Senators Announce Bill to Protect States’ Legalization of Marijuana

One likes to think of policymaking as a deliberative process, one where legislators base their debates on scientific information to craft evidence-based bills. Au contraire, mes amis.

For several years, an emerging marijuana industry has poured money into sponsoring ballot initiatives and lobbying state legislators to legalize marijuana. Industry’s money not only legalized pot for medical use in 31 states and for recreational use in 8 of those states, but also silenced the nonprofit voices of prevention, treatment, and public health that lack the wherewithal to compete. The legislative playing field is by no means level.

In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama Administration’s Cole Memo, which gave the industry a pass from federal enforcement so long as it adhered to eight conditions (all of which were violated within weeks without follow-up enforcement).

Infuriated by Sessions’ action, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardener put a hold on all judicial candidates nominated by President Trump until he capitulated in April, promising he would uphold states’ rights to legalize pot.

Last week, Senators Gardener and Elizabeth Warren (MA) introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act. Representatives Jared Polis (CO), David Joyce (OH), and Earl Blumenauer (OR) introduced the companion bill in the House. President Trump announced he would support the bill.

The STATES Act would exempt states that have legalized marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act. If Congress passes the Act, the marijuana industry will not only be able to expand in states that have made pot legal, it will amass even more money to lobby for full legalization in the 42 states that haven’t.

Americans have no idea how much money is being spent by the marijuana industry to get what it wants: full legalization nationwide at the expense of public health.

Read ABSNews story here.

Yes, You Can Become Addicted to Marijuana. And the Problem is Growing.

Although many Americans are unaware that marijuana can cause addiction, in the public health and medical communities, “it is a well-defined disorder that includes physical withdrawal symptoms, cravings and psychological dependence,” and increasing numbers of people are seeking treatment for it, notes this Pew Charitable Trusts story.

Experts are trying to find out why. Some think the intense levels of THC in marijuana strains (up to 20%) and concentrates (up to 80%) are responsible for the upsurge. Others think it may be because more users are taking the drug multiple times a day.

Nearly 3 million Americans meet the diagnostic criteria for marijuana dependence.

This article chronicles the trajectory of marijuana addiction in one young man, Quintin Pohl, pictured above, now age 17. Quintin began smoking marijuana in middle school and is now free of the drug thanks to treatment at a California residential treatment center and extensive follow-up aftercare.

Read this Pew Charitable Trusts story here.

Vermont Marijuana: What Parents Should Know about Pot and Juuling THC

The latest fad for teens and tweens is “to Juul.” Picture above, Juuls are e-cigarettes popular with young people who often post pictures of themselves on social media inhaling candy-flavored liquids from them. Juuls and other e-cigarettes heat the liquids and produce vapors which can then be inhaled.

The liquids can contain nicotine or cannabis oil. No one can tell the difference, but both can be harmful to health. Some chemicals in e-cigarette liquids are carcinogenic.

Schools are developing policies that ban Juuls on campus and recommend that parents reinforce that message at home with their teenagers. Legal marijuana will soon be available in Vermont but not for anyone under age 21. This article offers six tips to parents to help them talk with their teenagers about marijuana.

Read the Burlington Free Press article here.

Helping to End Addiction Over the Long-term (HEAL)

The directors of the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and the National Institute on Drug Abuse lay out a research plan for ending addiction over the long term.

Read the JAMA article here.

The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

Visit National Families in Action’s website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

Subscribe to The Marijuana Report.

Our mission is to protect children from addictive drugs by shining light on the science that underlies their effects.

Addictive drugs harm children, families, and communities.

Legalizing them creates commercial industries that make drugs more available, increase use, and expand harms.

Science shows that addiction begins in childhood.

It is a pediatric disease that is preventable.

We work to prevent the emergence of commercial addictive drug industries that will target children.

We support FDA approved medicines.

We support the assessment, treatment, and/or social and educational services
for users and low-level dealers as alternatives to incarceration.

About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of “incarceration versus legalization” when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy.  SAM has four main goals:

  • To inform public policy with the science of today’s marijuana.
  • To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
  • To prevent the establishment of “Big Marijuana” – and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children.
  • To promote research of marijuana’s medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.
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