as previously mentioned, was an expressed concern of cannabis opponents. “The project reviewed all Ontario and Alberta emergency department data from April 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2019. The team found that, immediately after cannabis legalization, there was no evidence of significant changes in traffic-injury emergency department visits among all drivers or youth drivers,” the researchers stated in a press release announcing the study’s results. “Implementation of cannabis legalization has raised a common concern that such legislation might increase traffic-related harms, especially among youth,” stated Dr. Callaghan in the press release. “Our results, however, show no evidence that legalization was associated with significant changes in emergency department traffic-injury presentations.” It is always worth noting that no one should ever drive while under the influence of cannabis, or any other intoxicating substance. It’s a matter that everyone should always take very seriously. Public roadways need to be safe so that no one ever gets injured, or even worse, loses their life. Also, it’s important that people, policymakers especially, understand that just because someone has cannabinoids in their system it doesn’t automatically equate to intoxication. Motor vehicle policies need to be based on science to help ensure that truly intoxicated drivers are identified and that non-intoxicated drivers are not penalized.

Legalization increases jobs and tax revenue

Ben Adlin, 12-30, 21, Marijuana Moment, Here Are The Biggest Marijuana, Psychedelics And Drug Policy News Stories Of 2021, https://www.marijuanamoment.net/here-are-the-biggest-marijuana-psychedelics-and-drug-policy-news-stories-of-2021/

After legalization attempts that repeatedly fell short in recent years, New York lawmakers in March finally saw their latest reform bill signed into law, just hours after they delivered it to the governor’s desk. While retail sales aren’t expected to begin until sometime in 2022, the bill’s passage immediately removed penalties for possession of up to three ounces of marijuana or 24 grams of cannabis concentrates. Adults will also be able to grow cannabis at home for personal use, but that won’t happen until regulators adopt rules for it, which is set to be no later than 18 months after retail sales begin. In May a state official estimated the new commercial market will generate $245 million in annual tax revenue by 2024, which is expected to help fill a budget gap left by declining cigarette sales. Delivery and social consumption sites are allowed under the legislation, contributing to what Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has said will eventually be “thousands and thousands” of new jobs in the state.

Legalization includes sealing criminal records

Ben Adlin, 12-30, 21, Marijuana Moment, Here Are The Biggest Marijuana, Psychedelics And Drug Policy News Stories Of 2021, https://www.marijuanamoment.net/here-are-the-biggest-marijuana-psychedelics-and-drug-policy-news-stories-of-2021/

Virginia lawmakers passed a comprehensive cannabis package in March, with plans to legalize possession, home cultivation and a retail marijuana market. After lawmakers signed off on amendments by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), the bill became law in April and officially took effect in July. At that point, public possession of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults over 21 became legal, as did personal cultivation of up to four plants at home. Private sharing of up to an ounce of marijuana between adults is also legal, as long as no remuneration is involved. A joint legislative committee also recently voted to recommend that the launch of retail sales be pushed up by a year, starting in 2023 instead of 2024. According to a website launched by Virginia regulators, “all records of misdemeanor possession with intent to distribute marijuana arrests, charges, and convictions will be automatically sealed from public view in the Virginia State Police’s systems” started in July, as well. As of October, the state had reportedly sealed more than 64,000 misdemeanor marijuana distribution charges since the law took effect.

What is included in federal legalization bills

Ben Adlin, 12-30, 21, Marijuana Moment, Here Are The Biggest Marijuana, Psychedelics And Drug Policy News Stories Of 2021, https://www.marijuanamoment.net/here-are-the-biggest-marijuana-psychedelics-and-drug-policy-news-stories-of-2021/

In a sign of just how much cannabis’s prospects in Congress have changed in recent years, in September a key U.S. House committee approved a bill to federally legalize marijuana and promote social equity. The 26–15 vote in the Judiciary Committee fell largely along party lines, with all Democrats supporting the measure—the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act—and all but two Republicans voting against it. “This long overdue and historic legislation would reverse failed federal policies criminalizing marijuana,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who also chairs the committee. “It would also take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly among communities of color.” The legislation would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), allow people with cannabis convictions to have their records expunged and create a federal tax on marijuana with the revenue going to support community reinvestment and other programs. It also contains language to create a pathway for resentencing for those incarcerated for cannabis offenses, protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over marijuana and prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearance due to its use. 

