Legal Weed – a tough road to legalization
There is some excellent progress in the national legal weed movement. However, the feds still believe in the dangers of any legalization. They also tend to cite outdated research to support their opinions. But that only makes them look outdated themselves and too far removed from what is happening on the ground. Furthermore, their threats and aggressiveness towards legalized marijuana are just that: threats.
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It’s easy to forget that Congress passed legislation not to fund operations that target marijuana businesses/individuals in states that have legalized it. No funding means no money to enforce the aggressive rhetoric we are seeing. That said, it doesn’t mean we should not be critical of what is coming out of the administration. For example, recommendations found in the final report from the presidential commission on opioids.
Marijuana Partially Blamed for Opioid Epidemic
Back in March of this year, the president formed the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. He appointed former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who throughout his tenure recommended some significant changes to deal with the opioid epidemic–except for a concluding statement in the final report regarding marijuana.
In his cover letter to the president, the former governor stated that marijuana users were 2.5 times more likely to become addicted to opioids. He cited a recently published report that uses data from over a decade ago, and recommended the federal government not to legalize the plant hastily:
“The Commission acknowledges that there is an active movement to promote the use of
marijuana as an alternative medication for chronic pain and as a treatment for opioid addiction.
Recent research out of the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse found that marijuana use led
to a 2 ½ times greater chance that the marijuana user would become an opioid user and abuser.
The Commission found this very disturbing. There is a lack of sophisticated outcome data on dose,
potency, and abuse potential for marijuana. This mirrors the lack of data in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when opioid prescribing multiplied across health care settings and led to the current
epidemic of abuse, misuse and addiction. The Commission urges that the same mistake is not made
with the uninformed rush to put another drug legally on the market in the midst of an overdose
Even though the entire report does not focus on marijuana, it still takes a jab at it in the preceding quote. This statement comes at a time when the whole nation wants legalization. 29 states have already legalized marijuana medically, while eight states are taxing and regulating it like alcohol. There is already a body of research supporting the benefits of marijuana, however, having more research is not a bad thing.
Research Studying Effect of Marijuana on Opioid Addicts
Einstein and Montefiore were awarded a $3.8 million grant for the first long-term study of the impact of medical marijuana on opioid addiction. The grant was from NIH, the same institution Christie used to justify his tough stance on legalization. However, let’s hope he trusts their new conclusions when they are reached. The study will be conducted over 18 months with participants answering questionnaires every two weeks, so don’t expect the results anytime soon.
WeedUpdate from Around the Country
New York: PTSD is now allowed as an illness to qualify for medical marijuana treatment. This news comes on the back of the American Legion announcing its support for more research into medical marijuana for veterans with PTSD.
Colorado: 12-year-old girl, Alexis Bortell, sues Jeff Sessions for the unconstitutional stance the feds have on marijuana. The case probably won’t go anywhere, but it is symbolic. Bortell was diagnosed with epilepsy at an early age, and traditional medicine did not help her. So, the family was forced to move to Colorado to get cannabis oil legally, and now Bortell is cured. Hopefully, this case will raise awareness of the benefits of legal weed.
California: Fears that California might tax legal weed out of the market are justified. The state will add a 15% tax on sales, while local cities will add another 7-10%. Analysts say that this type of pricing structure will help the black market thrive. States like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have already gone through this exercise, and have decreased taxes to remain competitive. Let’s hope the Golden State can learn from other’s mistakes.