Tag: Marijuana Moment

#LetShaCarriRun! Richardson’s Ridiculous Olympic Suspension Prompts WADA Cannabis Policy Review

You never know how your life can take twists and turns and make an impact in ways that you never expected. Personally, I never intended to go to law school to help change cannabis laws as I thought that I was going to be a normal general practice attorney. My legal career plans were derailed in college after I witnessed firsthand my Black friends treated more harshly for cannabis offenses than my white friends and I had to do something about that.

Even though I wanted to play my part by providing legal assistance to nonviolent folks harmed by the Drug War, I didn’t know that I would be traumatized by clients getting prison sentences for weed possession. Out of a sense of justice and to protect my mental health, I knew that I needed to help change the law so fewer people were getting sentenced to prison for drug offenses as standing next to people at sentencing while their loved ones were crying was too difficult for me to handle and alcoholism was inevitable.

Of course Sha’Carri Richardson didn’t plan on galvanizing the cannabis law reform community and adding fuel to the fire to burn down the failed and harmful War on Drugs when while trying to fulfill her Olympic dreams, but here we are. After utilizing cannabis, while legal in Oregon during the US track trials in Eugene after learning about the death of her mother, Richardson’s nonsensical suspension shined a bright light on the harmful impacts of Reefer Madness for the entire world to see, setting social media ablaze with #LetShacarriRun. While it is extremely sad that Richardson wasn’t able to run at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, her plight may have just ensured that no other Olympic athlete suffers the same fate as Marijuana Moment reported:

“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will conduct a scientific review of marijuana next year to determine whether it should continue an international ban on cannabis use by athletes.

“WADA’s marijuana policy became a major focus this summer following the suspension of U.S. runner Sha’Carri Richardson from participating in the Olympics over a positive THC test. The organization’s executive committee on Tuesday said it had accepted a recommendation from a drug list advisory board to reexamine the science on marijuana, which could inform a potential policy change.

“In a press release, WADA said the panel agreed to conduct the review ‘following receipt of requests from a number of stakeholders.’ It didn’t name those stakeholders, but numerous athletic leagues—as well as lawmakers and President Joe Biden—have suggested that the international marijuana ban for athletes should be reconsidered.”

While we shouldn’t count our chickens before they hatch and the cannabis community is used to “two steps forward, one step back” in our fight for freedom, this is positive news for the legalization movement and Olympic athletes that choose to utilize a substance safer than alcohol and legal prescription narcotics. Several professional athletes have helped move us forward towards a more sane cannabis policy, including former Portland Trail Blazer great Clifford Robinson (may he rest in peace) and Heisman Trophy and NFL rushing champion Ricky Williams. While Sha’Carri Richardson didn’t set out to be a legalization activist, and she still may not want to be considered an advocate, her absurd suspension for a non-performance enhancing drug has set her on a path to make drug policy reform history.

While cannabis may not be a performance-enhancing drug that’ll help you run faster, it certainly can enhance your life in many ways. Come to Kind Leaf, Pendleton’s premier craft cannabis boutique and let our knowledgeable budtenders help you make a selection from the best supply of cannabis in the Great Northwest. #BeKind.

American Medical Association Study Shows Cannabis Legalization Doesn’t Increase Youth Usage

One by one, the “sky is falling” Reefer Madness hysterics are proven wrong, and a study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) extinguishes the claim that legalization cannabis will cause use among minors to skyrocket. To the contrary, the peer-reviewed study in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world found no correlation between an increase in use by kids and implementing legalization and the data demonstrates that youth usage may have actually decreased in states that ended prohibition. “What about the children?” is often an emotionally-charged tactic used by Reefer Madness prohibitionists who have chosen to put their head in the sand and ignore the data from the Netherlands that reform advocates have been touting for years. Marijuana Moment reported on the landmark JAMA study that swatted away the major fallacy that legalization increases use among kids:

“In fact, it seems that establishing certain regulated cannabis models actually leads to lower marijuana use among adolescents under certain measures—a finding that directly conflicts with anti-legalization arguments that are commonly made by prohibitionists.

“The analysis, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed federal Youth Risk Behavior Survey data from 1993-2019 in 10 medical or adult-use states. It builds upon existing studies on the impact of cannabis reform on youth consumption that have reached similar conclusions.

