Month: May 2021

Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act Reintroduced

The cannabis community made history last year as decades of hard work, combined with common sense paid off as the United States House of Representatives finally voted to end federal prohibition, passing the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. While the Mitch McConnell-led Senate never took a vote on the MORE Act, there’s a new sheriff in town and new Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged to bring a legalization bill to Senate floor. While we don’t know what can be passed in the Senate, it’s a good sign that the House has introduced a couple of legalization bills already. There will be plenty of debate around how to “legalize right” and the MORE Act, with several important provisions including resentencing of people jailed for cannabis offenses, investing in communities disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs, and stopping the denial of public benefits for utilizing cannabis, this piece of legislation is extremely crucial to our national conversation.

The Drug Policy Alliance is helping lead the political battle and is asking for help:

“The MORE Act was just reintroduced in the U.S. House. This groundbreaking bill would end the federal war on marijuana and repair the harms of prohibition, which has disproportionately harmed Black and Brown communities.

“Momentum for marijuana legalization centered in racial and social justice is growing rapidly in the states and among the public. It’s beyond time for the federal government to catch up.

“We made history when the House passed the MORE Act last year. Now we need your help to do it again: urge your Representative to pass the MORE Act immediately and advance marijuana justice.

It is imperative that the MORE Act pass with as many votes as possible to continue building upon the momentum of last year. Step by step and state by state, we have achieved crucial victories that have reverberated into the halls of Congress. We are so close to sweeping Reefer Madness prohibition into the dustbin of history, but the final steps are going to be the most difficult. Drug War profiteers like Big Pharma and and the prison-industrial complex aren’t going to lose power and money without a fight. It’s up to us to force Congress and the President of the United States to reflect the will of the voters.

Portland State University Cannabis Survey of Police Shows Need for Better Training

Portland State University (PSU) criminologists Dr. Kris Henning and Greg Stewart’s survey of 301 Oregon law enforcement officers revealed a rather remarkable amount of confusion among police regarding state cannabis laws. The public servants working in the Bend Police Department, Redmond Police Department, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, are certainly feeling dazed and confused, a fitting title for Henning and Stewart’s report, even though I don’t always believe that the usual stereotypical reefer references are appropriate names for academic research papers.

Addmitedly, I may be biased as a coauthor and chief petitioner of the Measure 91 legalization law, but it seems to me that police shouldn’t be that confounded by the legal limits laid out in statute, their county district attorneys enforcement policies, and even how to determine whether the substance is legally hemp or cannabis. The PSU report left me wondering if these law enforcement officers are as bewildered about other areas of law as they are about cannabis.

I’m not alone in having questions about these officers’ lack of knowledge as The Bulletin reported:

“Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said he prosecutes all valid arrests that reach his office. He noted some of the survey respondents work outside Deschutes County.”

“It makes me wonder if the officers are correct. I mean, I’m pretty liberal on drug charges. And if I’m bringing charges, I don’t imagine there’s a county out there that’s not,” Hummel said. “Look, it’s anecdotal — it wasn’t fact-checked. But it’s important in that it’s telling us what the officers think. That’s important to know.”

The Bend Police Department told the The Bulletin that resources are available for officers to learn about relevant cannabis laws. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the state agency tasked with regulated cannabis commerce, has an FAQ page and even put out a handy infographic detailing legal limits. Apparently not many officers are utilizing these resources. It is troubling that there seems to be a lack of communication regarding policy, even how to contact the state’s forensic office on testing THC limits. The officer survey was extremely light on actual information, mostly capturing “feelings” about the law. One fact that certainly became crystal clear, not hazy at all, is that these officers need a better understanding of state cannabis laws.

While the report “Dazed and Confused: Police Experiences Enforcing Oregon’s New Marijuana Laws,” did an alright alright alright job of determining the feelings of 301 Oregon police officers and sheriffs deputies, it would have been a lot cooler if it had determined their actual knowledge of state cannabis laws. Do they know the legal limits allowed under the law, that forensic labs are available to determine the difference between hemp and cannabis, or their county prosecutor’s enforcement policy? Also, the surve overstates some of the objectives of Measure 91 and leaves out others.

