Expect Legalization Talk in 2020
Cannabis on everyone’s mind
During the last presidential election, cannabis policy was mentioned, but only in passing. Those of us irritated at Sessions and the Trump administration's apparent distaste for cannabis might have forgotten that Hillary Clinton was also vehemently against cannabis legalization, a stance she grossly illustrated during a Q & A session with Xerox’s chairman and CEO in March 2014 when she said she was against ending cannabis prohibition “in all senses of the word” while using strange, insider Wall Street mumbo jumbo. In 2009, at a White House town hall meeting, President Barack Obama literally laughed when someone asked if legalizing cannabis would improve the economy and create jobs. No president in living memory has openly supported cannabis, and the subject of legalization has never been a real campaign talking point for any serious candidate.
So it was with great pleasure that I learned that one of the top prospective Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, US Sen. Cory Booker, has introduced a bill that would both legalize cannabis at the federal level and would encourage states to legalize locally through incentives. If passed, the bill—called the Marijuana Justice Act—would withhold federal funding for building jails and prisons from states whose cannabis laws are shown to disproportionately incarcerate minorities. The bill would also expunge federal convictions for marijuana use and possession as well as entitling prisoners who have been aggrieved by a disproportionate prison rate to sue the incarcerating entity.
I find it highly doubtful that the bill will pass, but between overarching legislative stunts like this by high-profile politicians and the Trump administration's draconian and uninformed stance on cannabis, the country's drug policies are bound to become major talking points in the next go-round.
If only it wasn't so far away.
Corrales Ban on Cannabis Voted Down
Some Corrales residents spoke out (loudly) against a cannabis company moving in and setting up a growing operation. Last month, Corrales residents learned that the Verdes Foundation—a non-profit that operates a few dispensaries in and around Albuquerque—had purchased some land there that's been earmarked for agriculture and announced plans to build a farming project.
In response, dozens of citizens met earlier this month at a village Council meeting to show support for a city ordinance proposed by councilor George Wright that would have banned the cultivation, processing and sale of “cannabis and cannabis-derived products” within the village. Concerns over crime and “zoned out” teenagers were voiced in what appeared to be an overwhelmingly unanimous hate for cannabis.
But the squeaky wheel doesn't always get the oil, apparently, since village councilors soundly voted the proposed ordinance down 4-1 with only Wright voting in favor. The Council did pass an alternative ordinance that will not allow commercial grow operations to set up in residential areas
According to the Verdes Foundation's website, they expect to have the farm completed by spring 2018.
First Federally-Funded Study Into Cannabis’ Impact on Opioids Announced
The National Institute of Health just funded the first long-term study of cannabis' use as a treatment for opioid addiction. The NIH gave a $3.8 million grant to researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System to test whether cannabis reduces opioid use in adults who suffer from chronic pain. The idea that cannabis could be used to treat opioid addiction has gained popularity ever since Drug and Alcohol Dependence published a report earlier this year showing that hospitalization rates related to opioid abuse and addiction dropped on average 23 percent in states where medical cannabis is legal.
The timing of the NIH grant is particularly serendipitous, considering President Donald Trump's announcement—only two days later on Aug. 10—declaring the US to be in a state of emergency due to the opioid crisis. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was appointed by President Trump, doesn't believe that cannabis should be used to treat opioid addiction at all. “I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana,” he said back in March. He also said cannabis was “only slightly less awful” than heroin.
I've covered his views on the matter here ad nauseam, and I don't know if I have the stomach for it today, so let's just says he's an idiot and move on.
The entire 120-acre town of Nipton, Calif. was purchased earlier this month by American Green, Corp., a medical cannabis technology company. The ghost town—which sits near the Nevada border and has a population of 20—reportedly cost the company around $5 million. The sale included Nipton’s businesses, a recreational vehicle park, a schoolhouse and two houses. Their plan is to turn the former mining spot into a “cannabis-friendly hospitality destination” for “conscious cannabis consumers.”
American Green's 18-month, $2.5 million dollar plan begins with using the town's aquifer to produce CBD-infused water. The company wants to move on to plant cultivation and edible production. The ultimate goal is a fully-functioning, eco-friendly cannabis resort offering dispensaries, bed-and-breakfast lodgings, artists-in-residence and mineral baths to tourists.
California just legalized recreational cannabis use for adults last November. Those kids move fast.