October 2018

Jeff Sessions Will Lose the GOPs Battle Over Weed

In the year-and-a-bit since Donald Trump took office, Americans have witnessed a neck-wrenching 180-degree turn on an array of policy topics. One of the biggest has been with regard to drugs.

Between anti-marijuana moves by Trumps attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and apparent interest by the administration in making passing a drug test a condition for receiving food stamps in states that request it, Trump and key figures in his administration seem eager to jump back to a time in history when drug use that has become more or less accepted in society is again disqualifying and indeed criminal. And where Trump goes, the GOP often follows.

But is the Trump administration truly set on achieving this? Those of us watching drug policy debates in the era of Trump are feeling a little (OK, a lot of) whiplash.

The direction in which Sessions wants to take the country is clear. So too are Republicans views with regard to food stamps and drug testing.

With Trump, things are a bit murkier. He generally cultivated an anti-drug message with his death penalty for heroin dealers chat. Hes pushed that message in other ways too, such as the little noticed controversy in February, when Israel put the brakes on a plan to export marijuana to the U.S., apparently because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didnt want to piss off Trump. Trump also claims never to have smoked pot, something that some pot advocates view as inherently likely to predispose him against cannabis.

But during the campaign, Trump was pot-neutral. He exclaimed that he was for letting states decide their own pot and medical marijuana policies. And just weeks ago, he voiced support for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)s bill codifying states rights with regard to pot. Reportedly, his campaign manager is making that position a selling point to Colorado voters ahead of 2020.

Outside of Trump, the GOP itself seems to be in the midst of an evolution on pot. Or, at least, a process of self-discovery. Gardner was so adamant that states rights on the matter be respected that he threatened to hold up any nominees to the Department of Justice until Sessions and Trump backed down. Weve also learned that John Boehner is joining the board of a cannabis companya pretty big turnaround for a former speaker of the House known more for his love of wine than weed.

So what the heck is going on with the GOP and pot? The short answer is: a lot. But though much of it seems contradictory, there is still an obvious, ultimate direction. The GOP will, in the end, follow Gardner and Boehners path, even if that feels like an Olympic gymnast-level flip-flop for a lot of voters.

It used to be that the only pro-decriminalization or pro-legalization Republicans were Libertarians who voted GOP because they wanted tax cuts and a tiny bit more fiscal restraint (with the exception, perhaps, of some prominent figures at National Review who always took a surprisingly pro-decriminalization line on marijuana).

More recently, however, the pro-decriminalization ranks have been joined by the Koch brothers, especially Charles Koch, who champions criminal justice reform and sees issues like pot decriminalization and mandatory minimums reform as obviously related.

There are also Republicans from states where marijuana laws have been liberalized, leading to a booming new sector of the economy.

Gardner is one such figure. But more Gardners are on the way. While Sessions may believe the War on Drugs has failed because it has been prosecuted with insufficient zeal, youve got a whole raft of states represented by Republican officeholders who manifestly believe that the anti-pot aspect of it, at least, is stupid.

Its certainly economically unhelpful. Nine states have fully legalized recreational pot (including Alaska, a deep red state, and Colorado, Nevada, and Mainepurplish ones with GOP elected officials). Twenty-nine states have legalized medical marijuana (including the magenta-ish states of North Dakota, Arkansas, Montana, and West Virginia, and swing state New Hampshire).

Rank-and-file Republican voters are becoming much more opposed to the War on Weed too, according to an October 2017 Gallup poll. Maybe thats because veterans (who Republicans love to champion) claim marijuana helps them with physical and psychological battlefield injuries. Maybe its because of claims that legalization could help combat the opioid epidemic, which is ravaging Republican areas. Maybe its because Republicans are hearing from unlikely marijuana advocates like Michelle Malkin.

Or maybe its because Republicans still tend to consider themselves pro-business, and the pot business is growingfast. According to a report last year from Arcview Market Research, across North America, legal pot sales in 2017 were on pace to hit $9.7 billion. Thats 33 percent growth against the previous yearevidence of a booming market. Many Republicans may oppose pot use personally. But basically all Republicans love making and keeping money.

Whatever it is, the reality is this: The ranks of pro-legalization Republicans, like plants on weed farms, will continue to grow over time, while those sharing Sessions views will shrink and shrivel and decline. Thats a good thing, in terms of achieving limited government goals, and expanding personal libertysomething todays GOP could do with getting back to focusing on.

The debate may seem muddied now. But its heading in a very clear direction.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com

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New Study Counters Findings That Medical Marijuana Can Manage Chronic Pain And Reduce Opioid Use

A wealth of recent studies has suggested that cannabis products are not only effective for alleviating the types of debilitating chronic pain experienced by tens of millons people worldwide, but that access to these plant-derived medicines may also reduce the amounts of opioid drugs people take. Given that opioid dependency – and death by overdose – has reached epidemic-level prevalence, many in the scientific community see marijuana as a possible lifeline out of the crisis

But a large new investigation published today in The Lancet contradicts past research by finding that people with persistent non-cancer-related pain who used cannabis had no improvement in pain scores or increase in opioid discontinuation compared with those who do not, over a four-year period. 

The authors, led Dr Gabrielle Campbell at the University of New South Wales’ National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, recruited 1,514 adults from across Australia who were prescribed opioids (including fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, buprenorphine, methadone, and hydromorphone) for more than six weeks to treat pain lasting longer than 3 months. Subjects were surveyed about a variety of lifestyle and psychological factors, pain scores, pain self-efficacy (which gauges people’s perceived ability to perform activities while in pain), and past and current cannabis use at the study onset, then once a year for four years (2012 to 2016). At each visit, the authors confirmed whether or not subjects were still taking an opioid. 

Fentanyl, the infamously addictive synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Wikimedia Commons

Surprisingly, their analysis revealed that people who were using cannabis at any level of frequency reported higher pain severity scores, worse pain self-efficacy, and worse pain interference (the degree to which pain is interfering with daily activities) than those not using cannabis at years two, three, and four. Greater generalized anxiety disorder scores were significantly higher in cannabis users at all study points. 

Even after adjusting for multiple factors such as age, baseline pain, and opioid dose strength, the authors found no association between cannabis use during the past year and reduced opioid use the following year. They note that a greater proportion of those who never reported using cannabis had discontinued opioids at the end of the four years compared with those who did (21 percent vs 9 percent), but this comparison must be taken with a grain of salt as it did not reach statistical significance. 

