A Congressional Cannabis Caucus Is Born | NORML Blog

With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to promote sensible cannabis policy reform and to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

The official establishment of a Congressional Cannabis Caucus represents yet another step forward toward ultimately reforming cannabis policy at the federal level. The creation of this caucus is yet another manifestation that our political power is growing — even inside the beltway.

Click here to email your Congressional Representative and urge them to join the Cannabis Caucus today.

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Entire post at the Source: A Congressional Cannabis Caucus Is Born

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Marijuana industry, angered by White House reversal, speaks out “It just defies logic”

The cannabis industry was rattled Thursday after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he expects the Department of Justice to increase enforcement of federal laws prohibiting recreational pot, even in states where it’s already legal.

Along with the District of Columbia, eight states have legalized recreational use among adults, including California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada just this past November. That means one in five American adults can smoke, vape, drink, or eat cannabis as they please under state law.

Meanwhile, over half of the nation’s states have legalized medical marijuana despite federal laws prohibiting its sale. The industry is estimated to be worth north of $6 billion and will hit $50 billion by 2026, according to Cowen & Co.

“Today’s news coming out of the administration regarding the adult use of cannabis is, of course, disappointing,” Derek Peterson, CEO of marijuana cultivator Terra Tech Corp., said Thursday in a statement. “We have hoped and still hope that the federal government will respect states’ rights in the same manner they have on several other issues.”

Spicer sought to distinguish the prospect of federal enforcement for medical, versus recreational, cannabis use, saying “there’s still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.”

Spicer’s statements reanimated industry concern that first arose when Republican President Donald Trump’s short-list of potential attorney general nominees emerged. The final pick, former senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a Republican, has long opposed cannabis use, but is a major proponent of state’s rights.

In his mid-January confirmation hearing, Sessions said he wouldn’t “commit to never enforcing federal law” but added that “absolutely it’s a problem of resources for the federal government.” He said that if Congress felt marijuana possession should no longer be illegal, it “should pass a law.” Trump has similarly gone back and forth on the issue of legalization.

Read the rest of the article at the Source:  Marijuana industry, angered by White House reversal, speaks out “It just defies logic”

Indiana Legislature Passes Bill to Legalize Medical Use of CBD, Now Goes to Governor

Legislation to legalize the medical use of cannabidiol (CBD) has been approved by Indiana’s full legislature.

The measure was approved 98 to 0 by the state’s House of Representatives on Tuesday, following approval from the Senate. It now goes to Governor Eric Holcomb for consideration.

Under the proposed law, it would be legal for those with a seizure disorder to possess and use medicines that contain marijuana-derived CBD, given they receive a recommendation from a physician. Tinctures, oils and pills would all be allowed, given they contain little virtually no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Advocates of medical cannabis praised the decision by the legislature to approve the measure, but say it doesn’t go nearly far enough; they wan t the law expanded to include more medical conditions, and to allow for full-plant cannabis use and not just CBD.

Vermont Marijuana Legalization Bill to Receive Public Hearing on Thursday

A bill that would legalize marijuana for those 21 and older will receive a public hearing in Vermont’s House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, February 23rd.

Vermont Marijuana LegalizationThe committee will hold their public hearing on House Bill 170 at 1pm on Thursday. The measure would legalize the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and the personal cultivation of up to two cannabis plants, as well as a regulated system of cannabis retail outlets.

Below is a list of speakers that have been invited by lawmakers to either support or oppose the measure:

  • Michele Childs, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Council
  • Matt Simon, Legislative Analyst, Marijuana Policy Project
  • Major Glenn Hall, Commander, Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Vermont State Police
  • Robert Sand, Vermont Law School
  • Greg Nagurney, Attorney, Department of State’s Attorneys & Sheriffs
  • Laura Subin, Director, Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana
  • Tim Trevithick, Student Assistance Program, SAM-VT 
  • George Merkel, Chief of Police, Vermont Police Association
  • Cary Giguere, Agrichemical Program Manager, Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
  • Robin Weber, Senior Research Associate, Crime Research Group
  • Jay Diaz, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union – Vermont
  • David Cahill, State’s Attorney, Windsor County
  • Dr. Jill Rinehart, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics, Vermont Chapter
  • Barbara Cimaglio, Deputy Commissioner, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program,Vermont Department of Health
  • Shayla Livingston, Public Health Analyst, Department of Health
  • Marshall Pahl, Appellate and Juvenile Defender, Defender General’s Office
  • Monique McHenry, Executive Director, VT Patients Alliance

Legislation receiving a public hearing is a necessary step to it being passed out of committee; the vast majority of bills never receive a hearing.

