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Outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took a potshot (pun intended) at the previous Speaker of the House, John Boehner, at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Ryan, in a pre-recorded video alleged to be comedy, spoke of his plans after leaving office, alluding to the addition of Boehner to the board of Acreage Holdings, a multi-state marijuana retailer. [RYAN CLIP: “Boredom is probably my biggest worry for life after Congress. Luckily, Boehner texted me the other day and he said he found something that helps him chill out. Something to do with grass. I don’t really know.”] In 2016, Wisconsin law enforcement made 16,230 arrests for marijuana possession.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, was exploring the benefits of medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids. At an event joined by Congressman Elijah Cummings and Senator Elizabeth Warren, Leader Pelosi addressed the crisis of opioid overdoses in America, saying, “Others say there are other ways to relieve stress and relieve pain and that you don’t need opioids in the first place. We are too reliant to transition from them. Marijuana, yoga, all kinds of other things that are homeopathic but are not addictive in this dangerous way.”
Marijuana businesses, even some so-called “non-plant-touching” businesses, are ineligible for federally-backed small business loans. In a policy document issued last month, the US Small Business Administration explained that “Because federal law prohibits the distribution and sale of marijuana… businesses that derive revenue from marijuana-related activities or that support the end-use of marijuana may be ineligible for SBA financial assistance.” Testing facilities, and purveyors of grow lights, hydroponic equipment, pipes, bongs, and “other products that may be used in connection with marijuana” are included as “Indirect Marijuana Businesses,” also ineligible for SBA loans. Even sellers of “products purportedly made from hemp” are banned, “unless the business can demonstrate that its… products are legal under federal and state law.”
A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the DEA in ruling that cannabidiol, or CBD, is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, no matter how it is derived. In 2016, the DEA issued a clarifying rule stating that CBD is illegal because it is an extract of cannabis, and all things extracted from cannabis flowers are illegal. Producers of CBD products disagreed, citing legal decisions and provisions in the Farm Bill that make certain hemp products legal, like soap and clothing. They argued that CBD extracted from the stalks and seeds of legal hemp crops would thereby be legal, too. DEA disagreed, citing botanical science showing only infinitesimal amounts of CBD to found in the non-flower parts of cannabis, aside from resin that may stick to stalks and seeds, but that resin is already defined as Schedule I. CBD producers vow to appeal the case.
The NFL denied an exemption to use medical marijuana for a player featured in Sunday’s CNN documentary “Weed 4.” [JAMES CLIP: ““My pain subsided, I never had something where I could be coherent and still have pain relief.”] Mike James applied for the Therapeutic Use Exemption from the league’s substance abuse policy, backed by the recommendation of his doctor, the first researcher to be granted FDA approval to study medical cannabis. James says that without marijuana, he will likely walk away from the game he’s played his entire life. Last year on ESPN’s Mike & Mike, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke about why medical cannabis is banned for players who suffer concussions for a living. [GOODELL CLIP: “A lot of aspects of marijuana use. Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players?”] The NFL settled a class action suit brought by players over concussions for $1 billion but a March Washington Post story explains how aging players’ claims have yet to be paid. Eight months after the suit was settled, Goodell explained why the league is so cautious about marijuana. [GOODELL CLIP: “I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren’t something that is going to be something that we’ll be held accountable for some years down the road.”]