“Researchers determined that the adoption of recreational cannabis legalization ‘was not associated with current marijuana use or frequent marijuana use.’”

After examining the data in states that have passed recreational marijuana laws (RMLs) and medical marijuana laws (MMLs), the study found that, “Consistent with estimates from prior studies, there was little evidence that “recreational marijuana laws” RMLs or MMLs encourage youth marijuana use.” Further, the research paper concluded that, “After 2 or more years, RML adoption was associated with a decrease in marijuana use.”

In fairness, the authors of the study do state that legalization is a “relatively new phenomenon” and that over time “researchers will be able to draw firmer conclusions about the relationship between RMLs and adolescent marijuana use,” but the early evidence is great news for the cannabis community. While sensible people don’t want anyone’s lives ruined over cannabis, there is evidence that cannabis can have detrimental impacts to developing brains, so kids do need to be educated about actual science and understand that some things, like cannabis, may be suitable for adults, but not for children. As we continue our fight to end cannabis prohibition and the greater Drug War, evidence like this presented in the Journal of the American Medical Association will help us swat away Reefer Madness propaganda as it gets trotted out time and time again.

Kind Leaf is proud to be helping Oregon lead the way towards sane and sensible cannabis policies that better allocate our state’s limited resources while creating jobs and revenue for important programs that improve and save lives. When you shop at Pendleton’s premier craft cannabis boutique, you are helping a small Oregon business that gives back to the local community and keeps its profits in-state, benefiting Oregonians, instead of multinational corporate shareholders. Please check out our menu online via Leafly to see the best selection in the Great Northwest, amazing weekly deals, and the discounts always available to military veterans, OMMP patients, and senior citizens.

Featured photo credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

The Times They Are A-Changin’: Drug Czar Seeks to Make Cannabis and Psychedelic Research Easier

While it can be extremely easy to be extremely frustrated with our nation’s drug laws, I feel that it is very important for advocates and concerned citizens to remember exactly how far we have progressed over the past few decades. The nonsense of the Drug War in general and the tragic consequences that have impacted far too many nonviolent Americans rightly anger us, but there are reasons to be optimistic as we have taken a sledgehammer to the failed war on drugs time and time again. In fact, our winning percentage at the ballot box is remarkably good and now, lately we have even been racking up victories in state legislatures across the country as well. We’re even witnessing victories at the federal level with the United States House passing the MORE Act legalization law, the DEA requesting an increase in the amounts of cannabis and psilocybin produced for research purposes and now, the US Drug Czar is seeking to make the research of all Schedule I substances, including cannabis and psychedelics easier, as the amazing folks at Marijuana Moment reported:

“The Biden administration proposed a change to the federal drug scheduling system on Thursday that it hopes will streamline research into Schedule I controlled substances including marijuana and psychedelics such as psilocybin.

“The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said in a letter to congressional leaders and a plan posted on the agency’s website that it wants to encourage research in part by simplifying the registration process for scientists to access Schedule I drugs so that they match those for less-restricted Schedule II substances.

***

“Health experts have widely criticized the existing registration system as unduly onerous—particularly when it comes to Schedule I substances—and they’ve said it has inhibited research. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), has described the current process as ‘lengthy and cumbersome.’”

While this is a modest step in the right direction on one hand, this change in the Drug Czar’s stance on drugs is one to celebrate. During the first campaign that I ever worked, decriminalizing 35 grams of cannabis while legalizing possession by advocates back in 2003, the Drug Czar’s office illegally used our taxpayer dollars to campaign against our local measure in the progressive college town of Columbia, Missouri. The Deputy Drug Czar and a group of staffers flew into the middle of Missouri to spread Reefer Madness and scuttle our first attempt to improve the city’s cannabis policy (we went on to win the following year in 2004). To see the current Drug Czar seek to make studying cannabis, psychedelics, and other Schedule I drugs easier less than two decades later warms this activist’s heart. Of course, we shall remain vigilant and continue moving towards ending the Drug War step by step.

Kind Leaf is looking forward to the day that Uncle Sam finally end cannabis prohibition federally, but even in the meantime you can count on Pendleton’s premier craft cannabis boutique to provide you with the best selection in the Great Northwest while also providing great weekly deals and everyday discounts for military veterans, senior citizens, and OMMP patients. Check us out on Leafly where you can even make your purchase online and have your order ready for a convenient pickup.