States will follow along; federal legislation includes financial penalties for states that continue to criminalize

Ben Adlin, 12-30, 21, Marijuana Moment, Here Are The Biggest Marijuana, Psychedelics And Drug Policy News Stories Of 2021, https://www.marijuanamoment.net/here-are-the-biggest-marijuana-psychedelics-and-drug-policy-news-stories-of-2021/

Congress Sees First-Ever Bill To Decriminalize All Drugs In June, on the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of a war on drugs, two U.S. House Democrats introduced the first-ever federal legislation to finally end it.The proposal, titled the Drug Policy Reform Act (DRPA), would end the threat of incarceration for people caught possessing drugs for personal use. Courts would still have the option of imposing a fine, but that could be waived if a person couldn’t afford it. Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Cori Bush (D-MO), the bill’s sponsors, say the measure would replace criminal penalties with an evidence- and public health-based approach to substance misuse. Notably, the bill would also withhold federal funds for law enforcement in states and cities that continue to enforce criminalization of simple drug possession. The threat of losing that money could be incentivize states and municipalities to stop locking people up for drugs.

Need uniform, national legalization or the black market will continue

Christ Roberts, 12-30, 21,, Forbes, New York Is Already Doing Marijuana Legalization Wrong, https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisroberts/2021/12/30/new-york-is-already-doing-marijuana-legalization-wrong/?sh=6941aa99f9f8

One major identified issue with legalization is that the illicit market just won’t go away. Much worse, in California, the unlicensed cannabis market is estimated to be between three to eight times as big as the legal market. One reason why, as the Los Angeles Times’s editorial board recently observed, is because two-thirds of California jurisdictions—cities, towns, counties—have chosen to ban legal cannabis sales—thus gifting the demand to the untaxed and unregulated market.

Legalization includes regulation and supports economic development

Nikki Kateman, 12-28, 21, Gotham Gazette, Cannabis is a Once-A-Generation Opportunity for New York, Let’s Not Waste It, https://www.gothamgazette.com/games-archive/130-opinion/11005-legal-cannabis-marijuana-oopportunity-new-york-state

This past year was remarkable for New York’s cannabis industry. After years of debate, the Legislature passed the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA), which legalizes and regulates recreational cannabis and will lay the foundation for a recreational program. Recently, the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) began loosening restrictions on medical cannabis (including allowing patients to buy a 60-, rather than a 30-day supply, along with the purchase of whole flower), and finalized the cannabinoid hemp regulations. In the meantime, tens of thousands of entrepreneurs from all around the state, including the “legacy” (illicit) marketplace, are preparing applications for a coveted recreational license. Over the next few years, New York’s nascent cannabis industry has a generational opportunity to create a new market out of whole cloth. There are those who push back, holding onto outdated notions of cannabis as a gateway drug and fears that legal cannabis will result in unsafe neighborhoods and loss of property value. Legal cannabis will be a game-changer. Here’s why: A Boon for New York Agriculture Farmland makes up about 20% of New York’s land, and we are the fourth largest producer of dairy in the nation, home to over 33,000 family farms. However, the economics of farming are changing, especially in high-cost states like New York, where family farms are disappearing at alarming rates. A legal cannabis marketplace would be a blessing for agriculture, especially those family farms. Over the last decade, hundreds of farmers have embraced hemp cultivation and craft brewing, both of which have been a lifeline. Legal cannabis cultivation presents a unique opportunity for the farmers, which will allow this evolving industry to harness an existing New York asset. Generating Thousands of Good Union Careers New York’s adult-use cannabis industry is expected to generate 30,000-50,000 new jobs. Currently, 80% of the medical cannabis industry consists of unionized workers receiving family-sustaining wages and benefits, along with strong workplace protections, setting a standard for industry employment and creating a dedicated workforce. New York is committed to ensuring quality careers and a pathway to unionization as the MRTA requires that cannabis employers enter Labor Peace Agreements (LPAs) with unions as a condition of licensure, thus limiting their ability to resist, challenge, or contest workers’ efforts to form a union. With the inclusion of organized labor, the legal cannabis industry has an opportunity to further professionalize and create labor standards for an industry that has operated in the shadows for decades. Additionally, labor will serve a critical role, ensuring a robust pipeline of talent and local hiring that ensures equity, and acts to represent workers as stakeholders in the industry’s success. Building Small Business The MRTA is built around ensuring social equity, requiring that half of all licenses go to people from BIPOC communities, women, veterans, and distressed farmers. While corporate cannabis is already in New York, and will have a role in the industry, the MRTA prioritizes small businesses, and all signs point to the CCB maintaining that precedent. According to leaders from the NY Cannabis Growers & Processors Association, the state’s largest trade federation, “the goal is to create hundreds of millionaires, instead of a few billionaires.” The cannabis industry is large and complicated, so while most New Yorkers may think about businesses that grow or sell the product, there will be hundreds of ancillary businesses in the sector. This will include testing, marketing and branding, packaging, technology, security, construction, maintenance, and legal services. As an economic development tool, legalization immediately created an opportunity for tens of thousands of entrepreneurs to join the new industry. While these entrepreneurs represent a wide range of communities, many will come from the legacy market, hoping to legitimize their business and spur a chance to create generational wealth (including growers, processors, bakers, and delivery services). Investing in New York Communities In addition to its social equity provisions, the MRTA earmarks 40% of cannabis tax revenue to be repurposed as grants to non-profit organizations serving communities affected by the war on drugs. These grants will be used for job placement and skills training, mental health and substance abuse counseling, nutrition, and financial literacy. Additional tax revenue will fund a state-run incubator for small businesses and social equity applicants, including no-interest loans. Localities will also have a chance to receive tax revenue from cannabis sales, provided they opt into retail dispensaries and/or on-premises consumption. Those municipalities with the foresight to opt in will soon have a new source of revenue, new jobs, and the economic output that comes with these opportunities. Within this decade, New York has the potential to be the largest cannabis market, as sales could reach $750 million in 2023 (the first expected year), and $2.4 billion by 2026. Legal cannabis will be a game-changer for the economy and workforce, and generate opportunities for communities long left behind by prohibition. This is a once-in-a-generation moment for New York State and we must work together to get it right.