The PSU researchers claim that stated intentions include the “elimination of the illegal marijuana market” and “stopping diversion to other states” when the Vote Yes on 91 campaign NEVER claimed that ending prohibition would completely eliminate the illicit market here or the diversion to other states, an impossibility, especially while other locations cling to outdated Reefer Madness laws. There’s still illegal alcohol and tobacco sales, how can any cannabis system be expected to completely prohibit such illegality? Primary objectives of Measure 91 included ending harmful cannabis convictions and generating revenue for important state programs. By those accounts, and the feelings of voters, those important goals have been largely met. It would be counterproductive if this survey were used to lead to more arrests and a waste of our limited law enforcement resources that should be prioritized for more pressing matters.

Kind Leaf is proud to help create jobs and generate revenue for our state and community. Please visit us and peruse the finest selection of legal cannabis in Oregon. You can save time by ordering from our online menu via Leafly.

Texas Senate Advances Medical Cannabis Legislation, but Not Enough

Everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas, but not advancements in medical cannabis, apparently, as the Texas Senate significantly scaled back legislation that had already passed the state House. Even the House version, with a 5% cap on THC was an extremely limited upgrade of one of the nation’s most restrictive medicinal cannabis programs that caps THC at half a percent. The Senate unanimously passed an expansion of THC limits to just 1% while stripping away chronic pain as a qualifying condition. With the nation’s current opioid addiction and overdose epidemic, it seems incredulous that legislators would prohibit patients with pain conditions that would otherwise be treated with an opioid from utilizing a significantly safer and less addictive medicine. The bill will still increase the number of qualifying conditions, including PTSD, but this baby step is disappointing. I am usually one to celebrate any victories for the cannabis community, so I’ll admit at being disheartened hearing the dismay of the advocates on the ground in the Lone Star State as the Houston Chronicle reported:

“To see some of the amendments that were made leaves us advocates disappointed and somewhat dismayed,” said Heather Fazio, director of advocacy group Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy.

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Texas is among 47 states and four territories that offer medical marijuana programs; however, it’s one of the 12 most-restrictive states that limit patients to low-THC products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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“Every state surrounding Texas allows patients safe and legal access to this medicine,” Fazio said. “The fact that we’re just inching forward, expanding this program so minimally is disappointing and just demonstrates how much work we have to do as advocates.”

A sincere thanks to the Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy and everyone working hard in a very difficult political environment. Many of us understand the emotional rollercoaster political efforts put you through, whether it’s a ballot campaign or a legislative battle. Not accomplishing your ultimate goal can be deflating, but keep your head up, freedom fighters. While I sincerely feel for the advocates that are distressed at the moment and the patients that will be denied an effective medicine for the time being, improving the state’s medical cannabis program this year will improve more lives and will set the stage for future victories.

Kind Leaf is glad that Oregonians have a much better selection of cannabis products to choose from and always offers OMMP patients an additional 15% off of their medicinal purchases. All senior citizens and military veterans also receive discounts.

Oregon Measure 109 Inspires Florida Psychedelic Treatment Advocates

“When Measure 109 passed in Oregon is when we really got excited and said we think we should get something filed here in Florida.”

Drug War opponents make an interesting team. We could be on the same team even though we’ve never communicated, let alone met, and our immediate and future political goals differ in various ways. Those fighting the War on Drugs are ultimately seeking to put an end to harmful arrests and convictions that have ruined too many lives and wasted too many resources already, but we must work within the reality of our state. What is capable of passing with voters or legislators in Oregon is much different than what may pass in Texas or Florida, but while voters in other states may not be ready to decriminalize personal drug possession like Measure 110 accomplished last November or establish a psilocybin therapy model as allowed under Measure 109, the victories create momentum for other advocates to take positive steps forward in their states.