Cannabis and Psilocybin Research to Increase Under DEA Proposal

It’s long been clear that more research has been needed to fully unlock with healing properties of cannabis as Reefer Madness propaganda and policies have blocked scientific developments that could improve and save lives of patients suffering from a wide array of debilitating conditions. With a strong majority of Americans now supporting medicinal cannabis and the legalization for all adults, the Drug Enforcement Administration is even starting to adapty. The potential benefits of psilocybin are starting to get a lot more press across the nation, in no small part thanks to Oregon passing the landmark Measure 109 therapeutic psilocybin law last November. With public opinion (and science) on the side of unleashing all of the ways that marijuana and magic mushrooms (and their compounds) can benefit the public, the DEA is proposing a huge increase in the production of cannabis, psilocybin, and psilocin for research as Marijuana Moment reported:

“DEA now wants to produce 2 million grams of marijuana, or about 4,400 pounds, in 2021. That’s a 500,000-gram increase for its initial quota for the plant for this year. And it’s proposing to manufacture 500,000 grams of cannabis extract, which is more than double its original quota.

***

“At first, the quota was set at 50 grams for psilocybin. Now it’s been revised to 1,500 grams—a 2,900 percent increase. DEA also wants to manufacture 1,000 grams of psilocin, instead of just 50 grams as initially proposed.

***

“This is welcome news for researchers and advocates. It shows a willingness from the leading federal drug enforcement agency to recognize an emerging scientific field and promote studies into the substances regardless of their Schedule I status.”

While some are understandably wary of the federal government’s and Big Pharma’s intentions when it comes to cannabis and psychedelics, so long as states are allowed to craft their own laws, then FDA-approved medicines should only increase the number of people that can benefit from these medicinal compounds. Additionally, full-scale research can open knowledge into these substances that ordinary people may not be able to discover. And the more that people become aware of the benefits and relative safety of these substances, the more success advocates will have passing state laws. As usual, we must remain vigilant, but this can be a good step in the right direction in our fight to promote more healing and end the failed Drug War.

Kind Leaf is the best place to find cannabis and cannabis products, no matter you use medically, recreationally, or both. We have the best selection in the Great Northwest and always have tremendous deals and discounts for military veterans, senior citizens, and OMMP patients.

Advocates Seek to Make Fungi and Plant Medicines the Lowest Law Enforcement Priority in Portland, Oregon

I recently blogged about how Ann Arbor, Michigan, was leading the way on the decriminalization of entheogenic plants and fungi, such as ayahuasca, ibogaine, mescaline, peyote, and psilocybin mushrooms after demonstrating similar leadership decriminalizing cannabis back in the 1970s. Fellow cannabis law reform activists and I in Columbia, Missouri, in the early 2000s were inspired by Ann Arbor and now, advocates in my current hometown of Portland, Oregon, are following a similar path on natural psychedelics medicines by seeking to make fungi and plant medicines the lowest law enforcement priority in the progressive city. Marijuana Moment reported:

“Portland, Oregon activists are mounting a push to have local lawmakers pass a resolution decriminalizing the cultivation, gifting and ceremonial use of a wide range of psychedelics. It’s a move that they say would fill the gap between historic statewide drug policy reform initiatives approved by voters in November.

“While those successful ballot measures legalized psilocybin therapy and decriminalized possession of all currently illicit drugs, the Plant Medicine Healing Alliance (PMHA) says the policies leave some important activity at risk of criminalization. The new local resolution they are asking the the City Commission to pass would make it so that activities such as gifting and community-based ceremonies involving entheogenic substances like ayahuasca and ibogaine would be made among Portland’s lowest law enforcement priorities.

“PMHA has emphasized the importance of working with indigenous groups to craft the proposal. And that outreach led them to exclude peyote and DMT derived from toads from the measure, as there are sustainability concerns.”

While some may understandably characterize PMHA’s proposal as a “decriminalization” measure, I personally believe that “lowest law enforcement priority” more accurately describes the policy initiative because Portland doesn’t have a city court to actually enforce a change in the criminal punishment. Because people could still be charged in Multnomah County Court by law enforcement, I’m afraid that people could still be sentenced under state law even if this change to city code gets enacted.

