Category Archives: Marijuana

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker Pardons 11,000 Marijuana Convictions

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois’ governor granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions on Tuesday, describing the step as a first wave of thousands of such expungements anticipated under the state’s new marijuana legalization law.

Harris: Marijuana Offenders Should Be ‘First in Line’ for Cannabis Industry Jobs

Kamala Harris

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) said Sunday that people convicted for marijuana charges should be first in line for jobs in the legalized cannabis industry, noting with amusement they had experience “selling weed.”

Harris said anyone convicted on marijuana charges should have their record expunged and be put “first in line” for jobs in the new industry, which she called a “cash cow.”

“There’s no difference,” she said. “The people who are making now a whole lot of money, what are they doing? Selling weed! Before this happened, what were those folks doing? Selling weed! When you’re looking for a job, experience needed, they’ve got experience.”

Harris, as is her habit, laughed loudly at her own comment.

Harris has faced criticism on the 2020 campaign trail for her aggressive record of prosecuting marijuana violations as California attorney general. Nearly 2,000 people were imprisoned for marijuana-related offenses during her tenure. California is among the 11 states to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, doing so in 2016.

2020 rival Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) assailed Harris for her record during a Democratic debate in July, and said the senator should apologize. Gabbard also attacked Harris for admitting she smoked marijuana in college.

Harris is campaigning heavily in Iowa as she tries to keep her fading 2020 hopes alive. Her poll numbers have collapsed since the summer, and the New York Times published a scathing report last week describing a rudderless campaign.

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Gaetz to Conway on Marijuana: ‘OK Boomer’

On Saturday’s broadcast of CNN’s “Smerconish,” Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) criticized White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway for having a “very boomer approach” on marijuana. Gaetz responded to a clip of Conway discussing marijuana by stating, “To my friend, Kellyanne Conway,

Kamala Harris Blames Weed Arrests for Mass Incarceration

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris lamented the mass incarceration of those convicted of marijuana-related offenses Thursday. The former California attorney general did not acknowledge that on her watch, 1,974 people were incarcerated for the same infraction.

“I mean, you want to talk about ‘gateway,’ that approach is the gateway to America’s problem of mass incarceration…” Harris told Stephen Colbert on Thursday. “So not only do I intend to legalize marijuana, but I will also tell you, Stephen, that part of the big issue is we’ve got whole populations of, in particular, black and brown men and women who have been incarcerated, who have been designated felons for life, who now should be coming out, we should be releasing them, we should be expunging their records.”

Harris neglected to mention her own role in incarcerating those black and brown men and women. A Washington Free Beacon investigation first reported that Harris, as attorney general of California, sent at least 1,560 people to state prisons for marijuana-related offenses between 2011 and 2016.

Presidential rival Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) brought further attention to Harris’s record during a July presidential debate, noting that she “put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.” Harris called that claim a “lie,” but a fact check by the San Francisco Chronicle found that the initial Free Beacon report actually understated the number of jail sentences and “1,974 people were admitted for hashish and marijuana convictions during that period.”

On the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Harris was asked about fellow candidate Joe Biden’s statement at the Wednesday debate that he opposes marijuana legalization. “You didn’t always support legalization. What changed for you? Did your adviser Mary Jane help at all?” Colbert joked.

“You remember that Rick James song, Mary Jane?” Harris joked in response.

Harris largely dodged the question about why she changed her mind, but responded, “We’ve got to not just decriminalize, we need to legalize marijuana. The whole War on Drugs was a complete failure, and we have criminalized whole populations of people.”

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Analysis Casts Doubt on Weed’s Ability to Fight Opioid Epidemic


Marijuana may not be an effective tool for those struggling with opioid addiction, according to a new analysis.

While marijuana advocates have claimed that the drug can help fight the opioid epidemic, an analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal finds the science behind this claim is equivocal at best. Researchers at McMaster University found that the weight of the evidence does not support the claim that marijuana helps people “exit” heroin or prescription opioids.

The new analysis indicates that the so-called exit hypothesis—that cannabis “can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms and therefore help patients with opioid use disorder to stop using opioids”—does not withstand scientific scrutiny.

Researchers conducted what is called a meta-analysis, a statistical approach that aggregates the results from multiple studies to test their shared hypothesis. In this case, the authors were interested in individuals who were on methadone, a common therapeutic drug that replaces illicit opioids such as heroin. Combing through old studies, they looked for those that asked what effect using marijuana had on methadone patients’ proclivity to keep using opioids and stay in treatment.

The results are not heartening. Researchers identified 12 studies relating marijuana use to continued use of illicit opioids, the majority of which found that marijuana neither increased nor decreased likelihood of abuse. After excluding studies with a high likelihood of being biased, they found just two—conducted by the same researcher, and covering just 200 subjects—which indicated that marijuana reduced the probability of opioid abuse.

Interestingly, marijuana’s effectiveness in opioid treatment varied based on where the study was conducted: using marijuana made a person less likely to remain in treatment in the United States, but more likely in Israel. (That disparity is more likely than not due to differences in program design or pure chance.)

What all of this means concretely is that the balance of the evidence does not support the claim that marijuana reliably helps people hooked on opioids to “exit” their drug of choice. In fact, the paper goes out of its way to emphasize that what evidence exists is generally of poor quality, “with critical issues of inconsistency and imprecision.”

“Further studies are needed,” the paper cautions, “to address and examine the notion of cannabis use and its effect on treatment outcome in patients with opioid use disorder.”

The findings released Tuesday are far stronger than those customarily used to back the “exit hypothesis.” To this point, most advocates of a marijuana-as-treatment approach have pointed to a pair of studies which find that states with medical marijuana laws saw opioid prescriptions drop following legalization. The causal connection of those claims may be spurious—rates of opioid prescribing have fallen nationwide over the past decade, for reasons more related to a deliberate reduction in supply than in demand. In fact, a more recent study extended the data beyond 2014 and found that the supposed relationship vanished.

The relative weakness of this evidence—and the apparent weakness of the literature more broadly—has not stopped politicians from acting as though marijuana has the power to fix the opioid crisis. In September, New York state added opioid use disorders to the list of conditions that qualified one for a medical marijuana card; New Jersey followed suit in January.

The sorry state of science on the “exit hypothesis” in many ways mirrors the debate around legal marijuana as a whole. Surgeon General Jerome Adams emphasized during recent congressional testimony that widespread legalization—and arguments in favor of it—has happened in the absence of robust scientific evidence on the long-run effects of marijuana on Americans. The rush to legalize constitutes “a massive public health experiment on our citizenry,” Adams said.

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Ocasio-Cortez Swipes Biden over His Remarks on Marijuana: ‘These Are Matters of Public Health’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) took a subtle swipe at Joe Biden (D) over his skepticism of legalizing marijuana at the federal level, contending “marijuana should be legalized” and drug consumption “decriminalized” while calling them “matters of public health.”