Federal Cannabis Legalization Still Moving Slowly

Time for yet another entry my long-running series “Just Legalize the Damn Plant Already: Federal Edition.”

Much like The Big Bang Theory was, it’s a terrible series with bad actors that has been going on for far too long. As you may recall, cannabis has been illegal at the federal level since 1937, resulting in an incalculable loss of capital, research opportunities, freedoms, and lives.

But with the growing number of states establishing medical and adult-use cannabis programs, the explosive number of new jobs and their associated tax revenues, the passage of the Farm Act Bill which decriminalized hemp, and public opinion polls showing a solid majority of adults favoring national legalization, we are so close to full on legalization! Right? Right?

Yeah. About that…

While it’s true that there’s momentum and support within the House for legalization, their roll is stringently slowed by the Senate, which is filled with many more frightened old white men than the House is, and most of them see no benefit from changing the status quo.

Who will reside in private prisons if we legalize the demon plant? And won’t someone please think of the pharmaceutical companies?

Then there are the heads of various federal agencies, many of whom also don’t seem keen on the idea of legalization. ABC News covered last week’s joint press conference with US Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, neither whom are down.

Adams has previously established that he is not a fan of the reefer, giving an interview in July to The Hill, where he repeated the claim that cannabis available 10 years ago was on average 5 percent THC. (It was actually 10 percent and higher.)

Adams also made this absurd and patently false comparison of today’s higher potency flower, as Merry Jane reports: “I like to have a glass of wine every once in a while, but that doesn’t mean I endorse a pint of grain alcohol.” Cool false equivalency, bro.

Adams also recently warned of the dire consequences of cannabis use “by teenagers and pregnant women,” adding that he was “deeply concerned” about what he called the “rapid normalization” of the drug.

Let’s break this down. Should teens use cannabis? No. So establishing a regulated national system for adult use would establish barriers to access for teens at dispensaries, and would reduce the illicit market production and access that teens currently use.

Should pregnant women use cannabis? Although I strive to be a good ally, I neither identify as a woman, nor am I pregnant. Not my womb, not my decision.

But cannabis use by pregnant people has been going up, according to two studies cited by High Times

“Between 2002 and 2017 in a national survey, the use of marijuana in the past month by pregnant people doubled from 3.4 percent to 7 percent. And in a survey by a large national health system, cannabis use by pregnant people rose from 4.2 percent to 7.1 percent between 2009 and 2016, an increase of 69 percent.”

Additional research is certainly needed for the question of cannabis use during pregnancy, but I’m good with letting anyone who becomes pregnant do as they see fit within reason, including using cannabis.

“Rapid normalization” may be coming about as states with regulated programs are seeing benefits such as a reduction in opioid prescriptions and overdoses, and helping to inform “rapid deconstruction” of decades of blatant bullshit lies, many which were enforced and promoted as a way to punish and imprison people of color.

The populace has surged past falsehoods and worn out warnings as they come to experience cannabis for themselves.

And then—great white Jeebus, help us all—we have Trump.

Per Marijuana Moment, Trump was asked by reporter Steven Nelson “whether pot will be federally legal during his presidency, considering studies link the policy to less opioid abuse and fewer overdose deaths.”

Trump’s response isn’t encouraging, and also very Trumpian, as it is a word-salad answer given by someone rapidly sunsetting who doesn’t have the cognitive abilities to understand the subject at hand.

“We’re going to see what’s going on. It’s a very big subject, and right now we are allowing states to make that decision,” Trump said. “A lot of states are making that decision, but we’re allowing the states to make that decision.”

Josh Taylor is a well-known and successful entrepreneur in the legal cannabis space, producing B2B and B2C cannabis events, "Backstage Budtending" and upscale concierge services through his companies OregonCannabisConcierge.com and CaliforniaCannabisConcierge.com. His weekly syndicated newspaper column and features about cannabis ran for five years until March 2020.

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