NEWS: UN warns member nations to not legalize marijuana; WHAT: Idaho Senate tries dodging law to shield Governor from embarrassing veto; GUESTS: Americans for Safe Access’ Chief Science Officer Dr. Jahan Marcu, with ASA’s 2018 Report on the State of Medical Marijuana in the United States, and Marijuana Policy Project Communications Director Morgan Fox on the roadblock to federal marijuana reform, Congressman Pete Sessions from Texas; RANT: Federal law has a death penalty for drug traffickers.
A United Nations drug enforcement body is warning international leaders to keep marijuana illegal. “Governments and jurisdictions in North America have continued to pursue policies with respect to the legalization of the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes, in violation of the 1961 Convention as amended,” the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) wrote in its annual report published last week. Specifically, INCB said that a proposed marijuana legalization law that is moving through Canada’s Parliament is in “contravention” of the international agreements. The UN body also criticized state cannabis legalization policies in the U.S. “The decriminalization of cannabis has apparently led organized criminal groups to focus on manufacturing and trafficking other illegal drugs, such as heroin.”
The Trump administration’s top health official claimed that there “really is no such thing as medical marijuana.” U.S. Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar said on Friday that “we have treatments that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration that are safe, that are proven to be safe and effective for pain, safe and effective for other conditions.” Azar, a former executive with pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co., was speaking in an appearance at an Ohio medical center that treats newborn babies whose mothers used opioids or other drugs while pregnant. “There is no FDA approved use of marijuana, a botanical plant,” he said, responding to a question from a reporter with the Yellow Springs News. “I just want to be very clear about that.”
Illinois voters are ready to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, but Illinois’ Governor Bruce Rauner is not. According to a new poll from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, 66 percent of Illinois voters favor legalizing recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol while 32 percent are opposed. There were 3 percent of voters who were unsure. But in an interview with the Ford County Record, Gov. Rauner insists he’ll veto a bill being considered by the legislature, saying, “Let’s not legalize it in Illinois now. Let’s watch what’s happening in these other states and learn.”
Michigan voters are also ready to legalize marijuana and a former US Attorney agrees. A new EPIC-MRA poll commissioned by Michigan NORML asked voters about a proposed initiative to legalize marijuana. 61 percent of voters said they would vote for the measure, with 45 percent indicating they were a “definite yes.” Just 35 percent oppose the initiative, with just 28 percent in the “definite no” category. Former US Attorney Pat Miles, who enforced federal marijuana prohibition, said in a statement on Wednesday that “the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug is ridiculous.” Miles, who is running for Michigan Attorney General, has punted on questions about legalization until now by saying it is up to voters. In an interview last year, he said it “may be more prudent” to wait until the federal government acts on marijuana before further changing the state’s cannabis laws.
An analysis of New York City complaints and arrests for marijuana seem to show the NYPD’s explanation for racial disparities to be incorrect. POLITICO reports that 86 percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession in the fifth degree during 2017 were people of color; 48 percent were black and 38 percent were Hispanic. Only 9 percent were white. Pressed recently by City Council members to explain the disparity, police brass said, “The overwhelming majority of arrests or summonses for marijuana come from community complaints.” But POLITICO’s analysis found that in some black and Hispanic districts, there were as many to half as many complaints as arrests, but in white, wealthier districts, there were sometimes half as many arrests as complaints.
A coalition of health care professionals, law enforcement groups, faith leaders and others is forming to oppose State Question 788, which would establish one of the nation’s most progressive medical marijuana statutes in Oklahoma. Among its provisions, Oklahoma would allow all patients to cultivate six mature cannabis plants, with no restrictive dispensary halos or hardship conditions. Patients could possess 3 ounces of marijuana in public and 8 ounces at home, as well as an ounce of concentrate and 4.5 pounds of edibles. Marijuana from dispensaries would be taxed at only 7 percent and local authorities could not ban them. The rights of patients in employment, housing, and education would be protected. Most incredibly, Oklahoma would become the first medical marijuana state since California to not use a qualifying condition list to determine eligibility, instead allowing doctors to determine any condition for which marijuana could provide relief, a policy that SQ 788 leaders will not compromise on.
Hour Two – Toker Talk Radio for VIP Subscribers
A look at the federal law that allows the government to seek the death penalty for certain drug traffickers, and Part Two of my interview with ASA’s Dr. Jahan Marcu.