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NORML: Medical Marijuana Must Be Part Of Solution To Opioid Crisis

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: NORML ( National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) released the following statement regarding the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis first meeting this on June 16.

Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director said: “Tens of thousands of lives have been adversely impacted by the nation’s opioid epidemic. We must use every tool at our disposal to fight this crisis. Marijuana provides a safe and effective alternative for many of these patients and it is vital that the Committee does not ignore this important evidence in its discussions.”

“Given the make-up of the commission – which includes a number of longtime drug warriors such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, and former Office of National Drug Policy Control staffer Bertha Madras, it is crucial that citizens, advocates, doctors, and researchers alike elevate the science and data which shows marijuana is an effective tool in combating the opioid crisis, not the rhetoric of the failed War on Drugs.”

“Permitting marijuana sales to be regulated by licensed, state-authorized distributors rather than the black market run by criminal entrepreneurs and pushers of various other illicit drugs including opioids would likely result in fewer, not more, Americans abusing other illicit substances.”

Armentano’s latest op-ed is “Can marijuana help mitigate America’s opioid crisis?” published today in The Hill.

 

Anti-Legalization Group Calls For Medical Marijuana Research Overhaul

In a groundbreaking move for a group of its kind, a leading organization opposed to marijuana legalization released a report Thursday that seeks a major overhaul of marijuana research in the United States, calling on the federal government to recognize the medical value of cannabis.

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, called his group’s research recommendations a “third way,” positioning them between the concepts of legalization — which the group continues to oppose — and full prohibition, on a call Thursday.

While calling full legalization of marijuana “dangerous,” Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of SAM, also said that “there are so many things the government could do to offer the seriously ill experimental medications” and help to further marijuana research to potentially unlock its medical potential, without legalizing the plant.

U.S. Anti-Legalization Group Urges More Access To Marijuana Research

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  A group opposed to pot legalization is unveiling proposals on Thursday for the U.S. government to ease restrictions on scientific research into marijuana’s potential as medicine, in a first step for an organization of its kind.

The plan from Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which is co-founded by former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, comes after three U.S. Senators this year introduced a bill that would require the federal government to recognize pot’s medical value and allow states to set their own medical cannabis policies.

Kennedy will present his group’s plan on Thursday to officials in Washington, said Kevin Sabet, the group’s president and chief executive.

NORML Head Rips John Hickenlooper for Calling Colorado’s Pot Legalization “Reckless”

By Michael Roberts

COLORADO: Yesterday during a debate with Republican gubernatorial rival Bob Beauprez, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper described Colorado voter’s legalization of marijuana as “reckless.” In response, Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, calls Hickenlooper a hypocrite — and that’s not all.

As originally reported by the International Business Times’ David Sirota, Hickenlooper was asked during the debate, sponsored by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, what he would tell other states thinking about legalizing cannabis.

“Any governor that looks at doing this before we see what the consequences are, I would view it as reckless,” he replied.

Would that same term apply to Colorado voters? In response to that query, Hickenlooper said, “I think for us to do that without having all the data, there is not enough data, and to a certain extent you could say it was reckless. I’m not saying it was reckless because I’ll get quoted everywhere, but if it was up to me I wouldn’t have done it, right. I opposed it from the very beginning. In matter of fact, all right, what the hell — I’ll say it was reckless.”

This isn’t exactly a new position for Hickenlooper. Back in 2012, he actively opposed Amendment 64, the measure that ultimately legalized limited marijuana sales to adults 21 and over in Colorado; it passed with more than 55 percent of the vote. His statement about the proposal reads:

Colorado is known for many great things — marijuana should not be one of them. Amendment 64 has the potential to increase the number of children using drugs and would detract from efforts to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are okay.

Federal laws would remain unchanged in classifying marijuana as a Schedule I substance, and federal authorities have been clear they will not turn a blind eye toward states attempting to trump those laws. While we are sympathetic to the unfairness of burdening young people with felony records for often minor marijuana transgressions, we trust that state lawmakers and district attorneys will work to mitigate such inequities.

St. Pierre’s take? He understands that Hickenlooper is in a tough battle against Beauprez, who opposes marijuana legalization. But that doesn’t mean he thinks Hickenlooper’s making the right move.

“I think he’s surely caught up in an election,” he allows, “which is unfortunate, because he’s a former brewer and a seller of a drug far more dangerous than marijuana. And he also contacted NORML specifically asking for donations to his reelection, because he is championing a change of law. So it seems rather hypocritical to turn to an audience and say he thinks what the people did was reckless. What we’re seeing is a politician in full election mode.”

Do Hickenlooper’s actions belie his comments at the debate? St. Pierre argues that they do.

“In fact, Hickenlooper supports these reforms,” he says. “He has championed them against a federal government that has otherwise opposed them, and against his own law-enforcement community, which definitely opposed them. So he’s trying to have it both ways, like most politicians want it. Behind the scenes, he’s a legalizer with a capital ‘L.’ But when he’s in public, he speaks about recklessness and Cheetos.

