Another year is coming to an end—and this was a big one for marijuana reform. Advocates scored a handful of legalization wins at the ballot box, an entire country did away with prohibition and politicians of all stripes became more vocal about the need to change the way we approach cannabis policy.
True to 2018 form, many lawmakers broadcast their views on the issue on Twitter. Here are some of the year’s best marijuana-related tweets from the people who are actually responsible for setting cannabis policy:
1. Remember when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era memo providing guidance on federal marijuana enforcement policy? While the move might have unnerved the legal industry, it also spurred significant pushback and vows to protect states from federal interference.
I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) January 4, 2018
2. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) invited Fox News host Tucker Carlson to visit California to see Disneyland and try the state’s “awesome” cannabis.
Dear @TuckerCarlson: CA has now grown to the 6th largest economy in the world, and we have a budget surplus. The unemployment rate is at a record low. And we have Disneyland. Who doesn't like Disneyland?
Also, our cannabis is awesome. Come visit my district & I will show you. https://t.co/rIMLUXQzbi
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 7, 2018
3. Former New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon (D) made cannabis reform a cornerstone of her platform—calling for full legalization in the Empire State. Could that explain why her opponent, incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), rapidly evolved on the issue, going so far as to endorse legalization this month?
For me, what it comes down to is this: we have to stop putting people of color in prison for something that white people do with impunity.
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) April 11, 2018
4. “No one should go to jail for a joint,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote, promoting a bill that would grant states the autonomy to legalize without federal interference. The legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), received the President Trump’s blessing as well.
No one should go to jail for a joint. But more Americans are arrested for marijuana possession than all violent crimes combined. And black Americans are nearly 4x more likely to be arrested for it than whites. My new bill will help put an end to this two-tiered justice system.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 7, 2018
5. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) got into a Twitter spat with prohibitionist Kevin Sabet, noting racial disparities in marijuana enforcement.
White kids don’t get arrested, go to jail, or go to prison at the same rate for marijuana possession.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 16, 2018
6. Of course, the unofficial cannabis holiday April 20 (4/20) saw a flood of weed tweets from the country’s leading lawmakers. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) delivered a “cannabis state of the union” address, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) used the opportunity to announce decriminalization legislation and Colorado Gov.-elect Jared Polis (D) toured marijuana dispensaries.
This 4/20, my thoughts on the state of cannabis reform in America, and where this growing movement is going next: pic.twitter.com/UR8C4fmWH7
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) April 20, 2018
7. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) complained about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to allow the importation of cannabis products from a Canadian company at the same time the agency is delaying action on applications from more would-be domestic marijuana producers. “What happened to ‘buy American, hire American?'” he tweeted.
Unbelievable…#DEA gives approval to import #cannabis compounds from Canada, while AG Sessions is sitting on 2 dozen+ applications from domestic manufacturers. What happened to “buy American, hire American”?https://t.co/SAiftyoN32
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 19, 2018
8. Big pharma is “pushing back” against efforts to legalize medical marijuana because “in many cases they want to continue to sell addictive drugs and dominate the market for drugs that address chronic pain,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) wrote.
Big pharma keeps pushing back against legalizing medical marijuana because, in many cases, they want to continue to sell addictive drugs and dominate the market for drugs that address chronic pain. That's wrong.
It is time to rework our cannabis laws. https://t.co/g23trjnJcT
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) February 28, 2018
9. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) touted the fact that he was the first Florida gubernatorial candidate to endorse legalizing marijuana during the 2018 primaries. “I did so because it is the right thing to do—I didn’t need a poll to tell me how to lead on such an important criminal justice issue,” he said.
I’m proud to be the first candidate in this race to support legalizing marijuana. I did so because it is the right thing to do – I didn’t need a poll to tell me how to lead on such an important criminal justice issue. pic.twitter.com/3MdLBNlTfB
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) June 8, 2018
10. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted that decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level is a top 10 reason to get out and vote.
Reason #6 why you should vote: to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Too many lives have been ruined because of our regressive policies.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 16, 2018
11. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) challenged his Democratic colleagues to join him in support of a bill that would legalize firearm ownership for people who use marijuana in compliance with state law. The congressman expanded on the legislation, which he plans to introduce in the next Congress, in an interview with Marijuana Moment.
I’ve drafted, but haven’t yet introduced, a bill to remove the marijuana question from ATF form 4473 — the question that requires anyone who uses marijuana (crime) to lie (crime) in order to purchase a gun (crime) from a gun dealer. Any Democrats who would support such a bill? https://t.co/5cAmsTPLoX
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) October 20, 2018
12. “When a white student in a suburban school is caught with marijuana, they will usually get a warning,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted. “If you’re a black or brown student in an urban environment, law enforcement is called and your future could be destroyed for use. Marijuana legalization is a racial justice issue.”
