|To: longnshort who wrote (2021)||11/15/2017 1:53:55 PM|
|actually marijuana worse than you thin even the The American Academy of Ophthalmology said that is harmful and its not good for our health |
“The American Academy of Ophthalmology – the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons – is reminding the public that it does not recommend marijuana or other cannabis products for the treatment of glaucoma. Based on analysis by the National Eye Institute and the Institute of Medicine, the Academy finds no scientific evidence that marijuana is an effective long-term treatment for glaucoma, particularly when compared to the wide variety of prescription medication and surgical treatments available. Ophthalmologists also caution that marijuana has side effects which could further endanger the user’s eye health.”
depending on this article that talk about Marijuana Withdrawal ,Symptoms pros and cons of marijuana
inside this article they said that marijuana causes many bad things like headaches and dizziness and Insomnia
for that reason i said no its not useful at all
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|From: The Ox||1/4/2018 11:19:20 AM|
AP NewsBreak: US to end policy that let legal pot flourish
By SADIE GURMAN 54 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding the Obama-era policy that had paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country, two people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. Sessions will instead let federal prosecutors where pot is legal decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana law, the people said.
The people familiar with the plan spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it before an announcement expected Thursday.
The move by President Donald Trump’s attorney general likely will add to confusion about whether it’s OK to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where pot is legal, since long-standing federal law prohibits it. It comes days after pot shops opened in California, launching what is expected to become the world’s largest market for legal recreational marijuana and as polls show a solid majority of Americans believe the drug should be legal.
While Sessions has been carrying out a Justice Department agenda that follows Trump’s top priorities on such issues as immigration and opioids, the changes to pot policy reflect his own concerns. Trump’s personal views on marijuana remain largely unknown.
Sessions, who has assailed marijuana as comparable to heroin and has blamed it for spikes in violence, had been expected to ramp up enforcement. Pot advocates argue that legalizing the drug eliminates the need for a black market and would likely reduce violence, since criminals would no longer control the marijuana trade.
The Obama administration in 2013 announced it would not stand in the way of states that legalize marijuana, so long as officials acted to keep it from migrating to places where it remained outlawed and out of the hands of criminal gangs and children. Sessions is rescinding that memo, written by then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, which had cleared up some of the uncertainty about how the federal government would respond as states began allowing sales for recreational and medical purposes.
The pot business has since become a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar industry that helps fund schools, educational programs and law enforcement. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and California’s sales alone are projected to bring in $1 billion annually in tax revenue within several years.
Sessions’ policy will let U.S. attorneys across the country decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to marijuana enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts, the people familiar with the decision said.
Sessions and some law enforcement officials in states such as Colorado blame legalization for a number of problems, including drug traffickers that have taken advantage of lax marijuana laws to hide in plain sight, illegally growing and shipping the drug across state lines, where it can sell for much more. The decision was a win for pot opponents who had been urging Sessions to take action.
“There is no more safe haven with regard to the federal government and marijuana, but it’s also the beginning of the story and not the end,” said Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who was among several anti-marijuana advocates who met with Sessions last month. “This is a victory. It’s going to dry up a lot of the institutional investment that has gone toward marijuana in the last five years.”
Threats of a federal crackdown have united liberals who object to the human costs of a war on pot with conservatives who see it as a states’ rights issue. Some in law enforcement support a tougher approach, but a bipartisan group of senators in March urged Sessions to uphold existing marijuana policy. Others in Congress have been seeking ways to protect and promote legal pot businesses.
A task force Sessions convened to study pot policy made no recommendations for upending the legal industry but instead encouraged Justice Department officials to keep reviewing the Obama administration’s more hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement, something Sessions promised to do since he took office.
The change also reflects yet another way in which Sessions, who served as a federal prosecutor at the height of the drug war in Mobile, Alabama, has reversed Obama-era criminal justice policies that aimed to ease overcrowding in federal prisons and contributed to a rethinking of how drug criminals were prosecuted and sentenced. While his Democratic predecessor Eric Holder told federal prosecutors to avoid seeking long mandatory minimum sentences when charging certain lower level drug offenders, for example, Sessions issued an order demanding the opposite, telling them to pursue the most serious charges possible against most suspects.
