Politicians are slowly coming around to the idea that states and localities should be able to determine their own marijuana policies, and that the federal government should stay out of the way. Is your mayor one of these?
You can help bring them into the Marijuana Majority by contacting your mayors and asking them to support sensible policy reform!
It looks like Ultimate Fighting Championship and the New Jersey Athletic Control Board have not caught on to the changes in marijuana testing thresholds proposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Fighter Pat Healy has been fined, suspended, and his win changed to a “no contest” after testing positive for marijuana after his victory over Jim Miller two weeks ago.
According to UFC president Dana White, his organization will continue to abide by the standards set by various state athletic commissions when it comes to drugs. He does not, however, seem overly concerned with testosterone replacement therapy, which, while legal, can significantly increase the performance of athletes. This means that it is up to state athletic commissions to heed the advice of WADA.
Healy apologized for the incident, saying he made a “very poor choice” and promised to “make a conscious effort to be a better role model within the [mixed martial arts] community.”
He shouldn’t have to apologize. Not for using a substance that is safer than alcohol and does not overtly enhance performance.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) raised the threshold for a positive test for marijuana from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 nanograms per milliliter, significantly reducing the likelihood of detection for athletes who use the drug.
“We wanted to focus on the athletes that abuse the substance in competition,” said Julie Masse, WADA’s director of communications. “This should exclude cases where marijuana is not used in competition.”
Although marijuana is not considered a performance-enhancing drug, WADA included it on its initial list of prohibited substances in 2003 after caving in to pressure from U.S. sports officials.
“From a sports perspective, I was rather ambivalent (toward marijuana),” stated Richard Pound, an attorney who was WADA’s initial chief and still serves on the Foundation Board. “As we morphed into WADA, the USA was very keen to have it included.”
Although marijuana thresholds and testing are vague indicatives rather than precise measurements of use, WADA hopes that the new limit will lessen the chance that responsible recreational users will suffer disciplinary action. In recent years, a number of athletes, some of them legitimate medical marijuana patients, have faced suspensions and huge fines failing post-competition marijuana tests.
“There is no desire to go soft on the list,” WADA’s Athlete Committee announced, “but members want cheaters to be caught for cheating, not for recreational usage.”
The more people you know who use marijuana, the harder it becomes to say that they should be arrested for possessing it. After all, the vast majority of marijuana users are productive and otherwise law-abiding members of society. This fact has become increasingly evident as more and more people come out of the “cannabis closet” and become open about their experiences with the substance.
Last Friday, House Speaker John Boehner’s daughter Lindsay married Dominic Lakhan, a Jamaican-born construction worker. Lakhan was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in 2006.
Rep. John Boehner
Is it possible that Boehner, who has consistently opposed marijuana policy reform, will start to come around now that he has a convicted marijuana user for a son-in-law? Does he think Lakhan is better off with an arrest record or that Lakhan deserves to be arrested again for using marijuana? Would he care about how it affects his daughter? Only time will tell.
Let’s hope his experience is similar to that of Republican Senator Rob Portman, who changed his stance on gay marriage after learning that his son is gay. While this position initially caused a slight loss in approval among Republicans in his state, the growing acceptance of gay marriage (which has been nearly mirrored by the increasing support for marijuana policy reform) could actually help him in the long run.
Politicians’ thinking traditionally lags far behind the general public on social issues, but it gets a little harder to ignore when that thinking hurts your own family.
State lawmakers gave final approval Monday to a measure that will decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana in Vermont. The bill will now be transmitted to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is expected to sign it into law in coming weeks, at which time Vermont will become the 17th state in the nation to decriminalize or legalize marijuana.
H. 200, introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson (P-Burlington) with a tripartisan group of 38 co-sponsors, will remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 would be required to undergo substance abuse screening. Under current state law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for a subsequent offense.
The Vermont victory marks another big step toward ending marijuana prohibition in our country, but there’s still a lot more work to be done. Marijuana policy reform bills have been introduced in 30 state legislatures this year, and even more are expected next year.