When a white student in a suburban school is caught with marijuana, they will usually get a warning. If you're a black or brown student in an urban environment, law enforcement is called and your future could be destroyed for use. Marijuana legalization is a racial justice issue.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) May 20, 2018
13. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) ended his longstanding opposition to marijuana legalization, calling the existing federal cannabis policy “badly broken” and “failing to benefit those the drug may help and protect those the drug may harm.”
Our federal policy on marijuana is badly broken — failing to benefit those the drug may help and protect those the drug may harm. It's time to legalize and regulate at the federal level.https://t.co/9QknhLLFYv
— Joe Kennedy (@joekennedy) November 20, 2018
14. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) celebrated the inclusion of his hemp legalization provision in the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill by signing the official conference report with his very own hemp pen. President subsequently signed the bill into law.
Making it official with my hemp pen!🖋️ Proud to have served as conferee on #FarmBill & to fight for #Kentucky priorities. With today's signature, my provision to legalize industrial #hemp is 1 step closer to reality. Looking forward to voting YES on this bill & sending to @POTUS pic.twitter.com/8ypwBebXy7
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) December 10, 2018
15. The passage of a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill earlier this month was a good first step, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said. But the next step for Congress should be to federally decriminalize marijuana.
Thanks to @RepDougCollins @RepRichmond, the administration and a strong left-right coalition (the unusual suspects), historic criminal justice reform legislation is now law. Next step, Congress should DECRIMINALIZE MARIJUANA #FirstStepAct #EndMassIncarceration pic.twitter.com/PpJ1uku53C
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) December 21, 2018
Killer Mike Explains Why Rappers Deserve More Credit For Marijuana Legalization
Rapper and social justice advocate Killer Mike said on Monday that it’s important for Americans to recognize that rap artists helped pave the path to marijuana reform in a way that isn’t often discussed in the media.
Speaking at a panel on freedom of speech, Mike pointed to societal double standards when it comes to different musical genres such as rap and country. And he emphasized the importance of ensuring that free speech is protected for artists whose music might be controversial but whose contributions can have significant policy implications.
Cannabis has been featured prominently in rap music, and Mike said that’s often overlooked when people talk about how marijuana reform entered the mainstream.
“We know that with national decriminalization of marijuana now, a lot of people are going to get credit for it—a lot of activists, a lot of workers,” he said. “But I can show you a line that leads straight back to Cyprus Hill, that leads straight back to Snoop Dogg, that leads straight back to people like Rick James.”
“If it’s not duly acknowledged publicly—if the media isn’t pushing the line of that narrative, if the media isn’t giving us that freedom, if the media treats rappers differently than they do country artists—then you’re going to see a galvanization of what the prejudices that we already see” in terms of racial discrimination, he said.
Mike, along with artists including Chance the Rapper and Meek Mill, made a similar point in a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in March, defending another artist who was convicted because a song of his was interpreted as a threat against Pittsburgh police officers.
In that brief, the coalition explained that war on drugs fueled protest art that gave a voice to those disproportionately impacted by aggressive, anti-drug enforcement efforts and shed light on how the drug war impacted disadvantaged communities across the country.
It should be noted, however, that while Mike sees a straight line between cannabis reform and Cyprus Hill, that specific line isn’t so cut and dry.
Cypress Hill member B-Real campaigned against California’s marijuana legalization measure in 2016, citing concerns with how it was specifically drafted, only to open up a dispensary himself two years after it passed. If he’d gotten his way, the nation’s most populous state would have continued prohibiting cannabis for several more years and the measure’s defeat—in California of all places—could have had devastating implications for the legalization movement in Congress and around the country.
Photo courtesy of C-SPAN.
Americans Want CBD Available Over-The-Counter, Poll Finds
A majority of Americans familiar with cannabidiol (CBD) say it should be available as an over-the-counter drug and that the compound has multiple health benefits, according to a Gallup survey released on Friday.
The CBD craze emerged from the marijuana reform movement and escalated following the passage of the 2018 farm bill, which federally legalized hemp and its derivatives including CBD. The survey, which involved 1,017 phone interviews conducted from May 15-30, offers some insight into the substance’s widespread appeal.
Thirty-nine percent of Americans overall said that people should be able to access CBD as an over-the-counter drug, with 21 percent saying a prescription should be required. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they weren’t familiar with the non-intoxicating compound.
