Every month, Psychedelic Times will bring you a few of the most interesting, overlooked cannabis stories that we come across. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep in the loop on marijuana and psychedelic news.
As many predicted, January was a landmark month for cannabis reform across the globe. As promised in his campaign, Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed a law legalizing recreational marijuana in Vermont. Some are unhappy with the decision because it doesn’t allow dispensary sales, but it is the first time in the U.S. that a pro-marijuana law has passed via the legislature, instead of through a ballot initiative.
That means this could lead other states to take a proactive stance on the issue. In fact, New Hampshire may just do that, as the House voted for a legalization bill- although some warn the governor won’t sign it. New Mexico’s senate voted to put a cannabis legalization bill on the ballot for November. New Jersey is also considering a bill that would allow people to grow their own weed. And yes, New York the only other ‘New’ state, is also looking into a regulated marijuana market.
California made their legal market official at the start of the year, becoming the largest cannabis market in the world. By their own estimate, the state says more than 400 pot businesses were licensed by January 1st. The state also is continuing to expunge old marijuana convictions, which will help thousands of people be able to get jobs, loans and rent. Plus, many states including Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia are looking to expand their medical marijuana programs. Elsewhere in the world, Paraguay legalized medical marijuana.
January wasn’t all roses, of course. As you probably heard, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era memo that gave protections to states with medical and recreational marijuana laws. Now that it’s undone, the Department of Justice can resume raids of dispensaries and other cannabis businesses. So far, that hasn’t yet happened—there’s been a lot of pushback from Congress and a number of states—but it’s a troubling indicator of what the Trump Administration might do. On the other hand, it may have the opposite of the intended effect.
While advancing a bill that would allow weird isotopes in weed, Colorado has pushed back against these vague threats, and Washington State may even sue. Massachusetts even vowed to not help any federal agents who enforce marijuana prohibition.
So even while there are threats from the federal government, marijuana freedom continues to expand in the United States. Cannabis sales are expected to grow at a rigorous pace, and Michigan voters may legalize in November.
Maine, however, is still figuring out their recreational legalization law, which Gov. LePage vetoed, ignoring the will of voters. Utah was aiming to (finally) have a medical marijuana program, but lawmakers are now flimflamming against it. And D.C. is cracking down on people who sell cannabis. Also, cannabis-related stocks are taking a hit, although the whole stock market isn’t doing so hot right now anyway.
In the realm of science and research, GW Pharmaceuticals was just granted a Priority Review by the Food and Drug Administration for plant-derived CBD.
A study looking at how the lungs are affected by smoke found that “Neither current nor former marijuana use was associated with increased risk of cough, wheeze, or chronic bronchitis when compared to never marijuana users.” Finally, a poll found that most Americans believe alcohol, sugar and cigarettes are worse for your health than cannabis.
(This kind of review wouldn’t be possible without the excellent, fiery reporting of Tom Angell. Follow him on Twitter.)
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