Turn: Federal legalization creates national industries that crush local, minority producers

Carol Ryan, 12-28, 21, Wall Street Journal, Cannabis Overhaul in Washington Is Only Getting Harder, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cannabis-overhaul-in-washington-is-only-getting-harder-11640696403

The longer federal legalization takes, the messier it will be. To date, 18 states have legal adult-use cannabis industries, according to the latest tally from the Marijuana Policy Project. As the drug can’t be transported across state borders while it is still federally outlawed, anything that is smoked within a state has to be grown and sold locally. These independent fiefs, which are growing bigger every month, would be disrupted by national legalization. One of the biggest concerns is what happens when cannabis can be traded across the country. More mature marijuana markets such as California and Oregon see interstate commerce as an opportunity to get excess stock off their hands. For recent converts such as New York and New Jersey, a gush of cheap outside inventory would be a threat to their nascent industries. This is particularly sensitive for small, minority-owned cannabis businesses that are being given priority for licenses but would be rapidly undercut.

Turn: National marijuana businesses will crush local producers and state tax revenue

Carol Ryan, 12-28, 21, Wall Street Journal, Cannabis Overhaul in Washington Is Only Getting Harder, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cannabis-overhaul-in-washington-is-only-getting-harder-11640696403

The longer federal legalization takes, the messier it will be. To date, 18 states have legal adult-use cannabis industries, according to the latest tally from the Marijuana Policy Project. As the drug can’t be transported across state borders while it is still federally outlawed, anything that is smoked within a state has to be grown and sold locally. These independent fiefs, which are growing bigger every month, would be disrupted by national legalization. One of the biggest concerns is what happens when cannabis can be traded across the country. More mature marijuana markets such as California and Oregon see interstate commerce as an opportunity to get excess stock off their hands. For recent converts such as New York and New Jersey, a gush of cheap outside inventory would be a threat to their nascent industries. This is particularly sensitive for small, minority-owned cannabis businesses that are being given priority for licenses but would be rapidly undercut. States also want to protect the tax windfall that cannabis creates. Illinois has collected more taxes from cannabis than liquor every month since February, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue. Since 2014, when legal sales began in Colorado and Washington, cannabis has raised $7.9 billion in taxes for states, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Sales levies should stay with local markets, but those associated with production could be hard for certain states to hold on to if the drug is federally legal. Cultivation is likely to shift to warm and low-cost states where cannabis can be grown cheaply outdoors.