“To our knowledge, this is one of the longest, in-depth, prospective studies of a community cohort of people with chronic non-cancer pain, examining the effects of cannabis use on pain and prescribed opioid use,” the team wrote. 

Of course, this research cannot provide the definitive answer about the benefits – or lack thereof – associated with medical marijuana due to several key limitations. Firstly, as Dr Campbell’s team concedes themselves, it is possible that the individuals who sought out marijuana were more distressed by their pain and had higher rates of anxiety in the first place, though it is puzzling that these individuals did not appear to improve over time while using it. 

Secondly, the study was conducted prior to Australia’s legalization of medical marijuana, meaning that the subjects who were taking it had to turn to illicit sources and likely did not have access to products specially designed for pain treatment such as high-CBD tinctures and edibles. These people were thus unable to create a structured pain management plan with a medical provider, which could have led to significant differences in outcomes. 

This study is sure to incite a fierce debate among the proponents and opponents of medical cannabis, and given the dire need for pain-managing drugs that don’t cause dependency (it is now estimated that more than 115 people die from opioid overdose every day in the US alone), both scientists and activists will continue pushing for more research.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com

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FDA approves first cannabis-based drug

(CNN)The US Food and Drug Administration approved a cannabis-based drug for the first time, the agency said Monday.

Epidiolex was recommended for approval by an advisory committee in April, and the agency had until this week to make a decision.
The twice-daily oral solution is approved for use in patients 2 and older to treat two types of epileptic syndromes: Dravet syndrome, a rare genetic dysfunction of the brain that begins in the first year of life, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a form of epilepsy with multiple types of seizures that begin in early childhood, usually between 3 and 5.
    “This is an important medical advance,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement Monday. “Because of the adequate and well-controlled clinical studies that supported this approval, prescribers can have confidence in the drug’s uniform strength and consistent delivery.”
    The drug is the “first pharmaceutical formulation of highly-purified, plant-based cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid lacking the high associated with marijuana, and the first in a new category of anti-epileptic drugs,” according to a statement Monday from GW Pharmaceuticals, the UK-based biopharmaceutical company that makes Epidiolex.
    Cannabidiol is one of more than 80 active cannabinoid chemicals, yet unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, it does not produce a high.
    The FDA has approved synthetic versions of some cannabinoid chemicals found in the marijuana plant for other purposes, including cancer pain relief.
    Justin Gover, chief executive officer of GW Pharmaceuticals, described the approval in the statement as “a historic milestone.” He added that the drug offers families “the first and only FDA-approved cannabidiol medicine to treat two severe, childhood-onset epilepsies.”
    “These patients deserve and will soon have access to a cannabinoid medicine that has been thoroughly studied in clinical trials, manufactured to assure quality and consistency, and available by prescription under a physician’s care,” Gover said.
    Epidiolex will become available in the fall, Gover told CNN. He would not give any information on cost, saying only that it will be discussed with insurance companies and announced later.
    With Epidiolex meeting FDA standards, the drug will “finally be made available to the thousands that may benefit from it,” he said.
    It’s an option for those patients who have not responded to other treatments to control seizures.According to the Epilepsy Foundation, up to one-third of Americans who have epilepsy have found no therapies that will control their seizures.
    Shauna Garris, a pharmacist, pharmacy clinical specialist and adjunct assistant professor at the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, said the drug is effective and works somewhere between “fairly” and “very well.” She has not used Epidiolex in her own clinical practice and was not involved in the development of the drug but said she’s not sure it will live up to “all of the hype” that has surrounded it.
    There are side effects, the most common being sleepiness, Gover said. But Garris highlighted that many of the side effects occur when it is taken with other medications, which she said is a concern because most patients are on other medications.
    There are likely to be drug interactions, she said, but “that’s not uncommon for antiepileptic medications,” and she noted that this could affect the effectiveness of the medication.
    The European Medical Society is also considering approval of Epidiolex and is expected to announce a decision in the first quarter of next year, according to Gover.
    A phase three clinical trial is underway for a third seizure-related condition called tuberous sclerosis complex, which begins in infancy and causes a sudden stiffening of the body, arms and legs, with the head bent forward. Glover said that if the results are positive, his company will apply for supplemental approval for this condition.

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    In the meantime, it is possible that once on the market, Epidiolex could be prescribed for conditions other than the ones it’s approved for. This is called off-label use and is a common practice with many medications.
    As part of the FDA’s review of the medication, the potential for abuse was assessed and found to be low to negative, according to Gover.
    Still, this approval comes as the White House is said to be reconsidering federal prohibition of marijuana and as more and more states approve it for recreational and medicinal use.
    Gover said the approval signals “validation of the science of cannabinoid medication.”

    Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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    Restaurant tries marijuana for lobsters to take the edge off being boiled

    One Maine restaurateur says blowing smoke over lobsters before plunging them into boiling water makes for a happier crustacean and a tastier dish

    For decades, seafood lovers have struggled with a confounding ethical dilemma: how do you balance out the delight of a lobster dinner with the discomfort of boiling one alive, generally regarded as the proper way to prepare the crustacean delicacy?

    That conflict has been compounded in recent years with the surge in relatively ethical means of farming. One enterprising restaurateur in Maine has come up with what seems like a reasonable solution. Why not get the lobsters baked?

    No, not baked in the oven, but rather stoned out of their minds. Sedating lobsters by blowing marijuana smoke on to them sounds like the type of idea you might come up with while smoking a bit of grass yourself, but Charlotte Gill, owner of Charlottes Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, is convinced it can help to ease the pain lobsters might feel while being boiled alive.

    An animal rights supporter who has owned the restaurant for seven years, Gill told the Mount Desert Island publication that shes long struggled with the ethical implications of her line of work. After conducting an experiment in which she hot-boxed a particularly aggressive lobster named Roscoe, she came away convinced the high significantly mellowed him out.

    The animal is already going to be killed, she said in the interview. It is far more humane to make it a kinder passage.

    Before
    Before and after: live and cooked lobsters. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

    The question of whether or not lobsters or other related species feel pain the way we think of it has intrigued researchers and plain old home kitchen chefs for some time.

