Apr 17, 2015 Online Issue
In October of last year, federal Judge Kimberly Mueller heard four
days of testimony about whether or not marijuana should be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. The feds argued that marijuana has no medical value, which is one of the descriptions for Schedule I substances according to the Controlled Substances Act. The reform side brought up actual scientists, like Dr. Carl Hart. Dr. Carl Hart is an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University. Mr. Hart stated the following.
“[I]t is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence,” Dr. Hart declared. “After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology.”
The decision was delayed, fueling speculation that the ruling would be favorable to rescheduling. Jeremy Daw (The Leaf Online) recently wrote an article for Alternet, in which he made some very interesting observations in the case relating to the delayed ruling:
Based on Mueller’s comments from the bench, combined with the pattern of delays in constructing her legal theory of the case, it appears unlikely that this judge will dispose of this question on purely procedural grounds. On the final day of oral argument in the case, for example, Judge Mueller posed a hypothetical to the attorneys in the case. “Suppose I reach a decision on the merits,” she said, “using either the rational basis standard or what one judge has called ‘rational basis with bite.’” It’s one of the only clues of her intent from an otherwise poker-faced judge.
The repeated delays in the written argument phase — three now — also favor a decision on the merits. While written opinions on standing can be as arcane as any other topic of law (if not more so), the area of law applying standing to drug law cases is relatively well-developed compared to the novel — indeed, historic — question posed by the merits: is keeping cannabis in Schedule I so out of step with reality as to be unconstitutional?
Finally, judicial economy must be considered. The dockets of federal judges are famously crowded; it makes little sense to devote five days of extremely valuable court time to establishing evidence relevant to the merits of the case if one didn’t intend to decide the case on the merits.
Apr 17, 2015 Online Issue
On Tuesday, Washington State’s Legislature passed Senate Bill 5052, sending it to Governor Jay Inslee for consideration. In addition to drastically reducing the amount of cannabis patients can possess and cultivate, the proposal would lead to the closure of all currently operating medical cannabis dispensaries, and would implement a patient registry that is clearly in violation of federal HIPAA laws.
Senate Bill 5052 is an incredibly regressive, and entirely unwanted proposal that would do an untold amount of harm to thousands of patients. The bill would – without any reason whatsoever – reduce the amount of cannabis a qualified patient can possess by over 80%, from twenty-four ounces to three, and would reduce the amount of cannabis they can cultivate by over half, from fifteen plants to six. And that is only if the patient joins a patient registry, a state-operated list of individuals admitting to committing a federal crime. If a patient doesn’t join the registry, they’ll only be able to possess one ounce – the same as all adults 21 and older – and could cultivate just four plants.
Apr 17, 2015 Online Issue
I cannot fathom why anyone would vote for New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie for President of the United States. His track record is awful, and that’s putting it lightly. When someone looks at his views on marijuana, whether it be medical or recreational, it becomes rapidly apparent that he is completely out of touch with a majority of Americans. He talks a lot about states rights when it doesn’t pertain to marijuana, but when it comes to marijuana, he is all about trampling the will of voters.
Chris Christie’s reefer madness was on full display this week when he stated that he would crack down on recreational marijuana if he were President.
If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) becomes president of the United States, he said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” Tuesday, he will “crack down” on those states that have ended prohibitions on marijuana.
When asked by Hewitt if he would enforce federal drug laws in those states that have legalized and regulated cannabis, Christie responded unequivocally.
“Absolutely,” Christie said. “I will crack down and not permit it.”
Chris Christie went on to say that no state should be allowed to sell and profit from legalized marijuana. In the past, Chris Christie has stated that he believes medical marijuana is just a front for recreational marijuana. He also stated that New Jersey would not legalize recreational marijuana on his watch, and has made previous comments that he would not treat states well that have legal recreational marijuana on the books.
Last time I checked, true Republicans believed in smaller government, and less federal interference in state matters. But I guess that only applies to issues that Chris Christie supports, and anything he doesn’t believe in should be stopped at all costs, regardless of what voters want. While I don’t think Chris Christie would win in a Presidential race (he has yet to technically announce he is even running), if by some miracle he did, I would probably move to another country.
Apr 17, 2015 Online Issue
Yesterday while I was sitting in my cubicle at work looking at social media, a huge buzz was going around the interwebs talking about the upcoming episode of ‘Weed3′ with Sanjay Gupta on CNN. Apparently on the episode President Barack Obama is going to be interviewed and the interview will have him expressing strong support for medical marijuana, and alternative treatments for drug addiction. Below is a graphic that the Drug Policy Alliance put out:
A bipartisan Senate bill that would do amazing things for medical marijuana at the federal level was discussed in the interview as well, with Obama saying that he would have to ‘look at the details.’ That line to me pretty much sums up what is really going on. President Obama is throwing around rhetoric, but at the end of the day, doesn’t plan on doing much. If he did, he would already be familiar with the CARERS Act. But instead, he has to ‘look into the details’ of it, which is a line I expect to hear over and over.
Barack Obama doesn’t really support medical marijuana. If he did, he would back up those words with actions. He would have done so a long time ago. But raids are still occurring, people are still being prosecuted by the feds in states where medical marijuana is legal, and President Obama has done nothing to try to reschedule marijuana and instead acts like only Congress can do it, despite the fact that he can actually do something about rescheduling. Below is a quote from Tom Angell from the Marijuana Majority,
“If the president means what he says about following science, then there’s no question he should support legislation to move marijuana out of Schedule I, a category that’s supposed to be reserved for substances with no medical value,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“And, since it’s so hard to get anything through Congress these days, he should even do more than that. He should exercise his power under the Controlled Substances Act to administratively reschedule marijuana right away,” Angell added. “The only thing stopping him from doing that is his own reluctance to follow through on his stated principle of letting science dictate policy.”
