Senator Rand Paul (Republican from Kentucky) and Senator Cory Booker (Democrat from New Jersey) have teamed up to sponsor an appropriations amendment to defund DEA raids in medical marijuana states. The amendment mirrors a similar one passed by the US House that forbids any spending of taxpayer money by the Department of Justice to thwart the implementation of medical marijuana laws. This would curtail DEA raids of lawful dispensaries, US Attorneys’ prosecution of lawful growers, and Department of Justice threats against landlords and state officials. These amendments signal a radical shift in federal attitudes toward medical marijuana as now 22 states have passed such laws. Four out of five Democrats and three in five Republicans support legal medical marijuana and over two-thirds of both parties’ voters believe enforcing marijuana laws cost more than they are worth.
On today’s last legislative session day, there appears to be a compromise bill that would make New York the 23rd medical marijuana state. Advocates for medical marijuana gave in to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s demand that no smoking of marijuana be allowed. Patients will be allowed to use edibles and tinctures and to vaporize marijuana. The bill’s sponsor this week said prohibition of smoking was “a non-starter”, but caved when it became clear the governor would not budge. Ironically, the governor had proposed his own, more severely restrictive medical marijuana program earlier in the year that did not prohibit smoking. Advocates also conceded to the elimination of most of the qualifying conditions they’d approved medical marijuana for, like lupus, diabetes, and post-concussion syndrome, leaving only cancer, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, epilepsy, neuropathic diseases, and multiple sclerosis. The law is a pilot program that will expire in seven years, but the governor can cancel the program at any time upon the recommendation of the state health commissioner or the state police superintendent. It will take eighteen months for the law to go into effect if signed and it will mandate only five companies to grow and distribute medical marijuana statewide.
Remember yesterday when we reported on a cancelled committee hearing for a North Carolina CBD-Only bill? Now that bill has passed the North Carolina House and awaits action from the Senate. The committee that had cancelled its meeting on Tuesday met on Wednesday and unanimously passed HB1220 and sent it to the House Finance Committee. That second committee passed the bill this morning. The full House heard the bill this afternoon and passed it in a 111-2 vote. The bill would allow for the use of high-CBD / low-THC cannabis oil only by people suffering from intractable epilepsy. It would not be available for epileptic children, only adults eighteen years of age or older. The epileptic adult must have first been evaluated by a neurologist and must have tried at least three non-cannabis treatment options before being allowed to try non-psychoactive CBD oil. Patients would also have to pay $50 to be tracked in a state database accessible to law enforcement.
The Philadelphia City Council voted 13-3 today to decriminalize marijuana. If signed by the mayor, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana would only be subject to a $25 civil fine. All thirteen council Democrats supported the measure and all three Republicans opposed it. The mayor expressed concerns voiced by law enforcement, district attorneys, and the court system, but would not say whether he’ll sign the measure. The council now goes into recess for the summer, giving the noncommittal mayor time to think about signing or vetoing the measure, which the council has the votes necessary to override. The bill’s sponsor says the veto-proof majority means that the mayor ought to have police adhere to the policy immediately in order to save the city a few hundred pot arrests over the summer.
The effort by marijuana prohibitionists to turn recent medicated edibles stories into the reefer madness scare of the 2010’s appears to be failing. In a new Huffington Post / YouGov poll, only 14 percent of respondents thought that eating a “marijuana brownie” was more dangerous than smoking marijuana, while 22 percent said neither smoking nor eating marijuana was particularly dangerous. Another 39 percent said smoking or eating marijuana was equally dangerous. But when comparing that perceived danger to alcohol use, very few people think marijuana is the greater danger. Only 8 percent of respondents thought smoked marijuana was more dangerous than alcohol and only 11 percent thought eating marijuana was more dangerous than alcohol. Those who think alcohol is more dangerous came in at 41 percent vs. smoked marijuana and 42 percent vs. eaten marijuana.