Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is the latest public official to endorse significant marijuana law reforms after leaving office.
“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” he told Bloomberg. “I find myself in that same position.”
Boehner, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R), is joining the Board of Advisors of Acreage Holdings, which holds 35 licenses for cannabis businesses across the U.S.
“When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head,” Boehner said. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”
In a tweet, Boehner, who did not endorse marijuana law reform while serving as the House’s top official, said he now supports removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, a process known as descheduling.
In a 2011 letter to a constituent, the speaker wrote, “I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug. I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.”
But now, Boehner says that he and Weld will advise Acreage on navigating confusing and conflicting federal and state marijuana laws.
“When it comes to an issue like this, that has what I’ll call murky legal issues and political issues, we’re there to provide advice to Acreage in terms of how they work with state and federal governments, how they work with local governments and advice on what states look promising,” he told Bloomberg.
The former top GOP official is critical of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to reverse Obama-era guidance that generally allowed states to implement their own cannabis policies without federal interference.
“When I saw the announcement, I almost chuckled to myself,” Boehner said. “I don’t know why they decided to do this. It could be that the attorney general is trying to force the Congress to act.”
Boehner is not the first high-ranking public official to endorse marijuana law reform after he no longer has the power to do anything about it.
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, for example, said that marijuana should be rescheduled shortly after leaving office.
In a press release about their joining Acreage, Boehner and Weld, who was the Libertarian Party’s 2016 vice-presidential nominee, said the following:
“While we come at this issue from different perspectives and track records, we both believe the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy. Over the past 20 years a growing number of states have experimented with their right to offer cannabis programs under the protection of the 10th amendment. During that period, those rights have lived somewhat in a state of conflict with federal policy. Also, during this period, the public perception of cannabis has dramatically shifted, with 94% of Americans currently in favor of some type of access, a shift driven by increased awareness of marijuana’s many medical applications.
“We need to look no further than our nation’s 20 million veterans, 20 percent of whom, according to a 2017 American Legion survey, reportedly use cannabis to self-treat PTSD, chronic pain and other ailments. Yet the VA does not allow its doctors to recommend its usage. There are numerous other patient groups in America whose quality of life has been dramatically improved by the state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis.
“While the Tenth Amendment has allowed much to occur at the state level, there are still many negative implications of the Federal policy to schedule cannabis as a Class 1 drug: most notably the lack of research, the ambiguity around financial services and the refusal of the VA to offer it as an alternative to the harmful opioids that are ravishing our communities.
“We are excited to join the team at Acreage in pursuit of their mission to bring safe, consistent and reliable products to patients and consumers who could benefit. We have full confidence in their management team and believe this is the team that will transform the debate, policy and landscape around this issue.”
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Former GOP House Speaker Backs Marijuana Descheduling, Joins Cannabiz
The Arizona Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is raising eyebrows over a pro-legalization billboard the group sponsored in Phoenix. The billboard, appropriately timed and themed to coincide with the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open, reads:
“If beer and golf make for the ‘greatest party on grass’… Why can’t adults enjoy a safer party on grass?”
The Waste Management Phoenix Open, a tournament known for attracting thousands of visitors and hosting lavish parties, has been dubbed “The Greatest and Greenest Party on Grass.”
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona is attempting to institute a Colorado-like system of cannabis legalization. A campaign spokesperson reports that the group is close to gathering the required number of signatures to get the issue on the state’s ballot in November.
“Our message is simple,” said J.P. Holyoak, the campaign chairman.
“Enjoy alcohol responsibly, but adults should be able to choose the safer alternative and enjoy cannabis responsibly as well.”
The billboard, which will remain at Seventh and Lincoln streets in Phoenix until the end of the tournament, has been received with disapproval from many who oppose cannabis legalization.
“Using the laudable and charitable Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament as a springboard to publicize a political campaign to legalize marijuana in Arizona is the opposite of good health, good education and good public policy — and certainly the opposite of good taste,”
wrote Seth Leibsohn, the chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group that opposes the legalization of cannabis in the state.
Holyoak disagrees, citing a hope that the billboard inspires honest conversation about cannabis and responsible substance consumption.
“There are a lot of stereotypes that go along with marijuana that don’t ring true,”
explained Holyoak. “These stereotypes would be the equivalent of saying that everyone who enjoys a glass of wine was a wino on the streets, drinking out of a paper bag and stumbling around. Most adults who consume marijuana are simply responsible working people, family members, and parents. They’re normal people — so I think it’s absolutely inappropriate to invoke these stereotypes of cannabis consumers when it’s not the reality.”
