VA rejects cannabis research as veterans plead for medical pot

“Millions of veterans are self-medicating their war-caused ailments with marijuana, and they are frustrated the VA continues to dismiss the drug’s possible benefits. The VA will not expand the piecemeal cannabis research it is undertaking, despite recent bipartisan calls from Congress, doctors and veterans. And without that research, the VA continues to deny cannabis recommendations to veterans in 36 states that allow medical marijuana.”

This Woman Served 11 Years in Prison on a Marijuana Charge. She’s Been Sent Back Over a Clerical Error.

“Over the last year and a half, thousands of low-risk inmates were given the chance to serve the remainder of their sentences on home confinement. The move was meant to curb coronavirus transmission rates in overcrowded prisons. But the trial period has been viewed as a successful tactic beyond that of a COVID mitigation measure; of the approximately 4,500 released due to COVID, just three have reoffended, two of whom committed nonviolent crimes, according to Michael Carvajal, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).”

“The average annual price for a prisoner at home is $13,000; for an inmate at a correctional institution, it is almost 3 times higher at $37,500.”

A better way to legalize marijuana

“Marijuana is nowhere as dangerous as alcohol. You can quite literally drink yourself to death; the same doesn’t apply to marijuana. So it’s almost certain that legalizing marijuana the same way won’t lead to all the same bad outcomes.

Still, there are some risks. A thorough review of the research, by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, found that marijuana poses a variety of possible downsides, which can include a higher risk of respiratory problems (if smoked), an increased risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses, an increased likelihood of car crashes, a general decrease in social achievement, and, potentially, some harm to fetuses in the womb.

There’s also the real risk of addiction and overuse. As Stanford’s Keith Humphreys put it to the Atlantic, “In large national surveys, about one in 10 people who smoke [marijuana] say they have a lot of problems. They say things like, ‘I have trouble quitting. I think a lot about quitting and I can’t do it. I smoked more than I intended to. I neglect responsibilities.’ … People will say, ‘Oh, that’s just you fuddy-duddy doctors.’ Actually, no. It’s millions of people who use the drug who say that it causes problems.”

None of that is to make the argument for prohibition, which produces its own problems”

“An obvious question is: If the standard commercial model works for alcohol, why can’t it work for a newly legal drug like cannabis, too?

But this model doesn’t work well for alcohol. The nation’s second-most popular drug (after caffeine) is linked to nearly 100,000 deaths a year in the US — about the same as all overdose deaths, and more than the combined death tolls of car crashes and murders.

A different model could help. Previous research, for example, found that states that maintained a government-operated monopoly for alcohol kept prices higher, reduced access to youth, and cut overall levels of use”

This Navy Veteran Was Deported Over a One-Time Marijuana Offense. After Nearly a Decade in Exile, He’s Back in the U.S.

“Howard Bailey came to the United States from Jamaica when he was 17. He served nearly four years in the Navy right out of high school, completing two tours in Operation Desert Storm and earning a National Defense Service Medal. But when it came time for Bailey—a lawful permanent resident—to apply for citizenship, his application was denied over a one-time marijuana offense.

What was already a devastating blow then turned into almost a decade in exile, with Bailey deported to a country he hadn’t seen in 24 years. Last Wednesday, he finally won the fight to come home.”

“From 2003 to August 2018, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, over 45,000 people were deported for marijuana possession. And according to immigration lawyers and advocates, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has denied citizenship applications from immigrants who admit to using marijuana in states where it’s legal. The agency requires that applicants have “good moral character.” Even legally sanctioned behavior can come into conflict with such a subjective criterion.

Around 5,000 noncitizens enlist in the military every year, and an estimated 94,000 veterans do not have U.S. citizenship. Biden administration officials announced steps to support noncitizen veterans and service members in July, including allowing those who have been unjustly deported to return to the U.S. There are likely around 1,000 military deportees in 40 countries, and recourse for those wrongfully removed is difficult to come by.”

State Governments Are Creating Their Own Drug Cartels

“some states legalized it, hoping to put an end to the black market. But legalization hasn’t ended the violence.

Why? Because many states impose so many unnecessary rules.

California is one of the worst.

“The illicit market is approximately two to three times the size of the legal market,” says cannabis industry lawyer Tom Howard in my new video.

Illegal sales thrive in California because politicians make distribution pointlessly difficult.

Howard advises clients who want to open a dispensary, “You have to have a $50,000 safe, a $200,000 security system, and a $100,000 consultant help you make an 800-page application.”

Every single plant must be weighed, tagged, and tracked from seed to sale.

This information is “not being used to benefit anybody,” complains grower Jason Downs. “It’s just a waste of everybody’s time, money.”

While legal sellers struggle, clueless California Gov. Gavin Newsom complains: “Illegal cannabis grows! They’re getting worse, not better.”

His solution: California taxpayers now will spend $100 million to bail them out!”

“Illinois’ rules are probably the worst.

“Only ‘social equity veterans’ in Illinois can get a license,” explains Howard. In other words, new licenses are supposed to go to prior “victims of the drug war.”

But the bureaucrats’ rules are so complex that a full year after legalization, zero new licenses have been issued.

Meanwhile, politically connected people grabbed every existing license.

One billionaire from the Wrigley gum family “paid $155 million for six dispensary licenses,” says Howard. Illinois is “creating a cartel.””

“Other states have bad rules, too.

“Florida and Arizona are millionaires’ clubs,” says Howard. “You have to not only grow it; you have to be able to produce it and process it. You have to own your own dispensary. If you have $40 or $50 million, it’s great.”

Massachusetts requires all dispensaries to black out windows lest anyone see the marijuana. Stores must also check everyone’s IDs multiple times.

Legalization doesn’t have to be stupid.

Oregon and Colorado have reasonable rules, and in Oklahoma, “anyone can get a cannabis license,” says Howard, “provided you’ve lived in Oklahoma for two years.”

The result?

“You get a lot more innovation—more entrepreneurs coming into market. Some go out of business, and some do very well….It’s free market capitalism.”

That works!”

Losing Patience With Legislators, Mexico’s Supreme Court Orders Permits Allowing Consumers To Grow and Possess Marijuana

“The Mexican Supreme Court first ruled that marijuana prohibition was unconstitutional in 2015. That decision became binding nationwide three years later, when the court gave the Mexican Congress 90 days to pass a legalization bill. Legislators missed that deadline and several others, and last week the court lost patience, ordering the federal government to issue permits that will allow cannabis consumers to possess and grow marijuana at home.

Similar permits have been available since 2015, but until now they were limited to marijuana users who had filed lawsuits and obtained injunctions. Commercial cultivation and distribution remain illegal.”

“Mexico legalized limited medical use of marijuana in 2017. Last year President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confidently predicted that the legislature would approve a framework for licensing and regulating recreational marijuana suppliers in early 2021. But legislators still had not agreed on the details when the most recent court-imposed deadline came and went on April 30, and this time they did not request an extension.”

“Mexico might be the third country to legalize marijuana—or possibly the fourth, if Israeli legislators follow through on a legalization plan that was endorsed last fall by both of the major parties that controlled the government at the time. The new governing coalition, a hodgepodge of right-wing and left-wing parties, is also officially in favor of legalization.

In the U.S., 18 states, representing 44 percent of the national population, now allow recreational use of marijuana, but the federal ban remains in place. Since President Joe Biden wants to keep it that way and congressional Democrats who favor legalization are not making a serious effort to attract Republican support, the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.”

An Unbeatable Sprinter Is Defeated by an Irrational Prejudice

“Richardson, who tested positive for an inactive THC metabolite during U.S. Olympic Team Trials on June 19, said she used marijuana in Oregon, where voters approved legalization in 2014, after learning about her biological mother’s death. Had she reacted by having a drink or two, that choice would have had no impact on her athletic career.

But under the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code, which the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) enforces, THC is considered a “substance of abuse,” so designated because it is “frequently abused in society outside of the context of sport.” Although the same obviously could be said of alcohol, that drug is not considered a “substance of abuse.”

Counterintuitively, Richardson’s infraction had nothing to do with “doping” as it is usually understood, since the USADA concedes that her marijuana use was “unrelated to sport performance.” Nor does her positive test result indicate that she was under the influence of marijuana during competition, since the THC metabolite cited by the USADA can be detected in a cannabis consumer’s urine for days or weeks after the last dose.

Richardson’s cannabis consumption nevertheless had severe consequences. It nullified her first-place finish in the 100-meter trials, making her ineligible for that event at this summer’s Olympics, where she had a good shot at winning a gold medal.”

Arbitrary THC Limits Could Wipe Out Much of the Cannabis Industry

“The marijuana in that pipe was quite different from the black-market stuff I had smoked during college, when I could go through a whole bowl without experiencing the same effect. From my perspective, the Colorado cannabis was better, delivering a more pleasant experience in exchange for less effort and less exposure to combustion products. In that sense, it was also healthier.

Many politicians, by contrast, view stronger marijuana as ipso facto worse. Unimpressed by the minimization of respiratory hazards, they focus on contentious claims about the psychological impact of potent pot: It is more addictive, they say, or more likely to trigger psychotic reactions. They therefore want to legally restrict the potency of cannabis products sold by state-licensed retailers, which they claim will protect public health and safety.”

“As long as consumers understand what they are getting, you might think, they can decide for themselves which products meet their tastes and preferences, and they can adjust their consumption accordingly: Just as drinkers tend to consume smaller volumes when they drink liquor than they do when they drink beer, cannabis consumers tend to stop when they achieve the effect they want, which means they take fewer puffs of stronger pot. But politicians who favor THC limits do not trust consumers to make those decisions.”

“Vermont is the only state with a legal cap on THC content. Recreational stores have not opened there yet, but when they do they will not be allowed to sell flower that exceeds 30 percent THC or concentrates that exceed 60 percent.

A proposed limit in Florida, where marijuana is legal only for medical use, is far more onerous. It also would cap the THC content of concentrates at 60 percent, but it would limit flower to 10 percent. A bill to that effect was approved by a state House committee on a party-line vote last month; a similar Senate bill has not advanced yet.”

“In Massachusetts, HD 2841 would likewise limit THC in flower to 10 percent”

“A Montana bill described as “probably dead” would establish a 15 percent cap for all cannabis products.

In Colorado, state Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D–Adams County) this year wrote a bill that would have imposed the same 15-percent rule but shelved it in response to the uproar it provoked.”

“Legislators who support such limits think potent pot appeals to many consumers, which is why they want to ban it. But if they are right, their proposals will invite a resurgence of the black market that legalization aims to displace.”

Marijuana and Pregnancy: What Does the Science Say?

“Studies on marijuana use during pregnancy are inconsistent and inconclusive. But cannabis is not known to be teratogenic—that is, to cause birth defects—in humans. The bulk of scientific evidence suggests that risks posed to developing fetuses are relatively minor and babies exposed to marijuana in utero still fall within normal ranges of outcomes.

A 2020 review looked at longitudinal studies on “the impact of prenatal cannabis exposure on multiple domains of cognitive functioning in individuals aged 0 to 22 years” and found that “evidence does not suggest that prenatal cannabis exposure alone is associated with clinically significant cognitive functioning impairments.” Researchers did note some differences—”those exposed performed differently on a minority of cognitive outcomes (worse on < 3.5 percent and better in < 1 percent)" — although "cognitive performance scores of cannabis-exposed groups overwhelmingly fell within the normal range." A 2016 review of studies on potential ties between in utero marijuana exposure and adverse birth outcomes—things like low birth weight and preterm delivery to miscarriage and stillbirth—found "maternal marijuana use during pregnancy is not an independent risk factor for adverse neonatal outcomes after adjusting for confounding factors." Instead, any increases in adverse outcomes appeared "attributable to concomitant tobacco use and other confounding factors."" ... ""The best new evidence on this comes from a 2019 study out of Canada," Oster writes. Matching women who used cannabis with demographically similar women who didn't, researchers did "find evidence of worse birth outcomes among the cannabis users," including "an increased risk of prematurity and NICU transfer. The increases are moderate but statistically significant: preterm birth occurred in 10% of cannabis users and 7% of non-users." An August 2020 study from the same authors found marijuana use correlated with slightly higher incidences of intellectual disability and learning disorders, as well as higher chances of having autism spectrum disorder. "The percent increase is large—about 50%—and significant," Oster points out, though the researchers do note that the overall incidence rate is still small. Though the researchers tried to demographically match participants between groups, it can still be hard to totally compensate for the ways marijuana users may differ from non-users." ... "The biggest problem is that it's hard to isolate specific factors like marijuana consumption. The population of women who not only use marijuana during pregnancy but are also willing to admit to researchers that they do may differ from those who don't." ... "A review of evidence published in February 2020 "points to the possibility of lower birth weight, diminished IQ and more behavior problems among children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy, but notes it is very difficult to separate the marijuana use from other demographics or other variables,"" ... " With the limited evidence available, it may make sense for most pregnant women to avoid marijuana to minimize possible risks to their offspring. But the best choice for one woman and her baby won't be the best choice universally. For women who have extreme morning sickness that makes getting adequate nutrients through food and vitamins difficult, and for whom marijuana mitigates nausea, using cannabis might make sense. Likewise, women with certain mental health conditions helped by marijuana may deem it safer than their usual prescription drugs."