When reading about legislation introduced in Florida, it was heartening to hear Mr. Psychedelics Law President Dustin Robinson, a Fort Lauderdale-based attorney who helped draft a statewide psilocybin bill, give credit to Oregon Measure 109 as inspiration. ABC Channel 7 out of southwestern Florida recently reported on the burgeoning psychedelic treatment activist community in the Sunshine State, from those working to change the law to those currently operating ketamine therapy clinics:

“It isn’t just a psychedelic revolution it’s a consciousness revolution,” Robinson said. “We’re in a mental health crisis and we have the solution right in front of us. All we have to do is create the legal framework to allow it to come to light.”

Robinson said he expects psilocybin to get legalized in Florida over the next 4-6 years if not sooner. If magic mushrooms and MDMA clear more hurdles he said we could start seeing psychedelic centers opening up similar to the ones administering ketamine.

The psychedelics treatment movement takes me back to the years following the passage of our nation’s first medical cannabis initiatives. One of the most fascinating aspects of working in drug policy reform is learning something new nearly every single day. Every week there is new research being conducted or positive legislation introduced or a new victory to celebrate. Each step forward leads to another step forward, whether it is in your state or another state all the way across the nation, moving us forward towards a sane and compassionate drug policy that invests in people instead of prison. A sincere thanks to everyone that worked hard to pass Measure 109 and to Oregon voters for seeing through Drug War propaganda; your impact is reverberating far beyond the Beaver State’s borders.

DEA Finally Allowing Real-World Cannabis in Research Instead of Uncle Sam’s Schwag

Despite the proclamations of Reefer Madness prohibitionists, the federal government has continually put up roadblocks stifling cannabis research. One of the major obstacles has been the fact that official federal research can only use cannabis grown at the University of Mississippi. No offense to Mississippi, but it’s not exactly known as a go-to locale for cannabis connoisseurs. Folks who actually know anything about cannabis understand that people tend to utilize strains that have 20% THC or more. Even those that prefer low-THC strains will often use strains that test above 20%. Unfortunately for researchers, patients, and the general public, Uncle Sam’s schwag has tested below 10% and the reviews of federal patients, including Oregon’s own Elvy Musikka, have not been kind. As Celebstoner reported, Elvy dropped out of the federal program stating that:

“They sent us a bunch of garbage with no THC. It was hemp, which I love to wear, but it didn’t do anything for my glaucoma.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in its announcement that they would soon be licensing more cannabis cultivators, noted that such a move was “an important step to increase opportunities for medical and scientific research.” While it is great that the DEA is finally making this important reform, it is ridiculous that it has taken this long for the agency to do something that so obviously needed to be done a long time ago. Leafly reported:

For Matthew Zorn, a Houston-based attorney, the DEA’s decision is historic. Zorn was the co-lead lawyer in a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit, “Scottsdale Research v. DOJ/DEA,” filed last year. As a result of that lawsuit, filed on behalf of SRI, the Department of Justice released a previously confidential memo from 2018 that concluded the DEA’s long-standing policy on marijuana research violated federal law, as well as U.S. treaty obligations.

SRI has made cannabis research headlines for years now, most recently for groundbreaking studies administered by Sue Sisley, a medical doctor who conducted clinic trials with military veterans to determine if cannabis is a safe and well-tolerated treatment for managing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pain.  

With the DEA announcement, Zorn told Leafly, “scientists will be able to clinically study the types of cannabis that are being used, with real-world cannabis. A lot of people may not appreciate the importance of that, with [national cannabis] legalization around the corner. We don’t know when, but the need for this research is urgent. We can as quickly as possible start growing and have a supply for researchers to get good data.”

It’s a shame that it has taken the DEA this long and that federal patients like Elvy have had to suffer with terrible cannabis all of these years, but this is just another step in the right direction for the cannabis community. Even though federal legalization seems to be on the way in the near future, we can’t forget patients and the medicinal properties of cannabis. With better quality cannabis and the lessening of restrictions placed on research, we are only going to see more studies that demonstrate the benefits of patients.