    As David Foster Wallace wrote in his memorable essay Consider the Lobster, the question is central to the way we think about eating.

    Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure? he asked.

    Earlier this year a law was passed in Switzerland prohibiting the boiling alive of lobsters.

    Dr Robert Elwood, a professor emeritus of animal behavior at Queens University Belfast, is one scientist whos been conducting experiments to that effect for much of his career. Lobsters do move away from pain stimuli, like heat, but its unclear if that is merely a reflex; crustaceans nervous systems are very different from those of humans.

    We cant prove pain in any animal species. You can only do studies and if theyre consistent with the idea of pain, you begin to think perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt, Elwood said.

    Gill, who holds a medical marijuana caregiver license with the state, is convinced nonetheless that its a precaution worth taking. She plans to prepare all of her lobsters with a bit of smoke, but says customers can opt out of it if they prefer things done the old-fashioned way.

    A happier animal makes for a better tasting dish, she believes.

    The difference it makes within the meat itself is unbelievable, she said. Everything you put into your body is energy.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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    Parents Treating Kids With Cannabinoid Oil Could Lose Them

    In April, a committee at the Food and Drug Administration took the unprecedented step to recommend for approval Epidiolex, an epilepsy drug containing a plant-sourced cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD). In June, the FDA will vote on approving the drug, which has been shown in limited studies to be effective for those suffering from severe epilepsy.

    Maria Selvas seven-year-old daughter, Aliana, has epilepsy and has found relief from seizures with CBD.

    But treating her daughters seizures with CBD has put Selva at significant risk, and she has mixed feelings about the FDAs potential approval of Epidiolex. In October 2017, Child Protective Services charged Maria and her husband with severe medical neglect, and removed Aliana from her parents care.

    Aliana Selva was six-years-old and on vacation with her family in Los Angeles when she had her first tonic-clonic seizure. She had experienced a few mild seizures as an infant, but the doctors assured Maria and her husband, Jo Selva, that these seizures were common and she would likely grow out of them. For nearly four years, the Selvas thought the doctors were right.

    Then, on March 31, 2016, Aliana had two seizures.

    The Selvas rushed Aliana to the emergency room, where she was examined and released. The doctor said the hospital would forward the exam notes to a neurologist in the Bay Area, where the Selvas lived. When they returned home, a neurologist called and said Aliana needed to be put on the anticonvulsant drug, Keppra.

    I remember asking her, so, is there a diagnosis? Maria says. It just seemed so strange, we didnt even know what was wrong but we were already putting her on medication for it.

    Within a few minutes of giving Aliana the first dose of the drug, Alianas personality transformed dramatically.

    Alis normally a very sweet, gentle little girl, Maria says, After giving her that first dose of Keppra, she was super aggressive and irritable. She went from jumping on the bed, saying she wanted to have a dance party to sobbing and banging her head against the wall. She didnt care that she was hurting herself. It was completely outside her personality. It was insane. It wasnt Ali.

    Keppra rage, Dr. Bonni Goldstein, former Chief Resident at Los Angeles Childrens Hospital, said immediately when she heard Alis story (Aliana goes by both her full name and the nickname). Goldstein hasnt treated the Selvas and wasnt previously familiar with their case, but she has dealt with her share of children with epilepsy, both on and off Keppra. She practiced pediatric emergency medicine for thirteen years before switching gears to focus on cannabinoid therapies. Goldstein has seen Keppra work well for many patients, and shes seen many others have precisely the reaction Maria described.

    The possible behavioral side effects of Keppra in children are well documented, including hostility and aggression.

    Maria took Ali off of the drug after a week. I was uncomfortable with the whole thing, Maria said. We didnt have a diagnosis, no one explained to me how this medication was supposed to work, how long she needed to be on it, anything. They hadnt even met the doctor who prescribed it.

    Over the next year, Ali had a handful of absence seizures (characterized by brief lapses in attention, absence seizures usually last 1-2 minutes). A neurologist diagnosed Ali with epilepsythe first diagnosis shed receivedand ordered an MRI. The results were normal (Normal results for MRIs and/or EEGs are not uncommon in cases of epilepsy).

    In May 2017, the Selvas moved to Southern California. That summer, there was a slight uptick in the frequency of Alis absence seizures. This development worried the Selvas, but Keppra seemed like an extreme response. Years earlier, they had heard about treating seizures with CBD oil, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis. But Maria said, as soon as I heard it had to do with marijuana, I brushed it off.

    Now, however, desperate for alternatives to Keppra, they started looking into CBD. It had been covered in the national media in 2013 when Charlotte Figi, a six-year-old with a severe form of epilepsy, dramatically improved after using the oil. There was so much research about how CBD was non-psychoactive and helpful for kids like Ali, Maria said. And crucially, there were no significant side effects. A veterinarian friend told Jo about the success shed had treating epileptic animals with CBD oil. A health store near their home sold CBD oil, so they decided to give it a try. It wasnt FDA approved, they understood that. But it was better than their child banging her head against the wall in rage.

    In July of 2017, Ali started a very low dose of CBD oil, administered orally. We were really cautious, Maria said. For the first few weeks, we only gave her two drops per day. We found out later that the dose was too low to have any impact, but we wanted to start slow.

    At the end of the first week of school, Ali had a brief absence seizure in class. A few after, , Ali had a much more extreme (tonic-clonic) seizure. Maria brought Ali to the emergency room, where she seized a second time. She wet herself; she may have been biting her tongue, Maria recalls. It was awful.

    Frightened by this sudden escalation, the Selvas reluctantly consented to a restarting a daily dose of Keppra IV to stop the seizing. At the same time, they also increased Alis dose of CBD.

    Once again, the Keppra rage returned; Ali was, according to Maria, hyper, aggressive, clumsy. Within a week, the Selvas decided to stop administering Keppra. When the Selvas met with a neurologist the following week, they asked about alternatives to the medication; he refused to discuss alternative treatments with them. This [Keppra] is what she should take; if you don't like it and you want something natural, you need to go somewhere else, Maria later texted a friend.

    Dr. Julie Griffith, a neurologist in San Rafael, California, isnt familiar with the Selvas case and therefore couldnt comment on it directly, but she stresses that if one medication doesnt work for a patient, a neurologist could suggest several other medications that might be better tolerated. According to the Selvas, no such offer was made.

