Alibi V.28 No.44 • Oct 31-Nov 6, 2019 

Baked Goods

Ain't Enough Room In This Joint

Legalization stirs “concerns”

Baked Goods logo
Rob M.

Surprise, surprise. Certain people are getting real squirmy about legalization in New Mexico. Earlier this month, the Governor's Legalization Work Group published its recommendations for legalizing recreational marijuana in New Mexico.

They recommended comprehensive product labeling, investing in law enforcement programs, ensuring equity, maintaining a robust medical cannabis program and giving local government a modicum of control over zoning and licensing.

But according to a report made on KOB, “some medical marijuana patients are concerned the proposed framework for legalizing recreational marijuana could have a potentially negative impact on the medical cannabis program.”

None of the patients I've spoken to have expressed any concerns like these, mind you, but the article goes on to quote Jason Barker, an advocate with Safe Access New Mexico, as saying that legalization of recreational marijuana will “devastate the medical program.”

Safe Access New Mexico is the local chapter of Americans for Safe Access—a lobby group that's been running itself ragged promoting campaigns against legalization across the country. According to its website, ASA is the largest national member-based organization of cannabis patients, medical professionals, scientists and advocates. Their crusade against legalization is done, presumably, in support of medical cannabis patients.

Barker told reporters that 55 percent of our producers aren't meeting current patient demands—a stat from the New Mexico Department of Health. He said the state is acting too quickly and accused it of being “desperate to get access to that green rush tax dollars that come with legalization,” apparently ignoring the thousands of New Mexicans currently incarcerated in prison for possession of marijuana. “Safe access,” indeed. For some, anyway.

Every bone in this hipster skeleton is protesting the passion that's rising with these words, but I can't believe there are monsters out there who would put their “access to medicine” (read: “access to those green rush dollars”) above the freedom of their fellow human beings. It's gross.

And it's disingenuous. City Councilor Pat Davis, the head of the governor's legalization group, told Weekly Alibi in a recent interview that even if recreational marijuana is legalized next year, we won't see it go into effect until 2021. It takes around six weeks to grow a weed plant. Figure it out.

Will Partisanship Hurt Cannabis Reform?

A leading marijuana advocate in the Republican camp said an attempt to impeach President Donald Trump could potentially harm bipartisan efforts to reform cannabis laws over the next year.

Forbes reports that Republican Congressman David Joyce, of Ohio, said, “I haven't seen any facts that say whether the president will be impeached or not, but I do think that there are going to be a lot of raw nerves out there.” Joyce has led the way in building support for cannabis reform among House Republicans. He is co-chair of the Cannabis Caucus and helped introduce the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act,” which would give each state the power to decide its own marijuana policies without federal interference.

Joyce also pointed to recent schisms in cannabis advocacy groups over whether comprehensive cannabis reform laws should include equity provisions and criminal justice reform. He says that left-leaning advocates are making too many demands in the same breath. “I think when you put too much that's not germane on the issue—what's called loading up the Christmas tree—eventually the tree is going to tip over,” he told reporters. “I understand what they're talking about—the criminal justice issues—and I do think there's a need for criminal justice reform, and they should be taken care of in a criminal justice reform bill and let this one stand on its own.”

Some are taking his comments as a sort of threat against impeachment, but I'm pretty sure he's just being honest. Politicians on both sides have become particularly vengeful in recent years, and it's not unlikely that the GOP—who have been historically anti-cannabis for the last century—might just ditch cannabis reform altogether, pack up their toys and go home if they don't like the way the Democrats are acting toward the Dread Lord Trump.

And here’s something no one seems to be thinking about: If Trump is ousted before next year's election, the next person in line for the presidency is none other than Mike “Pot is a gateway drug” Pence. (Related but not relevant: Pence made headlines in his first few months at the White House for holding Bible study sessions led by an anti-gay, anti-Catholic, anti-woman-ministers, anti-you-name-it preacher from California—probably not Adam Schiff's idea of a dream president, I'd wager.) All these rocks and hard places are really starting to make me feel claustrophobic.

So even if Joyce is wrong, we're probably in for a bumpy year. And whether it's Republicans or Democrats, I'm betting someone will be holding cannabis reform hostage until they get something else they want.

Senators Press FDA Over CBD

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that the federal Food and Drug Administration needs to hurry up and get rules in place so hemp-derived CBD can be sold legally.

According to Marijuana Moment, a letter written earlier this month by Schumer and several other senators asked FDA Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless to outline the agency's plans for a “specific regulatory framework” regarding CBD enforcement policies. They gave the department 90 days to answer.

The FDA has said it understands the need for expediency, but there is an issue with current regulatory rules. Epidiolex is a pharmaceutical that uses CBD as its active ingredient, and according to current law, pharmaceutical drugs cannot be sold over the counter.

While all CBD-infused products beyond topicals are technically illegal, finding them on Main Street, USA, is easier than finding a decent cup of coffee. There have only been a few incidents where law enforcement has interceded. The FDA said it is currently only targeting companies that make unwarranted health claims about their products.

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