Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said on Friday that legalizing the home delivery of marijuana products is one way his state is working to reduce impaired driving.
During a panel on roadway safety at the National Governors Association’s 2019 Summer Meeting in Utah, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) raised the issue of impaired driving from cannabis, directing a question about what’s being done to deter such activity to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National President Helen Witty.
Ducey, who touted his state’s rejection of an adult-use legalization initiative in 2016, said that the technology exists to identify impaired driving from alcohol but that “it’s more ambiguous on the drug side and it concerns me.” He asked about “how we’re going to have safe roads in these situations” where more states are opting to legalize.
Witty and representatives from the Center for Disease Control and National Traffic Safety Administration weighed in first, expressing similar concerns about the potential impact of legalization on road safety and marijuana use in general.
Then Polis, who campaigned on a pro-cannabis platform and has since signed multiple bills expanding the state’s legal market, offered a differing perspective.
“Colorado has long been a leader in cannabis reform,” the governor said. “Our new efforts include allowing delivery of marijuana, so we’re moving away from the risk of people driving while impaired by having legal delivery to people’s homes.”
“We just passed the enabling legislation around that, beginning with medical marijuana and then moving to full regulated sale of marijuana so people exercise—in our state, it’s a constitutional right to use marijuana in their home—[that right] without the risk of them using it somewhere else and driving,” he said. “We’re really looking at a wide variety of tactics to decrease that risk.”
Under the bill signed by Polis in May, licensed medical cannabis shops will be allowed to deliver marijuana products to patients starting in January 2020, and authorized adult-use shops will have that ability beginning in January 2021.
While the legislation’s signing was generally regarded as a move to build upon the state’s legal marijuana industry and provide a convenient service for patients and consumers, Polis evidently views it as a public safety matter as well, potentially mitigating instances of impaired driving by giving individuals the option to have their cannabis delivered without having to get on the roads at all.
It’s an argument that isn’t commonly made but was touched on in a recent policy analysis from the think tank Reason Foundation, which concluded that “there is little theoretical reasoning as to why delivery would increase the rate of impaired driving” and in fact, it’s “at least equally as plausible that delivery will keep already impaired individuals from driving to purchase more product.”
“As many states have banned the use of marijuana in public, delivery may encourage more consumers to consume in the safety of their homes without ever having to leave,” Reason Foundation’s Spence Purnell wrote.
Further, a recent federal report from the Congressional Research Service cast doubts on the idea that legalization leads to increased instances of impaired driving, and it went on to raise questions about existing data on the impact of cannabis consumption on driving ability in the first place. That said, most advocates and opponents of marijuana reform alike agree that nobody should operate a motor vehicle shortly after using cannabis.
Photo courtesy of YouTube/NGA.
Trump Says Marijuana Makes People “Lose IQ Points” In Secret Recording
President Trump could be heard saying that using marijuana makes people “lose IQ points” in a secretly recorded conversation released on Saturday.
“In Colorado they have more accidents,” the president said in the clip captured by Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani, who is at the center of the Ukraine scandal that led to the president’s impeachment. “It does cause an IQ problem.”
(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)
Photo courtesy of YouTube/White House.
Austin Police Chief Says Marijuana Arrests Will Continue Despite City Council Vote
Chief Brian Manley said he would continue to enforce marijuana laws the day after the city council unanimously approved stopping arrests and tickets for low-level cases.
The day after the Austin City Council approved a resolution to stop arresting or ticketing people for most low-level marijuana possession offenses, the police chief made clear he had no plans to do so.
“[Marijuana] is still illegal, and we will still enforce marijuana law if we come across people smoking in the community,” Chief Brian Manley said during a news conference Friday afternoon.
Though cracking down on those in possession of small amounts of marijuana has never been a priority for the department, he said, police will continue to either issue tickets under the city’s “cite-and-release” policy or arrest people if officers “come across it.”
The difference, according to City Council member and resolution sponsor Greg Casar, is that the council’s move now guarantees those actions will come with no penalty. Tickets will be meaningless pieces of paper and any arrests will result in a quick release with no charges accepted from prosecutors, he told The Texas Tribune after the news conference.
“What has changed since yesterday is that enforcement, almost in virtually all cases, is now handing someone a piece of paper with no penalty or no court date,” Casar said.
The move by the City Council came as a direct result from Texas’ new hemp law which complicated marijuana prosecution across the state. Last summer, when lawmakers legalized hemp, they also changed the definition of marijuana from cannabis to cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the plant.
Many prosecutors, including those in Austin’s Travis County, now won’t accept pot cases based on look and smell alone, requiring lab testing to determine THC levels before accepting a case. Such testing is not yet available in public crime labs, though some counties and cities have spent money to obtain test results from private labs.
The council’s resolution prohibited using city funds or personnel to conduct such testing in non-felony marijuana cases. It also directed the elimination, to the furthest extent possible, of arrests or citations for cannabis possession. As Manley also noted, the resolution clarifies it can’t technically decriminalize marijuana, since that is state law.
The resolution gave the city manager until May 1 to report back to the council on how police were trained in this new resolution, and Casar said he hopes Manley reviews his policies before then.
Manley said in the news conference that he would continue to review the resolution, as well as police policies.
But, he assured, “a City Council does not have the authority to tell a police department not to enforce a state law.”
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Andrew Yang Wants To Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms For Military Veterans
Andrew Yang says he wants to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for military veterans to help them combat mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
During a town hall event at an Iowa college on Thursday, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was asked whether he would take initiative and allow veterans to access medical marijuana if elected. Yang replied he “will be so excited to be that commander-in-chief” that he would not only end federal cannabis prohibition but would go one step further by legalizing the psychedelic fungus for veterans as well.
“We need to get marijuana off of the Controlled Substances Act and legalize it at the federal level, make it freely available,” he said. “I say this because I’ve talked to hundreds of veterans and other Americans who benefit from marijuana as a pain relief treatment, and it’s much less deadly than the opiates that many, many people are using for the same conditions.”
“I’ve talked to veterans who’ve also benefited from psilocybin mushrooms,” he added. “They said it was the only thing that actually has helped combat their PTSD. I’m for legalizing psilocybin mushrooms for veterans as well. Pretty much if it’s going to help a veteran, we should make it easier, not harder, for them to get access to it.”
Yang’s drug policy reform platform is unique in that respect. While the majority of Democratic candidates support marijuana legalization, he’s pushed unique proposals such as decriminalizing possession of opioids and making psilocybin mushrooms “more freely available” for therapeutic purposes. The candidate also wants to invest federal funds in safe injection facilities where individuals can use prohibited drugs in a medically supervised environment and receive help getting into treatment.
He hasn’t gone so far as embracing the decriminalization of all drugs, as former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has, however.
That said, Yang did signal that he’s open to legalizing and regulating “certain drugs” beyond cannabis, which he argued would disrupt international drug cartels. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) recently said she backs “legalizing and regulating” currently illegal controlled substances to protect public safety and combat the illicit market.
At the Iowa town hall, Yang went on to say that he’s particularly interested in legalizing marijuana, and he again pledged to “pardon everyone who’s in jail for a non-violent marijuana-related offense because they shouldn’t be in jail for something that’s frankly legal in other parts of the country.”
“And I would pardon them all on April 20, 2021, high-five them on the way out of jail and be like, ‘things got a lot better in the last year,'” he said, referencing the unofficial cannabis holiday 4/20.
Photo element courtesy of Gage Skidmore.