Category Archives: Research

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Making Marijuana Legal in Washington, D.C. is the Better Choice

Supporting Washington, D.C.’s ballot initiative 71, which would make marijuana legal in the nation’s capital, makes sense in terms of economics, safety, and fairness, according to Economics21.

If the initiative passes on November 4, it would eliminate the criminal and civil penalties associated with personal possession, private use, and cultivation of marijuana — within limits (two ounces for possession, no use in public places, and six plants).

In terms of safety, the infamous argument that marijuana is a gateway drug and leads individuals to resort to harder drugs has repeatedly been called into question. Moreover, a Rand Corporation research report concluded:

“The harms of marijuana use can no longer be viewed as necessarily including an expansion of hard-drug use and its associated harms.”

In terms of legal marijuana’s economic viability, there are many benefits found in easing the burden on legal and corrections systems, money which can be used to fund various beneficial measures associated with public health and safety and allow law enforcement to focus on serious crime

Lastly, marijuana possession makes up nearly half of all drug arrests. The arrests of those who have been labeled as criminals for committing low-level crimes make it significantly harder to find employment.

In an interview in 2013, former Secretary of State George Schultz said, “According to the World Health Organization, the use of drugs is higher in the United States than most comparable countries. So you have to say that the war on drugs has simply not worked… We have wound up with a large number of young people in jail, mostly blacks, a huge cost, and a debilitating one to our society. And big foreign policy costs.”

In the end, it is quite clear that voting yes on Initiative 71 is the safer, fairer, and smarter choice. Please vote November 4 and lead the nation’s capital towards establishing a more sensible approach to marijuana policy. Encourage family, friends, and neighbors to do the same!

Overwhelming Majority of Delaware Voters Support Making Marijuana Legal

A new poll conducted by the University of Delaware finds 56% support for legalizing marijuana, with just 39% opposed. Earlier this year, Rep. Helene Keeley, Sen. Bryan Townsend, and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry sponsored legislation to reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana from a criminal charge to a civil fine. This is a strong step in the right direction.

Under current Delaware law, possessing even a small amount of marijuana is a criminal offense, carrying up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,150. And the effects of a conviction don’t stop there. A criminal record can make it difficult to find a job, obtain educational opportunities, or even find adequate housing.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have replaced the threat of jail for possession of marijuana with a fine. If you are a Delaware resident, ask your state representative and senator to make the same modest reform, and then ask your fellow Delawareans to call for this long overdue reform, too.

Coloradans Still Support Legal Marijuana Sales, Poll Finds

Since Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, and after the historic first sales of recreational marijuana began in January 2014, a majority of state residents still support legal marijuana sales.

NBC News/Marist Poll

According to the Huffington Post, a new NBC News/Marist Poll demonstrates that 55 percent of adult Colorado residents back the law that made the regulated use, possession, and sale of marijuana by adults legal, as opposed to the 41 percent that do not support the law, including 8 percent who said they are actively trying to overturn the current legislation.

The majority that are supportive of the law includes the 27 percent of adult Coloradans who actively support the law, as well as the 28 percent who are in favor of the law but do not actively support it. Among registered voters, 52 percent said they favor the law, with 26 percent actively supporting it and 26 percent that favor but do not actively support it.

“This is just the latest of several polls that reflect the successful implementation of Amendment 64, “ said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project and key figure in the campaign to legalize marijuana. He went on to state, “Hopefully the folks fighting to maintain prohibition will stop using bogus talking points about Coloradans having buyer’s remorse. Nobody knows more about how Coloradans feel than Coloradans themselves, and clearly most of them are quite content with the direction in which things are headed.” [MPP emphasis added]

Moreover, other surveys have found similar levels of support regarding retail marijuana in the state. In February, for example, a Quinnipiac poll found that 58 percent of Colorado voters supported the legalization of marijuana. Another survey from March, conducted by Public Policy Polling, showed 57 percent of Colorado voters in favor of legal marijuana.

The success of Colorado’s implementation is paving the way for more states to follow in its footsteps. This November, Oregon and Alaska voters will be the next states to consider regulating marijuana like alcohol, and the District of Columbia will vote on making possession and limited home cultivation legal for adults.

 

For-Profit Institutions Ineligible to Receive Medical Marijuana Research Grants

According to the Denver Post, for-profit companies will not be awarded funding for state-supported medical marijuana research, under the terms of the grant program released Wednesday. However, for-profit firms will be approved as subcontractors on grant proposals.

In the official request for applications, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicates that only certain institutions are qualified to apply as primary recipients for the $9 million in available research grant money to study the benefits of medical marijuana, including “not-for profit organizations, health care organizations, governmental entities and higher education institutions.” In addition, there is no requirement for eligible applicants to be based in Colorado.

Although Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) already signed a bill in May allowing the state to fund up to $10 million for research into the medical efficacy of marijuana, health department officials are still hoping that researchers will be allowed, for the first time, to conduct clinical or observational trials using the kinds of marijuana products that are already available in Colorado’s medical-marijuana system.

“Colorado is a national leader in the development of new strains of marijuana and its component parts that appear to have promising therapeutic effects,” the application request states.

[MPP emphasis added]

However, restrictions limiting the applicants eligible for the grants, on top of existing concerns about federal funding and oversight, only further complicate the research proposals. All of the complications involved in the process demonstrate the federal government’s ongoing efforts to hinder the study of the benefits of medical marijuana.

 

 

 

Concern over Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Research Grant Program

According to a Denver Post story, Colorado is scheduled to begin administering significant funding for the largest ever state-supported medical marijuana research grant program starting in early 2015. It is anticipated that Colorado’s health department will release the program’s official request for applications sometime this week. The state expects to deliver $9 million geared towards research on the medical effects of marijuana. There is, however, skepticism over who will be able to accept funding for the research program due to marijuana’s federally illegal status.

Dr. Larry Wolk
Dr. Larry Wolk

At a recent meeting, several members of the health department questioned whether or not university-based researchers would be able to participate in the research program without first receiving approval from the federal government. Some members fear that the university review boards may disapprove of projects that are seen as being too controversial or as threats to the university’s federal funding, regardless of state-funded approval for the research.

As stated by the health department’s executive director, Dr. Larry Wolk, “It’s going to be a challenge for the applicant.” Although, Dr. Paula Riggs, a council member who is an addiction medicine specialist at the University of Colorado, said researchers can reduce that concern by getting approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration, but such approval typically takes a long time. “You can do it,” she said, “but you have to jump through hoops.”

[MPP emphasis added]

With the Governor of Colorado signing a law allowing the state to fund up to $10 million for research into the medical benefits of marijuana, the state has demonstrated its ability to jump through the federal government’s “hoops.” What remains now is the issue of eliminating the obstacles brought upon by the federal government in giving researchers the opportunity to investigate the benefits medical marijuana.