“If I were a resident of Colorado and had a business related to cannabis in the state, I would want my governor to commit one way or the other and stop trying to have it both ways. Either he’s a person who believes adults can access these products just like they do alcohol, or he’s not. And behind the scenes, he believes otherwise. He believes this is an industry, he believes the industry’s viable, he appreciates the industry’s taxes. So he needs to be much clearer regarding what he believes adults in Colorado should be able to do in the privacy of their homes, which is what the law relegates people to right now. That’s a lot different thank walking around with the President of the United States in a beer hall.”

St. Pierre acknowledges that in comparison with all the other issues with which a governor has to grapple, marijuana is “a small slice of the pie. But in many ways, he’s been almost spineless on this topic. I can’t believe a smart politician would say to people that they were reckless — which might be a code term for dumb — but ‘now I want you to vote for me.’ That’s a very strange dynamic to set up politically.”

To St. Pierre, Hickenlooper can be characterized as “an overly repentant liberal” — his list includes Jerry Brown, Diane Feinstein, Michael Bloomberg and Project SAM’s Patrick Kennedy — “who are liberal in every sense of the word but cannot get over their previous use of a herbal drug that didn’t seem to impair them in their lives in any way.”

Moreover, St. Pierre continues, the typical politician “would kill to be as popular as marijuana. Usually in votes about marijuana, we get 54 percent, 55 percent — I’ve seen votes as high as 64 percent. Hickenlooper is a very smart, aspiring, ascending politician. But on this issue, he’s got a very blind side.”

MPP Issues Statement Regarding Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions

Sessions did NOT commit to vigorously enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have adopted conflicting laws

Earlier in the day, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer signaled that Sessions would follow Trump’s lead on marijuana policy; Trump has said states should be able to establish their own marijuana laws

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has issued the statement below in response to comments about marijuana policy that were made during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Sen. Patrick Leahy asked Sessions whether he would use federal resources to enforce federal marijuana prohibition laws in states that have adopted laws allowing the use of medical marijuana. Sen. Mike Lee also asked the nominee a question about marijuana policy.

During an appearance earlier in the day on Fox News Channel, President-elect Donald Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer signaled that Sessions would adhere to Trump’s position that states should be able to establish their own marijuana policies. “When you come into a Trump administration, it’s the Trump agenda you’re implementing and not your own,” he said. “I think Senator Sessions is well aware of that.”

Statement from MPP Director of Federal Policies Robert Capecchi:

“It is notable that Sen. Sessions chose not to commit to vigorously enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have reformed their marijuana laws. He also recognized that enforcing federal marijuana laws would be dependent upon the availability of resources, the scarcity of which poses a problem. He was given the opportunity to take an extreme prohibitionist approach and he passed on it.

“‪It’s also promising that Donald Trump’s spokesperson said earlier in the day that the next attorney general would follow the president-elect’s lead on the issue. President-elect Trump has made it clear that he supports states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies. Considering both Sen. Sessions and Mr. Spicer’s comments, we remain cautiously optimistic that the incoming administration will continue the current policy of not interfering with individuals and entities acting in compliance with state marijuana laws.”

More Pot, Safer Roads: Marijuana Legalization Could Bring Unexpected Benefits

WASHINGTON:  The anti-pot group Project SAM claims drug test data show that marijuana legalization in Washington, approved by voters in that state at the end of 2012, already has made the roads more dangerous. The group notes with alarm that the percentage of people arrested for driving under the influence of a drug (DUID) who tested positive for marijuana rose by a third between 2012 and 2013. [Read more…]

Drug Agent Joins Budding Industry

WASHINGTON: Government officials regularly leverage their public-sector experience into more lucrative jobs in high finance. One former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor is giving that track a new twist.

Patrick Moen, a longtime DEA agent, has left a post leading a federal team in Portland, Ore., that combats heroin and methamphetamine trafficking to join a private-equity firm that invests solely in businesses tied to the budding legal marijuana industry.

“The potential social and financial returns are enormous,” says Mr. Moen, who is becoming managing director of compliance and senior counsel of Privateer Holdings Inc. “The attitudes toward cannabis are shifting rapidly.”

A DEA spokesman declined to comment. [Read more…]

Joint Venture

WASHINGTON: Jim Willett has never smoked pot.

His teenage sons think he’s a square. A former Navy pilot, he spent a year doing drug interdiction flights along the Washington coast, checking for ships carrying bales of marijuana. For the graying retiree, voting against the state’s legalization of recreational weed (Initiative 502) was pretty much a given.  [Read more…]

Marijuana Entrepreneurs Line Up to Cash In

WASHINGTON: Jim Willett has never smoked pot. His teenage sons think he’s a square. A former Navy pilot, Willett spent a year flying drug interdiction patrols along the Washington coast, checking for ships carrying bales of marijuana. For the graying retiree, voting against the state’s legalization of recreational weed last fall was pretty much a given. [Read more…]