Author: Justin Mckibben
It is no secret that President Trump has not been exactly consistent with his views of drugs, specifically legalized marijuana. During the course of the campaign for President he flip-flopped a lot on whether or not he would support or oppose legalization. While a wave of marijuana reforms have continued to blossom in several states, it seems those inconsistencies are again cropping up. Now one can only guess what is going to come of the Trump administration and their strategy on marijuana.
Just this Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer came to speak on behalf of the Trump administration. Here he suggested the federal government may soon crack down on recreational marijuana use across the country. Not just as part of the “law-and-order” stance of the plan for the Trump administration, but even in states that have already legalized marijuana for recreational use.
Timeline on Trump’s Back and Forth
So just to give us an idea of how this back and forth goes, we will set a timeline of notable changes in Trump’s attitude toward marijuana.
Back in the early 90s Donald Trump actually stated that he believed the United States should legalize all drugs and use the funds from sales to educate people on the dangers of drug use. During an interview he stated:
“We’re losing badly the war on drugs,” he said. “You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars.”
Then, during the campaign of 2016 the attitude began to slip and slide at all sides of the spectrum. In June he stated he was adamantly opposed to legalization of marijuana. He still kind-of-sort-of supported medical marijuana at the time. His comments during the June CPAC Conference:
“I say it’s bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad, and I feel strongly about it,”
These comments come after a period in which he had stated he was a long-time supporter of marijuana for medical purposes.
During the same campaign, Trump was at a rally outside a casino in Reno, Nevada where he stated the government should use Colorado as a “litmus test” to properly assess the dangers of recreational marijuana. So he went from strongly opposing legalized marijuana, to supporting marijuana reforms, pending further review.
Later, the soon-to-be-President Trump had stated on the campaign trail he would only support marijuana legalization at the state-by-state level, essentially affirming he would allow the states to make up their own mind about how to handle marijuana reform.
Spicer’s comments during this week’s White House press briefing came in response to a question from a local Arkansas reporter. Spicer was asked whether President Donald Trump was OK with Arkansas’ medical marijuana law, which recently approved its regulations by the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission.
Sean Spicer now tells reporters that Trump does approve of medical marijuana use, which could help provide relief to the chronically ill. However, he is now more firmly opposed to recreational use. The notable addition to this stance is when Spicer says,
“There is still a federal law that we need to abide by … when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature,”
It is notable because now not only has President Trump done a more deliberate shift to stand against recreational use, but now the concept of “state-by-state level” seems to be out the window too. Many are outraged, Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell saying:
“On the campaign trail, President Trump clearly and repeatedly pledged that he would leave decisions on cannabis policy to the states.”
Because the federal government still considers marijuana an illegal drug, these comments indicate they plan on enforcing those rules regardless of any state’s decision.
Obama Era on Marijuana
These changes in policy are almost the exact opposite of every move made by the previous administration to combat the negative impacts of the failed War on Drugs.
Back in 2014 U.S. Congress approved legislation preventing the DEA from carrying out any raids, arrest, or prosecutions of patients using medical marijuana. It blocked law enforcement agencies under the Justice Department from consuming federal dollars in efforts to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. Under former President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice did not pursue action against states that legalized recreational marijuana use, including:
In fact, the field of politics was shifting back in 2015 when a bipartisan effort was put forth in Congress to block the DEA from using federal funding for aggressively pursuing marijuana in the states where it was legalized.
Trump Administration “Taking Action”
Yet, this week Sean Spicer suggested the Trump administration and the Justice Department will no longer turn a blind eye to those states. In fact, he states it will be “taking action” against these states. Contradicting all the talk of states’ rights and rolling back federal enforcement to attack states who have their own legislations in place.
Even worse, these comments are completely contradicting a stance Sean Spicer announced on a different issue.
Earlier in the briefing, Spicer said federal guidance telling states to allow transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity was a violation of states’ rights. In fact, Spicer had literally just moments before said:
“If a state wants to pass a law or a rule, or if an organization wants to do something in compliance with a state rule, that’s their right,” Spicer said about transgender bathroom use. “But it shouldn’t be the federal government getting in the way of this.”
To recap, the Trump administration is telling us transgender rights should be left up to the states to decide, but those same “states’ rights” do not apply to recreational marijuana use, despite the fact these states have already done their due diligence through democratic process to make these choices.
While Sean Spicer and the Trump administration don’t seem to want to compare those two subjects, Spicer is happy to relate it to another; the opiate epidemic. During the briefing the press secretary actually suggested there was some relation between states’ decisions to legalize marijuana to the opioid crisis.
