Last week Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., told reporters that if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is elected president in November, cannabis legalization will likely become one of the top issues on the legislative agenda in 2021.
Markey made similar statements back in July to the Young Jurks’ Mike Crawford. There, he said that Democrats would be able to advance cannabis reform in both chambers of Congress in 2021—with or without Biden’s support. He said President Donald Trump’s administration is the only thing standing in Congress’ way.
The likelihood of that statement being true seems especially low, however, considering not only Biden’s personal distaste for marijuana legalization, but the Democratic party’s failure to include legalization on this year’s platform.
We shouldn’t talk about the fact that 69 percent of Democrats and even 54 percent of Republicans now favor marijuana legalization, according to a poll by Data For Progress that just came out, because it’s going to hurt my feelings—but we will anyway.
Overall, a mind-blowing 62 percent of respondents were in support of full legalization. And 69 percent of survey respondents (78 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans) thought the federal government should respect states’ rights to legalize and keep its nose out of what isn’t its business. But despite an overwhelming sea change that has seen the majority of voters on both sides of the aisle suddenly agree on an issue that used to be a divisive as abortion, neither party seems willing to budge.
It’s almost as if the people running these parties don’t actually care what you think at all.
Nevertheless, during a forum hosted by the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts last week, Markey said once again that putting Biden into the Oval Office would push cannabis legalization onto Congress’ radar. “Ultimately at the federal level—beginning on Jan. 20, 2021, when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in—we create the programs that makes it possible for businesses to gain access to the capital they need in the minority community so that they can establish their own businesses in the cannabis sector,” he claimed.
A study has deduced the obvious and found that states with legalized cannabis had fewer vaping-related lung injuries during the outbreak last year.
You can remember it, right? Back before we developed our deep fear of respiratory diseases—near the end of 2019—a spate of vaping-related lung injuries slashed across America, leaving fear and paranoia in its wake. Victims suffered severe internal burns on their lungs if they even survived. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there have been over 2,800 cases of lung injury and 68 deaths related to the use of vaping products since August 2019.
After an impassioned anti-vaping effort made by Melania Trump, President Trump nearly banned all flavored nicotine e-juice (the liquid used in vaping rigs) but ended up banning only the flavored disposable pods. Anti-cannabis interests pushed to ban THC- and CBD-infused vape products, and in some states they succeeded.
But it was quickly discovered that the source of the mysterious injuries wasn’t the practice of vaping in and of itself; it was Vitamin E acetate—a product used in some topical beauty products that was also being used as an additive in black market THC oil cartridges.
Now the Yale School of Public Health has published a study in the journal Addiction that states with the lowest number of injuries per capita had the longest-running and most robust cannabis markets in the nation.
According to the study, the first five states to legalize recreational cannabis—Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington—all had less than one vaping-related lung injury case per 100,000 residents aged 12 to 64. Utah, North Dakota, Minnesota, Delaware and Indiana saw the highest number of cases per capita, and none of them have legalized recreational marijuana.
Meaning (of course) that the only safe place to buy a cartridge of THC oil is at a dispensary. To many a politician’s chagrin, this seems to support the idea that keeping cannabis illegal counter-intuitively increases the dangers associated with its consumption.
The US House of Representatives is set to vote on federal marijuana decriminalization next month in a doomed gesture.
Politico reports that the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and expunge some cannabis criminal records. A statement from Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s office told supporters that the House would be voting on the MORE act soon.
The bill would create grants to support individuals adversely affected by the Drug War through the Department of Justice and the Small Business Administration and provide assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners entering into the industry. It would remove some cannabis offenses from the record but wouldn’t actually legalize it. Instead, it would be up to individual states to come up with their own policies.
In any case, the bill probably won’t get far. The House might pass it, but the Mitch McConnell-run Senate will almost assuredly crush it before it even gets out the gate.
Maybe it’s news because Sen. Kamala Harris signed on as co-sponsor, and God knows she could use some press that doesn’t make her look like a cold-hearted cop. Now she can actually point at something and claim she’s pro-cannabis. Bless her.