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Congress finally does something

Monday, Dec 22, 2014

* An important development that I missed

Congress dealt a historic blow to the United States’ decades-long war on drugs [a week ago] Saturday with the passage of the federal spending bill, which contains protections for medical marijuana and industrial hemp operations in states where they are legal.

The spending bill includes an amendment that prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds to go after state-legal medical cannabis programs. If the bill is signed into law, it will bring the federal government one step closer to ending raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as stopping arrests of individuals involved with pot businesses that are complying with state law. […]

“Congress has finally initiated a drawdown in the federal government’s war on medical marijuana,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement. “This legislation makes it clear that the DEA has no business interfering in states’ medical marijuana laws. Taxpayer money should not be used to punish seriously ill people who use medical marijuana and the caregivers who provide it to them.” […]

Industrial hemp also received new protections from DEA intervention under the spending bill. The same plant species as marijuana, cannabis sativa, hemp contains little to no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana associated with the “high” sensation. The farm bill, which President Barack Obama signed into law in February, legalized industrial hemp production in states that permit it.

Eighteen states have legalized industrial hemp production, and more than a dozen others have introduced legislation that would authorize research into the plant, set up a regulatory framework or legalize growing it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Knome Sane - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 12:52 pm:

    Man, I am so stoked about what Congress did…uh, wait, what are we talking about again?

  2. - Amalia - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Hemp yeah! makes good farming sense. blast from the past….Hemp for victory.

    on another note, RIP Joe Cocker.

  3. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    Until they (the President and/or Congress) take cannabis out of Schedule 1, this is unfortunately, mostly just lip service. DOJ issued a “memo” years ago telling US Attorneys to stop the prosecution activity described here, but it didn’t stop all the US Attorneys. Maybe this will do more on that front, and that would be good, but this is hardly enough.

    I believe it was the ACLU that put out cannabis enforcement figures not long ago. Illinois spends at least $220 million per year on cannabis enforcement. Those were just the direct costs and don’t include the indirect costs of prohibition like the toll it takes on families of the jailed, lower productivity, increased welfare program costs for the drug arrested unemployable, and so on.

    California is bringing in $2 billion a year in tax revenues just from medical cannabis. I bet Illinois could hit $800 million quickly and easily. There’s a $1 billion impact per year on the budget right there.

    Then if Illinois were to become one of the early adopters of industrial hemp, who knows how high those tax revenues would soar. Hemp boxes, hemp paper, hemp TP, all grown and made in Illinois instead of killing trees. Imagine that.

  4. - Wordslinger - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    Reasonable start. More to be done, but it’s positive.

    In addition to overall marijuana policy, Congress needs to get involved in civil asset seizure abuse.

    Laws that were intended for use in combatting organized crime kingpins are being used to tune up small fry strictly for revenue.

  5. - URL - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    The most helpful thing Congress can do is take marijuana off the list of Schedule One drugs. This would allow for a huge expansion in scientific study that could lead to a some significant breakthroughs, like an ability to isolate the medicinal qualities of the plant from the harmful substances. Smoking the stuff — actually, smoking anything — ain’t healthy.

  6. - Robert the Bruce - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    Good. Next I hope they allow some banking for pot businesses.

  7. - Federalist - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    This is a state issue (unless federal facilities or state lines are crossed)that was federalized.

    Good to see it has been rectified.

    Now for a lot of other issues that are not specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution and therefore are a state issue under the 10th Amendment.

  8. - stoner - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    Have a healthy and Happy New Year!

    Smoke ‘em if you have ‘em

  9. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    URL 108 Google Marinol

  10. - A guy... - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    It will soon be safe to say “The whole darn country is going to pot”.

    Instead of one state at a time.

  11. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 2:39 pm:

    ==hemp TP==

    That should liven up bathrooms all around the state. It will be a regular Cheech and Chong episode.

  12. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 2:40 pm:

    ==hemp TP==

    Also a good excuse if you fail a drug test. It was the TP!!

  13. - Bill C. - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 2:57 pm:

    Anon @ 2:02

    Marinol is a synthetic drug created to mimick the effects of THC and prevent nausea. I think the point URL makes above is that it would be nice if pharmaceutical scientists could refine marijuana in a way to create more natural medicines instead of synthetics. Listing marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug restricts research that might make that possible.

    Smoking is not an ideal medicine delivery system — to say the least. Yes, marijuana can be ingested in food and “vaped” as well, but the overwhelming majority of medical marijuana users smoke it, which is an inherently unsafe behavior and hardly “medicinal.” One of the most effective treatments for malaria is a drug called Quinine, which is derived from a substance found in the bark of the South American chinchona tree. When someone presents themselves to a doctor suffering from malaria, they’re not told to chew or smoke chinchona bark. They are perscribed Quinine so the doctor knows exactly what they are ingesting and can control the dosage. We should find a way to do the same with cannabis plants, but having marijuana listed as a Schedule 1 drug makes that more difficult.

  14. - Vallerius - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 3:02 pm:

    Can you imagine if someone had suggested to Washington, Jefferson, and Adams in 1776 that we should prohibit the cannabis plant? They would be insulted. They would have protected the plant in our Bill of Rights. It’s simply ridiculous that American government would ban a natural and beneficial plant.

  15. - Pat C - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 3:18 pm:

    Listing marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug restricts research that might make that possible.

    But it didn’t stop a British firm that has vaporized form in testing. Surely it wouldn’t stop Dutch and Japanese drug firms.

    California is bringing in $2 billion a year in tax revenues just from medical cannabis

    And, of course, all that is from really sick people? Can anyone really say that with a straight face….

  16. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 3:21 pm:

    ===Listing marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug restricts research that might make that possible.===

    The farm bill allowed universities to conduct research.

  17. - Gubment - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 3:35 pm:

    Good news is $$$$ probably has nothing to do with this long-term trajectory.

  18. - Trip - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 6:10 pm:

    With President Nixon ignoring the recommendations of the Shafer Commission and placing Cannabis on the newly implemented Schedule 1 of the (CSA)with mandatory minimum sentences the modern “War on Drugs” was born. It is disturbing that over the past 40 years our government has not attempted to distance themselves from Nixon’s personal bias in favor of scientific finding and public opinion. With the Global Commission on drug Policy calling for reform I would hope our State and Federal lawmakers take it upon themselves to move forward in repealing this failed prohibition and move forward to tax and regulate this benign substance in a responsible manner.

  19. - paulalan - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 6:56 pm:

    Eliminate Black Market Cannabis to keep it off the streets so kids do not have access to it . Legalize Cannabis put percentage of taxes towards illinois schools . ILLINOIS Medicinal Cannabis Program allow Patients and Caregivers the right to GROW THEIR OWN.

  20. - Mary J - Monday, Dec 22, 14 @ 11:33 pm:

    States/government can profit with the taxes.
    Marijuana smokers are less harmful to the public than alcohol users.

  21. - Georgeatt - Tuesday, Dec 23, 14 @ 9:55 am:

    I won’t be satisfied until the average marijuana user treated with more than equal parity than the average alcohol consumer.

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