Over the course of his more than 17 years in the U.S. Senate, Delaware Democrat Tom Carper has never before cosponsored a marijuana reform bill. Nor did he add his name to any piece of cannabis legislation during the 10 years he served in the U.S. House.
But that changed on Monday, when Carper became a co-sponsor of a far-reaching bill to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act so that states can implement legalization without federal interference.
What’s new this year? Aside from marijuana reform’s general political ascendancy—more states are deleting their prohibition laws and a growing majority of voters now support legalization—Carper is facing an unexpectedly tough primary challenge from a progressive insurgent candidate.
That contender, Kerri Evelyn Harris, has praised Canada’s legalization of marijuana and said that Delaware should make similar moves to deal with its prison overcrowding issues.
The criminal justice reform platform on her website includes a bullet point on “taxing and regulating marijuana.”
A recent Washington Post profile of the race featured this vignette in which Harris spoke about her support for legalization to a pair of voters who were smoking a joint:
“During a Friday night canvass in Wilmington, Harris spent 30 minutes talking to two men who had been passing a joint between them and were intrigued by her support for legal marijuana. By the end of the talk, one had agreed to come to her office to learn about volunteering.”
Carper currently has an F grade in NORML’s congressional scorecard.
“We welcome Senator Carper’s support for the federal descheduling of cannabis and cosponsorship of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal told Marijuana Moment. “It has been a long time coming, but given the public support for outright legalization in Delaware and across the country, the senator’s support for policies like expungement and reparative justice is another important mile-marker on the road to victory.”
The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which Carper is now supporting, was introduced in late June by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Democrats.
While the only poll in the race to date, conducted in July, showed Carper leading Harris by a wide margin of 51 percent to 19 percent, political observers have flagged the race as one to watch in the wake of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset Democratic primary victory over New York Congressman Joe Crowley in June.
Carper’s move to sponsor cannabis legislation amid a fierce primary is similar to how Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a longtime vocal legalization opponent, evolved earlier this year during the course of her own renomination effort. The senator now says she supports the right of Californians to comply with the state’s marijuana laws without being sent to federal prison. That announcement came as state Senator Kevin de León (D) continually highlighted his own support for legalization as a contrast to incumbent Feinstein. The two Democrats will face off in November’s general election since they both advance under the state’s top-two primary system.
The Delaware primary between Carper and Harris will be held on September 6.
In June, a majority of members of Delaware’s House of Representatives voted to approve a marijuana legalization bill, but it did not receive the supermajority support needed to advance under the chamber’s rules.
A 2016 poll found that Delaware adults support legalizing cannabis by a margin of 61 percent to 35 percent.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Amid Primary Challenge, Democrat Senator Now Supports Marijuana Bill
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Despite its growing acceptance for both medical and recreational use in Israel, cannabis is becoming more difficult for patients to access. Pain clinics, which are the primary dispensers of medical cannabis in the country, claim the system is being flooded by people who simply want a way to legitimize their recreational use of marijuana.
Clinics have started restricting access by making it harder for patients to qualify for medical cannabis and, in some cases, have instructed doctors to consider revoking permits as a way to keep from being overwhelmed by the tide of permit holders. While clinics justify their actions as a necessary capitulation to a logistical strain on their services, some cannabis proponents see the clinics’ stance as a cover for collusion with pharmaceutical companies that stand to lose money as more patients shun their products in favor of cannabis.
As in other countries where patients have legally or illegally sought treatment with cannabis medicine, Israel is full of firsthand accounts from people who have found in cannabis relief from suffering that conventional pharmaceuticals had failed to deliver. With approximately 23,000 permit holders, Israel has one of the highest per capita rates of medical cannabis use in the world. That is why many were surprised when the country’s pain clinics recently started to crack down on what they see as abuse of their services.
Gil Luxenbourg, CEO of the Israel Medical Cannabis Association, finds the pushback from clinics worrisome, saying:
“There is a clear-cut trend at the hospitals to retreat from the use of medical cannabis.”
Luxenbourg sees something sinister in the clinics’ new aggressive stance toward permit holders and permit seekers:
“What we have here is a hidden agenda and silent conspiracy designed to make things difficult for the patients.”
Doctors at the pain clinics reject such accusations as absurd: “All the claims about ties between doctors or the Health Ministry and the pharmaceutical companies are baseless – if not insane – figments of the imagination,” said one senior doctor. “You have to understand that we have no problem with the use of medical cannabis. We have a problem with people who come to the pain clinics to try to get a permit and thereby create a massive workload at the clinics, which then end up handling only requests for permits.” He went on to say that if dedicated cannabis clinics were to be established, the problem for general pain clinics such as his would “improve dramatically.”
Given the recent show of bipartisan support for decriminalized recreational cannabis from members of the Knesset and from Israeli police chief Yohanan Danino, it seems odd that medical cannabis users should be singled out for persecution. It also seems unlikely that any effort on the part of health officials and drug companies to snuff out medical cannabis would be effective given the ready availability of cannabis should efforts to decriminalize recreational marijuana succeed.
More plausible than a conspiracy between the government and pharmaceutical companies is the clinics’ assertion that they simply cannot handle all the permit requests they receive. Why cannabis-specific clinics have not been established to reduce the pressure on general pain clinics is admittedly curious.
It may be that government officials are learning from legalization experiments in the US, such as those in Oregon, where officials are limiting the availability of medical marijuana to those patients who truly need it, while all others who seek cannabis will be shunted toward a regulated retail system.
Whatever the cause for the clinics’ recent move to deny medical cannabis, patients will suffer while a solution to the problem is worked out. One patient captured the essence of the issue facing clinics and their patients, saying:
“The fact that there are thousands of people who are submitting requests and that someone believes they are trying to receive permits fraudulently is not my concern. I’m suffering; and if medical marijuana can help me, then I want to receive a permit to use it.”
The Citizens’ Security law, enacted in Spain on July 1, has received much scrutiny from Spaniards because is restricts many basic human rights. It is being referred to as “Ley Mordaza,” or the “Gag Law” because it removes peoples’ rights to public protest, limits freedom of expression, and makes taking photographs of police illegal, among other things.
There is one upside to the passing of this stringent law, however. One section, article 36.18, was amended so that cultivating cannabis is only illegal if the plants are visible in public places. Although growing cannabis was made illegal in 1967, it was widely disregarded, and cannabis cultivation and use has remained engrained throughout the country.
Private possession has been decriminalized for many years, but now the cultivation of the plant will be allowed as well. Reportedly, most smaller grow operations were usually just destroyed when found, and cultivation equipment was seized. Now, seedlings can also be sold by shops and growers, as long as they are not openly displayed.