Cannabis is a Schedule I drug under federal law, meaning it is not believed to have any proven medical benefits, and a high risk of addiction. It’s counterparts within the schedule include drugs such as Heroin and LSD. Despite the federal standpoint, over half of the states have legalized its use for medical or recreational use. Statistics show that the majority of people are, for the most part, in favor of cannabis legalization. What may be surprising though, is what a Pew Research Center survey reveals; that most cops would prefer relaxed marijuana laws as well. The reasons for their attitudes towards the plant are varied, from a failed War on Drugs to a perception that cannabis is safer than many other substances, and even the age of the respondents.
The Survey Findings
Between May 19 and August 14, 2016, Pew Research conducted online interviews with close to 8,000 law enforcement officers, representing 54 police departments across the country. They also polled over 4,500 individuals that are not associated with law enforcement. What they found is that the officers’ opinions of legalized cannabis closely align with the public’s views. In fact, seven of ten officers support it, while eight in ten Americans do. Not surprisingly, the younger an officer is, as with the public, the more likely they are to believe it should be legalized, or at least decriminalized. That said, they are still twice as likely (30% versus 15%) to advocate for a complete ban on the plant.
The War on Drugs
While law enforcement groups have been among the most ardent supporters of banning cannabis, there are some that believe that its prohibition is the root cause of a substantial number of social issues. Namely, the U.S. Makes up 5% of the world’s population, and 25% of incarcerated adults. This, they say, has led to prison over-crowding, a large number of broken families, wasted tax dollars, and an overall mistrust of authority figures. The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) says that prohibition leads to increased amounts of drug abuse and violence. They advocate for regulations that include age restrictions on cannabis sales and its use. They also believe that it is important to look at new models that create more balanced personal freedoms and individual responsibility.
Age Affects Opinion
There is a definite age disparity among the public when it comes to opinions about whether cannabis should be legal. The younger a person is, the more they favor it. Almost two-thirds of the adult population in the united states under the age of 45 are in favor of cannabis legalization. While law enforcement officers aren’t quite as liberal, there is a growing number of younger officers that believe it should be legal as well. In fact, 37% of the respondents to the survey who were under 35 think that restrictions should be lifted. Their older counterparts aged 50 to 60 aren’t far behind with 27% approving of legalization. This is, perhaps a result of out-dated, negative and oftentimes, unscientific rhetoric about the dangers of marijuana use and its social consequences.
Whilst those in law enforcement continue to have a more conservative view of cannabis than the public, their attitudes are definitely shifting. As more states vote to legalize for both medical and recreational use, it’s certainly likely that attitudes will continue to change. In fact, it’s already happening with only one in three officers believing that it should be banned for all users. It remains to be seen how the new administration will tackle the topic, especially since Trump has said he won’t interfere with the states. However, attorney general Jeff Sessions, has continuously stated that he is personally opposed to cannabis and legalization efforts.
Registered medical marijuana patient and New Jersey firefighter Donald Wiltshire has been suspended from his job October 9, 2015 for using medical marijuana to treat his Meige syndrome medical condition. Now, he’s mired in a fiery fight with his former employer.
The Ocean City resident Wiltshire and his attorneys filed a civil lawsuit against the city in February to attempt to gain Wiltshire relief and get him his job back. A judge recently rejected this civil suit, stating that Wiltshire must “exhaust the administrative process” before he can sue the state.
New Jersey is a medical marijuana state so Wiltshire’s use was legal by state law–but apparently didn’t jive with his chief’s personal opinion on cannabis. Thus, a firefighter for 20 years was suspended last fall after he notified his police chief that he was using and needed to use medical marijuana to treat his condition.
That lawsuit appears imminent and will be an interesting one to keep an eye on. Wiltshire’s time as a firefighter may very well be done, but he’s en route to becoming a symbol for medical marijuana employees in New Jersey and beyond.
That condition, Meidge syndrome, is a “rare neurological movement disorder characterized by involuntary and often forceful contractions of the muscles of the jaw and tongue and involuntary muscle spasms.” Cannabis and cannabidiol oil (CBD) can help alleviate that type of pain and make working with that type of pain far more bearable.
Now, there’s a stalemate and an impending lawsuit between Wiltshire and Ocean City. The defendant, Ocean City, must prove that Wiltshire’s use was impairing his ability to perform his job. However, New Jersey’s law does not protect Wiltshire, and the ruling judge could ultimately decide that, as Ocean City Attorney Dorothy McCrosson hopes,
Wiltshire’s use of medical marijuana may be legal in New Jersey, but the law “does not bestow upon him a statutory right to continue to serve as a firefighter while he is using it,”
Ironically, Wiltshire replaced his Kolonopin prescription with cannabis because the prescription drug was making him tired on the job. The defense is also stating that his failure to disclose his Kolonopin use nullifies his claim.
If the following statement from presiding Judge Gibson of the Cape May County Superior Court is any indication, Wiltshire should ultimately have his day in court–and could win. Gibson believes
that the purpose of the 2010 New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is to protect patients from penalties for the use of medicinal marijuana.
If that’s the case, then Wiltshire should be seeing green–the dollar bill kind–if and when this case goes to court.
Jamaica’s Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) hopes to install airport and seaport kiosks that give tourists permits to legally purchase and consume cannabis on the island.
The CLA’s proposed law would also allow tourists with existing cannabis prescriptions (in medical states or nations) to obtain this permit as soon as they land in Jamaica. Those without existing cannabis prescriptions could “self-declare” and receive a permit to carry up to two ounces throughout their stay.
The CLA anticipates this regulation will take another few weeks to finalize, but sounds confident that this process to streamline cannabis purchases will come to fruition, as Chairman Hyacinth Lightbourne said that
“The thought is that if you are coming out of the airport, there is a kiosk that you can go to. So basically whoever is coming out of immigration can go to that desk and register and get that clearance.”
Jamaica legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized recreational cannabis in early 2015, and the CLA is still setting up the nation’s regulatory framework that includes licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Since Jamaica will only have medical marijuana for legal sale–and not retail shops like in Colorado–these airport and seaport kiosks would make it easy for tourists to legally purchase island bud.
With this innovative move, Bob Marley’s home nation appears poised to become a leading destination for cannabis tourism.
Last Friday, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law that effectively bans any THC-infused gummy products that resemble bears, animals, fruits and even people.
Citing concerns that these edibles are too enticing for young children, the new law will force some edible companies to change their designs. The law goes into effect on July 1, so companies have a little over two weeks to acclimate to this change.
Since legalization, Colorado’s world-leading regulation of cannabis has been a constant, fluid work-in-progress that adjusts on the fly. While many consumers may be sad to see these playful edibles leave the market, this change represents the natural evolution of a legitimate industry.
While cannabis chocolates may be here to stay, the future of ingestible cannabis products may very well be in bland pill capsules and tincture bottles that represent pharmaceutical products. Keeping edibles out of young children’s systems should and will remain a priority.
Chronically ill children in Connecticut should soon be able to safely access medical marijuana.
A bill to provide seriously ill children with medicine recently passed the state’s Senate and House legislators. Governor Dannel Malloy is expected to sign the bill into law at any moment.
Connecticut has had medical cannabis since 2012, but dispensaries began gradually opening last year and the state’s young patients in need still remain without safe access.
When Governor Malloy gives his signature to this bill, children suffering from severe forms epilepsy, like the debilitating Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, will be finally able to legally access cannabis rich oils (CBD) to help deal treat persistent pain. To gain a prescription for cannabis, two doctors would have to give each child a prescription.
However, minors in Connecticut won’t be smoking up any time soon: kids will only be allowed liquid forms of marijuana.