State action alone can’t solve because

-Lack of federal legalization undermines business development;
-Lack of federal legalization means impoverished tribes can’t grow it
-Lack of federal legalization means minorities can’t get the business support they neeed
-Lack of federal legalization means no cross-border trade

Jaccob Fischler, 12-24, 21, Virginia Mercury, INSIDE THE BELTWAY, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2021/12/24/federal-law-still-treats-marijuana-as-an-illegal-drug-creating-headaches-for-states/, Federal law still treats marijuana as an illegal drug, creating headaches for states

Most states in the U.S. are in violation of a major federal drug statute. The 1971 Controlled Substances Act lists marijuana in the most dangerous category defined in the law, on par with cocaine and heroin because of its supposed potential for abuse and lack of medical applications. But 36 states plus the District of Columbia allow either full legalization for adult use or wide scale medical use, putting them at odds with federal law. Congress so far has been unable to come up with a solution, despite support from leading Democrats for a smoother relationship between the states and the federal government. State acceptance happened quickly, with Colorado and Washington the first to legalize adult use less than 10 years ago. By the first of the year, marijuana possession will be legal for all adults in 18 states — including Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia –— that make up 44 percent of the national population. That number has recently been growing: The governors of New Mexico and Virginia signed their legalization laws just this year. Montana’s, enacted through a ballot measure in 2020, will go into effect New Year’s Day. The disconnect between a federal ban and increasing state liberalization has not stopped the marijuana industry from blossoming where it is legal. Since Colorado and Washington’s moves in December 2012, the federal government has largely stayed away from enforcing federal law in states where the drug is legal. But the policy gap widens as more states join in legalization, touching on everything from banking to tribal jurisdiction. “While the federal prohibition of cannabis clearly is not preventing states and territories from enacting cannabis legalization laws, federal prohibition is still creating a number of hurdles for states, for businesses and for consumers,” said JM Pedini, the development director of the advocacy group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, and the executive director of the group’s Virginia chapter. Banking Among the most obvious problems — and the lowest-hanging fruit for legalization advocates — concerns banking. Marijuana businesses, and some that sell related goods, are denied credit, small business loans and even checking accounts. That’s because banks fear federal authorities may prosecute them for working with businesses that technically fit the federal definition of drug traffickers, said Mason Tvert, a communications adviser with the Denver-based cannabis specialty law firm Vicente Sederberg, and partner with the firm’s separate public policy office, VS Strategies. “A lot of financial institutions will look at the law and determine that it’s not worth the risk because cannabis is illegal at the federal level,” he said. “They worry there is a potential risk of running afoul of federal money laundering and drug trafficking charges.” Banks and insurers that do work with marijuana businesses often add a major markup for their services, Tvert added. Nick Kovacevich, the CEO of Greenlane Holdings, said that affects even businesses like his, which sells marijuana-related products but doesn’t cultivate or sell the plant itself. A proposal in Congress to allow banks to do business with state-legal marijuana sellers would provide assurances to the banking industry, advocates say. The bill, known as the SAFE Banking Act, passed the House this year as part of the annual defense authorization bill but was removed in the Senate. It would go a long way in promoting mainstream business acceptance of the marijuana industry, Kovacevich said. “It’s a risk-reward thing,” he said. “A lot more banks say, ‘OK, now I’m comfortable,’ and I think the risk-reward profile changes for them dramatically.” The banking bill, first introduced in the Senate in 2017 by a bipartisan group, advanced in previous Congresses, but advocates were hopeful the new Democratic Senate would pass it this year. “There were very high hopes it would be included in the national defense bill,” Tvert said. “But ultimately it was not included.” Kovacevich, Tvert and others blame Democratic allies for blocking the bill in the Senate. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York released their own draft legislation with Oregon’s Ron Wyden this year to lift the federal prohibition, expunge criminal records for those convicted of marijuana offenses and create an investment fund for communities harmed by the decades-long war on drugs. In a July news conference, Schumer said the banking bill was too narrow and that a more comprehensive solution was needed, especially for minority communities that have been harmed by federal prohibition. “Communities of color have paid such an awful price for the historical over-criminalization of marijuana that we want to make sure that that money goes back to them, and doesn’t just get the biggest, strongest banker to just scoop it all,” he said, according to a transcript provided by his office. Asked about Booker’s position on the banking bill, a spokesman provided a statement. “Although the SAFE Banking Act is common-sense policy that I support, it has to be coupled with strong restorative justice provisions that seek to right the many injustices experienced by Black and brown communities as part of our nation’s failed war on drugs,” Booker said in the statement. “To that end, I have worked with Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Wyden to propose … comprehensive legislation that would reverse decades of unfair, unjust and discriminatory drug policy.” Representatives for Schumer did not immediately respond. It’s unclear where the legislation stands heading into 2022. The Schumer-Booker-Wyden bill remains only a discussion draft and hasn’t been formally introduced, though The Hill reported this month that Schumer may bring his bill up for a floor vote this spring. A large number of Republicans are unlikely to support full legalization, at least in part because their Senate leader, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, strongly opposes it, said Justin Strekal, the political director for NORML. At the July availability, Schumer said he would work on senators to support the larger bill and pledged to “get something done.” “This is a very comprehensive bill,” he said. “We’re going to now go to our colleagues and ask explicitly to all of them: what don’t you support here? What can you support here? We’re going to get something done.” Tribal rights and interstate sales Though banking reform is the major focus in Congress, the federal prohibition also complicates state legalization in other ways — for example, in states like Montana and New Mexico with substantial Native American populations and reservations. Federal authorities with the Bureau of Indian Affairs have jurisdiction on tribal lands, which means they could potentially enforce federal drug laws there, even within the borders of states where it would otherwise be legal. Such was the case in a September raid on tribal land in New Mexico — after the state’s legalization law went into effect. Citing the New Mexico raid, Montana state Sen. Shane Morigeau, a Democrat and member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, said in an interview that tribes don’t enjoy even the level of certainty afforded to states that federal authorities will allow them to conduct their own regulation of marijuana. Morigeau championed a provision that was included in Montana’s marijuana law to give the state’s eight tribes a unique opportunity to gain licenses to both cultivate and sell marijuana products to consumers. Morigeau, who highlighted the potential for revenue from legalized marijuana, said the provision was an attempt to involve tribes, which he said were generally “at the bottom of every social indicator,” in the new revenue stream. “The state of Montana, they can sleep a little easier at night because of this memo saying we’re going to be hands off with you guys,” he said, referencing U.S. Justice Department guidance to leave state-legal activity alone. “That just doesn’t exist for the tribes… For us, it was really pretty straightforward: These are areas in the state that could benefit from revenue.” The federal ban also means product grown in one state can’t be shipped to another, even in neighboring states where both have a legal program, like Oregon and Washington, for example. That can be good for growers in states with relatively small marijuana cultivation industries. But in Oregon, a relatively fertile ground for marijuana farming, with a relatively small population, growers are overproducing and driving prices down. Montana may have the opposite problem, Morigeau said. With limited growers and a prohibition to go outside the state’s borders for supply, there could be a shortage after legal sales begin Jan. 1, he said. Virginia’s ‘quagmire’ Not every complaint about a state marijuana program is the product of federal policy. Plenty of states have shown how to operate successful programs, Virginia Delegate Glenn Davis, a Republican who is unhappy with Democratic leaders’ rollout of the state’s marijuana policy, said. Virginia should have looked to programs in Colorado and elsewhere, he said. Instead, when the commonwealth legalized possession of marijuana this year, the legislation didn’t create a legal market until 2024. That means marijuana is legal to possess and even use, but not to buy or sell for three years. Davis called the situation a “quagmire.” “Obviously, there are some challenges because of the feds,” he said. “But the quagmire that the Democrats created wasn’t because of the federal government.” Still, the various complications with states’ marijuana programs caused by the federal ban has frustrated those who want to see the industry treated like any other endorsed by any particular state. “Given the trajectory of public support and the growing number of states that have adopted these laws and the extent to which this debate has progressed, the industry clearly seems here to stay,” Tvert said. “But it needs to be protected and it needs to be treated like a legal business.”