The question is how is the Trump administration going to take action? Will the DEA raid dispensaries and shut down businesses and imprison business owners who are working in accordance to their state law? Will they be refusing funding to these states or providing some other form of punishment?
The Trump administration is still willing to support medical marijuana, so the people who it helps most may still be OK.
As an advocate for recovery, and as a recovering drug addict, I understand people want to feel the government is doing something to stop the rising rates of addiction. I just think there is a better place to start; education and treatment.
When it comes to the drug problem in America though, we have to address this issue rationally. The legal status of a drug does not make it any less dangerous to those who struggle with addiction. Alcohol and prescription drugs can prove that any day of the week. If we are really focused on trying to fix the problem, how about we start with those industries? The answer to the opiate crisis or general drug problem is probably more education, prevention, treatment and support.
On one hand, one could say it is good that Trump is malleable in his views so he can develop them overtime with more knowledge and reasoning. What do you think? Either way, abusing any substance is a serious issue, whether it is legal or not. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
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Author: Justin Mckibben
November 2014 was a big month for the marijuana reform movement with midterm election that set the tone for the reshaping of pot policies in America. A handful of states took the opportunity to push for legislation allowing recreational marijuana use, and others saw their voters getting closer and closer to putting similar laws into action. Now it is starting to look as if 2016 could be a big year for pot policy reform as well, especially since according to recent survey results being released the majority of voters in three crucial swing states support legalizing marijuana, a point that could put the issue on the table in the next presidential election.
So far marijuana reform has taken some pretty big leaps and bounds when it comes to legalization. Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. passed legislation that would legalize recreational use of marijuana, along with possession for anyone 21 and over, and even allowing individuals to grow marijuana themselves.
Other states such as Indiana are still pushing for medical marijuana reform, and the new U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently gave an interview with a television news program during which he openly expressed his support for the medical marijuana movement.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also suggested reclassifying marijuana to a Schedule II drug so that research on the medicinal benefits of cannabis could be researched. Marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug, making it prohibited from being used for medical research. So with all this reform, is it possible that marijuana will soon be rescheduled, and then maybe re-evaluated by more states for its usefulness?
Recent Survey Says
The Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll was released this week by Quinnipiac University, and it shows voters at a 5-1 margin in support of pot policy reform.
- 55% of voters in Florida
- 52% of voters in Ohio
- 51% of voters in Pennsylvania
Those are the voters in favor of allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, and that is just on the recreational side of the argument. Support for medical marijuana was even higher. In those same states the support for marijuana to be used for medical purpose is:
- 84% of voters in Florida
- 84% of voters in Ohio
- 88% of voters in Pennsylvania
Strangely enough, while this is a great deal of support for passing laws allowing the use of marijuana, not too many of the citizens polled said they would be using.
- 17% of Florida voters say they “definitely” or “probably” would use it
- 81% of Florida voters say they “probably” or “definitely” would not use it
- 14% of Ohio voters say they “definitely” or “probably would use it
- 84% of Ohio voters say “definitely” or “probably” not use it
- 15% of Pennsylvania voters say they are likely to try
- 83% of Pennsylvania voters say no
Some people are already ahead of the game on this one. Florida and Pennsylvania both already have pending bills to legalize marijuana in the upcoming year, and in Ohio the Ohio Rights Group (ORG) is an organization that is trying to get marijuana legalized in Ohio that has currently gathered over one hundred thousand signatures for a petition to get marijuana legalization on the ballot for next year. However the cause needs 385,000 to get it on the Ohio ballot.
What is so important about these states? Well again we are wondering what weight this topic will have on the next presidential election, and because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states.
Drug Climate Change
So far it doesn’t seem like the weed wars are quite yet over, but marijuana reform doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon either. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, recreational marijuana is legal in 3, and both are legal in Washington, D.C.
Democratic Presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton was previously opposed to marijuana legalization, but has changed her tune in recent years. She has said in the last year,
“I’m a big believer in acquiring evidence. And I think we should see what kind of results we get, both from medical marijuana and from recreational marijuana before we make any far-reaching conclusions.”
Other surveys have shown that more than 58% of Americans want the consumption of the drug legalized and many activists feel, and marijuana activists expect a huge turnout of young people at the polls, and with nearly 70% of 18- to 29-year-old Americans in support of the legalization of marijuana. So while some are worried about Hillary’s conviction and commitment to the marijuana cause, they have faith in the American people showing up in support of legalization.
So with the possibility of big change coming, and the distant hint that some think marijuana will be legal on a national level, what does that mean to the men and women who still suffer from addiction and drug abuse? Does that mean more temptation, or could it possibly mean less stigma for drug users and more access to drug treatment? Only time will tell it seems.