    Intent on finding someone who could talk to them about alternatives, the Selvas switched insurance companies. The Selvas also met with school administrators and agreed on a plan regarding Alis seizures: If she had one that lasted less than five minutes, the school would call her parents to come pick her up. If it lasted more than five minutes, theyd call the Selvas and an ambulance.

    Two weeks later, the plan was enacted. Ali had an absence seizure in class and Jo came to pick his daughter up from school, telling staff they were using CBD oil and looking for a new neurologist after switching insurance plans.

    Several days later, Maria received a call from Loretta Lopez of Child Protective Services.

    CPS wanted to do a home inspection and assess the safety of Alis home environment. It didnt sit well with us, Maria says, but we also thought, lets invite them in and show them that we have nothing to hide.

    During the inspection, the Selvas recounted Alis medical history and Lopez asked to see the medication Ali was taking. The Selvas produced both the Keppra and the CBD oil, and informed Lopez that they were only using the CBD oil. (The Daily Beast tried to contact Lopez for this story, but the County of Orange Social Services Agency declined on her behalf due to state confidentiality laws.)

    Maria thought it went well. She [Lopez] seemed like she was on our side. She kept saying, I know theres a reason for everything youre doing, I just want to help you make that clear. She told us that shed get back to us Tuesday or Wednesday with a report. Maria signed a form saying CPS could access Alis medical files as well as a safety plan affirming that they would take Ali to the hospital if she had a seizure.

    It was an unsettling experience, but the Selvas were more confused than scared. I figured she was just going to call Tuesday or Wednesday and say everything you said checks out, case closed.

    Maria was wrong. The following Wednesday, Lopez called Maria saying they needed to have an urgent, in-person meeting. Maria was confused: In her mind, theyd done everything to be accomodating:Theyd given permission for CPS to view Alis medical records and to speak with her doctor; theyd allowed CPS into their home, shown them the kids living environment, and met both parents. How could Lopez still have concerns about her kids safety?

    The Selvas agreed to meet, but said they wanted an attorney present. This, they were told, was against CPS policy. You can bring anyone you want, a senior social worker told the Selvas, just not an attorney.

    The policy of prohibiting attorneys at team meetings is standard in California. Orange County Social Services wouldnt comment on any particular case but directed The Daily Beast to their policy regarding attorneys at team meetings here.

    Without the protection of a lawyer, the Selvas felt like they needed more time to understand what they were potentially up against. Could they have the meeting over the weekend or the following Monday instead?

    That wont work, Maria recalls the social worker saying, Were just going to go ahead and get Juvenile Dependency Court involved.

    For what? Maria recalled asking. We dont even know what the results of your investigation are or what were being charged with.

    The meeting was supposed to be when they found out all that information, the Selvas were told. But by refusing to meet that day without an attorney, the social worker told them, they were choosing not to participate and CPS had no other choice but to move forward with getting a warrant and Juvenile Court.

    When the call ended, Jo and Maria immediately started contacting lawyers. We were so in the dark, Maria says. They said they were going to get a warrant, but for what?

    In retrospect, Maria sees her confusion as naivete. In this perfect world you picture, you have to be a bad parent to get your child taken away.

    The following evening, Maria and Jo Selvas child was taken away.

    The knock came just after 8 PM on Saturday, October 28. Through the peephole, Maria saw three police officers outside her door. They said they were doing a welfare check.

    Thats when Maria started streaming the incident on Facebook Live. In the video, Jo speaks to the police officers through the closed door. He asks what a welfare check entails, and asks if they have a warrant. The officer explains that they dont need a warrant for a welfare check. Jo says he and Maria will come outside to talk, but are going to close the door behind them. The police agree. The video is dark, but seconds after opening the door, Jo is handcuffed.

    Once in handcuffs, the police tell Jo that they do have a warrant, one that allows them to take Ali into protective custody. The officers read the warrant to the handcuffed Jo and he pleads, shes going to freak out if she doesnt have us by her side. Shes epileptic and everytime she gets anxiety she has seizures.

    The video is over an hour long and concludes with Maria asking Ali, who appears unperturbed and smiling, dressed in Strawberry Shortcake pajamas, what she wants to bring with her to go spend the night somewhere really nice.

    Ali spent the next three nights at Orangewood Childrens Home in Orange County. Her parents were allowed one supervised 30 minute visit per day. On the second day, Ali started asking to go home. It had stopped being this adventure for her, Maria said. Her hair wasnt brushed and her breath was stinky. I wanted to ask if she was brushing her teeth and everything, but its hard.When you only have 30 minutes with your child, are you really going to talk about brushing teeth? She kept asking why she couldnt come home. I kept saying, Im sorry; Im working on it.

    Epidiolex, the drug which is set for FDA approval, is a product of GW Pharmaceuticals. The FDA was impressed with positive results from three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. The drug will likely be approved for patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two severe, rare forms of epilepsy. While Aliana's epilepsy is not severe enough to meet the expected criteria for the drug, the studies indicate the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in treating seizure disorders.

    Allison Ray Benavides, a social worker in San Diego and mother of an epileptic child believes that CPS is targeting vulnerable families with these cases. She told The Daily Beast, in San Diego, theres a group of us moms who have kids with seizure disorders and use CBD oil. Theres only one mom in our group who has had a problem with CPS: the single mom whose husband is in prison. She believes the Selvas were vulnerable in a different way, you can draw a clear line from CPS to this young, hispanic family living in a very conservative county (Orange County). If they were white and living in Newport Beach, this never would have happened.

    This rings true to Ursula Kilmer, of Redding, California. Shes been battling CPS for the same reason as the Selvas. Kilmers son has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (a severe form of epilepsy). When she was able to use CBD oil in lieu of other anticonvulsants, His seizures stopped completely. But CPS alleges medical neglect, and Kimler has been ordered to put her son back on drugs that do not prevent his seizures and, she believes, makes them worse.

    Kimler has spent the last nine months trying to appease CPS and have the courts condone her use of CBD oil. Im exhausted, she says, I just want to be able to give my kid the stuff that helps him.

    On November 1, three days after she was taken, the Selvas were granted temporary custody of their daughter and saw, for the first time, what the official charges against them were: Severe medical neglect.

    Griffith is among the neurologists who think CBD is promising for many cases, but has concerns about the unregulated market and quality control. She also believes more research needs to be done on the effect of CBD on developing brains. That said, when presented with a hypothetical situation in which a parent is treating their childs seizures with CBD oil, Griffith said, If theyre trying to treat the seizures, that certainly doesnt sound like neglect.

    On December 5, 2017, the Selvas case was dismissed by Juvenile Dependency Court.

    To this day, the Selvas dont know for sure who reported them to CPS. Goldstein understands the confusion that mandated reporters like school nurses and social workers have about cannabinoid therapies. Its one of the reasons shes started an educational program for people who are in a position to intervene.

    Goldsteinwho stressed that she is a physician unassociated with the cannabis industry adamantly believes that [cannabis] must be treated the way youd treat any other prescription drug; if a family is being responsible and has medical supervision, and is using cannabis to treat a medical condition, you should not call Child Protective Services on them because that is absolutely not neglect.

    As for Aliana, shes seeing a new neurologist who understands the efficacy of CBD for seizure disorders and is monitoring her closely. Emotionally, however, the trauma of the ordeal lingers. She gets scared at night now, something that never happened before.

    Maria understands how she feels. I thought as a parent, I had rights, Maria said., Now theres this fear that CPS could just come through the door and take my kids away.

    Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com

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    Epileptic boy gets cannabis oil back

    Media playback is unsupported on your device
    Media captionCharlotte Caldwell says “history has been made” after the Home Office allowed her son to use cannabis oil

    A boy with severe epilepsy has been given back medicinal cannabis oil that was confiscated from his mother at customs, the home secretary has said.

    Billy Caldwell, 12, received the oil after doctors made clear it was a “medical emergency”, Sajid Javid said.

    Billy’s mother, Charlotte Caldwell, from County Tyrone, said they had “achieved the impossible” but called for the oil to be freely available.

    Billy began using cannabis oil in 2016 to control his seizures.

    The cannabis oil, which contains a substance called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is illegal in the UK but available elsewhere.

    Billy’s most recent supply – which Ms Caldwell had tried to bring into the UK from Canada – was confiscated at Heathrow Airport on Monday and he was admitted to hospital before Mr Javid said it would be returned.

    The oil arrived at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where Billy is being treated, on Saturday afternoon. It was administered under a special 20-day licence and is not allowed to be taken home.

    A spokeswoman for the Home Office said it was an “exceptional licence” for a “short term emergency” and it would need to be reviewed.

    ‘Completely broken’

    Ms Caldwell said: “I truly believe that somewhere in the Home Office there’s someone with a heart, and I truly believe that Billy was pulling on their heart strings.”

    But she said Billy’s “little body has been completely broken and his little mind”.

    “No other family should have to go through this sort of ordeal, travelling half way round the world to get medication which should be freely available,” she said.

    “My experience leaves me in no doubt that the Home Office can no longer play a role in the administration of medication for sick children in our country.

    “Children are dying in our country and it needs to stop now.”

    Image caption Billy was admitted to hospital in London on Friday

    Mr Javid said he had issued a licence to allow Billy to be treated with the cannabis oil after discussions with Billy’s medical team.

    “This is a very complex situation, but our immediate priority is making sure Billy receives the most effective treatment possible in a safe way,” he said.

    “My decision is based on the advice of senior clinicians who have made clear this is a medical emergency.

    “The policing minister met with the family on Monday and since then has been working to reach an urgent solution.”

    Barbara Zieniewicz, co-founder of campaign group Families4Access, and who travelled to Canada with Billy and Ms Caldwell, called Mr Javid’s decision “triumphant”.

    “I strongly believe that this is the first push – from here, it’s a ripple effect. This means, to me, there is hope, not just for Billy, but for all the families that need it.”

    Billy, from Castlederg, started the treatment in 2016 in the US, where medical marijuana is legal.

    Ms Caldwell says Billy’s seizures dramatically reduce when he takes the oil.

    In 2017, he was prescribed the medication on the NHS. But in May this year, his GP was told he could no longer prescribe it.

    At the time the Department of Health in Northern Ireland said cannabis had not yet been licensed in the UK as a medicine.

    Last Monday, Ms Caldwell tried to bring a six-month supply of the oil – to treat up to 100 seizures a day – into the UK from Toronto but the substance was confiscated by officials at Heathrow airport.

    The boy’s family said he was taken to hospital when his seizures “intensified” in recent days.

    The family’s MP, Órfhlaith Begley, said the Home Office’s decision was “life-saving”, adding: “I will continue to engage with the Home Office and the health authorities to ensure he can access his medication in the longer term so there is no repeat of the trauma he has suffered over recent weeks.”

    ‘Not straightforward’

    Dr Amir Englund, who studies cannabis at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “Clearly, there is evidence that Billy’s medication works for him where others have failed.

    “The duty of government is to protect its citizens from harm with regulations on medicines, so that the ones doctors prescribe are safe and effective.

    “However, there are instances which these measures become counterproductive and harmful. This is such an instance, and the Home Office should allow an exemption so that he does not come to further harm.”

    Meanwhile, clinical lecturer in psychiatry at University College London, Dr Michael Bloomfield, said on the one hand “current laws are too strict”, but added that the issue of medical marijuana is “far from straightforward”.

    “Any ‘medical marijuana’ needs a scientific evidence base, in the form of medical trials et cetera, which is currently lacking for many disorders and has become, for many jurisdictions, a potential way of decriminalising cannabis through the back door,” he said.


    Does cannabis have medicinal benefits?

    CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two types of cannabinoids found naturally in the resin of the marijuana plant.

    A cannabis-based drug called Sativex has been licensed in the UK to treat MS. It contains THC and CBD.

    Doctors could, in theory, prescribe it for other things outside of this licence, but at their own risk.

    MS patients prescribed Sativex, who resupply it to other people, also face prosecution.

    Another licensed treatment is Nabilone. It contains an artificial version of THC and can be given to cancer patients to help relieve nausea during chemotherapy.

    Source: NHS Choices


    Related Topics

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    Colorado sold a whole bunch of weed this year

    Weed
    Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    Colorado’s cannabis enthusiasts are celebrating after a milestone was announced on Monday.

    In the first 10 months of 2016, the state sold more than $1 billion of recreational and medical cannabis and cannabis-related products, according to data released by the state’s Department of Revenue. That is a monstrous amount of weed.

