Cannabis news occupied a dominant position in the headlines for the week of April 7-14, 2018 – for all the right reasons. A new study concluded adult-use legalization is directly linked to a reduction in crime and alcohol use; US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation on Capitol Hill to remove hemp from the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), and the GOP’s ex-speaker of the House, John Boehner, seeks the removal of marijuana from the CSA – after signing on as an adviser for Acreage Holdings.
It was another busy week for cannabis reform across the US: As Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch called on the Department of Justice to stop blocking medical marijuana research, President Trump “promised” Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner he’ll support congressional efforts to protect states with less-prohibitive laws.
In a country where marijuana remains a Schedule I narcotic – the US remains a hit-and-miss place where the cannabis community has seen political promises come and go while elected officials chase the next big-ticket agenda item.
Legalization = Reduced Crime
Cannabis legalization has led to a noteworthy drop in illicit drug use, alcohol abuse, and criminal activity, according to a study performed by Italian researchers at the University of Bologna. The research examined a 24-month period in 2013 to 2014 after voters legalized recreational marijuana in Washington state – and before Oregon ended prohibition. The research appears in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, published by Amsterdam-based Elsevier.
The researchers concluded that legalizing marijuana “caused a significant reduction in rates and property crimes on the Washington side of the border” with Oregon during the examined time frame.
Hemp Farming Act of 2018
Introduced by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Oregon’s Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would remove hemp from the CSA and establish the crop as an “agricultural commodity,” according to a press release published Thursday, April 12, 2018.
If Congress passes the legislation and it’s signed into law, the bill would allow states to regulate the cultivation of hemp, and would open the door for hemp researchers to apply for federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additionally, the bill would allow hemp farmers to apply for crop insurance.
Federal law treats hemp like it’s a dangerous drug, but the only thing you’re going to accomplish by smoking hemp is wasting breath, time and lighter fluid.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) April 12, 2018
John Boehner Supports Descheduling Marijuana
On Wednesday, John Boehner, former Republican House Speaker from Ohio, tweeted his support for “de-scheduling” cannabis “so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.” Coincidentally, Boehner also declared in the same tweet, “I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved.” One of the largest cannabis companies in the United States, Acreage Holdings also appointed former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, an ex-Republican who ran as Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s running mate in 2016, to its board of advisers.
In a high-functioning democracy, public policy requires the full participation of its citizens. While most elected officials of both parties have historically found it politically expedient to maintain the status quo of cannabis prohibition, on Nov. 6, 2018, many policymakers could find themselves on the losing side of history — at least as far as marijuana goes.