A drug is a drug. Marijuana is a drug, and alcohol is a drug. Legal or not, they have the ability to impact lives in a way that creates unhealthy habits and can ultimately grow into more serious and life-threatening addictions. But no matter what the drug, there is help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Currently, marijuana is labeled as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, which means that it is not considered to have any accepted medical benefits. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and crack cocaine.
As a Schedule I drug, marijuana cannot even be used to test for any possible medical benefits. But, all of that might change soon.
The new U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently gave an interview with the television program CBS This Morning during which he supported medical marijuana – despite originally opposing legalization during his confirmation hearings. During a senate confirmation hearing last year, Murthy said he opposed marijuana legalization and stated that he didn’t “think it’s a good habit to use marijuana.”
Medical marijuana has found a powerful ally in Mr. Murthy, who stated that the drug can be “helpful” for certain conditions during the interview.
Could Marijuana Be Re-Scheduled Soon?
Although some states are already allowing for medical marijuana and even recreational marijuana, as far as the federal government is concerned, marijuana is still illegal and just as much of a threat to communities as the heroin and crack scourge.
But Murthy, after admitting that there needs to be more data on the subject, urged a need for collecting data “to drive policymaking.” He appeared optimistic about the benefits of medical marijuana based on “preliminary data…for certain medical conditions and symptoms.”
And Murthy is not the only one who feels this way. Previous U.S. Surgeon Generals have also said similar things regarding the marijuana controversy. For instance, Regina Benjamin, who was the U.S. Surgeon General from 2009-2013, said she believed that marijuana could have medicinal benefits. And back in the early ‘90s, then-U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders went even further by claiming that marijuana wasn’t addictive and that she supported legalization.
Medical marijuana seems to be gaining more allies as of late. Even pediatricians’ groups have been supportive of medical marijuana research. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said they were in favor of using cannabis for children who had either severely debilitating or life-limiting conditions. The AAP has also suggested reclassifying marijuana to a Schedule II drug so that research on the medicinal benefits of cannabis could be researched.
Currently, there have not been any studies on the effectiveness of cannabinoids for children with certain medial conditions.
The AAP is firm, though, in saying that it opposes medical marijuana unless it is approved by the FDA. The AAP also acknowledged that marijuana has negative consequences including decreased concentration and impaired short-term memory. Right now, there are only two FDA-approved drugs that contain synthetic cannabinoids.
Marijuana addiction is a real condition for some people. If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, such as chemical dependence or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today. We are available 24/7 to take your call and to answer your questions. We can give you resources and help you figure out what’s next for you so that you can get back on the path towards your goals and aspirations.
The underground cannabis social clubs of Italy – CSCs – provide medical marijuana to their member-patients. All CSCs are non-commercial organizations that organize the production and distribution of small quantities of marijuana, just enough to cover the needs of members.
In Italy, personal consumption is somewhat tolerated but cultivating, buying, and selling weed is illegal. Italy legalized cannabis for medical purposes in 2013 under a special program overseen by local healthcare services, Azienda Sanitare Locale.
One CSC located, in the heart of Rome, started out as a small group who grew its own marijuana for the personal use of its members. In 2001, the social center identified three of its members who were medical patients, gave them their own bags of cannabis, and began looking for more people who could benefit from easy, continuous access to marijuana. Now with a focus on medical marijuana patients, the CSC was born.
“CSCs are based on the empowerment and responsibility [of individuals],” says Alberto, a CSC member and one of the main growers who cultivates the marijuana for the members who are unable to do so for themselves.
“Patients are not too afraid. Health is a basic human right,” says Alberto. Some members have gone to court for growing – cases that have since been thrown out – and the police once paid Alberto a visit. But as a CSC member’s daughter points out, “Who’s going to arrest a sick person?”
CSCs are a not-for-profit operation. Alberto emphasizes that “It’s a closed circuit. Everyone must show signed medical documentation clarifying their sickness and diagnosis, he explains, and all patients must already be consumers. He adds, “We don’t buy and we don’t sell.” Theoretically, this set-up helps to shield them from legal problems. And, although they operate in this gray area and provide what many believe is a valuable service for people, CSCs is still vaguely illicit.
In February 2014, Italy overturned Senator Giovandari’s co-authored bill that equated cannabis with heroin, making the penalties for marijuana possession much less strict. And the CSC benefits from Article 12 of the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights of the European Union, which states, “everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association at all levels.”
Italy finally legalized cannabis for medical purposes in 2013 after growing pressure to do so from both medical and recreational marijuana supporters. As a result, Azienda Sanitare Locale was formed; it is the special medical marijuana program that is overseen by local healthcare services.
