Month: May 2021

Psychedelics in Recovery Form a Promising Community for Healing and Growth

The medicinal psychedelic revolution is in full swing and the early reports are extremely promising. A recent Johns Hopkins study found psilocybin mushrooms an effective treatment for depression while researchers at the University of California have found MDMA an effective PTSD treatment. With Johns Hopkins creating the first endowed psychedelic professorship on the planet, it’s easy to imagine more and more positive research coming to fruition over the coming years. With depression, drug overdoses, and suicide plaguing far too many people in our nation, we can expect more people to seek out psychedelics as more scientific advancements are made and the general public is made aware of psychedelics’ efficacy. Psychedelics in Recovery (PIR) co-founded by Dimitri M. and based upon the 12-step tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous has exploded in popularity during COVID times, providing those seeking to end their harmful drug use, a community of like-minded folks that considers psychedelic treatments as acceptable, as Rolling Stone reported:

People from across the world began showing up, people in all stages of life and recovery, some even joining from treatment facilities. At the beginning of 2020, PIR consisted of a single weekly online meeting and occasional in-person meetings in New York or San Diego. By the summer of 2020 it had grown to 17 meetings per week with as many as 40 people in a single group.

An average meeting can veer into how a DMT trip might inspire a member to realize the existence of a higher power, or how a Peyote experience may remind a member of the people they hurt during active addiction. Dimitri believes that this is no accident, that psychedelic treatment and the 12 steps were meant to be used in tandem. He says the purpose of both is the pursuit of becoming “a mensch.”

With over 20 veteran suicides everyday, and states tragically breaking overdose records, it is imperative that we seek out all safe treatments for addiction and all mental health issues. Unfortunately, the Drug War has stigmatized psychedelic treatments, denying people from beneficial medical treatments for far too long. Thankfully, the truth is setting psychedelics free, step by step.

The Oregon Cannabis Industry Generates About $1,500 Per Resident

While the overall record-breaking sales and revenue numbers don’t tell the entire picture about the cannabis industry, they do paint an illustrative picture about the economic benefits legal cannabis bring to Oregon. After back-to-back record breaking sales months, the Oregon cannabis industry topped $110 million in sales for the very first time last April, with adult-use transactions crossing the $100 million mark and medical sales adding about $10 million. While April 20th always sparks cannabis sales, as Pete Danko at the Portland Business Journal reported, business is booming beyond just connoisseurs stocking up for celebrations:

“With the 4/20 cannabis “holiday,” April always brings big promotional efforts by retailers. But sales this April were 23% higher than last year and a whopping 77% higher than April 2019.

“For the first four months of 2021, sales are running 31% above last year, at $409.4 million.

“About 91.2% of that total, $373.4 million, was spent on adult-use products that are taxed at 17% by the state and 3% by cities or counties. Medical sales are not taxed.”

And as MJBizDaily found, the economic impact of the cannabis industry goes far and beyond just the total sales numbers:

“In this case, for every $1 consumers and patients spend at retail locations, an additional $2.50 will be injected into the economy, much of it at the local level.

“That impact comes directly from the day-to-day needs of workers in the cannabis industry, including spending on life’s necessities such as housing, transportation, entertainment and more.

“Marijuana businesses, consumers and patients also pay hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local taxes that are used to fund state and local government activities, including schools and roads.”

According to analysis from the the recently published 2021 MJBizFactbook, the Oregon cannabis industry will generate over $10 billion for the state over the coming years, bringing in nearly $1,500 per resident. On a per capita basis, the Beaver State ranks among the highest, with Nevada topping the list at about $1,900 per citizen. While California reigns supreme on bulk numbers, per capita the Golden State’s industry contributes a little more than $500 of economic impact per person.

It’s rather amazing how well the Oregon cannabis industry has done overall, especially considering how entrepreneurs have had to endure a lot of regulatory hurdles. Throw in federal prohibition, a lack of banking services, and the ridiculous 280e IRS tax code, and it is a testament to Oregonians hard work, dedication, and perseverance that craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf have managed to survive and thrive. With momentum clearly on the cannabis community’s side, the future’s looking brighter and brighter. And greener and greener.