Vermont is one of the five states we believe could legalize cannabis by next year.

New Hampshire’s House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee has passed a bill to decriminalize cannabis and hash possession.

New Hampshire’s House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee has passed a bill to decriminalize cannabis and hash possession.

House Bill 640 was approved with an overwhelming 14 to 2 vote. The measure would decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, and up to five grams of hash, for those 21 and older.

If police do catch someone possessing cannabis or hash within those limits, it would be “a fine of $100 for a first offense under this paragraph, a fine of $200 for a second offense within three years of the first offense, or a fine of $350 for a third or subsequent offense within 3 years of 2 other offenses.” Under current law the possession of even a minuscule amount of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

House Bill 640 is sponsored by a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of a dozen lawmakers including Representatives Robert Cushing (D), Keith Murphy (R), Frank Sapareto (R), William Pearson (D), Carol McGuire (R), Chuck Grassie (D), Daniel Eaton (D), Patricia Lovejoy (D), as well as Senators Martha Clark, John Reagan, Daniel Innis.

Last year New Hampshire’s full House of Representatives passed a similar bill with a 289 to 58 vote, but it failed to pass the Senate.

According to a WMUR Granite State Poll released July of last year, 61% of New Hampshire voters support legalizing cannabis.

The full text of House Bill 640 can be found by clicking here.

Source:  New Hampshire Committee Passes Bill to Decriminalize Cannabis and Hash appeared first on TheJointBlog.com.

After Months of Public and Legal Pressure, DEA Removes Marijuana Misinformation from Website

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has removed marijuana misinformation from their website following months of public and legal pressure.

After months of public pressure, and a legal request by the nonprofit medical cannabis advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, the DEA has removed factually inaccurate information about marijuana from their website.

As part of the legal request, Americans for Safe Access argued that there was over 25 incorrect statements on the DEA’s website about cannabis, which violates the Information Quality Act, which prohibits government agencies from providing false information to the public, and requires them to respond to requests for correction of information within 60 days.

“The DEA’s removal of these popular myths about cannabis from their website could mean the end of the Washington gridlock” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access. “This is a victory for medical cannabis patients across the nation, who rely on cannabis to treat serious illnesses. The federal government now admits that cannabis is not a gateway drug, and doesn’t cause long-term brain damage, or psychosis. While the fight to end stigma around cannabis is far from over, this is a big first step.”

Americans for Safe Access’ full legal request which brought forth this change can be found by clicking here.

 

Congressmen to launch Cannabis Caucus in 2017

It’s a joint political effort to pass marijuana reform

Two members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle are joining forces to create the Cannabis Caucus.

Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., are creating a caucus in hopes of improving the odds to passing federal marijuana reform bills.

“There needs to be more strategy between us, those of us who are engaged in this. More of a long-term strategy,” Rohrabacher told DecodeDC . “[And] we need to have a vehicle in which people on the outside will be able to work through and sort of have a team effort from the inside and the outside.”

Rohrabacher says Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is likely to emerge as the spokesman for the caucus, which he said will begin meeting in January.

The caucus will be made up of members of Congress who see marijuana reform as an important issue and it will focus on a bipartisan effort to pass bills, Rohrabacher said. He did not name lawmakers he expects to join.

“We want to make the states’ rights issue the core of what we are doing,” Rohrabacher said, referring to the argument that states should be able to choose for how to regulate and classify marijuana. “Republicans don’t see this as something that their constituents want and they may not be positive towards legalization of marijuana. But with the states’ rights issue, that’s how we’ve won the necessary votes from the Republican side in order to win the battle.”

Rohrabacher and Blumenauer have been vocal champions for years of marijuana decriminalization and a state’s right to choose how to regulate the drug.

Rohrabacher has admitted in the past that he used marijuana to help with arthritis pain. He introduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015.

Blumenauer also visited many states this year, campaigning for ballot measures that would legalize medical marijuana or recreational marijuana for adults.

The congressman introduced the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016, a bi-partisan bill that aimed to “cut through the red tape” that currently makes it very hard for scientific researchers to obtain marijuana for clinical trials. Additionally, he co-sponsored the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, which would have allowed marijuana businesses to stop functioning in all-cash.