Becca Williams isn’t a meek cannabis advocate. She doesn’t hide her identity or publish under a pseudonym. Nor is she a daring dabber posting lung-busting party videos to YouTube. Williams, a National Public Radio veteran, has reinvented her career — and life — by dedicating her efforts to producing a series of intelligent videos regarding her favorite topic: Cannabis.
In a career reboot magnific, Williams’ view of cannabis is embodied in her online video show Marijuana Straight Talk. This informative series, for which Williams serves as executive producer and host, is comprised of short, three to five minute episodes and infuses humor and a neighborly, relaxed tone that is reflective of cannabis itself.
Despite her tasteful and sometimes goofy sense of humor, Williams is nothing if not serious about being a catalyst for real change and defying nearly a century of stigma when it comes to this highly medicinal and therapeutic plant. Her show clearly reflects a theme of smart “edutainment.” Williams recently relocated to Denver to better position herself and gain the ability to feature a large number of quality guests and events on her show.
Education and Defying Stigma
Probably the two most significant aspects of Marijuana Straight Talk are its educational value and how it helps break down stigma. Williams herself clearly defies stereotypical images of the stoner culture. This middle-aged neo-hippy, replete with MacBook and her cute Jack Russell terrier, is dripping with sincerity. After only a few episodes, it became abundantly clear that Williams is determined to change the way Americans think about cannabis — be it for lifestyle enhancement or as a medicine. Said Williams:
“We are a very wounded culture around this plant. It’s been misrepresented to us; there’s been a misinformation campaign. We need to educate ourselves around it.”
In 2015, Williams’ charming show achieved a significant milestone in terms of viewers reached. After only two pilot episodes, Marijuana Straight Talk was the second most popular weekly current affairs program on the Free Speech TV network. The big deal? The show, which is slated to begin weekly production in summer of 2016, is distributed by DISH Network and DirecTV, making it available to more than 40 million TV households (and about 100 million people).
With respect to audience size and meaningful impact (number of humans educated), Williams may very well become one of the country’s leading cannabis legalization advocates, with a sharp focus on gently teaching viewers without putting them to sleep. With 10 states considering adult use legalization this year alone, the education of voters is critical if the current wave of legalization is to be sustained. In response to the success of the first couple of pilot episodes of her full-length show, Williams said, “It goes to show how hungry we Americans are for information and education about cannabis.”
This determined advocate’s attitude toward the cannabis plant is embodied in the Values Statement of Marijuana Straight Talk. The first line reads: “We believe in the Cannabis Plant’s extraordinary power to heal body, mind, and spirit — and our natural world.” “Body, mind, and spirit.” It’s an enlightening and holistic framework from which to approach this healing herb and, in the overarching effort of Williams, to recast the plant with an intelligent, science-based, and inclusive culture for the 21st century.
Becca Williams Interview
Gooey Rabinski: When did you first consume cannabis and not simply enjoy it, but realize that it might change your life?
Becca Williams: I fell in love with the creative life, how it amplified my perspective and offered an elevated awareness of my surrounding and others. I think that happened from the get-go, the first time. What’s morphed over the years is my relationship with the Plant and how I interact with her. Early on, it was a very social experience, passing a joint with a group of friends. Or strangers. Who cares…right? For concerts, it was usually about getting as baked as I could and surrendering to the music. It was a great time!
It’s a long story, but when I was about 30, it became clear to me what an emotional mess I was from a really challenging, abusive childhood. As an adult, I was living with lots of trauma and panic at every turn, often paralyzed with fear in settings where I felt I had to make an impression or make others like me. I experienced envy, like feeling others were so much better than me, and had a lot of self-worth issues.
It was at this point that I realized what a balm cannabis was for my nervous system, in scientific terms, and for my “emotional body,” if you wanna go down the spiritual path. It stroked my soul. It continues to do so, even more so. Over the last few years, I’ve become a serious student of marijuana as a plant spirit medicine. She is a powerful ally.
I’m more drawn than ever to communing with the Plant in solitude, going inward. I believe it’s because I’ve done so much personal growth work with her as a guide. Sure, I still love the communal experience. Now, at this point in my life, getting together with others and partaking is much more intentional. What I mean by that is coming together, two or more of us, lifted by the plant in order to explore our deepest selves within a field of trust. That may scare the shit out of some people, but for others it’s where the magic happens.