When you shop at Kind Leaf, you are helping spur the local economy and supporting a small business that gives back to the local community. Come see the best selection in the Great Northwest or order online via Leafly pickup. There are always great deals for everyone and discounts for military veterans, OMMP patients, and all senior citizens.

Johns Hopkins Endows First Professorship on the Planet with Psychedelics in the Title

It’s evident that we are in the midsts of a psychedelic medicine revolution, relatively similar to the medicinal cannabis movement during the 1990s. As with any movement, there are giants that paved the way by challenging social and cultural norms while combating Drug War propaganda and policies, with each positive step creating more space for others to follow. Whether in science or politics, pioneers of movements, many of whom remain hidden from the limelight and accolades from most, make change possible. Sometimes major breakthroughs seem decades away, if even possible, and then suddenly, anything and everything seems on the horizon. Will drug policy reformers look back at Oregon Measures 109 and 110 in the same way that we look back at California Proposition 215 legalizing medical cannabis back in 1996? Potentially, but only time will tell.

Before Oregon voters allowed medicinal psilocybin treatment and decriminalized personal drug possession, there were several successful local measures, and decades of important research that made change possible in 2020. I imagine that many, certainly myself, will look back at Johns Hopkins University endowing the Susan Hill Ward Professor in Psychedelics and Consciousness at Johns Hopkins University to Matthew Johnson as one of the foundational milestones of the psychedelics movement, if not in the greater battle to implement more sane and sensible drug policies, based upon science instead of misinformation and hyperbole. For too long, the prison-industrial complex and other special interests have perpetuated harmful propaganda designed to dehumanize and delegitmize people, with dreadful consequences, including a mass incarceration epidemic that remains an international embarrassment.

Last November, Johns Hopkins released the press release, “Psychedelic Treatment with Psilocybin Relieves Major Depression, Study Shows”:

“In a small study of adults with major depression, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report that two doses of the psychedelic substance psilocybin, given with supportive psychotherapy, produced rapid and large reductions in depressive symptoms, with most participants showing improvement and half of study participants achieving remission through the four-week follow-up.

“A compound found in so-called magic mushrooms, psilocybin produces visual and auditory hallucinations and profound changes in consciousness over a few hours after ingestion. In 2016, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers first reported that treatment with psilocybin under psychologically supported conditions significantly relieved existential anxiety and depression in people with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis.

“Now, the findings from the new study, published Nov. 4 in JAMA Psychiatry, suggest that psilocybin may be effective in the much wider population of patients who suffer from major depression than previously appreciated.”

Professor Johnson tweeted that, “To my knowledge this is the 1st endowed professorship on the planet with psychedelics in the title.” I’m willing to bet that he certainly won’t be the last. Johns Hopkins University is one of the top academic institutions in the world, receiving the most U.S. federal research funds, affiliated with over 35 Nobel Laureates. We will only be seeing more important research originate with Johns Hopkins’ Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research and other universities will certainly follow suit.

Cannabis Sanity Momentum Continues as Alabama Legislature Passes Medical

I’m old enough to remember November 4th, 1996, when no state had passed a medical cannabis law. California voters passed Prop 215 the following day, and the medical cannabis revolution was put on hyperspeed as Washington and Oregon completed completed the West Coast and now 36 states have enacted medical laws, while 17 states, two territories, and our nation’s capital have legalized for all adults over 21. If you would have told me a few years ago that the Alabama Legislature (ALABAMA!) would pass a medical cannabis law in 2021, I would have been rather shocked, to be perfectly honest, but when you have hardworking advocates armed with the truth and common sense on their side, victories that were once long-shot dreams, can become a reality. Marijuana Moment reported on the historic victory in the Deep South:

“After clearing two House committees last month, the measure passed the full chamber by a vote of 68-34 on Thursday. The Senate, which had previously approved an earlier version of the legislation in March, then signed off on the other body’s changes in a 20-9 vote.