According to Blumenauer, the two biggest issues currently facing the marijuana industry are that companies aren’t fairly taxed because federal law won’t allow them to fully deduct their business taxes — and that cannabis businesses can’t work with banks. Currently marijuana companies have to be all-cash businesses largely thanks to marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, which puts it in the same category as heroin.

“We’ve had the movement crest,” Blumenauer told DecodeDC. “Two hundred and fifty million people have access to medical marijuana, a quarter of the population has access to adult use. We’re watching an industry now where 60 percent believe marijuana should be legalized, and public opinion mirrors what happened at the ballot box.”

Marijuana currently is legal for adult recreational use in eight states and medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington, D.C.

Blumenauer says he has hope that marijuana reform will become a stronger bi-partisan effort on Capitol Hill in 2017.

“People who have been ambivalent about this before, all of a sudden just inherited constituents who care deeply about it,” he said. “Florida just passed an initiative for medical marijuana which makes it the second largest marijuana market in the United States. All of a sudden there are lots of legislators who just had their constituents vote more strongly for marijuana than they did for them.”

Source:  Decode DC: Congressmen to launch Cannabis Caucus in 2017

The Endocannabinoid System For Dummies (We’ve Made It Easy For You)

endocannaninoid hero The Endocannabinoid System For Dummies (Weve Made It Easy For You)Photo credit

Have you ever wondered how THC works? Well, it just-so-happens to be a similar shape to a compound our bodies create naturally. Thanks to its shape, THC is able to tap into a network in our bodies called the endocannabinoid system. It’s this ability that gives THC it’s psychoactive effects. But, what is the endocannabinoid system and what does it do? To help you understand, we’ve created a handy guide to the endocannabinoid system for dummies. 

What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

Endocannabinoid System1 1 The Endocannabinoid System For Dummies (Weve Made It Easy For You)
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The endocannabinoid system (ECS) refers to a collection of cell receptors and corresponding molecules. You can think of cell receptors like little locks on the surface of your cells. The keys to these locks are chemical molecules called agonists. Each time an agonist binds to a cell it relays a message, giving your cell specific direction.

The endocannabinoid system is the name for a series of cell receptors that respond to certain kinds of agonists. Two primary cell receptors make up the ECS, Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). The keys for these receptors are called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are like the body’s natural

Endocannabinoids are like the body’s natural THC. In fact, endocannabinoids got their name from cannabis. Plant cannabinoids were discovered first. Endo means within, and cannabinoid referring to a compound that fits into cannabinoid receptors.

There are two main endocannabinoid molecules, named anandamide and 2-Ag. Funny thing, scientists wouldn’t have discovered anandamide without THC. Psychoactive (THC) was first discovered by Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam back in the 1960s. His finding quickly spurred a rush to figure out how THC worked, and whether or not our own bodies produced a similar compound.

More than two decades after the search began, anandamide was found. Yet, once they isolated the chemical, they faced another challenge. What should it be called? They turned to Sanskrit. Anandamide comes from the Sanskrit word Ananda, which means bliss. So, basically, anandamide means bliss molecule.

What does the ECS do?

Cannabinoid receptors are found all throughout the body, giving them a wide variety of functions. However, certain receptors are more concentrated in specific regions. CB1 receptors are abundant in the central nervous system. CB2 receptors are more often found on immune cells, in the gastrointestinal tract, and in the peripheral nervous system.

The diversity of receptor locations shows just how important endocannabinoids are for day-to-day bodily function. They help regulate the following:

Endocannabinoids are the chemical messengers that tell your body to get these processes moving and when to stop. They help maintain optimal balance in the body, also known as homeostasis. When the ECS is disrupted, any one of these things can fall out of balance. Dysregulation in the ECS is thought to contribute to a wide variety of conditions, including fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.

The ECS theory of disease is termed “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency“.  The idea is simple: when the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids or cannot regulate them properly, you are more susceptible to illnesses that affect one or several of the functions listed above.

Where do endocannabinoids come from?

Endocannabinoid System2 1 The Endocannabinoid System For Dummies (Weve Made It Easy For You)
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If your body cannot produce enough endocannabinoids, you might be in for some trouble. But, where do endocannabinoids come from, anyway? This question has another simple answer: diet.