Under this program, medical marijuana is imported from the Netherlands, and then tax and transport costs are applied, driving up costs by nearly double what it would originally sell for. A gram can go for 38 euros, or $49. Depending on how much is needed, a patient can easily pay up to 1,000 euros, or $1,200, a month for treatment. As a result, only about 60 patients have signed up for the program. For those who want cheap and easy access to weed to alleviate their medical symptoms, the restrictions put in place by the government are at best a nuisance and at worst, dehumanizing.
So, for some small groups the CSCs are the best bet at getting the medicine they need.
With medical marijuana and recreational marijuana becoming more widely accepted in this country, it might be difficult to know if your use has become more of a habit or even an addiction. If you think that your marijuana habit has gotten out of control, help is available. More and more people are seeking treatment for weed because, for them, it has become a problem. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions, day or night.
Author: Justin Mckibben
After all the news about weed winning over the midterm elections this past November, plenty of states are already making moves to get marijuana moving in their areas. Washington State had its first recreational marijuana stores opening for business this past July, ahead of the trend which only furthered the culmination of the collective effort to legalize the drug, but since then it has not all been smooth sailing.
Recently it has become apparent that some recreational marijuana outlets feel that they are being cheated by medical dispensaries thanks to one-sided policies, and many are lobbying for change.
Back in 1998 voters in Washington passed a ballot initiative offering protection for those who smoke marijuana with a doctor’s note saying they needed the drug for medical reasons against prosecution. This was a legal loophole created that allowed marijuana dispensaries sell pot to people with the notes. Washington at this point was lightly the only state that didn’t set up a patient registry or issue ID cards, and had a very laxed system that allowed a medical marijuana market to flourish.
Later on Washington passed a ballot measure legalizing the sale of marijuana for recreational use as well, which was a popular topic in 2012. Adults were now able to get high without a medical excuse, and no notes were required.
Money Makes a Difference
The 2012 initiative also established a tax and licensing regime for growers, processors, and retailers overseen by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which dictates the product testing and package labeling for marijuana products in the area.
The taxation actually made purchasing recreational marijuana about 50% more expensive than medical marijuana. Lynsee Swisher is the director of Nine Point Growth Industries, a licensed grower of strains such as Opal OG Kush, who feels that these are extra costs being imposed on growers that medical marijuana does not have to deal with.
Now retailers are trying to get more regulation put on medical marijuana, and many new retailers are hiring lobbyists to push state legislators in Olympia to get things in motion. The general goal for these growers and dispensers is that they want medical marijuana to meet the same safety standards as recreational cannabis, and for customers who aren’t true patients to be required to purchase the products from the high-tax retail markets.
Amber Lewis was hired in November by an alliance of medical and recreational businesses that want to figure a way that’s fair to both sides, as many dispensaries are bringing in their own lobbyists to make sure they get a fair stake in the changing market. Lewis stated,
“I’ve learned that in the cannabis industry, things are very loose, until they’re not,”
There is so far no exact census of how many medical dispensaries are operating in Washington, but it is safe to say that medical marijuana establishments greatly outnumber the recreational cannabis shops. That’s a tall order considering there are 334 recreational marijuana stores licensed to open.
300 marijuana dispensaries operate just in Seattle, but only 21 retail licenses were issued according to the director of the Washington State Liquor Control Board Rick Garza.
The licenses for the new retail stores have an application fee that alone made the state a lot of money. The licenses were divided by random lottery last May, and at a cost of $250 to enter with over 1,000 people applying for licenses, that little chunk of change makes a difference.
Pursuit of Change for Pot Laws
Lynsee Swisher joined the newly formed Washington CannaBusiness Association last fall, which represents licensed recreational pot sellers working with executive director Vicki Christophersen.
CannaBusiness Association is currently backing a bill sponsored by the state’s Republican Senate Majority Whip Ann Rivers, which would require medical dispensaries to meet licensing and product testing standards. That bill also aims to restrict the state’s medical-use designation of:
- Other concentrated forms of cannabis
Under this legislation only recreational stores would be permitted to sell dried bud for smoking.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles has also proposed another bill that would make retail dispensaries in Washington responsible for distributing medical pot alongside commercial products. Some feel that medical marijuana markets are cornering the market with unfair tactics to slip under the tax-man’s radar, and so many individuals in the weed business want to do all they can to make sure everyone growing and distributing marijuana is held to the same standards.
Marijuana legalization may be getting a little bit of momentum these days, but for those recovering from serious issues with drugs and alcohol; this is just one more reason to have the right kind of starting point and support for sobriety. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-851-6135