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|To: The Ox who wrote (2185)||1/8/2018 11:28:21 AM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
|Sessions is an idiot. However...|
Did Jeff Sessions Just Increase the Odds Congress Will Make Marijuana Legal?
The attorney general has created intolerable uncertainty for a growing industry that is now demanding legal protections from Congress. And lawmakers are listening.
By JAMES HIGDON
January 06, 2018
When Jeff Sessions announced Thursday morning he had removed the barrier that had held back federal prosecutors from pursuing marijuana cases in states that had made pot legal, he delivered on something he had all but promised when he was nominated as attorney general. Most of the marijuana world saw it coming, but they freaked out anyway.
A fund of marijuana-based stocks dropped more than 9 percent in value and, as a sign of how mainstream marijuana has become, Sessions’ decision to repeal the Cole memo, an Obama-era protection for states that have legalized marijuana, even affected the stock price of Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, which dropped more than 5 percent. Business leaders in an industry that was worth $7.9 billion in 2017, called Sessions’ action revoking “outrageous” and “economically stupid.”
Capitol Hill screamed just as loudly. And it wasn’t just the Democratic members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. It was Republican senators, too. Cory Gardner of Colorado took the Senate floor to issue an ultimatum to Sessions: “I will be putting a hold on every single nomination from the Department of Justice until Attorney General Jeff Sessions lives up to the commitment he made to me in my pre-confirmation meeting with him. The conversation we had that was specifically about this issue of states’ rights in Colorado. Until he lives up to that commitment, I’ll be holding up all nominations of the Department of Justice,” Gardner said. “The people of Colorado deserve answers. The people of Colorado deserve to be respected.” Gardner is no fringe Republican; he’s the chair of the NRSC.
Even members who had been silent on the issue in the past vowed to squeeze the Department of Justice’s budget. Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat from New Hampshire, reminding reporters she’s the lead Democrat on the Department of Justice funding subcommittee, tweeted: “I’ll work to ensure that resources are devoted to opioid response NOT foolish policy of interfering with legal marijuana production.” Most of the Congressional leadership was silent on this issue, but not House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who issued a blistering statement against Sessions, saying that she would push for an amendment in the new spending bill to protect states that had legalized not just medical marijuana but recreational use too, a move that could make ongoing budget negotiations much more tense.
Thursday may well turn out to be a pivotal moment in the marijuana industry’s evolution as a political force. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe in some form of legalized marijuana, but does the nascent industry have the sway to rewrite nearly 50 years of federal drug policy? Or will it remain a splintered coalition of investors, libertarians, concerned parents of sick kids, cancer sufferers, and traumatized veterans, who have the numbers but not the concentrated lobbying effort necessary to once and for all remove marijuana from the crosshairs of federal drug enforcement?
“There’s a lot of [legislators] trying to have it both ways who are now going to have to make up their mind,” said Tick Segerblom, the Nevada state senator who is considered the father of the state’s legalization movement. “Are they going to go with what the voters of their state support, or are they going to join Sessions and crack down and try to re-instate prohibition?”
Right now, the answer seems to be the former. Sessions’ antipathy for a drug that has lost much of its stigma among a wide cross section of Americans has only galvanized disparate factions in Congress to protect an industry that is expected to generate $2.3 billion in state tax revenue by 2020.
Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont, who just a few weeks ago declined to comment to POLITICO Magazine about whether he would work to maintain protections for medical marijuana in the 2018 omnibus spending package, tweeted on Thursday, “I'm now fighting to include my amdt in the final omnibus Approps bill so we can protect patients and law-abiding businesses.”
Those law-abiding businesses are now fully engaged in this matter, and they aren’t just going to roll over and let Jeff Sessions shut them down.
“I expect any actions he and the Justice Department take against the industry will be met with significant pushback from states that are benefiting greatly from an economic and quality of life standpoint,” said Jeffrey Zucker, president of Green Lion Partners, a Denver firm that promotes marijuana businesses. “The cannabis industry will continue on regardless of this decision, and in the long run this should only be a roadblock.”
Leslie Bocskor, president of Electrum Partners, an asset-backed finance company invested in the marijuana market, expressed his displeasure with a wry dig at Sessions’ motives: “It is almost as if the rally in publicly traded stocks in the legal cannabis sector was too much for the AG to bear.”
The Cole memo was never intended to be a permanent fix to the problem posed by the conflict between states that chose to legalize marijuana and existing federal prohibitions. Written by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole in 2013, the memo gave the nation’s 93 U.S. Attorneys broad latitude to exercise prosecutorial discretion in states where marijuana had been legalized. (Mr. Cole, now in private practice, declined a request for comment for this story.) His memo was interpreted as a virtual hands-off rule, allowing medical and recreational marijuana programs to spread across the country at an unprecedented rate. Flimsy though it was, the Cole Memo nevertheless provided a measure of security for dispensary owners, growers and consumers and allowed investors to proceed with some confidence that their money was not going to be seized in a DEA sting.
The best protection that Congress had been able to provide was the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which was passed in 2014 attached to an appropriations bill. It barred the DOJ from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of medical marijuana laws. But since then, a total of eight states have now passed full recreational use laws, mostly recently California, whose law took effect January 1. Rohrabacher-Farr (now known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, in honor of Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who co-sponsored the amendment) expire on January 19 if it is not renewed and does nothing to help recreationally legal states, hence the eagerness of marijuana advocates to shore up the industry’s legal standing with new legislation and Pelosi’s stated desire to bake in those protections in the budget that’s currently being negotiated.
The fact that marijuana has now risen to the height of top-tier budget negotiations is a sign that the pro-marijuana coalition is no longer merely a menagerie of loud-mouth hippies, stoners, and felons, as the pro-pot crowd has been characterized in the past. The community of Americans who now rely on legal medical marijuana, estimated to be 2.6 million people in 2016, includes a variety of mainstream constituency groups like veterans, senior citizens, cancer survivors, and parents of epileptic children. The American Legion, a conservative veterans organization by any measure, has voted twice in favor of resolutions to expand research and safe access for its members.
“The American Legion has been a leading advocate for the removal of cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to enable greater research into the medical efficacy of the drug to treat ailments that impact veterans such as PTSD and chronic pain,” Joe Plenzler, Director of Media Relations for The American Legion, told POLITICO Magazine — which means Jeff Sessions just crossed the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization.
By the end of the day on Thursday, in a conference call of five members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, lawmakers from four of the eight states that have approved recreational marijuana railed about Sessions’ unconstitutional assault on the rights of their states to decide their own affairs. On that call, California Republican Dana Rohrabacher said that the move by Sessions to strike a blow against marijuana has had the inverse effect of raising the attention from what had previously been a states’ issue but has now become a national priority. “It’s a big plus for our efforts that the federal government is now aware that our constituents have been alerted,” Rohrabacher said. "We can be confident we can win this fight, because this is a freedom issue.”
On the same call, California Democrat Barbara Lee made it clear that she and her constituents were not going to accept Sessions’ move without a fight. “As a person of color, let me just say that the War on Drugs has been a failure… We’ve lost families, we’ve lost a generation. So this affects people of color in a big way, so we’re not going to allow them to turn back the clock. In our district, we’re going to fight this every step of the way,” the Congresswoman said.
Even if Leahy protects medical marijuana programs by reauthorizing the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment in the upcoming omnibus spending bill in the conference committee, the Congressional Cannabis Caucus has less than a year to make those protections permanent. The means to do that is H.R. 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, sponsored by Representative Thomas Garrett, a Republican from Virginia. The bill, now with 15 cosponsors, would remove marijuana from Schedule 1 and eliminate federal penalties for anyone engaged in state-legal marijuana activity. All Congress has to do is pass it.
“We’ve got to act,” Rohrabacher said on the Thursday phone call. “We can’t take it for granted, and now it’s going to be a priority for us to accomplish.”
As of late Friday, POLITICO Magazine could not find a single member of Congress who had issued a statement in support of Sessions’ actions. In the end, this is a self-inflicted pot crisis that could prove to be a critical test of Trump’s ability to maintain his base.
“There’s a lot of old white men who are marijuana users, and the marijuana is keeping them alive,” Segerblom said from his cell phone while driving around Las Vegas. “Trump is going to have fewer to vote for him if he doesn’t keep marijuana legal.”