    The record number is up from 2015’s total annual marijuana revenue of $996 million.

    Industry attorney Vincente Sederberg told the Cannabistthat he believes sales will cross $1.3 billion in 2016.

    “We think well see $1.3 billion in sales revenue this year and so the economic impact of this industry if were using the same multiplier from the Marijuana Policy Groups recent report, which is totally reasonable it suddenly eclipses a $3 billion economic impact for 2016.

    While Colorado was the first state to legalize cannabis, it may soon lose its top spot in terms of revenue. California recently legalized marijuana for recreational use and is expected to make major profits once it sets up its retail shops. Florida also legalized cannabis for medical use and, according to Forbes, it’s projected to rake in $1.6 billion by 2020, thanks to its large population of seniors with chronic pain and illness.

    Welcome to the United States of Weed, our new cash crop.

    BONUS: Trump is president, but at least you can get high in four more states

    Read more: http://mashable.com/

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    This Restaurant Gets Lobsters High On Pot Smoke Before Boiling Them

    The lobsters at one Maine restaurant are going to pot ― literally.

    Charlotte Gill, who owns Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, has been looking for ways to kill her crustaceans in a more humane way than tossing them into boiling water.

    So she’s smoking out the lobsters by placing them into boxes that contain water that has been infused with marijuana smoke, according to the Mount Desert Islander newspaper.

    Gill believes the pot-laced water will sedate the lobsters so their deaths aren’t traumatic.

    “I feel bad that when lobsters come here there is no exit strategy,” Gill told the paper. “It’s a unique place, and you get to do such unique things but at the expense of this little creature. I’ve really been trying to figure out how to make it better.”

    This is a probably as good a time as any to point out that Gill hasn’t said she used any scientific evidence to back her claim, which was based on observations of a single lobster.

    Gill, who is also a registered medical marijuana caregiver, claims her ganja guinea pig was a lobster named Roscoe, who she claims was much calmer for three weeks after it first got “baked,” according to local station WMTW.

    Gill said the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, breaks down at a temperature below the point at which lobsters are considered cooked, so it does not affect the taste of their meat.

    In addition, she claimed it’s impossible for a human to become high off a pot-laced lobster.

    So far, Gill only uses her cannabis cooking technique when a customer requests it. She also plans to build a larger tank that will apparently get even more lobsters stoned.

    Gill was inspired to experiment after reading about studies suggesting lobsters feel real pain when dropped in boiling water.

    “I have made enough mistakes in my 47 years that I want to make sure that every action moving forward is one that I can live with, and also to show my son that his mom stands for what she believes in,” Gill told WMTW. “This world has enough pain and suffering as it is. It’s time to make it a better place, and I’m going to do my part, by starting here with this one thing.”

    Although Gill is getting international attention for her attempts to kill lobsters humanely, some of her Facebook followers see a disconnect, wondering why she’s running a lobster restaurant if she’s so worried about how lobsters feel when they’re boiled alive.

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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    How do you move mountains of unwanted weed?

    Oregon farmers have grown three times what their customers can smoke in a year, causing bud prices to plummet and panic to set in

    A recent Sunday afternoon at the Bridge City Collective cannabis shop in north Portland saw a steady flow of customers.

    Little wonder: a gram of weed was selling for less than the price of a glass of wine.

    The $4 and $5 grams enticed Scotty Saunders, a 24-year-old sporting a gray hoodie, to spend $88 picking out new products to try with a friend. Weve definitely seen a huge drop in prices, he says.

    tk

    Across the wood and glass counter, Bridge City owner David Alport was less delighted. He says hes never sold marijuana this cheap before.

    We have standard grams on the shelf at $4, Alport says. Before, we didnt see a gram below $8.

    The scene at Bridge City Collective is playing out across the city and state. Three years into Oregons era of recreational cannabis, the state is inundated with legal weed.

    It turns out Oregonians are good at growing cannabis too good.

    In February, state officials announced that 1.1m pounds of cannabis flower were logged in the states database.

    If a million pounds sounds like a lot of pot, thats because it is: last year, Oregonians smoked, vaped or otherwise consumed just under 340,000lb of legal bud.

    That means Oregon farmers have grown three times what their clientele can smoke in a year.

    Yet state documents show the number of Oregon weed farmers is poised to double this summer without much regard to whether theres demand to fill.

    The result? Prices are dropping to unprecedented lows in auction houses and on dispensary counters across the state.

    Wholesale sun-grown weed fell from $1,500 a pound last summer to as low as $700 by mid-October. On store shelves, that means the price of sun-grown flower has been sliced in half to those four-buck grams.

    For Oregon customers, this is a bonanza. A gram of the beloved Girl Scout Cookies strain now sells for little more than two boxes of actual Girl Scout cookies.

    But it has left growers and sellers with a high-cost product thats a financial loser. And a new feeling has descended on the once-confident Oregon cannabis industry: panic.

    tk

    The business has been up and down and up and down, says Don Morse, who closed his Human Collective II dispensary in south-west Portland four months ago. But in a lot of ways it has just been down and down for dispensaries.

    This month, WW spoke to two dozen people across Oregons cannabis industry. They describe a bleak scene: small businesses laying off employees and shrinking operations. Farms shuttering. People losing their lifes savings are unable to declare bankruptcy because marijuana is still a federally scheduled narcotic.

    To be sure, every new market creates winners and losers. But the glut of legal weed places Oregons young industry in a precarious position, and could swiftly reshape it.

    Oregons wineries, breweries and distilleries have experienced some of the same kind of shakeout over time. But the timetable is faster with pot: for many businesses, its boom to bust within months.

    Mom-and-pop farms are accepting lowball offers to sell to out-of-state investors, and what was once a diverse and local market is increasingly owned by a few big players. And frantic growers face an even greater temptation to illegally leak excess grass across state lines and into the crosshairs of US attorney general Jeff Sessions justice department.

    If somebody has got thousands of pounds that they cant sell, they are desperate, says Myron Chadowitz, who owns the Eugene farm Cannassentials. Desperate people do desperate things.

    In March, Robin Cordell posted a distress signal on Instagram.

    The prices are so low, she wrote, and without hustling all day, hoping to find the odd shop with an empty jar, it doesnt seem to move at any price.

