Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) suggested Tuesday that the Obama administration’s support of marijuana legalization has sent children the message it’s acceptable to use the drug. Grassley’s comments came in response to a National Institutes of Health study showing that a majority of high school seniors don’t think occasionally smoking marijuana is harmful. Only 16.4 percent of respondents said it puts people at risk, down from 27.4 percent in 2009. “When kids receive the message that marijuana use is acceptable and even welcome, it’s no wonder that the perception of harm from marijuana goes down,” Grassley said in a statement. “By offering pro-marijuana messages, the president and his top appointees are working at cross purposes with the federal government experts who are trying to stop drug use among teenagers. Those of us in the public eye have an obligation to make sure kids understand the dangers of all drug use, including marijuana,” Grassley said.
Teen alcohol and drug use — including marijuana use — was down across the board in 2014. That’s the big take-home from the 2014 Monitoring the Future study, an annual survey of 40,000 8th-graders, 10th-graders and 12th-graders by the University of Michigan and the National Institutes on Drug Abuse. It’s notable both for its size and for the fact that it was conducted this past spring, in the midst of a nationwide conversation about drug reform in the run-up to the midterm elections. Fewer than 15 percent of 12th-graders reported using cigarettes any time in the past month, down from well over 35 percent in the late 1990s. Monthly alcohol use dropped from nearly 55 percent of 12th-graders in 1992 to less than 40 percent in 2014. Even marijuana, which has been on a flatter trajectory since the 1990s than the other substances, is down year over year.
After 18 months overseeing the medical marijuana dispensary program, Tom Burns was named director of marijuana programs for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the agency charged with implementing the new law that regulates the production and sale of cannabis for the recreational market. Steven Marks, executive director of the liquor control commission, said Burns’ experience building the medical marijuana dispensary program made him the ideal fit for the job. He’ll be charged with shepherding the complex rule-making process that will guide how marijuana is produced, taxed and sold in Oregon. And he’ll have to do it on a tight timeline: By law, new rules for the industry must be in place by late 2015 and the state must begin accepting applications for growers, processors and retailers by January 2016. The job comes with a $101,952 annual salary. Marijuana industry insiders applauded Burns’ appointment, saying he’s approached the job with an open mind.
Earlier this year, Peter Thiel caused a stir when he accused Twitter’s management of being high on pot. Now, Thiel’s Founders Fund is likely participating in a large round of financing in a cannabis startup, Privateer. Privateer quietly bought up Leafly, which is like Yelp for weed products. In 2013, Privateer launched Lafitte Ventures, which focuses on medical marijuana, and Tilray, which mails medical weed to users and generated nearly $200,000 in revenue last year. Privateer is also exploring a testing facility (Arbormain) in Washington State. Privateer is already generating meaningful revenue, although the company is not profitable. In 2014 it expects to generate nearly $11 million in net revenue, up from $1.2 million in 2013. Most of that revenue (60% to 70%) is generated by Lafitte Ventures, and the rest is from Leafly. Privateer expects to reach profitability and generate $111 million in 2015 and $440 million in 2016.
Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914. Concerned citizens and a coalition of organizations including representatives from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) will gather in cities nationwide on Wednesday at noon on the steps of courthouses and other civic buildings to call for responsible drug policy reforms. The Harrison Narcotics Act is considered one of the first American prohibitionist policies. While on its face the law merely regulated opiate and cocaine products in medical settings by licensing those involved in the market, a portion of the bill was interpreted to mean that doctors no longer had the authority to prescribe narcotics as a maintenance treatment for drug-addicted patients. The consequences of this misinterpretation and increased enforcement have resulted in mass incarceration of people who would be far better served by medical and psychological professionals than the penal system.