However, if Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, who endorsed the Measure 110 decriminalization law (implementing it early) and has called for reforming the failed Drug War, instituted a decriminalization procedure within his office, then there would be a type of de facto decriminalization policy in effect. If the City of Roses had its own city court like Ann Arbor and Columbia do, then a Portland ordinance could definitely order local law enforcement to follow city code and there would be a court to enforce those provisions. It should be noted that while I have experience drafting laws and once worked as a criminal defense attorney, I no longer practice law, so my opinion certainly isn’t the end-all-be-all of the matter. But keeping nonviolent people out of prison when they aren’t harming anyone else has always been at the forefront of my drug policy activism, so I err on the side of folks being cautious when their freedom is on the line.

While it is a little complicated how a city’s lowest law enforcement priority measure interplays within the judicial system when there isn’t a city court to carry out the policy and cases get sent to county count instead, I believe that the work of the Plant Medicine Healing Alliance has an opportunity to move the drug policy debate forward in a positive manner. The more that the public, elected officials, and policymakers learn about the benefits of plant and fungi medicines and the ills of the War on Drugs, the better. The PMHA has a prestigious group of folks that I respect working on this effort, including, but certainly not limited to: Dr. Rachel Knox, chair of the Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (among other titles), East Fork Cultivars co-founder Nathan Howard, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps CEO David Bronner, and Chad Luske, a retired Navy SEAL who was so instrumental in helping pass the Oregon Measure 109 therapeutic psilocybin law.

You can read the full policy here and I encourage everyone to support efforts like this across the country. Decades of propaganda and the money and influence of the prison-industrial complex make ending the Drug War a monumentally difficult task that will take a village and then some. Local efforts like this one and others is one way that activists can make a big difference in our fight for freedom.

No matter the kind of trip you enjoy or have planned, Kind Leaf should be on your agenda. Come visit Pendleton’s premier craft cannabis boutique with the best cannabis selection in the Great Northwest. Our staff will be more than happy to assist you with whatever you need. There are always great deals and discounts for military veterans, senior citizens, and OMMP patients.

Oregon Senator’s Medical Cannabis Veterans Amendment Passes Key Committee

“We have now 36 states that have medical cannabis, and our veterans want to know from their VA doctor what their thoughts are on the pros and cons or appropriate role or challenges of this particular strategy for treating a variety of issues, including PTSD. I think it’s really important that we not force our veterans to be unable to discuss this issue with their doctors.” Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.

There are a lot of tragedies caused by the war on cannabis and one is the lack of access provided to military veterans who could benefit from medical cannabis recommended by their doctor, especially with so many vets suffering from post-traumatic stress. A suicide epidemic has been raging for far too long among those that sacrificed for our nation and VA physicians have been denied the ability to recommend medical cannabis to their patients. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is hoping to change that and he’s well on his way after an amendment that he’s championed has passed a key Senate committee as Marijuana Moment reported:

“A powerful Senate committee on Wednesday approved an amendment that’s meant to promote military veterans’ access to medical marijuana by allowing doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to issue cannabis recommendations in legal states.

“The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), passed in the Senate Appropriations Committee on a voice vote. It would further prohibit VA from interfering with, or denying services to, veterans who participate in a state-legal medical cannabis program.”

It seems common sense that doctors operating within a state with legal cannabis would be able to recommend a relatively safe medicine to their patients, but when it comes to Reefer Madness prohibition, common sense has too often been ignored. With the political climate catching up to the science, we are finally seeing progress in Congress and it will be heartening to see former service members have state-legal medical options available to them.

While there’s much more work to be done to see this amendment in a final bill, making it through the Senate Appropriations Committee is an important step in the process. Merkley’s work demonstrates the importance of Oregon’s pioneering work battling the War on Drugs. There is no way that a sitting United States senator goes alone on an issue without the strong backing of his constituents. Regardless of your party affiliation, it’s imperative that we continue to help lead the way on ending the failed and harmful Drug War. Time and time again, we have seen Oregon helping lead the way on much-needed cannabis and drug policy reforms, going back to 1973 when the Beaver State was the first to decriminalize cannabis. With Oregonians legalizing psilocybin therapy and decriminalizing personal drug possession in 2020, we can expect our representatives in DC to continue pushing the envelope in our fight for freedom and common sense.