“The win came after opponents staged a lengthy filibuster on the House floor earlier this week, drawing out the process by making a series of speeches and asking questions until the end of the day’s session at midnight approached. Those stalling tactics did not continue on Thursday, however.

***

“To qualify for the program, patients would have to be diagnosed with one of about 20 conditions, including anxiety, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain. Regulators would not be able to independently add additional conditions, leaving that decision up to lawmakers in future sessions.”

The bill now heads to Republican Governor Kay Ivey’s desk and her office emailed Marijuana Moment: “As with any piece of legislation that reaches the governor’s desk, we look forward to thoroughly reviewing it. We appreciate the debate from the Legislature on the topic. This is certainly an emotional issue. We are sensitive to that and will give it the diligence it deserves.”

Hopefully, Gov. Ivey does the right thing and improves the lives of thousands upon thousands of Alabama patients battling severe and debilitating medical conditions. Medical cannabis’ passage in conservative Alabama continues the momentum for the cannabis sanity movement that has turned the tide against Reefer Madness with voters, but the most important thing is that patients’ quality of life will ameliorate. Step by step, state by state, cannabis sanity is winning the day. A sincere thanks to advocates everywhere, especially those working in legislatures which have long held extreme anti-cannabis views.

Kind Leaf is proud to always offer discounts to Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patients, military veterans, and all senior citizens.

Featured photo credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

Philadelphia Bans Pre-employment Cannabis Testing, Oregon Should Follow Suit

Step by step, the cannabis law reform community has been fighting for freedom and equality, with common sense and the truth on our side. Even after legalization, too many challenges and barriers remain as old convictions can still hinder employment searches and employers are still free to maintain “drug-free” workplace policies that really only prohibit cannabis as its the only federally-illegal substance that can be detected by urine tests weeks after usage. With even pioneering states like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, still allowing employment barriers for the cannabis community, it’s good to see some locales stepping up with sensible drug-testing laws. New York City helped lead the way in banning, with some exceptions, pre-employment cannabis testing of job applicants, paving the path for New York State to follow suit when full legalization passed. Now, Philadelphia has passed an ordinance by a 15-1 vote that prohibits employers from discriminating against hirees for cannabis use, with some exceptions, even though Pennsylvania still maintains prohibition while allowing medicinal use. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

Many Philadelphia employers would be prohibited from testing new hires for marijuana use under legislation City Council approved Thursday.

The bill, by Councilmember Derek Green, makes it illegal for companies “to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of marijuana” before hiring them.

But it exempts many types of jobs, including law enforcement, employees who need a commercial driver’s license, many health-care workers, and a broad category that includes “any position in which the employee could significantly impact the health or safety of other employees or members of the public.” The bill also doesn’t prohibit employers of unionized workforces from testing for marijuana if employees agreed to testing in their collective bargaining contracts.

The employment law firm of Littler Mendelson added:

“The ordinance does not address how to determine which positions could impact the health or safety of other employees or members of the public.  According to the ordinance, forthcoming regulations should provide guidance on which positions fall into that category.  If Philadelphia follows the lead of New York City, which adopted a similar ordinance and regulations in 2020, certain types of roles and job duties – such as regular driving – may be identified as significantly impacting the health or safety of others.

“The ordinance also does not apply if drug testing is required pursuant to: (1) a federal or state statute, regulation, or order or (2) a federal government contract or grant.  Additionally, if an employer is a party to a collective bargaining agreement that covers pre-employment drug testing, then the ordinance does not apply.

“At this point, it is unclear what positions employers can designate as significantly impacting the health and safety of other employees or members of the public.  Employers should be on the lookout for the forthcoming regulations, which should provide more clarity.  Nevertheless, in light of this ordinance, Philadelphia employers should review, and make necessary changes to, their drug testing policies and procedures before the January 1, 2022 effective date.”