Regardless of harm, adults should be able to use any drug, it’s integral to the liberty interest

Sam Bowman, 12-10, 201o, Christian Science Monitor, Legalizing drugs isn’t about relative harm, it’s about liberty, https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/The-Adam-Smith-Institute-Blog/2010/1104/Legalizing-drugs-isn-t-about-relative-harm-it-s-about-liberty?cmpid=mkt:ggl:dsa-np&gclid=Cj0KCQiAlMCOBhCZARIsANLid6YBVmIBrv4CdtlXTMdscMZWxFOZ6hD4WPTGrrSt0N_UjkjtM3NarXsaAloVEALw_wcB

The problem is that using expert testimonies like that of Prof Nutt is playing with fire. Yes, this article shows that drugs are not unequivocally harmful compared with alcohol and tobacco, but that is only a part of the argument for legalization – the other part being that the state should not make laws to protect adults from themselves. This is the part that is motivated by a love of liberty, rather than a technocratic harm reduction analysis. The liberal side of the pro-legalization argument is fundamental to belief in a free society – that adults should not be treated like children. Many things carry risks and benefits, and the cost benefit analyses involved in choosing which to use and which to reject is a personal, subjective one. My worry is that embracing Prof Nutt too closely will undermine the philosophical argument for drug legalization, and leave liberals and libertarians vulnerable to changes in Prof Nutt’s calculations about harm causation. I welcome this article, and I’m encouraged by the ripples it has made, but at best it is a small part of a much bigger argument.