Kind Leaf is proud to assist OMMP patients with a 15% discount. Senior citizens (5%) and military veterans (10%) also qualify for their own discounts.

California Psychedelics Decriminalization Bill Heads to the Senate

California started our nation’s state-by-state medical cannabis political revolution by first passing Proposition 215 back in 1996, with Oregon and Washington following suit with their own medicinal initiatives in ’98. With Oregon Measure 109 leading the way on therapeutic psilocybin and Measure 110 the first successful drug decriminalization in the U.S. in 2020, it appears that the Beaver State may be returning the favor for its southern neighbor as California has just moved one step closer to allowing the personal possession, use, and sharing of psychedelics. Senate Bill 519, sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener, has passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, paving the way for a vote before the Senate. If successful there, the psychedelics bill would go before the California Assembly ahead of a potential trip to the governor’s desk. Marijuana Moment reported:

If enacted into law, the bill would remove criminal penalties for possessing or sharing numerous psychedelics—including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD and MDMA—for adults 21 and older.

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Under the bill, state Department of Public Health would be required to establish a working group “to study and make recommendations regarding possible regulatory systems that California could adopt to promote safe and equitable access to certain substances in permitted legal contexts.” Those recommendations would be due by January 1, 2024.

For psilocybin specifically, the legislation would repeal provisions in California statute that prohibit the cultivation or transportation of “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material” that contain the psychoactive ingredient.

Hopefully, California legislators will make informed votes based upon science and common sense and won’t be unduly swayed by Drug War propaganda. The War on Drugs simply hasn’t worked and there’s no reason to ruin lives over the personal possession of psychedelics. With the research coming out of institutions like Johns Hopkins and voters and policymakers understanding that it’s time to end the grip that the prison-industrial complex has had over drug policy, there’s never been a better time to implement much-needed reforms. It’s time to invest in people instead of more prisons. Whether SB 519 passes this year or not, it’s a great step in the right direction to see this much progress being made on the heels of Oregon Measures 109 and 110. It’s easy to see a future where states are passing drug decriminalization laws in a similar manner as we’ve seen with cannabis. A sincere thanks to everyone fighting the good political fight.

Mississippi Supreme Court Overturns Medical Cannabis Law, Trampling Voters’ Will, but Hope Remains

The Mississippi medical cannabis community and all voters that believe in direct democracy had their will and intentions trampled by the state Supreme Court this week in a rather ridiculous ruling that strips voters’ ability to act as a co-equal legislative branch of their government on a rather ridiculous technicality. The text of the state’s constitution that determines the number of signatures required for advocates to place measures before the people reads:

“The people reserve unto themselves the power to propose and enact constitutional amendments by initiative.  An initiative to amend the Constitution may be proposed by a petition signed over a twelve-month period by qualified electors equal in number to at least twelve percent (12%) of the votes for all candidates for Governor in the last gubernatorial election.  The signatures of the qualified electors from any congressional district shall not exceed one-fifth ( 1/5 ) of the total number of signatures required to qualify an initiative petition for placement upon the ballot.  If an initiative petition contains signatures from a single congressional district which exceed one-fifth ( 1/5 ) of the total number of required signatures, the excess number of signatures from that congressional district shall not be considered by the Secretary of State in determining whether the petition qualifies for placement on the ballot.”

In a 6-3 decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court determined that since the state went from 5 congressional districts down to 4, that the proper decision was to completely invalidate the entire initiative process. This ruling not only invalidates the state’s newly passed medical cannabis law and all future initiatives, but may also negate ballot measures that have passed after the reduction of one federal congressional district. As Law & Crime noted, dissenting Justice Robert Chamberlain rightly declared such an interpretation of the constitution absurd:

In the dissent, Justice Robert Chamberlin said the majority’s ruling “does not avoid absurdity; rather, it invites it.”

“The constitution is presumed capable of ordering human affairs decades beyond the time of ratification under circumstances beyond the prescience of the draftsmen,” he wrote. “The majority’s holding destroys such an ordering less than a decade after adoption, presumably finding legislative incompetence or malevolence and/or a desire of the people to put a self-destruct sequence into the initiative process they granted unto themselves.”

“The majority confidently and correctly points out that ‘[n]owhere therein does the Constitution allow amendment by the Supreme Court.’ Yet the majority does just that—stepping completely outside of Mississippi law—to employ an interpretation that not only amends but judicially kills Mississippi’s citizen initiative process,” Chamberlin added.

As the Clarion Ledger reported, there’s hope for both the Initiative 65 medical cannabis law, passed by 2/3 of voters, as well as the reinstatement of the initiative process with several legislators calling for a special session to adhere to the wishes of their constituents.:

“We 100% believe in the right of the people to use the initiative process to express their views on public policy,” Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn said Monday in a statement that did not mention medical marijuana. “If the Legislature does not act on an issue that the people of Mississippi want, then the people need a mechanism to change the law.”

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Republican Sen. Scott DeLano of Biloxi said lawmakers should be prepared and willing to move forward with establishing a medical marijuana program this year that is “consistent with the spirit of Initiative 65.”

“The only way for us to be able to do that before January of 2022 is if the governor calls for a special session,” DeLano said Monday. “It’s what the public wanted; it’s what our constituents wanted and what they expected. I believe it’s my duty to do my part in making sure that the will of the voter is heard.”

It can be extremely deflating when you take two steps back after a huge step forward for your cause, but there’s hope that the Mississippi cannabis community may become stronger by overcoming this judicially-imposed obstacle. Advocates have already demonstrated overwhelming majority support for medicinal use and now there is an opportunity to find key legislative allies to implement a medical law AND an initiative process that will set the stage for full legalization in the future. Iron sharpens iron, and withstanding these political battles will only strengthen activists fight for freedom and common sense. Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, who filed the suit to block Initiative 65 because it limits a city’s ability to regulate the location of medical marijuana businesses, may find that she’s won a merely pyrrhic victory as support for ending the war on patients and their providers grows.

Scientific American: Psychedelic with Therapy Significantly Improves PTSD Symptoms

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) impacts about 3.5% of all adults in the United States every year, while nearly 10% will get diagnosed during their lifetime. People across all demographics may develop PTSD after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event and symptoms can vary over time. According to the Mayo Clinic, most people who go through a terrifyingly traumatic event have a temporary difficulty adjusting immediately. Effective treatment can be crucial to effectively coping and improving function. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s extremely important to educate folks on the prevalence of mental health issues and to put an end to any remaining stigma that may prevent people from seeking treatment. Scientists are starting to discover psychedelics’ role in treating PTSD and other mental health conditions, and as Scientific American reported, MDMA combined with therapy appears to improve symptoms:

“A long-awaited study is making worldwide headlines for finding that the outlawed psychoactive drug MDMA is startlingly effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But researchers and study participants say the substance itself, while extremely powerful, catalyzes healing rather than working on its own: MDMA treatment also requires dozens of hours of therapy—before, during and after the drug experience—with professionals whose special training is expensive and intense.

“Researchers hope the new study, published this week in Nature Medicine, will help this treatment gain regulators’ approval for clinical use within a couple of years. Many therapists and patients are thrilled: About two thirds of PTSD sufferers do not respond to other treatments. And MDMA had shown tremendous promise in earlier, smaller studies.”

“PTSD is a difficult nut to crack—one main reason being that traumas become stuck,” explains Jennifer Mitchell, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, and lead author of the study. “But with MDMA, things that had really crystallized become more flexible, and this gives you the chance to shake the tree and let all the nuts fall out.”

Just as countless lives have benefitted from the medicinal use of cannabis, it appears that psychedelics may be on a similar path towards more scientific discoveries that can unlock mental health benefits. Drug policy reforms and research are going hand-in-hand to educate the public, reduce stigma, and open up new avenues for important studies. The passage of Measure 109 and 110 in Oregon have set the stage for potential legislation in California, and other states will utilize the latest evidence to make informed decisions around important drug policy decisions. As more research is conducted, the medicinal use of psychedelics will become more mainstream across our nation and the globe.

Friendly reminder: Kind Leaf supports all OMMP patients, senior citizens, and military veterans with discounts every day.

A Victory for the Cannabis Community in Alabama Will Reverberate Across the South

With record-breaking support for cannabis legalization and virtually unanimous support for medical use, positive reforms have largely become bipartisan when debating policy. However, when actually enacting change, it’s easy to see that the Deep South is the last frontier for advocates, both because of entrenched political powers and the lack of the initiative process. It’s a huge victory for the cannabis community, and a testament to the perseverance and dedication of Alabama advocates that they managed to get the signature of Governor Kay Ivey on a medical bill sponsored by a medical professional and a former member of law enforcement. The Associated Press reports:

“The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Melson, an anesthesiologist. It was handled in the House of Representatives by Republican Rep. Mike Ball, a former state trooper and state investigator. The approval came after a number of lawmakers shared stories of loved ones and their illnesses.

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“The bill would allow the marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.

“The program authorizes use of medical marijuana to treat for conditions including cancer-related nausea or vomiting, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; depression; epilepsy, HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease; persistent nausea; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and Tourette’s syndrome.”

Yes, it’s disappointing that patients won’t be able to smoke or vaporize cannabis, but this is a great step in the right direction, and most importantly, it will improve many lives once enacted. And each step in the right direction lays the foundation for future reforms that will benefit even more people, not only in Alabama, but in the few remaining states without medical cannabis laws. This is a great victory for the cannabis community in Alabama and the its positive implications will be felt well beyond its borders.

At Kind Leaf, we are happy to always provide OMMP patients an additional 15% off of their cannabis purchase.

Featured photo credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

Former Prosecutor Introduces Bill to End Federal Cannabis Prohibition

In a sign of the times, a former prosecutor has joined forces with a Republican colleague to file a federal bill to end federal cannabis prohibition. Representative David Joyce a former Geauga County prosecutor in Ohio and Rep. Don Young, both co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus, seek to remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances. Their bill would end the federal war on the cannabis community while also allowing the industry access to banking and other financial services. This proposal would be a huge step in the right direction, but is not as progressive as the MORE Act that passed last year, as Marijuana Moment reported:

The main crux of the legislation is to federally deschedule cannabis—and it’s similar to past bipartisan proposals—but this one goes a few steps further with language on legal protections and mandates for federal studies into medical cannabis. It does not contain social justice provisions to repair the past harms of the war on drugs, however.

“With more than 40 states taking action on this issue, it’s past time for Congress to recognize that continued cannabis prohibition is neither tenable nor the will of the American electorate,” Joyce, co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus (CCC), said in a press release.

Under the proposal, marijuana would be removed from the Controlled Substances Act, clearing states to enact legalization. Cannabis could be imported and exported across states, though transporting marijuana to states where such activity is unlawful would remain federally prohibited.

This proposal, known as the Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses, and Medical Professionals Act, could set up a serious debate within the drug policy reform community as legalizing cannabis the right way has become a mantra. There is certainly a lot of movement behind lobbying efforts to implement equity provisions that help right the wrongs of the Drug War, as we’ve seen with legislation passed in New York, and new legislation introduced in Oregon and other states. Personally, I tend to support all bills that improve upon the status quo, especially when they will keep people out of prison and save lives. However, I also support passing the best bills possible. No matter how the debate shakes out, it’s great that we’re having this debate and seeing support for ending prohibition in such a bipartisan manner; even led by a former prosecutor that used to enforce Reefer Madness prohibition.