Marijuana Has Come A Long Way Since Last 4/20

Apr 20, 2014

What a dif­fer­ence a year makes. From 4/20, 2013, to 4/20, 2014, mar­i­juana has taken big steps out of the shad­ows of the black mar­ket and into the light of the main­stream — from record high pop­u­lar sup­port and the first legal recre­ational sales, to an entire coun­try legal­iz­ing mar­i­juana. Here’s a look at the last 12 months of mar­i­juana mile­stones: Col­orado Sold Legal, Recre­ational Mar­i­juana For The First Time The first month of legal sales gen­er­ated $14 mil­lion. Those mil­lions were brought in by only 59 mar­i­juana busi­nesses that were able to get through the appli­ca­tion process, and rep­re­sent just a frac­tion of the approx­i­mately 550 out­lets in the state eli­gi­ble for retail licenses. Now, as the fourth month of sales winds to a close, Den­ver has still not descended into the crime-filled hellscape that some mem­bers of law enforce­ment pre­dicted. In fact, over­all crime in Mile High City appears to be down since legal pot sales began. And as time passes, more Col­oradan vot­ers are happy with legal­iza­tion. A recent sur­vey from Pub­lic Pol­icy Polling showed that 57 per­cent of Col­orado vot­ers now approve of mar­i­juana legal­iza­tion, while 35 per­cent dis­ap­prove. Amend­ment 64, the mea­sure that legal­ized recre­ational mar­i­juana in the state, passed by only a 10-point mar­gin. The Promise Of Med­ical Mar­i­juana Con­tin­ued To Grow “Charlotte’s Web” isn’t just a clas­sic children’s story. It’s also the name of a cov­eted med­ical mar­i­juana strain used to treat chil­dren with epilepsy. Over the last year, hun­dreds of fam­i­lies uprooted them­selves and moved to Col­orado to take advan­tage of the state’s expan­sive med­ical mar­i­juana laws, and in search of Charlotte’s Web — a strain of pot high in CBD, a non-psychoactive ingre­di­ent, and low in THC, which causes users to feel “high.” The strain was devel­oped by the Col­orado Springs-based Realm of Car­ing non­profit. The pot strain is named after 7-year-old Char­lotte Figi, who used to have hun­dreds of seizures each week. Char­lotte now con­trols 99 per­cent of seizures with her med­ical mar­i­juana treat­ment, accord­ing to her mother Paige. Also this year, the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion moved for­ward with an orphan drug des­ig­na­tion for a cannabis-based drug called Epid­i­olex to fight severe forms of child­hood epilepsy. The Epid­i­olex maker still must demon­strate effi­cacy of the drug in clin­i­cal tri­als to win FDA approval to mar­ket the med­i­cine, but the orphan drug des­ig­na­tion rep­re­sents a tremen­dous step for cannabis-based med­i­cine. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment signed off on a study using med­ical mar­i­juana to treat post-traumatic stress dis­or­der in vet­er­ans, another sign of shift­ing fed­eral pol­icy. Study after study demon­strated the promise of med­ical mar­i­juana since last 4/20. Puri­fied forms of cannabis were shown to be effec­tive at attack­ing some forms of aggres­sive can­cer. Mar­i­juana use has also been tied to bet­ter blood sugar con­trol, and to slow­ing the spread of HIV. The legal­iza­tion of the plant for med­ical pur­poses may lead to lower sui­cide rates. The Return Of Hemp A flag made of hemp fly­ing over the U.S. Capi­tol in July may have been a sign that hemp was going to have a ban­ner year. Just months later in Col­orado, farmer Ryan Loflin planted 55 acres of hemp — the first legal hemp crop planted in the U.S. in nearly 60 years. Since the begin­ning of the year, more than 70 bills related to hemp have been intro­duced in more than half of U.S. states. That’s more than triple the num­ber of hemp bills intro­duced dur­ing the same period last year, and nearly dou­ble the num­ber hemp bills intro­duced in all of 2013. Added to that is the recent pas­sage of the Farm Bill, which legal­izes indus­trial hemp pro­duc­tion for research pur­poses in states that per­mit it. Sup­port For Pot Surges An Octo­ber Gallup poll showed for the first time that a clear major­ity of Amer­i­cans want to see mar­i­juana legal­ized. Gallup noted that when the ques­tion was first asked in 1969, only 12 per­cent of Amer­i­cans favored legal­iza­tion. Amer­i­cans also want an end to the long-running war on drugs. A recent sur­vey from Pew found that 67 per­cent of Amer­i­cans say that gov­ern­ment should pro­vide treat­ment for peo­ple who use ille­gal drugs. Only 26 per­cent thought the gov­ern­ment should be pros­e­cut­ing drug users. Amer­i­cans regard mar­i­juana as rel­a­tively benign. In that