Kind Leaf is proud to always offer discounts to military veterans, along with senior citizens and OMMP patients. Check out the best selection in the Great Northwest. You can even order online via Leafly.

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.

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.

Kind Leaf has the best selection of cannabis for both medical and general adult-use purposes. In addition to great deals on flower and cannabis products, Pendleton’s premier craft cannabis boutique currently has a sale on clones. All clones are currently 75% off, making them just $7.50 each, so come stock up while supplies last!

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.

Drug Czar Nominee Once Praised the Benefits of Medical Cannabis

“President Biden’s nomination of Dr. Rahul Gupta to be the first physician ever to lead the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is another historic step in the Administration’s efforts to turn the tide of our nation’s addiction and overdose epidemic. Dr. Gupta brings firsthand experience as a medical doctor and public health official using evidence-based strategies to address the overdose epidemic in West Virginia. We hope he will be confirmed by the Senate soon,” statement from the White House.

The new White House Drug Czar nominee, Dr. Rahul Gupta, once was a member of the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, helping oversee the state’s medicinal program, where he stated that, “The Board is part of a transparent and accountable process critical to ensuring a comprehensive system that will help citizens suffering from debilitating diseases like cancer.” If confirmed, Dr. Gupta will be the first medical doctor named U.S. Drug Czar as well as the first to have ever played a role implementing a state medical cannabis program. This is just the latest sign that cannabis has moved mainstream and that our nation is slowly starting to understand the need to move towards a health-based approach on drugs, instead of a criminal approach.

The Washington Post reported on the naming of Gupta, noting that harm reduction advocates have had their issues with the likely future Drug Czar:

“The three-decade-old drug policy office — which was created with the support of Biden, who coined the term ‘drug czar‘ in 1982 — coordinates national policy around fighting substance-use disorders, including the response to an opioid crisis that has worsened during the pandemic. For instance, police reports in Montgomery County, Maryland’s most populous county, show that fatal opioid overdoses are up 33 percent, and nonfatal overdoses are up 57 percent this year as of the end of June, compared with the same period in 2020.

“Gupta has publicly warned that the pandemic probably exacerbated addiction-related public health problems, citing the shift from in-person care. ‘When those services are either shut down or turned into virtual services, more people can be denied those services and that only leads to more suffering,’ Gupta told Sinclair Broadcast Group in a news report broadcast this week.

“Gupta, an ally of Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), has been favored for months to take the role of drug czar, but he faced resistance from some anti-addiction advocates, who argued he did too little to ensure safe-needle exchange during a 2017 HIV outbreak in West Virginia.”

Filter got the scoop four months ago that Gupta was going to be tabbed Drug Czar and reported on criticisms from local advocates:

“While Gupta earned accolades for his overdose efforts, public health and harm reduction experts question his response to another urgent health crisis plaguing West Virginia: the spread of blood-borne viruses like HIV and hepatitis.

“Facing the known risk of a massive viral outbreak linked to syringe sharing, Dr. Gupta put politics above the health of vulnerable and stigmatized people, public health experts say.

“In 2015, when Gupta took office, the CDC found that half of West Virginia’s 55 counties were at risk of an HIV outbreak due to a lack of sterile syringes available for people who use drugs. West Virginia also had the highest rate of hepatitis C infections in 2015. Today, West Virginia is experiencing multiple HIV and hepatitis C outbreaks. The CDC’s grim assessment of West Virginia years ago has materialized, but experts say it didn’t have to.”

As Marijuana Moment noted, the Reefer Madness prohibitionists at “Smarter” Approaches to Marijuana had hoped that President Joe Biden would name their co-founder Patrick Kennedy as Drug Czar, so drug policy reform activists, especially those prioritizing sensible cannabis policies, should be relatively pleased with Dr. Gupta’s nomination, all things considered. This nomination seems like it’s two step forwards, one step back for all of us fighting the failed Drug War, and knowing the history of the office and the previous positions of the current president, it’s good to take a positive step in the right direction overall, but we must remain vigilant, regardless of who is in office.