Welcome to the first edition of our weekly cannabis news roundup! We know you’re busy – we’ll gather and summarize the week’s biggest stories in marijuana policy, activism, industry, and culture for you, so you can read them all in one place.
The war on drugs has had devastating effects here in the U.S. and around the world, and international leaders have started to question this failed global policy. in 2016, more than 100 human rights and drug policy groups have signed an open letter calling on the UN to acknowledge evolving drug policies and focus on human rights rather than punitive laws. The organizations include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), and Human Rights Watch; their letter advocates the decriminalization of various drugs and emphasizes public health and harm reduction measures, economic development in areas that have been ravaged by the drug war, and targeting violent criminals rather than drug users. Many see UNGASS as an opportunity to rethink and revamp outdated international drug policies to bring them more inline with both public opinion and human rights priorities.
Drug policy, particularly as it relates to state cannabis laws, looks to be , as public opinion in the U.S. shifts in the direction of more liberal regulations. This issue poses a quandary for Republican hopefuls, many of whom support states’ rights over federal intervention even if they aren’t in favor of legalizing marijuana. GOP candidates run the gamut from tough-on-crime Chris Christie, who has promised to “crack down” on state legal cannabis sales, to Rand Paul, who backs medical marijuana and wants to reduce harsh penalties for nonviolent drug offenses. Current Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, has so far stayed away from the debate, but don’t expect her to keep silent for long.
Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla of Puerto Rico issued an on the island effective immediately. He has granted the Health Department a three-month period in which to decide how to implement the new law, which will not sanction smoking cannabis, according to Health Secretary Ana Rius. Instead, patients will have access to derivatives such as “potions and pills” that they can vaporize, eat, or drink. Meanwhile, , HB 2165, which would legalize adult use of cannabis in the state, made it out of committee and will be considered by the legislature along with another bill that looks to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Given the little time left in this legislative session, the prospects for these two bills aren’t great, but their progress indicates that attitudes about cannabis are changing, even in the most unlikely of places.
The drug reform movement has always enlisted celebrities to put its message in front of mainstream America, and Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman is more than happy to carry the torch these days. In a recent interview with , Freeman declared that we should “legalize it across the board,” due to marijuana’s numerous medical benefits and relative safety. Freeman has successfully treated injuries from a major car accident and his resulting fibromyalgia with cannabis and cites the plant’s efficacy in alleviating children’s seizures as reason enough to end its prohibition.
Recreational cannabis legalization in Washington has brought a host of unintended consequences, the direst of which is perhaps the into the tightly controlled framework of Initiative 502. This move would shutter hundreds of medical dispensaries, force people to add their names to a registry in order to be eligible for the full spectrum of options available to medical marijuana patients, and drastically reduce grow and possession limits for patients and collective gardens. Now due to restrictions associated with I-502. The magazine and cannabis culture icon has been unable to secure special events permits in the city, and new laws eliminate the grey area that had allowed for the public consumption necessary to sample and judge the offerings at the Cup.