    Cordell has a rare level of visibility for a cannabis grower. Her Oregon City farm, Oregon Girl Gardens, received glowing profiles from Dope Magazine and Oregon Leaf. She has 12 years of experience in the medical marijuana system, a plot of family land in Clackamas county, and branding as one of the states leaders in organic and women-led cannabis horticulture.

    She fears shell be out of business by the end of the year.

    The prices just never went back up, she says.

    The
    The prices just never went back up.

    Cordell ran headlong into Oregons catastrophically bountiful cannabis crop.

    The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) handed out dozens of licenses to new farmers who planted their first crop last spring. Mild weather blessed the summer of 2017 and stretched generously into the fall. And growers going into their second summer season planted extra seeds to make up for flower lost to a 2016 storm, the last vestige of a brutal typhoon blown across the Pacific from Asia.

    That storm naturally constrained the supply even though there were a lot of cultivators, says Beau Whitney, senior economist for New Frontier Data, which studies the cannabis industry.

    It kept supply low and prices high in 2017 even though the state was handing out licenses at an alarming rate.

    It was a hot new market, Whitney says. There werent a whole lot of barriers to entry. The OLCC basically issued a license to anyone who qualified.

    Chadowitz blames out-of-state money for flooding the Oregon system. In 2016, state lawmakers decided to lift a restriction that barred out-of-state investors from owning controlling shares of local farms and dispensaries.

    It was a controversial choice one that many longtime growers still resent.

    The root of the entire thing was allowance of outside money into Oregon, Chadowitz says. Anyone could get the money they needed. Unlimited money and unlimited licenses, youre going to get unlimited flower and crash the market.

    As of 1 April, Oregon had licensed 963 recreational cannabis grows, while another 910 awaited OLCC approval.

    That means oversupply is only going to increase as more farms start harvesting bud.

    The OLCC has said repeatedly that it has no authority to limit the number of licenses it grants to growers, wholesalers and dispensaries (although by contrast, the number of liquor stores in Oregon is strictly limited).

    Since voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, many industry veterans from the medical marijuana years have chafed at the entrance of new money, warning it would destroy a carefully crafted farm ecosystem.

    The same problem has plagued cannabis industries in other states that have legalized recreational weed. In 2016, Colorado saw wholesale prices for recreational flower drop 38%. Washington saw its pot drop in value at the same time Oregon did.

    The OLCC remains committed to facilitating a free market for recreational marijuana in which anyone can try their hand at growing or selling.

    [The law] has to be explicit that we have that authority to limit or put a cap on licenses, says OLCC spokesman Mark Pettinger. It doesnt say that we could put a cap on licenses. The only thing that we can regulate is canopy size.

    The demand for weed in Oregon is robust the state reeled in $68m in cannabis sales taxes last year but it cant keep pace with supply.

    A
    A cannabis harvest at East Fork Cultivars, Oregon.

    Whitney says its not unusual for a new industry to attract speculators and people without much business savvy.

    Whenever you have these emerging markets, theres going to be a lot of people entering the market looking for profit, he says. Once it becomes saturated, it becomes more competitive. This is not a phenomenon that is unique to cannabis. There used to be a lot of computer companies, but theres not so many anymore.

    Across rolling hills of Oregon farmland and in Portland dispensaries as sleek as designer eyewear shops, the story plays out the same: Business owners cant make the low prices pencil out.

    Nick Duyck is a second-generation farmer and owner of 3D Blueberry Farms in Washington county. I was born and raised on blueberries, he says.

    But last June, Duyck launched Private Reserve Cannabis, a weed grow designed to create permanent jobs for seasonal workers.

    By starting up the cannabis business, says Duyck, it keeps my guys busy on a year-round basis.

    He invested $250,000 in the structural build-outs, lighting, environmental controls and other initial costs to achieve a 5,000 sq ft, Tier I, OLCC-approved indoor canopy.

    Ongoing labor and operational costs added another $20,000 a month.

    Weed prices were high: Duyck forecast a $1,500 return per pound. If Duyck could produce 20lb of flower a week, hed make back his money and start banking profits in just three months.

    A
    A gram of weed was selling for less than a glass of wine.

    Octobers bumper crop tore those plans apart.

    We got in at the wrong time, Duyck says. The outdoor harvest flooded the market.

    By the start of the new year, Duyck was sitting on 100lb of ready-to-sell flower an inventory trickling out to dispensaries in single-pound increments.

    So he turned to a wholesaler, Cannabis Auctions LLC, which holds monthly fire sales in various undisclosed locations throughout Oregon.

    Weed auctions operate under a traditional model: sellers submit their wares, and buyers dispensary owners, intake managers and extract manufacturers are given an opportunity to inspect products before bidding on parcels awarded to the highest dollar.

    Duyck sent 60lb of pot to the auction block in December. He had adjusted his expectations downward: he hoped to see something in the ballpark of $400 a pound.

    It sold for $100 a pound.

    The price per pound that it costs us to raise this product is significantly higher than the hundred dollars a pound, says Duyck. (A little light math points to a $250-per-unit production cost.) Currently, were operating at a $15,000-per-month loss, Duyck says.

    If prices dont improve soon, Duyck says he wont be able to justify renewing his OLCC license for another year.

    The dispensaries that are out there, a lot of them have their own farms, so they dont buy a lot of product from small farms like us Duyck says. If you really want to grow the product, you almost have to own the store also.

    Middlemen store owners without farms are also suffering. Take Don Morse, who gave up selling weed on New Years Eve.

    Morse ran Human Collective II, one of the earliest recreational shops in the city, which first opened as a medical marijuana supplier in 2010. At times, Morse stocked 100 strains in his Multnomah Village location.

    A
    A cannabis crop. I think if we let it be a painful moment, and not try to cover it up, were going to be better off for it.

    Morse lobbied for legal recreational weed and founded the Oregon Cannabis Business Council.

    The shift to recreational was costly. With his business partner Sarah Bennett, Morse says he invested more than $100,000 in equipment to meet state regulations.

    By last summer, new stores were popping up at a rapid pace. Morses company wasnt vertically integrated, which means it did not grow any of its own pot or run a wholesaler that might have subsidized low sales.

    Competition around us was fierce, and the company started losing money, and it wasnt worth it anymore, Morse says. At our peak, we had 20 employees. When we closed, we had six.

