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posted by chromas on Friday April 20 2018, @11:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the 😆💨 dept.

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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has come out in support of federal cannabis decriminalization, just in time for 4/20:

The Minority Leader of the Senate is making it official the day before 4/20: He's down with legal weed. In an exclusive interview with VICE News, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) confirmed he is putting his name on legislation that he said is aimed at "decriminalizing" marijuana at the federal level. For Schumer, this is a shift. While he has backed medical marijuana and the rights of states to experiment with legal sales of pot, what he is proposing is a seismic shift in federal drug policy.

"Ultimately, it's the right thing to do. Freedom. If smoking marijuana doesn't hurt anybody else, why shouldn't we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?" Schumer said.

The legislation should be available within a week or so, and would remove cannabis (still listed as "Marihuana") from the Drug Enforcement Administration's list of Schedule I substances. States would then be free to regulate or continue to prohibit the plant. Cannabis advertising would be regulated as are alcohol and tobacco advertising. (Also at NPR, CNN, The Washington Post, and CNBC, as well as Reason taking a shot at Schumer for not doing it sooner.)

A majority of Americans support the legalization of cannabis, including, for the first time, a majority (51%) of Republicans, according to Gallup. Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use. 29 states, D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico have legalized medical use of cannabis, and another 17 states have legalized the use of cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis became available for recreational purposes in California on January 1.

It remains to be seen whether enough Republicans will favor Schumer's bill (or if it will be ignored like Booker's), but Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) might. By preventing confirmation of many of President Trump's Justice Department nominees, Gardner was able to secure a "promise" that the federal government will not interfere in states that have chosen to legalize and regulate cannabis. Removing the authority of the federal government to swoop in and shut down "legal" cannabis businesses is a better solution that would ease uncertainty in the market. Maybe cannabusinesses could start using banks instead of mattresses.

In recent weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has supported legislation to legalize hemp production. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner has come out in favor of cannabis legalization and now sits on a board of advisers for a cannabis corporation. President Trump has expressed tepid support for letting states handle the issue.

Studies have found that medical use of cannabis can be effective in reducing rates of opioid addiction. However, many doctors are reluctant to prescribe cannabis, and the Trump administration's opioid crisis handlers have thus far ignored or spoken out against cannabis. Luckily, their views can be marginalized into the dustbin of history if the U.S. Congress does its job and reverses the decades-long prohibition of cannabis. A push to legalize cannabis will not help kratom, which is facing increasing scrutiny from federal agencies despite its reputation as an opioid alternative.

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel has endorsed the use of CBD to treat childhood epilepsy. If the FDA approves of the treatment, it would be the first cannabis-derived drug to win federal approval in the U.S. The version from GW Pharmaceuticals could cost patients an estimated $25,000 per year, so some parents and patients would probably turn to other markets for CBD oil. However, the approval would allow doctors to prescribe the treatment for other uses and could encourage more medical research of cannabis components. (Also at The New York Times and USA Today.)

April 19th was "Bicycle Day", the 75th anniversary of the very first intentional lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) trip by Albert Hofmann, the chemical's discoverer. LSD, along with other hallucinogens such as psilocybin and ketamine, is being researched as a possible treatment for depression. In the April 2018 issue of Consciousness and Cognition, there is a case report (DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2018.02.008) (DX) describing the experience of a congenitally blind user of LSD who experienced auditory and tactile hallucinations rather than seeing visuals.

Acute effects of LSD on amygdala activity during processing of fearful stimuli in healthy subjects (open, DOI: 10.1038/tp.2017.54) (DX)

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21 2018, @01:49AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21 2018, @01:49AM (#669889)

    Legalization is a no-brainer for countless reasons, or even if only for the reduced strain on the legal/penal system here in the land of the free which has the largest prison population in the world (not per capita, but for reals). But the closer it gets to reality, the more I consider what the other side of the sword will cut. Will the uplifting social benefits of legality outweigh the loss of the unique social structure that emerged under the pressure of black market trade (and under a specific pharmacological influence), the collapse of which is sure to follow the legion of mom n pop growers inevitably being crushed by big business? What is the value of perhaps the only market that is not primarily motivated by hoarding as much currency as possible, to nail that quarterly growth figure? (Granted, there's enough money flowing in for a typical person to be plenty satisfied). What are we losing with the only large market that more or less necessitates an actual social connection to another nearby human for trade to occur? What might it cost, to have recreational mind alteration more tightly coupled to the pursuit of profit by organizations too large to suffer the oppression of morality and ethics endemic to small groups of normal humans? Would "decriminalization" make any less of a mess?

    Big picture wise, legalizing marijuana alone is the most watered down version of a better play; if it stops funneling money to whichever extranational cartel proves the most ruthless and power hungry, facilitates the identification and treatment of addiction, enables regulation of the potency and quality per adulterants, and etc., then it's probably an improvement... opioid epidemic notwithstanding.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Saturday April 21 2018, @02:07AM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Saturday April 21 2018, @02:07AM (#669895) Journal

    Corporatization of cannabis culture is a concern, but at the end of the day, people could grow their own under new state laws (and it's unlikely 6 plant limits and the like are going to be strictly enforced), and possibly organize with others to create a coffee shop level business or small grow operation.

    Already, cryptocurrency markets like Silk Road, Agora, etc. have shown people a way to get their hands on illegal drugs without needing a social connection (cue the "I can't get weed because I'm antisocial" Anonymous Coward). Whether or not it becomes easier or harder to operate such a market now that the feds are sniffing around remains to be seen.

    People still demand other drugs, like MDMA, cocaine, LSD, etc. Even if all drugs are decriminalized eventually, we are unlikely to see a friendly and mainstream taxed marketplace for most of them like we see with cannabis, alcohol, and caffeine.

    The societal benefits of legalizing cannabis are clear, and you touch on some good ones. What chemicals/pesticides were people getting along with their weed 20 years ago, compared to today?

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by fyngyrz on Saturday April 21 2018, @02:46AM

    by fyngyrz (6567) on Saturday April 21 2018, @02:46AM (#669909) Journal

    the collapse of which is sure to follow the legion of mom n pop growers inevitably being crushed by big business?

    Well. Look at alcohol; many mom-and-pop businesses (moonshiners, basically) were crushed by fine liquors and other high quality products. And fewer people went blind as a result.

    Which eventually led back to craft beers and so forth as the people (as opposed to the corporations) realized that large-scale production would inevitably miss out on countless variations, and those niche products were marketable, if they were made with care.

    I think it'll be okay. I'd just as soon know that my SO isn't smoking up something dusted by... angels...

    A little regulation and care isn't a bad idea, really. I'll take the win for personal liberty and call it good for now.

    🎶 No stems, no seeds, that you don't need... etc.