The criminalization of drugs hasn’t kept them from becoming a public health hazard — and we can’t just pretend they don’t exist. More than 106,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2021 in the United States, a number that has doubled since 2015. Three-quarters of the overdose deaths in 2021 were from opioid use, and nearly 3 million Americans struggle with opioid use disorder today. To help affected people, many are arguing for a policy of “harm reduction” to make drug use less risky. Sites provide clean syringes and alcohol wipes to prevent the spread of infectious diseases for IV drug users, for example and are prepared with oxygen masks and the anti-overdose drug naloxone to help manage bad reactions.
Something seismic happened in this election and it has nothing to do with Joe Biden winning. And yes, Joe Biden did indeed win. I’m sorry for those of you Trump fans who believe the election was rigged against him. It simply wasn’t. Yes, millions of Americans were indeed purged from the voter rolls – but they were mostly people of color. So if MAGA Nation are waiting for those votes to be counted, then Trump will actually do even worse. And I honestly don’t care if you’re thinking, “But I saw a video on Tik-Tok of someone burning a ballot and then smothering it in hot sauce and eating it.”
Voters in Oregon approved a historic ballot initiative that would decriminalize possession of smaller amounts of all illegal drugs and funnel tax revenue from legal marijuana sales into addiction treatment, potentially providing an early model for combating deep racial disparities in the criminal legal system and significantly slowing the war on drugs. Now that Measure 110 has passed with nearly 59 percent of the vote, racial disparities in drug arrests are expected to drop by an astounding 94 percent, according to an analysis by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, a state agency.
For the first time since the war on marijuana was declared by President Richard Nixon, progressive marijuana law reform was considered on the Floor of the House of Representatives, and won by a landslide. Now, it is likely to be considered by the Senate. Yesterday, members of the House of Representatives voted 321 to 103 in favor HR 1595: The SAFE Banking Act, which amends federal law so that explicitly banks and other financial institutions may work directly with state-legal marijuana businesses. If the SAFE Banking Act becomes law it will be a major advancement for legal and medical marijuana sales.
On May 31, the Illinois House of Representatives passed what is perhaps the most progressive recreational marijuana usage bill in the United States, by a margin of 66-47. The bill passed in the Senate on Wednesday by a margin of 38-17. Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign the bill immediately, which would make the recreational use of marijuana legal in Illinois as soon as January 2020, and would also make Illinois the first state to pass recreational marijuana legalization through a proposed bill rather than a ballot initiative.
Thousands of Chileans demonstrated Saturday in the center of Santiago to demand immediate changes to the way medical and recreational cannabis is regulated and accessed. The fifteenth "Cultivate Your Rights" march brought some 80,000 people together, according to organizers at the Daya Foundation, Mama Cultiva and Movimental, entities that have been working for years to legalize the use of medical marijuana and regulate its use recreationally. The demonstration toured the center of the Chilean capital and passed in front of the Palacio de La Moneda, home of the executive branch, in a festive, carnival atmosphere, with no violence reported.
St. Louis, MO: The passage of statewide adult use marijuana laws is associated with an immediate uptick in housing prices, according to an assessment published by the online service Clever Real Estate. The study determined: "States that legalize recreational cannabis see an immediate bump in home values following legalization, even without retail dispensaries opening up. From 2017 to 2019, cities where recreational marijuana is legal saw home values increase $6,337 more than cities where marijuana is illegal" after controlling for potential confounders.
Spokane, WA: The enactment of adult use marijuana sales in Washington state is not associated with upticks in self-reported marijuana use by most teens, according to data published in The Journal of Adolescent Health. A team of investigators from Washington State University, the University of Massachusetts, and the Colorado School of Public Health assessed trends in teen marijuana use and employment in the years immediately prior to and immediately following the enactment of retail marijuana sales (2010 to 2016).
AN EMBATTLED pharmaceutical company that sells the powerful painkiller fentanyl has donated $500,000 toward defeating a ballot initiative that would make recreational use of marijuana legal under Arizona law. It's hard to imagine a more sinister donor than Insys Therapeutics Inc. in the eyes of pot legalization proponents, who long have claimed drug companies want to keep cannabis illegal to corner the market for drugs, some addictive and dangerous, that relieve pain and other symptoms. Insys currently markets just one product, according to an August filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission: a sublingual fentanyl spray it calls Subsys.
The Empire doesn't understand yet what has happened. Legalizing hemp farming and hemp industries will have a profound impact on our local communities, our soil, our ecosystems and our culture at large. They don't understand that legalizing hemp, part of the new Farm Bill enacted in December, is a tremendous catalyst for change. But we do. Hemp was the first plant under human cultivation, some 10,000 years ago. Hemp farming and production was a staple of Europe and much of the world 1,000 years ago. Without hemp Europeans could not have colonized so much of the world, as hemp sails are durable and don't rot. So we have some history with the plant.
Nationwide, marijuana legalization is becoming more normal. Colorado’s dispensaries are hailed as an economic success story, and other states are following suit—New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated he’ll support legalization after New York City’s choice to gradually decriminalize the drug. The trend is global: Canada recently joined Uruguay in fully legalizing cannabis, and Lebanon is also mulling legalization. Marijuana legalization has always had its opponents—including the alcohol lobby, which wants to protect its monopoly on legal intoxicants, and the prison/industrial complex, which fears a decrease in the number of nonviolent drug offenders who keep jail cells full.
In March 2017, Illinois State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans began co-drafting the Tax & Regulate Cannabis like Alcohol bill. In the nearly two years since, Chicago NORML, a local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has encouraged Illinois legislators to prioritize social equity and criminal justice in the final version of the bill. In a January 2018 speech to industry stakeholders, then-candidate and now Illinois governor-elect JB Pritzker promised to “intentionally include black and brown entrepreneurs” in managing legal marijuana businesses in the state in order to address “historically systemic racism.”
The expansion of legal marijuana continued apace in Tuesday’s elections, with medical marijuana initiatives winning in Missouri and Utah and recreational marijuana winning in Michigan. Voters in a number of Wisconsin localities, including the population centers of Madison and Milwaukee, overwhelmingly approved non-binding referenda calling for marijuana legalization, while voters approved decriminalization in five out of six Ohio cities where it was on the ballot, including Dayton.
Two of the country's top polling organizations have released surveys this month showing support for marijuana legalization continues to increase and is now at record highs. A Gallup poll released Monday had support at 69 percent, while a Pew Research Center poll released two weeks earlier had support at 62 percent. The Gallup figure is up two points over last year, while Pew is up one. More impressively, the percentage of people supporting legalization nationwide has doubled since 2000, when both polls reported support at only 31 percent. "There is a growing sense among the U.S. population that it is time to end our nation's failed experiment with marijuana prohibition," responded Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
Canada has legalised the use of recreational marijuana nationwide, making it the first G7 country to do so. The Senate voted 52-29 on Tuesday to pass the Cannabis Act, which allows people over the age of 18 to grow, buy, and use the drug for recreational purposes. It also regulates the growth and sale of marijuana, putting strict limits on packaging and limiting home growth to four plants at a time. The bill passed the House of Commons earlier on Tuesday, and now goes to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – an outspoken supporter of the legalisation effort – to decide when it will take effect. Isn’t it about time we legalised marijuana? The vote makes Canada the second country to legalise recreational marijuana nationwide, after Uruguay. It is the first of the world's seven most advanced economies – also known as the G7 – to do so.