Commentary

Could marijuana policy be one area on which the right and left finally find some common ground?

Marijuana legalizationThose desperately seeking some hopeful news from the divided world of modern American politics will find a measure of it in an article published yesterday by John Hudak of the Brooking Institution. In “Why the CARERS Act is so significant for marijuana policy reform,” Hudak explores the growing bipartisan movement to remove existing federal roadblocks to the safe and sane implementation of medical marijuana policies in nearly two dozen states.

“CARERS” is the acronym that’s been developed for the “Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act.” This is from Hudak’s article:

“CARERS, as its name implies, addressed policy challenges in a variety of areas, involving a variety of stakeholders. It seeks to protect patient access in states with existing medical marijuana programs from federal intervention. The current state of policy offers patient protection through an informal agreement with the Obama administration. CARERS codifies the collection of Justice Department memos that currently duct tapes together federal marijuana policy.

CARERS also expands opportunities for medical and scientific researchers to study marijuana and its therapeutic uses. The legislation makes it easier for researchers to be registered and approved to study the drug and reduces some of the currently onerous rules research institutions must follow in order for marijuana studies to be conducted on their campuses. The bill also breaks down the current DEA-mandated, NIDA-contracted monopoly on the production of research-grade marijuana by expanding the number of federal government-approved grow operations.

CARERS, among its other provisions, seeks to specifically address two of the biggest challenges the current federal framework poses for state-level medical marijuana systems: veterans’ access and banking issues. The legislation would allow (not require) VA doctors—only in states with legal medical marijuana programs—to recommend medical marijuana to wounded warriors who qualify under a state’s laws. In addition, CARERS transforms current federal banking laws that would allow cannabis enterprises in medical marijuana states to have access to traditional banking services. Those reforms would lower costs to businesses (and thus consumers), shift the medical marijuana market away from its current cash-only system, and ultimately increase the safety that financial products provide firms and customers.”

What makes the proposal even more promising than its substance, however, is the bipartisan support it enjoys. Again, here’s Hudak: Read more

Commentary

New polling numbers offer encouragement on marriage equality, pot and guns

Tom JensenOne of the nation’s most respected pollsters — Tom Jensen of Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling — is out with some new and encouraging results from the state of Washington that seem likely to be a harbinger for for the nation.

The bottom line: New laws legalizing marijuana, same sex marriage and toughening gun control are all increasingly popular and seen by voters as no big deal. This is from a release distributed yesterday:

“Over the last couple elections voters in Washington legalized gay marriage and marijuana, and enacted background checks on all gun sales. Our newest poll in the state finds that all three of those new laws are even more popular now after being implemented than they were when voters first approved them.

In 2012 Washingtonians voted to approve gay marriage by 8 points. Now voters in the state say they support gay marriage by 20 points, 56/36. 78% of voters say that its being legal has either had a positive impact on their life or no impact at all, with only 22% claiming gay marriage has affected them negatively. Also 65% of voters in the state think gay conversion therapy should be illegal to only 14% who think it should be allowed. Majorities of voters across party lines- 78/6 with Democrats, 63/14 with independents, and 51/27 with Republicans- think conversion therapy should not be allowed.

Also in 2012 Washingtonians voted to legalize marijuana usage by 12 points. Now voters in the state say they support marijuana being legal by 19 points, 56/37. 77% of voters say marijuana being legal has either had a positive impact on their life or no impact at all, with likewise only 22% claiming marijuana legalization has affected them negatively.

Just last fall Washingtonians voted to legalize background checks on all gun sales by 18 points. Now voters in the state say they support background checks on all gun sales by 44 points, 68/24. 82% of voters in the state say extended background checks have either had a positive or no impact on their lives, while only 18% claim a negative impact. Even among gun owners 78% grant that extended background checks have had no adverse effect on their lives, and they support the policy 61/31.

Washington voters were on the leading edge of legalizing gay marriage, marijuana, and extended background checks. And since those policies went in effect the verdict has been no big deal, leading to their increasing popularity.”

Click here for all of the PPP results.

Commentary

Medical cannabis bill killed in the House Judiciary Committee

MarijuanaA bill to legalize medical marijuana, introduced by Representative Kelly Alexander, was considered by the House Judiciary I Committee today. Despite heart-wrenching testimony from veterans and others with serious medical conditions, the committee took less than thirty seconds to vote to give the bill an unfavorable report.

If passed, the bill would have allowed North Carolinians to obtain prescriptions and legally buy cannabis from licensed distributors. The distributors in turn would have purchased the plant from licensed growers, who would have been regulated by the Department of Agriculture. The bill would have taxed each sale of marijuana at 5% and created a revenue for the state.

Read more

Commentary

Marijuana reform: Ex-military and Republican activists now on board

MarijuanaThe movement to end marijuana prohibition is slowly and quietly gathering steam in North Carolina — sometimes with surprising champions.

As WRAL.com explains, a large group of activists came to the General Assembly yesterday:

“About 150 people turned out Thursday to lobby state lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana, marking the largest turnout in years. Even supporters of legalization say it’s unlikely to happen this year, but they say momentum is growing.

Tammy Tiffany, who hurt her back in an accident four years ago, uses medical marijuana to manage the pain. She said it gave her her life back from prescription drugs.

‘I don’t want to do the pain pills any more, the opiates, the anti-depressants,’ Tiffany said. ‘It’s a rabbit hole. When you go down, it’s very hard to come back out of, and it can cost you your life.'”

Meanwhile, as an article in the Fayetteville Observer explained, those championing legalization include a growing group of military veterans who are pushing to make the drug legal for pain management.

“The veterans, mostly retired senior noncommissioned officers or officers, have something else in common: They are Republicans.

The Fayetteville veterans are the core of the growing North Carolina Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, or N.C. RAMP.”

Yesterday’s lobby day came as at least two significant bills with multiple sponsors now await action in the General Assembly: the “Enact Medical Cannabis Act” and “Medical Marijuana for terminally Ill Patients” proposal. As the Observer article notes, there is also bipartisan legislation in Congress on the subject.

Stay tuned. There may finally be some light at the end of the tunnel on the move to end this important issue.

Uncategorized

NC House action on marijuana extract for epilepsy a start, but not enough

In case you missed it, Mike Meno of the ACLU of North Carolina posted the following insightful essay last Friday about action by the state House to allow physicians to recommend an oil derived from marijuana for treating certain epilepsy symptoms:

Marijuana legalizationNC House Overwhelmingly Approves Marijuana Extract for Epilepsy, but Ignores Countless Others Who Could Benefit from Compassionate Laws

Yesterday, the North Carolina House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow neurologists to recommend an oil derived from marijuana compounds to certain patients suffering from epileptic conditions. The legislation was inspired in part by 7-year-old Charlotte Figi, who made national news on CNN for a chronic, debilitating condition that could be relieved only through the marijuana-based treatment. Charlotte suffered up to 50 painful seizures a day before her parents discovered that an oil derived from a strain of marijuana that was high in the cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) but low in the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) virtually ended her seizures entirely and allowed her to live a happy and healthy life. Read more