But when Gallup asked people who said they were familiar with CBD the same question, 61 percent said that CBD should be over-the counter and 33 percent said it should be available for those with a prescription.
Participants were also asked to rate their familiarity with CBD. Fourteen percent said they were “very familiar,” 33 percent said they were “somewhat familiar,” 17 percent said they were “not too familiar” and 36 percent said they were “not familiar at all.”
Again zeroing in on those who said they were familiar with CBD, Gallup asked what they thought about its therapeutic value.
Nine-out-of-ten respondents agreed that CBD does have health benefits. Breaking that down, 33 percent said it has “a lot of benefits,” 45 percent said it has “some benefits” and 14 percent said it has “only a few benefits.” Only four percent said it has “no benefits” and three percent didn’t have an opinion.
“The CBD-oil arena is extremely active right now, including medical research into its benefits, state legislation governing its sale, federal legislation encouraging its production and corporate investment growing in the business,” Gallup wrote. “Although medical research has a long way to go to investigate all of the claims made about CBD, half of Americans already believe it has at least some medical value, and that percentage is likely to grow as more become familiar with the product.”
The commercial interest in CBD is explosive, with lawmakers and industry stakeholders putting pressure on federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to streamline the regulatory process to provide for the compound’s lawful marketing in the food supply and as health supplements.
But even as the government develops those regulations, companies are wasting no time, flouting the FDA and putting CBD in everything from pricey lattes to Carl’s Jr. burgers. At the same time, CBD’s medical value has been strongly established; the FDA approved a CBD drug last year for the treatment of certain forms of epilepsy.
Gallup also released a separate survey on Thursday that explored the various reasons Americans support or opposed broader marijuana legalization.
Photo courtesy of Kimzy Nanney/Unsplash.
Oakland Marijuana Shop Flooded With Questions About Psilocybin Mushrooms After Decriminalization Vote
A vote to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics in Oakland has left some residents confused about whether the substances have become commercially available.
Debby Goldsberry, CEO of Magnolia Wellness, told Marijuana Moment that her licensed marijuana shop has been “receiving calls from our members and interested community members, wondering if the dispensary was or would carry these products.”
While the City Council voted unanimously last week in favor of a resolution that bars the use of “any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties” against adults who using and possessing the plants and fungi, the measure specifically does not allow for their legal sale.
“Selling mushrooms would violate both our local and state licenses, and it would put us squarely in the crossfire of federal laws that treat these plant medicines as felonies,” Goldsberry said. “Magnolia Wellness, while appreciating their medicinal value, would never put our company, our member base or those in the community who depend on us for support at risk in order to provide medicinal mushrooms.”
Further, the shop’s staff doesn’t “have the experience of expertise to advise people on the use of psychedelic plant medicines,” she said.
Confusion over the distinction between decriminalization and commercial legalization isn’t confined to Oakland, or psychedelics laws for that matter.
A separate successful campaign to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in Denver last month was complicated by voters conflating the policy change with broader legalization. Kevin Matthews, campaign director of Decriminalize Denver, made education about the difference between the two policy reforms a cornerstone of the group’s outreach efforts.
“We spent a lot of time talking to people on the ground and letting them know that in terms of decriminalization, this is the kind of thing that’s simply going to keep people out of jail for using substances,” Matthews told Marijuana Moment. “I think it’s one thing we did a decent thing of was really letting people that you can’t go buy this at a dispensary.”
But whereas Decriminalize Denver spent months educating the public about their proposal as they collected signatures to place the measure on the ballot, the Oakland resolution was introduced and voted on in relatively short order.
That, Matthews said, likely contributed to misunderstandings about the policy implications. Another factor may be that the resolution’s sponsor in Oakland indicated just before the vote that legalization and regulated sales could follow.
“Now we have to agree on what’s being regulated and identify a pathway for distribution and sales,” Councilmember Noel Gallo told Marijuana Moment on the day his measure was approved. “Like with marijuana, we have to establish a process.”
But that plan may run up against resistance, including from reform-minded allies.
“I think that in terms of Oakland, it’s up to them to make it very clear that people can’t go buy this right now,” Matthews said. “And I don’t think anyone should be able to in a recreational setting like that.”
“I think it’s important for people to keep in mind that this is a people-powered movement, not a profit-powered movement. We have some time before we should even start considering any kind of recreational sales,” he said. “That could derail the whole damn movement.”
Decriminalize Nature, the campaign behind Oakland’s decriminalization victory, told Marijuana Moment that it does not support commercializing the plant-and fungi-based substances.
As an amendment attached to the resolution itself states, the measure “does not authorize or enable any of the following activities: commercial sale or manufacturing of these plants and fungi.”
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mädi.