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A key Senate committee on Thursday passed a bill allowing the nation’s capital to establish regulated marijuana stores and let banks provide financial services to state-legalized marijuana dispensaries.
These are just two of several marijuana reforms advancing in Congress, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). Meanwhile, sentencing reform is gaining steam, and the U.S. is shifting towards treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue.
“The stage has been set to end the federal government’s failed war on marijuana,” said Michael Collins, policy manager at DPA’s Office of National Affairs. “A bipartisan consensus has emerged in favor of reform.”
Last November nearly 72 percent of D.C. voters approved a ballot measure making it legal to possess and grow marijuana for personal use. The campaign to pass Initiative 71 was driven by public demands to end racially-biased enforcement of marijuana laws and was seen as the first step at taking marijuana out of the illicit market.
The amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, would prohibit the Treasury Department and its enforcement arm, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, from using federal funds to punish banks that provide financial services to marijuana businesses that are operating legally under state laws.
Many banks are currently unwilling to provide depository and other basic banking services to marijuana businesses because the substance is still illegal under federal law. Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other government officials say marijuana businesses need to have access to banking because operating entirely in cash raises significant public safety concerns.
A similar amendment was passed by the full House of Representatives in 2014, but was ultimately stripped out during the final omnibus budget negotiations conducted by the Senate. The House has not yet debated the Financial Services Appropriations bill in 2015, but a repeat of the cannabis banking amendment is anticipated if and when that debate takes place.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday hosted a Congressional Briefing with Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on federal barriers faced by researchers working to understand the medical uses of marijuana.
The briefing provided expert insights on how federal policy has undermined medical marijuana research and the state of contemporary medical marijuana research from Dr. Sue Sisley and Dr. David Casarett. Brooking Institute Fellow John Hudak discussed the practical impact of reform proposals.
“ASA put together this briefing so Congress could hear, directly from top researchers, how to make increased medical marijuana research a reality,” said Steph Sherer, ASA executive director. “These experts can tell us firsthand how the federal government’s policies undermine research and how reforms like the CARERS Act can move this essential medical research forward.”
Dr. Sisley will present insights on how federal barriers have directly blocked her research on using marijuana to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, including the adverse impacts of the Drug Enforcement Agency licensing only one entity (National Institute on Drug Abuse) to grow the federal research supply of marijuana. Dr. Casarett, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and author of the recently published book, Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana, will discuss contemporary medical marijuana research.
The judges, in a split decision, acknowledged that the odor of cannabis, whether fresh or just smoked, had formerly been enough to provide the cops with probable cause that a crime was taking place, giving the basis to go to a judge to get a warrant for permission to enter and determine the source of the smell. But Judge Peter Eckerstrom, writing the majority opinion, said that all changed in 2010 when voters approved the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
“Medical marijuana use pursuant to AMMA is lawful under Arizona law,” Judge Eckerstrom wrote. “Therefore its scent alone does not disclose whether a crime has occurred.”
The smell of marijuana, absent other evidence, doesn’t provide the consitutional basis for a search, Eckerstrom wrote. Instead, the court set up what is being called an “odor-plus” standard of probable cause.
Purple Haze, a recreational marijuana store in Everett, Washington, has become the only outlet in the state to be caught twice selling cannabis to minors, ironically calling to mind one of the themes of the 2012 I-502 legalization campaign, which was “illegal pot dealers don’t ask for I.D.”
Bonnie Arnestad, who owned two homes next door to the shop, wanted city leaders to keep it out, and now she feels totally vindicated, reports Joel Moreno at KOMO News. Gee, thanks, Purple Haze, for confirming all the worst stereotypes about marijuana, with the added insult of having done that under the I-502 banner.
Remember, owners of these recreational pot shops were the movers and shakers who convinced the Washington Legislature this past spring to pass SB 5052, which for all practical purposes, shuts down safe access through medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. Now that they’ve taken out the competition, do they feel comfortable doing the same things they were accusing the medical dispensaries of doing — but which they never proved?
“I think they should have lost their license after the first one because that was less than six months from their opening,” Arnestad said.
Organizers of a petition drive to place a referendum on November’s ballot reported they won’t be turning in signatures by the deadline this week.
“I regret to report that the Referendum 76 effort has fallen short of the number of signatures gathered to qualify for the November ballot,” organizer Don Skakie posted on the R76 NO Facebook page on Tuesday. “This was made known to the Elections Office yesterday afternoon and has appeared in the press already.
“While things are bad for patients, the struggle continues,” Skakie said. “Please support Real Legalization through Initiative 739 for home growing, collecting signatures through December 31, 2015.”
In yet another demonstration of the broad usefulness of cannabis for a range of diseases and injuries, Israeli scientists have discovered that marijuana can be effectively used in healing broken bones, and possibly in treating skeletal illnesses.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research a study that showed cannabis includes a component which enhances the healing process of fractured bones, reports RT.com.
Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, sped up the healing process in broken leg bones of trial rats with mid-femoral fractures, the study found.
“While there is still a lot of work to be done to develop appropriate therapies, it is clear that is is possible to detach a clinical therapy objective from the psychoactivity of cannabis,” said Dr. Yankel Gabet of Tel Aviv University’s Bone Research Laboratory. “CBD, the principal agent in our study, is primarily anti-inflammatory and has no psychoactivity.”
Toke Signals Must Read of the WeekMedical Marijuana: Corporate Control vs. Compassionate Use
By John Novak
Treasurer, The Viper’s Club
It has been incorrectly argued by large corporate interests that no more than 150 or so varieties handled by one or two corporations will be enough for every condition. This argument is inaccurate as it clearly lacks the most basic horticultural knowledge of maintaining an expanding, dynamic gene pool. Access to stabilized varieties, especially heirloom and landrace, provides a large gene pool for horticulturists worldwide.
One real world sad example outside of cannabis is the Cavendish banana. Lack of genetic diversity has placed this kitchen favorite in a precarious position, and the danger posed to its continued existence by disease is well documented.
Patients rely on a large variety of varieties being made available because of the unique properties of each plant’s phytocannabinoids and terpene content. Not only is each variety different, but each plant is unique.
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