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|From: TimF||3/2/2018 3:12:39 PM|
| Good Intentions; Bad Policy |
by Steve Landsburg
January 18, 2018
in Current Events, Economics and Policy
I learn from Scott Sumner’s blog that in many California cities, residents with past marijuana convictions will jump to the head of the line for licenses to sell the drug legally — this by way of compensating them for past persecution.
Scott approves. I don’t, for two reasons:
First, if you want to compensate people for past persecution, the right way to do it is with cash, not by misallocating productive resources. If there must be licenses, they should be allocated to those who can use them most efficiently, regardless of any past history.
Second, drug dealers have never been the primary victims of anti-drug laws. They can’t be, because there is free entry and exit from that industry. Anti-drug enforcement leads to exit, which in turn leads to higher profits for those who remain — and the exit continues until the profits are high enough to compensate for the risks. One way to think about this: All those “persecuted” drug dealers were, in effect, employing the government to stifle their competition, and paying a fair price for that privilege in the form of occasionally being convicted and punished themselves.
The primary victims of anti-drug legislation are potential consumers who were deterred by artificially high prices. How do you compensate those victims? You can’t. In a population of 1000 people who have never used drugs, it’s quite impossible to identify the 200 or 300 or 400 who would have happily indulged if only the price had been lower.
This is one more reason to be diligent against bad legislation generally. Even if you believe the legislation will eventually be repealed, attempts to compensate the victims are likely to be misdirected, misguided, and socially harmful.
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|From: TimF||3/29/2018 5:11:28 PM|
|Alabama law enables sheriff to eat well|
By Walter Olson March 20, 2018
Under an Alabama law passed before World War II, many county sheriffs can keep what are deemed extra sums allocated for inmate meals but not used for that purpose. Some large counties require the surplus to be turned over to general county funds. Can sheriffs of other counties convert the funds to personal use? In Etowah County (Gadsden), a local resident says he was paid to mow the sheriff’s lawn with checks from from the sheriff’s “Food Provision Account.” [ Connor Sheets, Al.com] And in a followup, four days later local police arrested the resident who had told the reporter about being paid for lawn-mowing. The raid, said to have been based on an anonymous call reporting the odor of marijuana issuing from within an apartment, resulted in charges against him later bumped up to felony drug trafficking based on weight: “Once that marijuana was mixed with the butter then the whole butter becomes marijuana, and that’s what we weighed.” [ Sheets, Al.com]
emphasis added on the part that's relevant to this thread.
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|From: TimF||4/25/2018 10:38:55 PM|
|Trump/Gardner Deal on Marijuana is a Big Win for State Sovereignty|
By Generation Opportunity
April 16, 2018 Government Overreach
Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo giving federal prosecutors greater authority to enforce marijuana laws. The memo was intended to allow federal prosecutors in states where marijuana is legal to determine how aggressively to enforce the current federal law that prohibits it.
Under federal law, marijuana is classified as an illegal substance under the Controlled Substances Act. However, recreational marijuana use has been legalized in six states, as well as the District of Columbia.
Recently, President Donald Trump promised Colorado Senator Corey Gardner (R) that he will support congressional efforts to protect states like Colorado that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. This seemingly puts an end to a standoff between Gardner and the administration over the prospect of a federal crackdown in such states.
To say the least, we’re glad this deal didn’t go up in smoke.
Seriously though, this is great news for citizens who believe states should have the right to challenge federal power, especially in cases where citizens believe that the federal government is acting unconstitutionally.
Not only is this deal a win for fans of the Constitution, but also for taxpayers.
Our prison system is the most highly-populated in the world and billions of taxdollars are being wasted every year fighting a failed War on Drugs. To be blunt (pun 100% intended), non-violent individuals should not have their lives ruined and their families torn apart over an act that has already been legalized in several states across the nation.
Whether it’s marijuana or something else, what states want to do is ultimately up to them, as it should be. If, for example, New Jersey wants to pass bad policy in the form of a state health insurance mandate, that’s their call.
Hopefully, both the president and Sen. Gardner will hold up their ends of the bargain here and this will mark the start of a new era of federalism.