When it comes to President Obama and his comments about medical marijuana, take it from Flavor Flav, “Don’t believe the hype!” Every time Obama or someone from his administration makes comments like this, a lot of people get excited and get their hopes up, just for the Obama Administration to go about ‘business as usual’ and nothing significant ever happens. If and when something actually does happen, that’s when it’s time to rejoice. Until then, hold off on any celebrations.
Apr 15, 2015 Online Issue
There are serious marijuana reform efforts occurring right now.
That’s not to say that there hasn’t always been a push for reform in Texas, but with momentum at an all time high, the chances of achieving reform are as strong as they have ever been. For the first time ever, there is comprehensive medical marijuana legislation in Texas and a hearing could happen as early as this month. Stand with seriously ill Texans and urge your legislators to approve safe and legal access to medical marijuana. The Drug Policy Alliance has created a great tool that helps you send a message to your Texas Senator and Representative. Below is the message – you can personalize your letter and send it at this link here:
Support HB 3785/SB 1839
Every year, thousands of Texans are diagnosed with cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and other debilitating illnesses. The suffering that these patients experience is devastating for them and their families.
HB 3785/SB 1839 would allow patients the freedom to access the medicine that can best alleviate their suffering. The proposed bills would create a system in which individuals with qualifying medical conditions receive licenses allowing them to possess limited amounts of medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. It would also establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana cultivators, processors, and dispensaries to qualified applicants.
The law currently does not reflect marijuana’s legitimate medical use and denies access to patients, such as veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and patients suffering from cancer. By continuing to deny access to patients, we limit the rights of families to seek the best possible treatment for conditions that do not respond to other drugs or therapies.
Three out of four Texans (77%) think seriously ill people should have the right to use marijuana for medical purposes, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released in February 2014, and across the country, twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territory of Guam have passed laws that allow people with qualifying conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
Please support this legislation so that thousands of severely ill Texans, including veterans, could access the medicine they need to lead a life free of suffering.
[City, State ZIP]
Apr 15, 2015 Online Issue
How many polls does it take for marijuana opponents to realize that
their efforts are futile? Every poll result I have seen for quite a awhile now has been favorable towards marijuana reform. Yet another poll was released yesterday which found a majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, this time by the Pew Research Center.
Public opinion about legalizing marijuana, while little changed in the past few years, has undergone a dramatic long-term shift. A new survey finds that 53% favor the legal use of marijuana, while 44% are opposed. As recently as 2006, just 32% supported marijuana legalization, while nearly twice as many (60%) were opposed.
Crucially, the poll finds that people are much more likely to change their minds from opposing legalization to supporting it than vice versa. Among the overall public, 21% of people support legalization now but once opposed it. In contrast, just 7% of people used to support legalization and now oppose it. Tom Angell from the Marijuana Majority had the following to say about the poll results:
“The more that people learn about marijuana and look at the benefits of legalization, the more likely they are to support reform. Our opponents sure do have a lot to say about what they see as the benefits of continuing prohibition, but voters don’t want to hear it.”
Below are key findings from the poll, also supplied by Mr. Angell:
* Legalization support is particularly high among Democrats (59%) and independents (58%).
* 59% of Americans, and a majority in both parties, say that the feds should not enforce marijuana laws in states that allow use.
* Even among people who oppose legalization, more than a third (38%) say the feds should not enforce marijuana laws in states that allow use.
* 57% of Americans say it wouldn’t bother them if a marijuana business opened in their neighborhood.
* 82% of Americans say it doesn’t bother them if people use marijuana in their own homes.
Apr 15, 2015 Online Issue
The 2016 Election is already underway, with numerous Presidential
candidates from the Republican and Democrat parties announcing that they are running for President of the United States. As is the case in any Presidential Election, swing states will be key to ensuring victory, both during the Primaries, and during the General Election. From what I can tell there is only one issue among voters in almost every swing state where majority support has been found by polling – marijuana reform.
It wasn’t that long ago that supporting marijuana reform was considered to be a political liability. Those days are long gone, and not only is it not risky for candidates to support marijuana reform, it puts candidates in line with the majority of voters in key swing states like Iowa, Virginia, and Colorado. Per a recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University:
With big age and partisan gaps, Iowa voters are divided 47 – 47 percent on whether the state should legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today. Voters in Virginia support so-called recreational pot 54 – 41 percent, as Colorado voters still back their first-in-the-nation experiment 62 – 34 percent.
By margins of about 10-1, voters in each state support the use of medical marijuana, the Swing State Poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on key states in the presidential election.
Governors in all three states enjoy strong job approval ratings:
52 – 38 percent for Gov. John Hickenlooper in Colorado;
53 – 36 percent for Gov. Terry Branstad in Iowa;
50 – 28 percent for Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Virginia.
“Voters in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia often disagree about the big issues of the day – taxes, government spending, gay marriage and abortion. Yet there is one thing that they pretty much agree upon across state lines – medicinal pot,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. “Huge majorities in all three states think marijuana should be legally available for medical use. In once-stately Virginia there is majority support for allowing adults to possess small amounts of the drug for personal use. Iowans are split on the question and more than 60 percent of Coloradans, who already enjoy legalized marijuana, are fine with it.”
“Young people overwhelmingly favor legalization of marijuana, while older folks are not so high on its recreational use. But there is very little gender gap in these three states. Although about half or more voters across the three states support legalization of marijuana for personal use, very few voters say they would partake in it.”