It’s that time again – we’re rounding up some of the most intriguing headlines in the cannabis world from the last month. Check back again next month when we cover what will hopefully be an exciting post-election edition of the legal round-up!
Growers’ Opinions of Prop 64 Mixed Month Before Vote
With a month to go on California’s landmark vote on legalizing recreational cannabis – otherwise known as Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act – growers in the state have mixed opinions. A particular area of concern includes worry that the regulations outlined in the proposal welcomes big business, which could wipe out independent and small farms. Another concern is that passing Prop 64 will make the industry vulnerable to big agriculture and open them to increased taxes and harsher penalties.
In fact, a recent poll of the 750 farmers, distributors, and retailers who are members of the California Growers Association showed that 31 percent supported the initiative, 31 percent were opposed – and the majority, 38 percent, was undecided. However, the California public seems largely in favor of legalizing, with 61 percent approving via a recent Ganjapreneur poll.
We’ll find out soon enough!
Fentanyl Maker Insys Gives $500K to Defeat Legalization in Arizona
Something doesn’t sit right here: Insys Therapeutics, the corporation that manufactures fentanyl, recently donated half a million dollars to the campaign to defeat cannabis legalization in Arizona. Fentanyl is the synthetic opioid, cheaper and 50 times stronger than heroin, that has led to record amounts of overdoses and deaths in 2016.
Why would Insys care about cannabis legalization? Because cannabis is a major threat to its market. In recent years, researchers have documented a clear phenomenon: In states that legalize medical marijuana, opioid usage and overdose rates decline dramatically. In 2015, researchers at the RAND BING Center for Health Economics found that legalizing medical marijuana led to an 18 percent decrease in opioid-related deaths.
Here’s hoping that, come November, the people of Arizona show Insys that its unconscionable actions are ultimately pointless.
Study: Fatal Accidents Less Likely to Involve Opiate Use in MMJ States
Speaking of opioids, a Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health study has found that drivers in states with medical marijuana programs were less likely to test positive for opioids after fatal car accidents. In the analysis, the greatest reduction of opioid involvement in fatal car accidents was among drivers aged 21 to 40, who are most likely to use medical marijuana in states where it is available. The study adds to a growing body of academic work suggesting medical marijuana is an effective alternative to combating opioid use.
Cannabis Seizure Drug Shows Success in Latest U.S. Trials
Exciting news has come out of the third late-stage clinical trial in the U.S of GW Pharmaceuticals’ cannabis-derived Epidiolex, which showed “high statistical significance” in treating patients with epilepsy. The recent study tested the drug’s value for children and adults diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, characterized by impaired intellectual functioning, developmental delays, and dozens or seizures per month. The successful trial puts the Britain-based company on track to file the drug with the FDA in the first half of 2017; if it is approved it would become the first drug sanctioned by the FDA to be made from organic cannabis.
FBI Report: Cannabis Arrests at Lowest Point in a Decade
The good news: Arrests for simple cannabis possession have fallen to their lowest point since 1996, according to new statistics released by the FBI. In 2015, 574,641 people were arrested for simple possession, representing a 25 percent drop from the near 800,000 peak in 2007.
The bad news: That still equates to more than one arrest for simple cannabis possession every minute.
According to a 2013 ACLU report, cannabis enforcement has cost taxpayers $3.6 billion; and while black and whites were found to use marijuana at similar rates, black users were four times as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession as their white counterparts. The ACLU estimates that a typical marijuana arrest costs about $750, excluding any adjudication or detainment costs.
Cannabis Taxes to Fund Anti-Bullying Programs in Colorado Schools
Surplus cannabis tax revenues in Colorado will fund a new bully prevention program, with the state Department of Education grant offering $40,000 per school per year for the program. The grant will provide schools with specialized training from a bullying prevention coach and evidence-based anti-bullying programs. Each approved school will also form a bully prevention committee comprised of faculty and parents. The funding comes from Proposition BB, which allows the state to keep extra tax revenues from legal cannabis sales – currently amounting to about $66 million.
We’ll see you again in November. Cheers to what we hope will be an unparalleled month ahead in the world of cannabis legislation!