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|From: Glenn Petersen||4/27/2018 10:07:10 AM|
|Legal Marijuana’s Big Moment |
Despite hostility from the Trump administration, signs indicate federal decriminalization is only a flipped House away.
By JAMES HIGDON
April 24, 2018
A couple of weeks ago, John Boehner was dining at one of his favorite Washington haunts, Trattoria Alberto on Barracks Row, when in walked Earl Blumenauer, the Democrat from Oregon known as one of the most fervent advocates for legal marijuana in Congress. In years past, the two men would have had little in common, but earlier that day Boehner announced he was joining the advisory board for Acreage Holdings, one of the largest marijuana corporations in the country. It stunned many in the political world because the former speaker, whose tastes favor merlot and Camel Ultra Lights, had on several occasions spent political capital to defeat legalization measures: In 2014, he supported the congressional blockade of the District of Columbia’s recreational marijuana program and the next year he opposed efforts to legalize marijuana in his home state of Ohio.
Blumenauer was still so stunned by the turnabout, he couldn’t resist hailing his former adversary, who only a few hours earlier had advocated for marijuana’s full federal decriminalization, or its “descheduling,” in the parlance of Capitol Hill.
“John!” Blumenauer said, greeting the former speaker warmly, “What happened?”
“Well,” Boehner replied, “my thinking has evolved.”
He’s not the only one. In Washington, evolution on the marijuana issue is proceeding at warp speed in political terms. Boehner is just the latest in a string of noteworthy newcomers to the legalization movement that has been barreling through state houses for the past decade. Just in the past several weeks, Mitch McConnell fast-tracked a Senate bill to legalize low-THC hemp. Chuck Schumer announced that he would introduce a bill to deschedule marijuana entirely. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner struck a deal with President Donald Trump, who promised to not target Colorado’s legal marijuana industry in exchange for Gardner releasing his hold on Trump’s Department of Justice nominees. The Food and Drug Administration opened a comment period on the scheduling of marijuana ahead of a special session of the World Health Organization convened to re-evaluate marijuana laws, and both chambers of Congress passed “right to try” bills that might have accidentally legalized medical marijuana for terminally ill patients. Taken together they suggest that nearly 50 years of federal marijuana prohibition is about to disappear, and it’s happening in the face of an administration that has expressed its outright hostility to the notion.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a bigger transformation of the politics of marijuana in a single month since November 2012, when Colorado became the first state to legalize,” said Tom Angell, an advocate journalist who runs MarijuanaMoment.net. “It’s now very clear that both parties see this as a winning issue [and] they are worried about the other party taking ownership of it.”
Multiple currents are propelling this wave. In 2017, West Virginia became the 29th medical marijuana state, and earlier this year, Vermont became the ninth state to permit adult use. Tax revenue for fully legal marijuana in Colorado reached $247 million last year. Opinion polls continue to show approval ratings for marijuana higher than any politician’s, including in deep red states like Texas and Utah. The opioid addiction crisis has pushed medical marijuana further into the mainstream; the American Society for Addiction Medicine, which is not an advocate for legalization, acknowledges that opioid overdose death rates are 25 percent lower in states with legal medical marijuana. That list now includes Ohio, Boehner’s home state, where dispensaries will open later this year.
Boehner must have known he would soon face the smug satisfaction of his former colleagues who had goaded him on this issue for years, but the fact that it was Blumenauer he ran into was a kind of poetic political moment. Known for his bow tie and a lapel pin shaped like a bicycle, Blumenauer cuts a very different figure from Boehner, as different as their views on nearly every major political issue. With the exception now of marijuana. By chance, Blumenauer happened to be wearing a pair of marijuana-themed socks, and he offered to accessorize Boehner. According to Blumenauer, Boehner demurred.
When POLITICO Magazine caught up with Blumenauer last week, he bubbled with enthusiasm. The prospects for legalizing marijuana at the federal level, he said, have never been brighter. “It’s kind of exciting, isn’t it?” he told me. “It’s all cresting this year … I think we’re entering into the final stages, if everyone does their jobs right.”