    Prices went into free fall in October: the average retail price dropped 40%.

    Morse couldnt see a way to make the numbers work. Human Collective priced grams as low as $6 to compete with large chains like Nectar and Chalice, but it struggled to turn a profit.

    When youre the little guy buying the product from wholesalers, you cant afford to compete, he says. Theres only so far you can lower the price. Theres too much of everything and too many people in the industry.

    So Morse closed his shop: We paid our creditors and that was that. That was the end of it.

    Despite losing his business, Morse stands behind Oregons light touch when it comes to regulating the industry.

    Its just commercialism at its finest, he says. Let the best survive. Thats just the way it goes in capitalism. Thats just the way it goes.

    Just as mom-and-pop grocery stores gave way to big chains, people like Morse are losing out to bigger operations.

    Chalice Farms has five stores in the Portland area and is opening a sixth in Happy Valley. La Mota has 15 dispensaries. Nectar has 11 storefronts in Oregon, with four more slated to open soon.

    Despite the record-low prices in the cannabis industry, these chains are hiring and opening new locations, sometimes after buying failed mom-and-pop shops.

    The home page on Nectars website prominently declares: Now buying dispensaries! Please contact us if you are a dispensary owner interested in selling your business.

    Nectar representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

    Mason
    Mason Walker, the CEO of East Fork Cultivars.

    Because the federal government does not recognize legal marijuana, the industry cannot access traditional banking systems or even federal courts. That means business owners cant declare bankruptcy to dissolve a failed dispensary or farm, leaving them with few options. They can try to liquidate their assets, destroy the product they have on hand and eat the losses.

    Or they can sell the business to a company like Nectar, often for a fraction of what theyve invested.

    This time last year, it was basically all mom-and-pop shops, says Mason Walker, CEO of Cave Junction cannabis farm East Fork Cultivars. Now there are five or six companies that own 25 or 30%. Stores are selling for pennies on the dollar, and people are losing their life savings in the process.

    Deep-pocketed companies can survive the crash and wait for the market to contract again.

    What this means is, the market is now in a position where only the large [businesses] or the ones that can produce at the lower cost can survive, Whitney says. A lot of the craft growers, a lot of the small-capacity cultivators, will go out of business.

    Oregon faces another consequence of pot businesses closing up shop: leftover weed could end up on the black market.

    Already, Oregon has a thriving illegal market shipping to other states.

    US attorney for Oregon, Billy Williams, has said he has little interest in cracking down on legal marijuana businesses, but will prosecute those shipping marijuana to other states.

    That kind of thing is whats going to shut down our industry, Chadowitz says. Anything we can do to prevent Jeff Sessions from being right, we have to do.

    Ask someone in the cannabis industry what to do about Oregons weed surplus, and youre likely to get one of three answers.

    The first is to cap the number of licenses awarded by the OLCC. The second is to reduce the canopy size allotted to each license Massachusetts is trying that. And the last, equally common answer is to simply do nothing. Let the market sort itself out.

    Up
    Up in smoke: opinions vary about what Oregon must do to address its weed surplus.

    Farmers, such as Walker of East Fork Cultivars, argue that limiting the number of licensed farms in Oregon would stunt the states ability to compete on the national stage in the years ahead.

    Were in this sort of painful moment right now, says Walker, but I think if we let it be a painful moment, and not try to cover it up, were going to be better off for it.

    Walker and other growers hope selling across state lines will someday become legal.

    Every farmer, wholesaler, dispensary owner and economist WW talked to for this story said that if interstate weed sales became legal, Oregons oversupply problem would go away.

    Under the current presidential administration, that might seem a long shot. But legalization is sweeping the country, Donald Trump is signaling a looser approach, and experts say Oregon will benefit when the feds stop fighting.

    The thing about Oregon is that it is known for its cannabis, in a similar way to Oregon pinot noir, Whitney says. For those who are able to survive, they are positioned extremely well not only to survive in the Oregon market but also to take advantage of a larger market assuming things open up on a federal level.

    Looking for more great work from the Portland, Oregon, alt-weekly paper and website Willamette Week? Here are some suggestions:

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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    Cynthia Nixon On Marijuana: It’s Effectively Legal For White People

    Cynthia Nixon’s campaign for governor continues with her latest video about why she supports legalizing the use of recreational marijuana in New York.

    “There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” said Nixon in a video posted on Twitter Wednesday.

    Nixon, who in March announced her run against incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo in the upcoming Democratic primary, notes in the video that 80 percent of New Yorkers arrested for marijuana are black or Latino.

    “The simple truth is, for white people, the use of marijuana has effectively been legal for a long time,” she says. “Isn’t it time we legalize it for everybody else?”

    While Nixon has spoken out about recreational legalization in New York before, this discussion on how it correlates to the issue of racial inequality is particularly refreshing and needed.

    The gubernatorial candidate and former actress goes on to say in her campaign video that white people and people of color use marijuana at roughly the same rates. Yet black people in New York are arrested or detained for marijuana 4.5 times more than white people, according to a report by the ACLU.

    “The consequences follow people for the rest of their lives, making it harder to get jobs or housing, and for noncitizens, putting them in the crosshairs of deportation,” she says.

    The 52-year-old also says that legalizing would “generate millions of dollars in tax revenue” and “create new agricultural opportunities for New York’s farmers.” 

    Currently, eight other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use. New York state does have a medical marijuana program, though it is extremely restrictive.

    TIMOTHY A. CLARY via Getty Images
    Cynthia Nixon speaks to people at the Bethesda Healing Center in Brooklyn, New York, on March 20, 2018.

    Current New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D) had previously called marijuana a “gateway drug” in 2017, though his stance has since shifted slightly. In January 2018. Cuomo proposed a study in his 2018 budget plan that explores the potential impacts of recreational marijuana use in New York State.

    Of the study, Cuomo said: “If it was legalized in Jersey and it was legal in Massachusetts and the federal government allowed it to go ahead, what would that do to New York, because it’s right in the middle? This is an important topic, it’s a hotly debated topic, pardon the pun, and it’d be nice to have the facts in the middle of the debate once in a while.”

    The study will now move forward after the state’s $168 million state budget was approved in March.

    Nixon is slated to challenge Cuomo in the Democratic primary on Sept. 13.

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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