While some exceptions for dangerous jobs may make sense, it doesn’t benefit society to treat cannabis consumers as second-class citizens that are banned from gainful employment. Just as sports leagues are starting to change their policies, employers and governments need to follow suit and get with the times. The Reefer Madness Era is over and the Cheech-and-Chong-and-Jeff-Spicoli stereotypes of the stupid stoners belong in the dustbin of history as well. We’ve come a long way, and Oregon has helped lead the way, but there’s still more work to be done. Let’s end counterproductive drug tests that merely discriminate against the cannabis community.

Kind Leaf is proud to support the work of advocates fighting for freedom and equality. As always, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique offers the best selection in the Great Northwest and provides discounts for military veterans, senior citizens, and OMMP patients.

Featured photo credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

Momentum in Sports Continues As Florida Boxing Commission Exempts Cannabis

Momentum in sports is an interesting phenomenon. A lot of sports announcers will certainly tout momentum as a factor in games and plenty of athletes will attest that the “Big Mo” is real, that a certain accomplishment helps a team win a game or even several games in a row. Scientists and researchers (NERDS!!! Ha!) may claim that no evidence proves that momentum exists in sports, those of us that have watched Michael Jordan’s and Tom Brady’s teams win time and time again, will just beg to differ.

Those same academics may also conclude that there’s no such thing as political momentum as well, but I’ll be a contrarian until the end and contend that I know in my bones that success begets success and that one cannabis victory does indeed create momentum that helps future victories. Sports play a big role in American culture, both reflecting our nation while at the same time influencing us. As cannabis has gone more mainstream, sports has reflected that, which in turn helps create the momentum for future wins for advocates. Fresh off the heels of positive developments in cannabis testing by the NBA, NFL, and UFC, and other leagues, the Florida Boxing Commission just announced that it would stop testing boxers and mixed martial artists for cannabis as ESPN reported:

At a meeting Tuesday, the commission voted to essentially eliminate marijuana from its prohibited drug list, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation spokesperson Patrick Fargason told ESPN on Tuesday. Previously in Florida, even trace amounts of cannabis found in a fighter’s system would lead to a suspension, fine and a victory getting overturned.

“We’re not testing for it,” Fargason said. “We’re not doing anything with it — period.”

The change was based on a recommendation from the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) medical advisory committee, as well as the UFC’s anti-doping policy run by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Fargason said. He added that if a fighter is visibly impaired on fight night, the commission would take action. But Florida will no longer test for cannabis with regards combat sports competition.

Professional athletes put so much stress on their bodies and boxers and MMA fighters are obviously at risk of serious injuries and have to endure a lot of pain. With evidence demonstrating the pain relief attributes of cannabinoids and the potential to use less opioids, far more dangerous and addictive drugs, it is common sense that professional athletes should have an opportunity to use a safer substance that could provide medicinal benefits. As more professional athletes and their fans are educated on the truth about cannabis, we’re only going to continue to see stronger popular and political support for ending federal prohibition once and for all. Big Mo is with the cannabis community!

Oregon Equity Investment Act Helps Lead the Automatic Expungement Revolution

The jobs created and revenue generated by legalizing and regulating cannabis garners most of the headlines and it is certainly great for the cannabis community to be able to venture into stores like Kind Leaf to access amazing strains and products, but the foundation of the movement is criminal justice reform. Too many lives are hurt and ruined by the classist and racist War on Drugs. Most tragically, innocent people like Breonna Taylor and Kathryn Johnston have been killed in drug raids while the United States embarrassingly has the highest rate of incarcerated residents in the world because of unjust drug laws. Harmful convictions then follow people for their entire lives, hindering education, employment, and housing opportunities. PBS covered how automatic expungement of to clear previous cannabis convictions is picking up steam in states that have ended prohibition:

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana over the last nine years, and industry advocates have applauded measures to de-stigmatize the substance and bring major revenue to state coffers.

But for people with lingering drug convictions like Michael, the news has raised more questions about what legalization means for their criminal records.