“I think the next Congress will finish the job of reform, and clean it up,” he told me, by which he means if it flips to Democratic control and legislation is permitted to proceed. “We’ve got the votes in the House and the Senate and there will be a huge shake-up in the next Congress.” With Democrats in control, the new chairs of the relevant committees would be pro-marijuana: Jerry Nadler in Judiciary, Frank Pallone in Commerce, and Jim McGovern in Rules. “These are our friends with good records,” he said.
Blumenauer thinks the votes are there now, but bills are bottled up by Republican leadership.
“I think this Congress, if the Republican leadership would not stifle this bipartisan consensus of virtually every Democrat and several dozen Republicans, if they’d just allow the vote, it would pass [a number of measures].” That includes an amendment known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, which protects state legal medical marijuana programs. The House denied a vote on Rohrabacher-Blumenauer in this Congress, but the same protections were added to the 2018 omnibus spending bill by a companion amendment in the Senate sponsored by Pat Leahy of Vermont.
As POLITICO Magazine reported earlier this year, Democrats have been rushing to support this issue in congressional races across the country, and it’s playing a role in governors’ contests in some of the country’s largest media markets, too, such as New York and Illinois. (In New Jersey last year, Governor Phil Murphy ran in favor of full legalization and won by 14 points.) Cynthia Nixon’s surprise entry into the New York race has pushed incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on this issue: “We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” Nixon said in a video posted to Twitter. Representative Jared Polis, a marijuana-rights leader who represents Colorado’s 2nd District, is leaving Congress to run for governor. “Colorado voters want a governor who is going to stand up to President Trump and Attorney General Sessions if they try to interfere with legal cannabis in our state,” Polis told POLITICO Magazine.
In November, marijuana is on the Michigan ballot for adult use and on the Utah ballot for medical use. And in Texas, incumbent Senator Ted Cruz faces an unusually strong general election challenge from Representative Beto O’Rourke, with a recent poll that shows the Democrat within the margin of error. “Texas is as significant as anything we’re looking at,” Blumenauer told me. “Beto has been very outspoken. It’s not the centerpiece of his campaign, but he’s been very outspoken and he’s been friendly with us,” he said, joking that only a few years ago, talking out loud about marijuana was probably a felony under Texas law and now a pro-marijuana Democrat has a real shot at becoming the state’s junior senator.
“The more we discuss it, the more we talk about it, I find it’s not that hard to persuade people that reform is the right policy,” he said.
The nation was not founded with a prejudice against marijuana.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew cannabis on their plantations, most probably for fiber and seed. Jefferson’s slaves planted his hemp in March; Washington’s in April. Henry Clay, the speaker of the House from 1811 to 1825, grew hemp on his Kentucky plantation. The first law against weed didn’t come until the early 20th century when the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was passed, effectively outlawing the plant for both its medicinal and industrial applications. The prohibition was lifted briefly during World War II during the “Hemp for Victory” effort to supply the U.S. Navy with rope made from hemp fiber. After the war, hemp reverted to its illegal status, but it kept itself alive as “ditch weed” that grew wild in the fencerows of rural America.
During the Vietnam War, demand for illegal marijuana grew across the nation, becoming indivisibly linked with the protest movement against the war, which the Nixon administration continued to press. Nixon couldn’t repeal the Voting Rights Act that had passed just a few years before, but he could criminalize his opponents’ behavior. In 1970, he signed the Controlled Substances Act, which grouped illegal drugs into “schedules.” Marijuana was placed in “Schedule 1” along with heroin, defined as highly addictive with no medical value. Nixon seemed obsessed with cracking down on marijuana users, even after the passage of the CSA. On May 26, 1971, Nixon told his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, “I want a goddamn strong statement on marijuana … I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them.”
A wave of decriminalization followed Nixon’s resignation in the late 70s, but that was ended by Ronald Reagan, who doubled down on Nixon’s anti-marijuana policies. Bill Clinton signed the 1994 Crime Bill, which imposed mandatory life sentences after “three strikes” and mandatory drug testing for those on supervised release, provisions which led to prison overcrowding. The Department of Justice under George W. Bush prosecuted Tommy Chong for selling glass bongs across state lines and sent him to prison for it.
Many expected Barack Obama to legalize marijuana in his second term, but he did not. The best he could do was the Cole Memo, written by the DOJ, which directed federal prosecutors to use their discretion in pursuing marijuana cases in states where marijuana was legal.
The signals from the Trump administration have been mixed at best. On the campaign trail, candidate Trump seemed to embrace marijuana for medical but not recreational use. But his attorney general has made his antagonism toward marijuana clear at every stage. In January, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, causing a wave of anxiety through states whose residents had assumed that marijuana was on a glide path to full national legalization. But Trump appeared willing to compromise with Gardner for the sake of getting his nominees through. “We’re always consulting Congress about issues, including states’ rights, of which the president is a firm believer,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
The president’s inconsistency is maybe the only thing that marijuana advocates can agree on says Kevin Sabet, executive director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-legalization group. “With this president, things don’t exactly stay the same from week to week, so we are going to keep putting pressure on him on this issue,” Sabet told POLITICO Magazine. For SAM, that means pumping “a seven-figure amount,” according to Sabet, into anti-marijuana campaigns in states with ballot measures like Michigan, and another million-plus dollars on grass-roots operations and state offices, he said.
Sabet says the recent spate of good news for marijuana has also been good news for his organization’s fundraising efforts. “I’m more optimistic than ever. I’ve raised more money in the last week than we have in the last year. Because people are coming out of the woodwork because they are afraid. We’ve actually been energized by this.”
Despite Sabet’s optimism, members of Congress seem to be looking past his efforts to block marijuana law reform. Jared Polis is co-sponsor of the McClintock-Polis amendment, currently blocked in the Rules Committee, which would protect states that allow full recreational use. “Funding restrictions are nice, but until we actually change the law, there will always be uncertainty for consumers and people in the industry,” Polis told me. “So I’m continuing to work to get my ‘Regulate marijuana like alcohol’ bill passed.”
But because Polis is leaving Congress at the end of the year, it’s unlikely that stand-alone bill will pass while he’s in office because the chairman of House Judiciary, Bob Goodlatte, will not let Polis’ bill out of committee. But the prospects for a stand-alone bill got a boost last week in the Senate. Schumer announced his plan to introduce a bill that would deschedule marijuana outright. He isn’t the first senator to come aboard the marijuana legalization effort; he’s just the most recent. “I applaud Senator Schumer for taking a bold stance for nationwide decriminalization,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) told POLITICO Magazine. “The American public’s views on this issue are shifting rapidly, and Congress needs to keep up.”
While the Polis stand-alone bill is likely dead in this Congress, and the Schumer bill hasn’t been drafted yet, there is still one stand-alone bill to legalize cannabis that has a shot of reaching Trump’s desk for a signature: Mitch McConnell’s hemp bill.
Co-sponsored by an unusual coalition of senators from Kentucky and Oregon, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would deschedule any cannabis plant with a maximum THC level of 0.3 percent. While initially envisioned as a crop for fiber and seed, today’s hemp is largely grown for production of CBD, the nonintoxicating cannabinoid that has shown promise in treating epilepsy and other conditions. But the Drug Enforcement Administration still considers hemp to be a Schedule 1 drug.
“For far too long, the federal government has prevented most farmers from growing hemp,” Senator McConnell wrote in an op-ed published on Friday, which happened to be 4/20, the unofficial holiday of marijuana enthusiasts.
“Treating hemp and marijuana as the same thing represents the height of foolishness on the part of the federal government,” Senator Ron Wyden told POLITICO Magazine, in rare agreement with McConnell. “I’m working with my colleagues to get the current misguided federal ban on hemp out of the way of farmers in Oregon and across the country.”
The Senate majority leader did not respond for this story, but advocates for marijuana law reform are giving him grudging credit as hemp’s unlikely hero. “Seems pretty good to me,” said Tom Angell, of MarijuanaMoment.net. “There could be bigger implications if we legalize CBD production and legitimize that entire market. It would have broader implication than just making T-shirts and stuff.”
James Higdon is a freelance writer based in Louisville and author of The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History. He can be reached at @jimhigdon. Full disclosure: His father, Jimmy Higdon, is a Republican state senator in the Kentucky state legislature.
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