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

Past articles: 201520162017 👀

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: 3, Insightful) by Whoever on Saturday April 21 2018, @03:41AM (7 children)

    by Whoever (4524) on Saturday April 21 2018, @03:41AM (#669932) Journal

    This is so obviously a winning policy for whichever party embraces it. Making cannabis regulation a state issue allows those red states who hate their population to continue to ban it. No enforced legalization, so no lost votes. There is no downside.

    It speaks volumes about how incompetent the Democrats are that they haven't embraced it earlier.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Saturday April 21 2018, @04:18AM (6 children)

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Saturday April 21 2018, @04:18AM (#669943) Journal

    Cannabis prohibition has been a national disgrace. There have been plenty of national disgraces, but it's always annoying to be living during an ongoing one (or several at once). The Democrats' slow evolution on this issue continues to be shameful, and reminds of the gay marriage issue (which ultimately got resolved by the Supremes instead of Congress). Congress as a whole has been content to kick the can-nabis down the road, despite so many states legalizing medical use, flouting federal law.

    I predict most Republican Congressmen will steer clear of the issue for now, despite the 51% support among Republicans (probably higher if measured again today). If prominent Republicans flipped early, perhaps they could convince Republican voters to follow and change their minds on the issue. Is a Republican going to stay home on Election Day because their party supports cannabis? It's not abortion we're talking about. Trump's core supporters are more likely to be hurt by the opioid epidemic [npr.org], and plenty of them support cannabis legalization [cbsnews.com].

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    • (Score: 2) by Whoever on Saturday April 21 2018, @04:38AM (5 children)

      by Whoever (4524) on Saturday April 21 2018, @04:38AM (#669953) Journal

      The trick is to portray it as a States' rights issue. Don't explicitly make Cannabis legal, but defer the issue to individual States. Then it becomes possible for Republicans to support it.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Saturday April 21 2018, @04:44AM (4 children)

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Saturday April 21 2018, @04:44AM (#669958) Journal

        That's what this legislation does. Decriminalizes rather than legalizes, and allows states to make their own rules. Except that it's a states' rights bill for Democrats rather than Republicans. This could have been achieved years ago, but it is unclear that it will happen even now. And it's unlikely that there will be a veto-proof majority, so President Trump has to dip his pen in the ink for it to take effect.

        >the current year
        >still debating this issue

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        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Whoever on Saturday April 21 2018, @04:56AM (2 children)

          by Whoever (4524) on Saturday April 21 2018, @04:56AM (#669965) Journal

          Maybe that's what the Dems are hoping for: Congress passes the bill and Trump vetoes it.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21 2018, @03:30PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21 2018, @03:30PM (#670075)

            The same president who is basically doing the same as the previous two and 'let the states handle it'. Seriously doubt that would get a veto.

        • (Score: 2) by realDonaldTrump on Saturday April 21 2018, @07:16AM

          by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Saturday April 21 2018, @07:16AM (#669993) Homepage Journal

          I like to do some things the old fashioned way. And some modern. President Clinton (Bill), Bush Jr. & Obama -- when he started out -- got one thing right. Cross Townsend Rollerball. No more fountain pens!!!