Your body creates endocannabinoids with the help of fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important for this. Recent research in animal models has found a connection between diets low in omega-3s and mood changes caused by poor endocannabinoid regulation.

Fortunately, hemp seeds are a quality source of omgea-3s. However, fish like salmon and sardines produce a form of omega-3s that is easier for your body to put to use.

Beyond cell receptors

Endocannabinoid System3 1 The Endocannabinoid System For Dummies (Weve Made It Easy For You)
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Cannabinoid receptors are often what we associate with the endocannabinoid system. But, the ECS is more complicated than that. Enzymes also have a crucial role to play in the process. In a way, enzymes are kind of like Pacman. They gobble up various compounds, change them, and then spit out the parts. In the ECS, enzymes break down leftover endocannabinoids. Enter non-psychoactive CBD.

Enter non-psychoactive CBD. While THC binds with cannabinoid receptors directly, CBD does not. Instead, it works it’s magic on an enzyme. The enzyme in question is called FAAH, and it is responsible for pulling excess anandamide out of circulation.

CBD puts a stop to this. Psychoactive THC works by mimicking the body’s own endocannabinoids. But, CBD increases the amount of endocannabinoids in your system.

CBD stops enzyme FAAH from breaking down all of the anandamide, and therefore makes more of it available for use by your cells. This is why CBD is a natural mood-lifter without psychoactive effects.

This is just a brief overview of the endocannabinoid system. Each year, new studies shed light into what this amazing network does inside our bodies. The discovery of the ECS is what makes medical cannabis such a big deal.

People often joke about the herb’s ability to heal a wide variety of seemingly unrelated conditions. But, we now understand that these conditions are all regulated in part by the ECS. The medical implications of this finding are endless.

Source:  Endocannabinoid System for Dummies

Why the Trump Administration Will NOT Attack Legal Marijuana States

Despite well-founded fear in the cannabis culture about the nation’s new president, Donald Trump is unlikely to go after state-level cannabis laws.

Instead, we believe that the Trump Administration will take a hands-off, allow-the-states-to-decide approach that will allow things to continue, for the most part, as they have the past several years.

Here’s a few reasons why:

First off, politics

For whatever you may think of Donald Trump, he knows how to play politics. No one can win the presidency if they don’t.

With that in mind, he knows, without a doubt, that going after marijuana at this stage in the game would be a huge mistake. Cannabis legalization has quickly become a bipartisan issue, and it trends that way more and more each day. There’s no doubt, and no way to argue against the fact, that if Trump doesn’t respect state marijuana laws, he will lose support among many Republicans and Independents, as well as the few Democrats who may support him. If they didn’t stop supporting him entirely (this is a big issue for a lot of people), they would at least be upset (or even enraged) at him because of it, and would be less enthused about supporting him in 2019.

Trump simply doesn’t have enough to gain from going after state marijuana laws, and he knows it.

 

The FDA

Trump’s Administration has confirmed that two of the candidates they are considering to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are supportive of ending marijuana prohibition. One of them, Jim O’Neil, previously served as a board of directors member for a nonprofit organization that helped legalize cannabis in California.

If Trump does pick O’Neil, the implications are huge. For decades lawmakers have used the fact that the FDA doesn’t recognize cannabis’ medical value as a reason to retain its complete illegality, even for medical use. Having an FDA chief that is open to marijuana and its medical benefits could quickly revoke this argument. Most importantly, it would give Trump an excuse for not going after marijuana states to those conservative supporters of his who want him to do so (“well the FDA recognizes it as a medicine – what can I do?”).

Trump, of course, may pick someone else to lead the FDA, but the fact that he’s even considering someone like O’Neil can be seen as a positive sign – at least for us optimists.

 

Donald Trump Doesn’t Really Oppose Marijuana

Trump’s public history regarding marijuana simply hasn’t been one of opposition. In the 90s he said he believed that all drugs should be legalized (something he has since walked back – but it’s a position even Bernie Sanders walked back on during his campaign). In the past couple he’s said that he’s in “100% support” of medical cannabis, and believes that states have the right to decide their own marijuana law.

On the campaign he made some disparaging remarks about cannabis – not surprising as a Republican candidate – but stopped far short of saying he would enforce federal cannabis laws or attack those following state law.

He did, of course, pick prohibitionist Jeff Sessions as attorney general, but Trump has final say on what policies are enforced, and having a pro-marijuana FDA chief would also help combat this.

