This month in cannabis
By Joshua Lee
Put those pipes away, folks. This month has seen some wacky headlines related to cannabis, and it's about time we caught up.
Wikileaks Reveal Alcohol Industry's Fear of Marijuana
While everyone's heads were still spinning from the revelation that the DNC rigged the Democratic primaries to give ol' Bernie Sanders the boot, as revealed by Wikileaks, Marijuana.com was digging through the leaks for any reference to cannabis. What they dug up was a paid advertisement from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America included in the May 24, 2016 edition of Huddle, a daily e-newsletter produced by Politico. The Ad included this statement:
“While neutral on the issue of legalization, WSWA believes states that legalize marijuana need to ensure appropriate and effective regulations are enacted to protect the public from the dangers associated with the abuse and misuse of marijuana .… In the years since the state legalized medicinal use, Colorado law enforcement officials have documented a significant increase in traffic fatalities in which drivers tested positive for marijuana … Congress should fully fund Section 4008 of the FAST Act (PL 114-94) in the FY 2017 Appropriations process to document the prevalence of marijuana impaired driving, outline impairment standards and determine driving impairment detection methods.”
As High Times correspondent Bill Weinberg pointed out, the ad only appears on Wikileaks and InboxCart (an online e-newsletter archive). It's absence from Politico's own archive means it only showed up in the emailed version of the newsletter, which goes directly to the inboxes of members of Congress.
Considering the obvious link between alcohol and automobile fatalities, it seems ironic that an alcohol lobby would be so concerned about drivers being impaired by marijuana. Especially after the results of a study conducted by the American Automobile Association in May were released which concluded that blood testing drivers for THC as a way to determine their level of intoxication was scientifically invalid—as the chemical can stay in the bloodstream for up to 90 days, while its effects only last for at most a few hours.
Cannabis advocates believe that this political ad proves what they've suspected all along: Big Alcohol is trying its damnedest to keep weed illegal, and is trying to influence our nation's politicians to that end.
President Commutes the Sentences of Hundreds of Drug Offenders
Earlier this month, President Barrack Obama granted 214 commutations to prisoners serving sentences for non-violent drug charges. To date, the president has commuted the sentences of 562 individuals, more commutations than were granted by the 9 previous presidents combined. Along with the announcement of the commutations, Obama released a statement on his Facebook page, citing America's high incarceration rate, and calling upon Congress to “pass meaningful federal sentencing reform that will allow us to more effectively use taxpayer dollars to protect the public.” The statement also describes the plight of a prisoner who was arrested as a young man for a non-violent drug charge and sentenced to life in prison due to mandatory sentencing laws. In describing the young man's predicament, the president had this to say: “This is a country that believes in second chances. So we've got to make sure that our criminal justice system works for everyone.”
Blocks On Cannabis Research Loosened
Even while the DEA refused a call to reschedule marijuana and remove it from the list of substances classified as dangerous drugs with no medical use, at the same time, it loosened restrictions on growing the plant for research purposes, saying it will now allow more entities to cultivate marijuana for medical research. Until this announcement, the only spot in the country that was federally approved to grow cannabis was the University of Mississippi. The problem with that setup was that it allowed only a very limited number of strains to be researched, leaving a major gap in the data. According to marijuana advocates, this new policy is evidence of a changing paradigm in the country's view of cannabis.
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