NEWS: The Democrats choose anti-pot Rep. Joe Kennedy III to deliver State of the Union Response; WHAT: New audio from Jeff Sessions has him pining for the Drug War 1980s; DATA: Debunking the idea that the Drug War 1980s reduced drug use, so it was a success.
Congressman Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, who voted to allow the DEA to raid medical marijuana states, will deliver the official Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address. Marijuana Moment reports that in 2015, Kennedy was one of just ten House Democrats to vote against a measure to protect medical cannabis patients and providers who are following state laws from being prosecuted by the federal government. He was one of just 24 Democrats to vote the same day against a broader measure blocking the Justice Department from interfering with all state marijuana laws, including those allowing recreational use. Sixty-seven Republicans supported the medical cannabis measure that Kennedy opposed, and 45 GOP members supported the broader marijuana measure. Kennedy also voted three times against amendments to increase military veterans’ access to medical cannabis — just one of five Democrats to oppose the measure in 2016. Fifty-seven Republicans voted for it that year. Kennedy even opposed a very limited proposal to protect children who use non-psychoactive cannabidiol extracts to treat severe seizure disorders from being targeted by the DEA. That amendment was supported by 118 Republicans. Kennedy is a relative of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, who co-founded leading anti-legalization organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking public comments on recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) that cannabidiol (CBD) should not be scheduled under international conventions. “CBD is not specifically listed in the schedules of the 1961, 1971 or 1988 International Drug Control Conventions,” the FDA writes. “However, CBD is produced for pharmaceutical purposes as an extract of cannabis, and cannabis extracts and tinctures are included in the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961. The FDA will also be taking comment on the regulation of several synthetic cannabinoids. The public comment period ends February 26. Comments can be submitted online using the short URL: http://rad-r.us/fdacbdcomment
The Trump administration is following through on its promise to use more private contract prisons, with the Justice Department seeking to identify inmates to transfer out of government-owned facilities and to cut federal guard positions. The Bureau of Prisons has the stated goal of “increasing population levels in private contract facilities,” according to a memorandum sent by the agency’s Assistant Director for Correctional Programs Division Frank Lara on Wednesday and obtained by Government Executive. In Wednesday’s memo, Lara tasked facility leaders with identifying inmates to transfer to private contract prisons, saying it would “alleviate the overcrowding at Bureau of Prisons’ institutions and maximize the effectiveness of private contracts.” Lara laid out certain criteria for determining which inmates should be transferred, such as those designated “low security” and those having 90 months or less remaining on their sentence.
A Florida judge has ruled that a lawsuit against the state’s decision to ban smokable forms of medical marijuana can proceed. Leon County Judge Karen Gievers ruled on Friday that three patients suing the state can proceed because their claims that the ban impacts them are sufficient. Gievers dismissed the motion by People United for Medical Marijuana, which is the committee formed by Orlando attorney John Morgan, because it lacks sufficient grounds. The organization has 10 days to file an amended lawsuit. Morgan spearheaded the 2016 state constitutional amendment making medical marijuana legal, which was approved by 71 percent of voters. The state legislature banned smoking in last year’s bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott, saying it isn’t healthy. The law does allow for vaping, edibles, oils, sprays or tinctures.
Dennis Peron, an activist who helped legalize medical marijuana in California, died Saturday afternoon in a San Francisco hospital. He was 71. Peron was a force behind a San Francisco ordinance allowing medical marijuana, a win that later helped propel the 1996 passage of Prop. 215, which legalized medical use for the entire state. A Vietnam War veteran, Peron spent some of the last years his life on a 20-acre farm in the rolling hills of Lake County, growing and giving away what he once sold: medical marijuana. Throughout his long and checkered career, Peron was a gay activist, pot enthusiast and sometimes-vigilante at odds with the law. He was among the first to argue for the benefits of medicinal marijuana for AIDS patients as the health crisis overtook San Francisco. The epidemic also took his partner, Jonathan West, in 1990.