 

Trump is a Businessman

There’s no way that Trump, a lifelong man of business, doesn’t understand the value the legal cannabis industry brings to the states that have embraced it. It’s highly unlikely he would decided to attack such a burgeoning industry, especially considering the large amount of federal money it would cost to do so.

The only way he might consider doing so is if it brought him political gain, which it wouldn’t (at least not enough to offset the political loss).

 

In Conclusion

For these reasons, and others we won’t go into detail about, we are confident in saying that the legal cannabis industry – and legal consumers of cannabis – will be safe under the Trump Administration; or, at least as safe as they were under the Obama Administration.

If not, feel free to throw this article back in our faces.

The post Why the Trump Administration Will NOT Attack Legal Marijuana States appeared first on TheJointBlog.

How Did Marijuana Become Illegal in the First Place?

October 9, 2014 – By Dr. Malik Burnett and Amanda Reiman, PhD, MSW

th

Dear Doctors,

“With so much information coming out about the medical value of marijuana, and that marijuana is not as dangerous as alcohol, why was it made illegal in the first place?”

Sincerely,

Looking for a history lesson

Dear Looking,

That is an excellent question. Now that many politicians and the public are taking a more objective look at marijuana, many are asking about the legal history of marijuana and how it ended up in the category of drugs deemed most dangerous by the federal government (Schedule I).

To understand how we ended up here, it is important to go back to what was happening in the United States in the early 1900’s just after the Mexican Revolution. At this time we saw an influx of immigration from Mexico into states like Texas and Louisiana. Not surprising, these new Americans brought with them their native language, culture and customs. One of these customs was the use of cannabis as a medicine and relaxant.

Mexican immigrants referred to this plant as “marihuana”. While Americans were very familiar with “cannabis” because it was present in almost all tinctures and medicines available at the time, the word “marihuana” was a foreign term. So, when the media began to play on the fears that the public had about these new citizens by falsely spreading claims about the “disruptive Mexicans” with their dangerous native behaviors including marihuana use, the rest of the nation did not know that this “marihuana” was a plant they already had in their medicine cabinets.

The demonization of the cannabis plant was an extension of the demonization of the Mexican immigrants. In an effort to control and keep tabs on these new citizens, El Paso, TX borrowed a play from San Francisco’s playbook, which had outlawed opium decades earlier in an effort to control Chinese immigrants. The idea was to have an excuse to search, detain and deport Mexican immigrants.

That excuse became marijuana.

This method of controlling people by controlling their customs was quite successful, so much so that it became a national strategy for keeping certain populations under the watch and control of the government.

During hearings on marijuana law in the 1930’s, claims were made about marijuana’s ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women. This imagery became the backdrop for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which effectively banned its use and sales.

While the Act was ruled unconstitutional years later, it was replaced with the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970’s which established Schedules for ranking substances according to their dangerousness and potential for addiction. Cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category, Schedule I, supposedly as a place holder while then President Nixon commissioned a report to give a final recommendation.

The Schafer Commission, as it was called, declared that marijuana should not be in Schedule I and even doubted its designation as an illicit substance. However, Nixon discounted the recommendations of the commission, and marijuana remains a Schedule I substance.

In 1996, California became the first state to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes, ending its 59 year reign as an illicit substance with no medical value. Prior to 1937, cannabis had enjoyed a 5000 year history as a therapeutic agent across many cultures. In this context, its blip as an illicit and dangerous drug was dwarfed by its role as a medicine.

Opponents of medical marijuana regulations claim that there is not enough research to warrant medicinal use, but supporters of medical marijuana point to the 5000 years of history where cannabis was widely used as evidence for its medical efficacy.

Now that 23 states, plus Washington, DC, have passed medical marijuana laws, the public is questioning the utility of keeping marijuana under lock and key, especially in light of the racist and propagandized basis for making it illegal in the first place.

In just a few weeks, Florida, Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC voters will have the opportunity to put an additional nail in the coffin of prohibition by voting to legalize medical access in Florida and adult access in Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC. Changing the marijuana laws in these states and more to come is one of the first steps in dismantling the racially motivated war on drugs.

Sincerely,

The Doctors

Dr. Malik Burnett is a former surgeon and physician advocate. He also served as executive director of a medical marijuana nonprofit organization. Amanda Reiman, PhD, holds a doctorate in Social Welfare and teaches classes on drug policy at the University of California-Berkeley.