same Pew poll, 69 per­cent of Amer­i­cans felt that alco­hol is a big­ger dan­ger to a person’s health than mar­i­juana, and 63 per­cent said alco­hol is a big­ger dan­ger to soci­ety than mar­i­juana. Of all the vices a per­son can indulge in, Amer­i­cans told NBC News/The Wall Street Jour­nal that mar­i­juana may be the most benign sub­stance — less harm­ful than sugar. More States Approved Pro­gres­sive Pot Laws While the title of third state to legal­ize mar­i­juana is still up for grabs, law­mak­ers around U.S. the have been scal­ing back harsh anti-weed laws. Mary­land recently became the lat­est state to offi­cially decrim­i­nal­ize pos­ses­sion of small amounts of mar­i­juana. Wash­ing­ton, D.C., awaits con­gres­sional approval of a sim­i­lar mea­sure. New Hamp­shire appeared poised to pass a sim­i­lar law, but it was recently rejected by state law­mak­ers. Other states, includ­ing Illi­nois, are con­sid­er­ing leg­is­la­tion to decrim­i­nal­ize low-level pos­ses­sion. Med­ical mar­i­juana has also made some strides since last year’s 4/20. Mary­land this month became the 21st state to legal­ize mar­i­juana for med­ical use. A new trend has appeared in con­ser­v­a­tive and Deep South states, as bills to legal­ize med­i­cine derived from mar­i­juana have found sur­pris­ing sup­port in places like Alabama, where a mea­sure was signed into law this year. Uruguay Makes His­tory At the end of 2013, Uruguay became the world’s first coun­try to legal­ize a national mar­ket­place for mar­i­juana. Cit­ing frus­tra­tions over failed attempts to stem the drug trade, Pres­i­dent Jose Mujica signed a law hand­ing the gov­ern­ment respon­si­bil­ity for over­see­ing the new indus­try. The move drew some deri­sion from the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity, includ­ing the United Nations, but also applause. Mujica was nom­i­nated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, in part for his work legal­iz­ing the plant. In an effort to under­cut the black mar­ket, the Uruguay gov­ern­ment has set the start­ing price around $1 a gram. Legal weed in the U.S., includ­ing at legal pot shops in Col­orado, can cost around $20 for the same amount. There are also lim­its on the amount res­i­dents can buy or grow. But with mar­i­juana already acces­si­ble in Uruguay before legal­iza­tion, many pot reform­ers have hailed the move as an alter­na­tive to pro­hi­bi­tion that will ulti­mately give the gov­ern­ment more avenues to help pro­tect pub­lic health and safety. Obama Says Pot Is No More Dan­ger­ous Than Alco­hol The pres­i­dent was an admit­ted pot user in his youth. And while he now regards his expe­ri­ences as fool­ish, he revealed ear­lier this year that he didn’t believe his behav­ior was par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous. “I don’t think it is more dan­ger­ous than alco­hol,” Pres­i­dent Barack Obama told The New Yorker’s David Rem­nick in a Jan­u­ary inter­view. The pres­i­dent said that would dis­cour­age peo­ple from using it, but his com­ments led to a much big­ger ques­tion: If mar­i­juana is as dan­ger­ous as alco­hol, why does Obama’s admin­is­tra­tion insist that it is right­fully con­sid­ered an ille­gal Sched­ule I sub­stance, along­side heroin and LSD? The irony of this wasn’t lost on Con­gress. A month after the inter­view, a group of rep­re­sen­ta­tives a called on Obama to drop pot from Sched­ule I. The admin­is­tra­tion has resisted the request. Eric Holder Is ‘Cau­tiously Opti­mistic’ About Legal Weed Some of the biggest advances in pot pol­icy over the last year have come thanks to action — or per­haps inac­tion — by the Jus­tice Depart­ment. Last August, it decided that it would allow legal­iza­tion laws in Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton pro­ceed. And this month, Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder told The Huff­in­g­ton Post that he was cau­tiously opti­mistic about how those state laws were pro­ceed­ing. Holder has said the Jus­tice Depart­ment would be happy to work with Con­gress to resched­ule mar­i­juana and has been clear that the admin­is­tra­tion won’t push the issue with­out action from law­mak­ers. No mat­ter how hard you try, time always wins. Source: Huff­in­g­ton Post (NY) Author: Matt Ferner and Nick Wing, The Huff­in­g­ton Post Pub­lished: April 20, 2014 Copy­right: 2014 Huff​in​g​ton​Post​.com, LLC Con­tact: scoop@​huffingtonpost.​com Web­site: http://​www​.huff​in​g​ton​post​.com/

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Mar­i­juana Has Come A Long Way Since Last 4/20

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