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NBA Players Push League To Allow Medical Marijuana

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The union that represents professional basketball players thinks they should be able to use medical marijuana without being punished for it by the NBA.

“My own view is that there are substantial signs that support its efficacy and the value that it has for us, especially pain management,” National Basketball Players Association (NPBA) Executive Director Michele Roberts said in an interview SB Nation published on Monday. “We’re in talks with the league to see where we can go with it.”

While Roberts is optimistic that public policies and league rules on cannabis will eventually be changed, she worries that the anti-legalization position taken by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions complicates things.

“The obvious future is that marijuana will be decriminalized probably throughout the country in short order,” she said. “It is a banned substance in our league right now. If we do go down that road, we have to protect our players from — my words — a crazed attorney general who says he will prosecute violations of the law involving marijuana and he doesn’t care what individual states say. In other words, I don’t want my guys being arrested at airports in possession of a cannabinoid by some Fed.”

Former NBA Commissioner David Stern endorsed removing league penalties for players’ cannabis use last year.

“I’m now at the point where personally I think it should be removed from the banned list,” he said.

Roberts said that after the video of Stern’s comments came out, she “got some phone calls and we began discussions internally with our players and to some extent with the league to at least look at it.”

Current Commissioner Adam Silver is open to considering a change.

“I would say it’s something we will look at. I’m very interested in the science when it comes to medical marijuana,” he said recently. “My personal view is that it should be regulated in the same way that other medications are if the plan is to use it for pain management. And it’s something that needs to be discussed with our Players Association, but to the extent that science demonstrates that there are effective uses for medical reasons, we’ll be open to it.”

In a separate interview with The Undefeated last week, Roberts said there “has been a lot of buzz from the start of the year about medical marijuana,” and “a lot of players are interested in knowing what that is all about, so we will have some conversations about that.”

She also revealed that the players’ union is examining “independent research” on cannabis’s medical uses.

“I have certainly taken a look at what the current scientists are saying about this. And we are looking to have conversations with the league,” she said. “The thought is that we don’t have the same pain management issues as football does. It is true because their injuries are much more significant. But we do have pain issues.”

Roberts believes, based on reviewing data about cannabis, that it can help basketball players deal with injuries related to the sport.

“I go to meetings, and I’ve gotten used to it now, but eight of the guys will come into the meetings wearing ice on their knees,” she said. “I couldn’t stand that for 12 seconds. But they need to do that to be able to walk. Joint issues. Running up and down the court. The cardiovascular nature of the game. Jumping. Pain is an issue in the game. It’s a matter of allowing guys to use what science to me is suggesting is effective.”

But she didn’t reveal how close the league might be to agreeing to policy changes.

“We’re exploring it,” she said. “I think there is some movement toward accepting it as an appropriate use to address pain. But we’re not there yet.”

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

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Killer Mike Explains Why Rappers Deserve More Credit For Marijuana Legalization

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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.

How Democrats Helped Republicans Shut Down AOC’s Psychedelics Research Measure

Photo courtesy of C-SPAN.

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Americans Want CBD Available Over-The-Counter, Poll Finds

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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.

Via Gallup.

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.”

Via Gallup.

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.

Via Gallup.

“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.

Poll Reveals Top Reasons People Support Or Oppose Marijuana Legalization

Photo courtesy of Kimzy Nanney/Unsplash.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Oakland Marijuana Shop Flooded With Questions About Psilocybin Mushrooms After Decriminalization Vote

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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.”

AOC Pushes To Make It Easier To Study Shrooms And Other Psychedelic Drugs

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mädi.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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