Currently in Virginia, “you have to go through all these hoops and loopholes to actually have an expungement,” Michael said. This may soon change. Like many other states that recently legalized marijuana, Virginia lawmakers included provisions in their legislation that over several years will allow for the automatic expungement of certain marijuana convictions, meaning people like Michael may one day see their records cleared without having to petition to do so.

Oregon House Bill 3112, the Equity Investment Act, previously known as the Cannabis Equity Act, would add momentum to this important revolution. An email from the Cannabis Equity PAC and the NuLeaf Project explained:

In July 2020, our workgroup came together in response to Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and a rash of other police violences against Black people that represent the extreme cases of a prevailing problem: racially-biased over-policing. Our workgroup was earnestly formed by community and legislators as a reparative justice response with cannabis as the tool for justice.

Cannabis possession arrests contributed to a multi-generational economic downward spiral for Black communities. As available tax dollars from legal cannabis continues to grow, cannabis is the right nexus to address equity in Black communities. 

***

Equity Investment Act’s 4 parts are:

  • Community investment fund comprised of 25% of cannabis taxes and 10% of Criminal Fines Account, representing app. $50M initially 
  • Free, automatic expungement for cannabis possession crimes, including expungement for people who still owe fines and fees
  • Cannabis equity licenses, including addition of On Premise and Delivery licenses
  • Office & board to implement community investments and track effectiveness

Clearing your criminal record of nonviolent conduct, especially when that conduct has become legal, should not be dependent upon your ability to navigate a complicated process and pay an attorney and filing fees. It’s immoral for a state to continue punishing people for conduct that has become a regulated billion-dollar industry putting millions upon millions into the state’s coffers. A sincere thanks to the Cannabis Equity PAC and the NuLeaf Project for helping lead this important fight in Oregon and all advocates that are putting in the time to achieve more justice here in the Great Northwest and across our nation.

In Historic First, U.S. Senate Majority Headlined NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally

With all-time high poll numbers, last year’s passage of the MORE Act that would end federal cannabis prohibition, this year’s overwhelming vote for the SAFE Banking Act, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s pledge that a legalization bill will be introduced “soon,” there are many reasons for the cannabis community to be encouraged that Uncle Sam is on the verge of ending the war on cannabis. In a symbolic, but still important move, New York Senator Chuck Schumer made history on May 1st by becoming the first U.S. Senate Majority Leader to speak at a cannabis event when he headlined the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally. Celebstoner announced that Schumer would be the featured speaker at the annual event, and Rolling Stone provided the coverage:

For decades — long before 4/20 became the unofficial weed holiday — New Yorkers of all stripes have gathered on the first Saturday in May to celebrate marijuana and demand its decriminalization at the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally. Revelers would flout the law, smoking joints in public, under the assumption that there was a sort of strength in numbers. This year, though, was a little different.

On March 31st, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to legalize weed — beginning the process of opening recreational cannabis dispensaries in the next year or two, and legalizing adult use and possession immediately. And in an unprecedented move, the state now allows marijuana to be smoked anywhere tobacco is allowed. While that doesn’t include parks — like Union Square, where this year’s march originated on Saturday, May 1st — the cops seemed to let it slide, and as marchers took to the streets, it was perfectly legal for everyone (21-plus) to light up as they walked. This year, those at the rally were even joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who pledged to bring federal cannabis legalization “the right way.”

Of course, it is 100% reasonable to be distrustful of most politicians and their promises. However, we shouldn’t let cynicism prevent us from recognizing the advancements that we’ve made. Yes, the Senate Majority Leader showing up to speak at a cannabis rally is simply performative and doesn’t immediately make any tangible changes. However, the fact that that one of the most powerful people in our government is willing to speak at an event that was taboo entirely not that long ago, is a big step forward culturally. We must continue holding Senator Schumer and everyone in government accountable, but we can still appreciate that he was willing to hobnob with the cannabis community in such a visible way.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking at the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally. Photo credit: Troy Smit/NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally