Category: Current Events

Psychedelic Research Provision Doesn’t Pass, but Makes Progress in Congress

It’s not often that losing a vote can be considered a success, but in drug policy it can be important to take a few lumps to educate people and build support. Oregon voters voted down legalizing medical cannabis dispensaries twice before advocates managed to pass a bill in the state legislator. Oregonians turned away the first two attempts at ending prohibition, in 1986 and 2012, before over 56% of voters passed Measure 91 in 2014. At the national level, the budget amendment preventing the federal government from arresting and prosecuting medical cannabis patients and providers following their states’ law didn’t pass until the seventh attempt, losing 152 to 273 when it was first introduced in 2003, before finally passing with 219 votes in 2014. Demonstrating progress, an amendment by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to allow federal funding of psychedelic research recently lost 140-285, two years after failing to even garner 100 votes, losing 93-331. Marijuana Moment has the details:

“Most Democrats supported the amendment this round, unlike in 2019 when a majority of Ocasio-Cortez’s party joined Republicans in quashing the reform.

“The proposal, if adopted, would have removed a 1990s-era provision that’s long been part of spending legislation for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The rider bars use of funds for ‘any activity that promotes the legalization of any drug or other substance in Schedule I’ of the Controlled Substances Act, language that reform supporters say can have a chilling effect on even researching the therapeutic potential of restricted drugs.

“Despite the growth in Democratic support over the past two years, enough members of the party helped take the measure down during Tuesday’s vote. Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet that ‘we got a little closer to ending this outdated war-on-drugs-era policy last night’ and pledged that she will ‘keep bringing it up until the times catch up.'”

With the medical psychedelic revolution just getting started, the education of elected officials, who are just now starting to catch up with the times on cannabis, is going to take a lot of work and time. Just seven Republicans supported the amendment, with one GOP representative moving from a “no” vote to a “yes” while a whopping 45 Democrats moved to the right side of history in 2021 after opposing the research provision in 2019. As more research is conducted and psilocybin, MDMA, and other treatment therapies become more mainstream, we can expect more and more “yes” votes on AOC’s amendment, until passage eventually occurs. Representative Ocasio-Cortez should be commended for leading on this important issue as should everyone that has joined her, including those that changed their vote after learning more.

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Will We See Cannabis Legalization within the Next 18 to 24 months?

Debating if we will see the United States end federal cannabis prohibition within our lifetime has really morphed into conversations about “when” Uncle Sam will finally sweep Reefer Madness into the dustbin of history. There are the more optimistic among us who see things falling into place rather quickly, counting on common sense to prevail swiftly, including some important elected officials evolving on the issue. Others are more pessimistic, or realistic, depending upon your perspective, thinking that it’ll be more in the 5-10 year range. I imagine that those that don’t see legalization occurring within the next decade are in the minority. You can count Irwin Simon, CEO of Canadian cannabis company Tilray as one of the more optimistic prognosticators, expectating the U.S. to legalize within the next two years:

“Citing the recent legislative push to end the federal prohibition of marijuana, ‘I see over the next 18-to-24 months that cannabis in some format will have legalization,’ Simon told Yahoo Finance Live (video above), later adding: ‘Trust me: When legalization does happen, we will be ready… to be a part of it.’

“The Canadian cannabis company — listed on both the Nasdaq (TLRY) and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TLRY.TO) — currently has around 14% market share in the medical and adult recreational use cannabis market in Canada, Simon noted, with an objective to reach 30%.

“And while ‘we don’t to anything in cannabis today in the U.S.’ due to the federal prohibition, Simon said, Tilray is preparing for the future ability to further enter the American market.”

While I appreciate folks’ optimism, if you gave me an over/under on two years, I’m taking the over, based upon political realities. I know that it can be extremely frustrating for the cannabis community that such an obvious failed experiment like the war on cannabis can take so long to overturn, but the political realities overturning a position hardened by decades of propaganda and millions upon millions of lobbying dollars are difficult to overcome. Most likely, it’ll take 60 votes in the Senate to pass a legalization bill, as unlike the House of Representatives which can pass a bill with a simple majority, prohibitionist senators have the option of invoking the filibuster to force supermajority support. It’s not even 100% certain that legalization would get 51 votes to farner a majority, but it’s definitely close.

There has been some talk about eliminating the filibuster, so that procedural change would change things and make the 18-24 window more likely. Only time will tell, but if we remain vigilant and continue to speak the truth about cannabis and the harmful consequences of prohibition, the truth will eventually set the cannabis community free.

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Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board Releases Promising Initial Research Report

Following the historic passage of Measure 109, the Oregon Health Authority was tasked with overseeing an advisory board to help determine rules for regulating therapeutic psilocybin programs starting in 2023. Over the course of two years, committees will be issuing reports and recommendations regarding research, equity, products, and licensing, similar to how the OHA initially developed regulations for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. The research subcommittee recently released initial research findings in a report authored by an impressive collection of experts and medical professionals. The Healing Advocacy Fund emailed about the initial findings:

“The Board’s eight-week review of over 600 research citations of psilocybin indicated that ‘high quality phase 1 and 2 clinical trials suggest that psilocybin is efficacious in reducing depression and anxiety, including in life-threatening conditions.’ The report also cited initial research showing that psilocybin services could be helpful in reducing alcohol and tobacco use, could increase well-being and that most study participants rated their psilocybin experiences as ‘highly meaningful’ to their lives.

“These are significant findings. This report represents the first time a state government has done such a thorough review of the available research. It’s another proof point in the growing evidence that psilocybin can be an effective treatment for healing and growth.”

From the report itself:

“High quality phase 1 and 2 clinical trials suggest that psilocybin is efficacious in reducing depression
and anxiety, including in life-threatening conditions. The effect sizes of psilocybin treatment trials are
large, though limited diversity of clinical trials participants limits generalizability. In all of these trials,
psilocybin is administered in the context of counseling support in the weeks before and after dosing.
The FDA has designated psilocybin a breakthrough therapy for treatment of depression, indicating that
preliminary clinical evidence suggests it may represent a significant improvement over existing
therapies. Initial research also suggests that psilocybin may be efficacious in reducing problematic
alcohol and tobacco use. Across studies, psilocybin increases spiritual well-being which may mediate
other observed benefits. Study participants also commonly rate their psilocybin experiences as highly
meaningful.”

While there is ample research showing great potential mental health benefits of psilocybin available on various corners of the internet, it is remarkable for a state health agency to have a hub of experts compiling and analyzing available data, and making recommendations for therapeutic use. With more and more research being conducted and psychedelics moving into the mainstream, we can certainly expect more states to follow Oregon’s pioneering example. Over the next few years, Oregon advocates and policymakers should ensure that the Beaver State remains on the forefront of the psychedelic revolution by implementing a therapeutic program for others to follow and to consider efforts to legalize the medicinal use of other psychedelic medicines as well. It’s an exciting time for the drug reform community and Oregonians should be proud of putting the state at the leading edge of a medical movement to improve the wellbeing of so many people.


Don’t Buy the Reefer Madness Nonsense About Cannabis and Crime

Just when you think that you have extinguished Reefer Madness propaganda point by point, the nonsense rears its ugly head again. After crime rates in the United States dipped to historic lows the past few years, we have seen an uptick over the last two. While crime rates were dropping while state after state legalized medical and adult-use cannabis, prohibitionists certainly didn’t want to give credit to legalization for lessening crime, but now it seems apparent that they want to try and blame cannabis, but if there is any widespread crime associated with cannabis, it’s caused by prohibition, NOT legalization. Yahoo News covered the most recent Reefer Madness emitting from Washington D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee proclaiming that cannabis is ‘undoubtedly’ a factor in the city’s rise in violent crimes during a recent press briefing:

“Contee held the briefing after two individuals were shot near a restaurant in downtown D.C. A shooting also occurred outside of D.C.’s Nationals Park during a baseball game on Saturday, July 17 which left two people hospitalized with gunshot wounds and one injured. The shooters were never found.

“’We have taken on a mindset that marijuana is not really a big issue in our city,’ Contee said. ‘I can tell you that marijuana undoubtedly is connected to violent crimes that we are seeing in our communities.’

“’When you have something where people get high reward — they can make a lot of money by selling illegal marijuana — and the risk is low, the risk for accountability is very low, that creates a very, very, very bad situation, because those individuals get robbed,’ he added. ‘Those individuals get shot at. Those individuals get involved in disputes all across our city.’”

First of all, it is ridiculous that shootings where the perpetrators were never found are being tied to cannabis, with absolutely zero evidence that the substance had anything to do with the violence. Secondly, when Chief Contee brought up making a lot of money by selling illegal cannabis, that’s the result of prohibition, NOT the cannabis itself. Congress prohibits Washington, D.C., from establishing adult-use cannabis retailers, forcing people to turn to the illegal market. Congress needs to do its job by ending federal prohibition and allowing cannabis businesses access to normal banking services. That’s the real solution, but the prison-industrial complex and other special interest groups that have a financial incentive to maintain the federal war on the cannabis community will seek to exploit any news that they can to demonize cannabis. We must remain vigilant and keep speaking the truth about cannabis and the costs of prohibition.

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Proposed Federal Amendment Would Unleash Psychedelic Research

I’m old enough to remember some heartbreaking federal congressional votes on medical cannabis. The federal amendment prohibiting the federal government from prosecuting state-legal medical cannabis patients and providers took passed on the seventh attempt. While it’s easy to take for granted how far we’ve come and be impatient for the United States Senate to join their counterparts in the House in passing a bill to end federal prohibition, advocates may want to temper expectations a bit and practice patience, for their own sanity and to avoid burnout, if history is any guide. Double your mindfulness and meditation if you are expecting Congress to pass sensible psychedelics legislation, but thanks to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, we’ve taken the first couple of steps on the journey. Marijuana Moment reported on AOC’s second filing of an amendment to allow federal funding of psychedelic research:

“Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal is especially notable given its focus on psychedelics—an issue that’s rarely been breached in Congress. Her measure would strike a longstanding rider, first enacted in 1996, that prohibits the use of federal funds for ‘any activity that promotes the legalization of any drug or other substance in Schedule I.’

“A description of the amendment clarifies that the intent is to allow ‘United States researchers to study and examine the potential impacts of several schedule I drugs, such as MDMA, psilocybin, and or ibogaine, that have been shown to be effective in treating critical diseases.’

“In 2019, a large majority of Democratic House members joined all but seven Republicans in a vote against an earlier version of the congresswoman’s amendment. But given the surge in state and local psychedelics reform efforts in the years since, it stands to reason that this Congress may take the issue more seriously.”

While it’s always disappointing to lose important votes, it’s all a part of the process towards educating legislators while changing the political calculations of elected officials by demonstrating public support, and most importantly, winning elections. Psychedelic research isn’t going to benefit the current special interests that fill up campaign coffers, so it’s going to take some time. Oregon voters passing Measure 109 to legalize therapeutic psilocybin therapy and Measure 110 to decriminalize personal possession of all drugs was a start, just as California kicked off a winning stretch for cannabis by passing the Prop 215 medical measure all the way back in 1996. As we win elections state by state, we can expect for those political victories and scientific advancements to resonate more forcefully throughout the halls of Congress.

No matter your kind of trip, to the mountains, river, high desert, or staying at home, Kind Leaf, Pendleton’s premier craft cannabis boutique, should be your first stop. We are proud of Oregonians leading the way and are looking forward to what the future holds for all of us as we all remember to be kind to one another.

SAFE Banking Act Gets Key Support from Cannabis Legalization Sponsor

It was two steps forward, one step back for the cannabis community when Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Ron Wyden introduced their legalization proposal, but Sen. Booker initially seemed to oppose the SAFE Banking Act and other more incremental reforms. While ending federal prohibition is certainly the ultimate goal, many of us remain adamant that incremental changes should not be set aside completely, following the old adage of “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

While we certainly need to remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances and, at the very least, regulate cannabis similarly to tobacco and alcohol, two much more deadlier substances, cannabis businesses need access to regular banking services yesterday. Lacking access to bank accounts and other financial services particularly hurt small retailers like Kind Leaf who want nothing more than to provide quality cannabis at the most affordable prices possible. The extra fees and labor needed to comply with current federal banking laws unnecessarily increase prices for adult consumers and patients battling debilitating medical conditions alike. Thankfully, Senator Booker has just explained his position, announcing his support for the bipartisan SAFE Banking Act, as Yahoo Finance reported:

“Booker clarified his stance a bit to affirm his support for the bipartisan SAFE Banking Act, conceding it could be a sweetener to get moderates on board with more progressive reforms.

“’Don’t get me wrong, I support the SAFE Banking Act. I think it’s a phenomenal bill,” he said. ‘For me, a good bipartisan bill like the banking bill is a necessary sweetener to get people to move along on the equitable justice elements that are really critical.’

“Proponents of the SAFE Banking Act note that it has successfully passed the House four times with bipartisan support, but never made it to the Senate for a vote when the chamber was under Republican control. While the bill lacks an outright focus on restorative justice, advocates note that the bill does address issues around access to banking that impacts minority entrepreneurs and corporations alike. The bill’s co-sponsor in the House, Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D., Colo.), has also repeatedly warned that cannabis workers having to handle large amounts of cash remains a public safety issue.”

In addition to the extra costs that dispensaries incur, a lack of normal banking services increase the risk to employees and the local community. Anyone stating that they are concerned about public health at all should support the SAFE Banking Act as lives are literally at stake. Portland, Oregon, has already suffered the tragic loss of a budtender, we don’t need to lose any more good people for no reason other than the remnants of policies infected by Reefer Madness. Step by step, Congress needs to pass policies that end federal prohibition. Let’s start with the SAFE Banking Act as a common sense first step towards a sane and rational cannabis policy.

Kind Leaf strives to provide the best selection at the best prices. Check out our menu via Leafly and you can even order online. We always have deals and discounts for military veterans, senior citizens, and OMMP patients.

Can Psychedelics Help Patients Combat Obesity?

Despite the “munchies” that cannabis can seem to cause, the evidence has shown that the cannabis community tends to be less obese than the general population. For those of us that continue to battle with maintaining a healthy wait, maybe psychedelics could potentially unlock the answer. While there is currently a lack of human data on the issue, there has been promising results from research on lab rats, and we can expect more studies to be conducted on a whole host of health issues, as psychedelic medicine follows a similar path as medicinal cannabis. Clive Ward Able, MD, a trained physician and pharmacist, discussed his research into the use of psychedelic compounds to treat obesity and optimize human health with Pharmacy Times:

“’The idea is that this has to come from the patient. If the patient wants help for it, this will be able to help them get to a place where they really want to be,’ Ward Able said. ‘But I’m not talking about every single obese patient, because there are a lot of obese patients who are happy the way they are, and they don’t necessarily want to lose weight. But there’s a large component of those, such as in depressed patients, who have certain triggers that get them to overeat or not to exercise, etc.’

Ward Able noted that the target of obesity treatment is not necessarily to bring every patient under a body mass index of 25. Instead, this treatment can hopefully allow patients to get to a healthier weight and maintain it, with an added sense of wellbeing that they may desire after losing weight.

“’This is where I think psychedelics can add to what is being done now,’ Ward Able said. ‘Psychotherapies are being used for the treatment of obesity or weight management, but people tend to fall back into their old behaviors again, although they do work. What I’m calling drug enhanced psychotherapy or psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy adds another facet to that psychotherapy, which should be able to instill much longer lasting positive behaviors, such as an improved diet, whether that’s quantity or quality, or within expenditure of energy, such as increasing your amount of exercise.’”

As Dr. Ward states, psychedelics could be a key to maintaining a healthy weight by helping patients deal with underlying issues such as depression, that are causing unhealthy life choices. With obesity impacting over 42% of American adults and over 8% experiencing depression, millions of people battling mental health issues and the corresponding weight gain, could benefit from psychedelics. With therapeutic psilocybin treatments less than two years away in Oregon thanks to the passage of Measure 109, we will soon have an abundance of evidence about the benefits of “magic mushrooms” and as the Measure 110 drug decriminalization law helps end the stigma around the use of all psychedelics, we will only see more research into how many of these psychoactive substances can help a variety of conditions. Stay tuned, as it is an exciting time for psychedelic medicine.

Whether you are looking to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain, Kind Leaf has your back and all of your cannabis needs. Check out the best selection in the Great Northwest and you can even order online via Leafly to save time. As always, there are discounts available for military veterans, senior citizens, and OMMP patients. Until supplies last, clones are 75% off, making them just $7.50!!!

In Historic First, United States’ Top Doctor Says Decriminalize Cannabis

Virtually no week goes by without the cannabis community taking a big step towards ending federal prohibition, whether it’s politically, culturally, or scientifically. It’s a good thing that we have the truth and common sense on our side as apparently each of these steps are necessary towards overcoming decades of Reefer Madness propaganda and the political influence of deep-pocketed special interests that benefit from mass incarceration policies that enrich the prison-industrial complex, from private prisons to drug testing companies. Now, making history as the first sitting United States Surgeon General to back cannabis decriminalization, Dr. Vivek Murthy says that it’s time to stop jailing people for marijuana, as Marijuana Moment reported:

“’When it comes to decriminalization, I don’t think that there is value to individuals or to society to lock people up for marijuana use,’ Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said in a CNN appearance. ‘I don’t think that serves anybody well.’

“Murthy was answering a question about a new draft federal marijuana legalization bill that was circulated last week by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other top senators.

“While the surgeon general stopped short of endorsing full-scale commercial cannabis legalization, his comments do indicate support for an approach that would at least decriminalize low-level possession.”

Surgeon General Murthy isn’t exactly the very first U.S. Surgeon General as Dr. Joycelyn Elders backed legalization after serving in government, even keynoting the International Cannabis Business Conference back in 2016, as covered by the Sacramento Bee:

“The marijuana legalization advocate called for an end to federal policy that classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use – listed as worse than methamphetamine or cocaine.

“She called for increased federally sanctioned medical marijuana research and decriminalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use – as part of shifting resources from law enforcement to public health.

“’We know that prohibition laws did nothing but waste money, waste lives and destroy opportunities,’ said Elders, who decried racially disproportionate arrests and criminal sentences for marijuana and other narcotics. ‘It is not working. And marijuana has been the engine driving the drug war.’”

With various factors to hammer out legislatively, including taxes, social equity provisions, and criminal justice reforms, passing a federal legalization bill is going to be a tough slog, so we are going to need all of the ammunition that we can and the nation’s top doctor on board certainly won’t hurt. While the Surgeon General isn’t as famous as CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, so he won’t have the same impact culturally as Dr. Gupta’s evolution on the subject, the Surgeon General’s medical expertise should certainly help combat some fear mongering from prohibitionists. Another day, another step in the right direction in our fight for freedom and common sense, so I’ll take it.

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Federal Cannabis Legalization Bill Unveiled, Oregon Helping Lead the Way

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised to unveil a cannabis legalization bill and he’s delivered on that front, along with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. The draft proposal is another step in the right direction for the cannabis community, but there is still work to be done to ensure that legalization is done right. Fortunately, those of us who understand the harm that Reefer Madness has caused our nation, we have never been in a stronger position to end federal prohibition while also ensuring that important equity provisions are included.

OPB spoke with Oregon’s Jesce Horton, founder and chief executive of LOWD:

“For Horton, legitimizing the cannabis industry will require direct focus on two specific aspects of legislation. The first is ensuring that people who have been the target of criminal prohibition of cannabis are released from jail and have their records expunged in ways that allow them the same opportunities as any other American. Second, the effort needs to also focus on providing paths for formerly incarcerated people and traditionally marginalized groups to establish small businesses in their communities within the framework of a legal industry.

“That means allowing the industry to connect with funding sources in America’s banking system — something that federal prohibition currently excludes cannabis businesses from doing — and establishing financial regulations that protect marijuana businesses both physically and fiscally.

“Horton points to the fact that consumers still have to use cash to make purchases as a barrier to legitimizing the cannabis industry. It also leads to unsafe situations for business owners and their employees to be easy targets of crime.”

Drug Policy Alliance, the national reform organization that has played a leading role passing important legislation across the nation, including Measure 91 and Measure 110 here in Oregon, issued a statement praising the Senate draft bill for including social equity, reparative justice and reinvestment. However, DPA’s Marita Perez noted that they are not entirely pleased with the language:

“To our dismay, the Senate draft contains exclusionary language that ended up getting added to the House-passed MORE Act last year that would continue to subject federal employees to drug testing and deny certain individuals—who have already paid the highest price—the opportunity to expunge their records. In order for this bill to truly end marijuana prohibition in a comprehensive way and begin to repair the egregious harms of the past, we cannot continue to make room for some to be left out because of laws that were unjust and racist to begin with. 
 
“We call on the House to remove exclusionary language from the MORE Act and swiftly pass the bill and implore the Senate to also remove this language ahead of bill introduction.”

Nobody said that changing Uncle Sam’s stance on marijuana was gonna be easy. It’s one thing to get a majority of politicians on board with the general concept of legalization, it’s another to hammer out the details when various special interests start flexing their financial and political power. However, it feels great to be on the precipice of finally ending one of our longest mistakes, the nonsensical notion that the United States of America, the Land of the Free, should wage a decades-long war against the nonviolent cannabis community. There’s more work to be done, but it’s good to take a moment to be pleased with freedom and common sense are on the march, shaking up the halls of Congress.

Kind Leaf is looking forward to the day federal prohibition ends as no one should have their life ruined for utilizing cannabis. Additionally, normalizing banking laws and the tax code will allow Pendleton’s premier craft cannabis boutique to provide even lower prices to our amazing customers.

California Psychedelics Legalization Bill Moves Forward with Changes

The legislative process is often compared to sausage making, something extremely messy and not something pleasant to watch. As a veteran of several lobbying efforts, I tend to agree, but it’s a necessary endeavor that, when done right, can improve and save lives. California Senate Bill 519, championed by Senator Scott Wiener, is a proposal followed very closely by Drug War reform advocates, so even though things can get ugly, we can’t take our eye off of another potential big swing against prohibition. After passing the full Senate, SB 519 has now cleared a major hurdle in the state’s General Assembly by passing the Committee on Health, but a few amendments have complicated matters on both legislative and activist fronts. Despite the complications, we can still count this progress as a win in our fight against prohibition.

Marijuana Moment covered important details on the landmark bill that would remove criminal penalties for adults 21 and over for the possession of many psychedelics such as psilocybin, DMT, LSD and MDMA:

“Now, as a result of changes approved by the latest panel, the bill includes language laying out the limits for what is an allowable personal possession amount for each substance. That’s led Decriminalize Nature (DN), a group that’s worked to enact psychedelics reform across the country, to call for the tabling of the legislation.

***

“As passed in committee on Tuesday, these are the prescribed limits for personal possession that would be legalized:

-2 grams of DMT

-15 grams of ibogaine

-0.01 grams of LSD

-4 grams of mescaline

-2 grams of the controlled substance psilocybin or 4 ounces of a plant or fungi containing the controlled substance psilocybin.

-2 grams of the controlled substance psilocyn or 4 ounces of a plant or fungi containing the controlled substance of psilocyn

-4 grams of MDMA.”

David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Hemp Soaps, who is a major funder of drug reform efforts, including of Oregon Measures 91, 109, and 110, is urging advocates to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good and continue supporting SB 519. While I tend to defer to activists on the ground in the state at hand, I do wholeheartedly agree with Bronner. Holding up important legislation on the hope that a bill without any possession limits can pass is a risky proposition that will lead to more harmful arrests and convictions in the meantime. Such bills are also easy to demonize by opponents. For example, Oregon Measure 80 would have legalized an unlimited amount of cannabis in 2012, but voters rejected that initiative, but passed M91, which included limits, just two years later.

A sincere thanks to Senator Wiener and all of the activists doing the heavy lifting in the Golden State for Senate Bill 519. No matter what happens this legislative session, the progress thus far is really impressive and inspirational. This work will resonate forward and reverberate across state lines.

Kind Leaf continues to be proud of hardworking advocates looking to save and improve lives by moving away from the Drug War and towards a health-based approach.