GR: How has regular cannabis consumption improved your life and career?
BW: I have one word for you: Healing. Cannabis has helped me heal my core wounds that catalyzed all those difficult, heavy emotions plaguing me for so many years. To quote a beloved album, what a long strange trip it’s been. The Plant’s spirit medicine has been vital to my personal evolution.
GR: What do you consider the two biggest problems facing the cannabis legalization movement in the United States?
BW: Ok, I’m gonna answer this not from a place of really being in the know with all the legalization and political machinations, but from my own knowledge. Instead of problems, I think in terms of opportunities that we want to embrace at a macro level, over the long haul.
What do we want? The most important one, the way I see it, is to create and promote a “cannabis economy” that transcends the inevitable march toward making this Plant just another commodity. On our website, we have Marijuana Straight Talk‘s “Values Statement” (what we believe) and if you put all the points together, it’s a recipe for creating culture around this Plant. Two of the stand-outs are “We trust that the Cannabis business world can be a force to serve the greater good” and “We support the sovereign right to embrace the Cannabis Plant in our lives — in the many ways we choose.”
If we, as citizens and business people, focus our intention on what we want — as opposed to what we don’t want — the force will be with us! Ask any Jedi master.
GR: What is the goal of your show Marijuana Straight Talk? What is the direction of the series?
BW: It’s simple. Marijuana Straight Talk‘s assignment is to find and showcase the voices that most effectively articulate the best directions for an emerging cannabis culture. We love stories about regular people being inspired by cannabis’ many facets and how their passions translate to being good stewards of the plant. In the business world, we want to shine a light on conscious business practices within the industry. They are the ones who will be leading the way in supporting quality growing, manufacturing, and fair labor practices, along with fair prices and availability. This is so much fun!
GR: Literally hundreds of communities throughout Oregon, Washington, and Colorado have or are in the process of banning sales of cannabis — even medical sales. How would this scenario change if citizens were more educated?
BW: You know, I don’t think it’s about ignorance actually. I think it’s about the fear that’s velcro-ed to images of…oh, off the top of my head…good for nothins, raids, Reefer Madness, debauchery. Too much of a good thing doesn’t square with our puritanical images of “clean living.” These wounds — from nearly 80 years of our government making the Plant forbidden — cut deep.
Like recovering from the abuse in my childhood, it’s about finding ways to heal our culture and set a course for the future. And the best way to do that is by redefining how we interact with this remarkable Plant. We must encourage and nurture each other to leverage our strengths as citizens to accomplish that.
GR: What does the future hold for Becca Williams?
BW: Dinner and a movie? Oh, you mean long range….
It’s gonna sound way out of left field, but one of my fondest desires would be to join our strengths with others to help support the development of an infrastructure around the growing of hemp. And especially as it relates to creating cooperatives where the employees own and jointly run the business, including the farmers growing the hemp. There are some great examples of this in Europe, like Mondragon in Spain.
I think this would be an excellent start to bringing into the picture all those who suffered so mightily under the jack boot of U.S. law enforcement. Imagine large hemp processing plants that employ people of color and those who emerge from prisons haunted by the stigma of possession charges.
What does media have to do with this? Hell, Marijuana Straight Talk would cover this, as we say in the news business, like red on rash. Somebody starts a project like this, we’ll be all over it. This is a grass-roots economy creation at its best. I wanna shout it from the rooftops. Big Pot, as the New York Times calls it, is going to emerge, for sure. But let’s invite them to a seat at the table in helping to craft this new paradigm. Despite all the naysaying, they may surprise us.
Frequent long-term cannabis smoking may have negative effects on a person’s verbal memory, a new study has found.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Lausanne, found that those who smoke cannabis daily over a period of five or more years had lower verbal memory — the ability to remember certain words — than those who did not smoke cannabis or smoked it less.
“We found a dose-dependent independent association between cumulative lifetime exposure to marijuana and worsening verbal memory in middle age,”
the authors of the study wrote.
Interestingly, the researchers observed that other areas of cognitive function, such as executive function or processing speed, appeared not to be affected by long-term cannabis use.
The study found the number of people who use cannabis daily was small. However, some drug policy experts have expressed concern that the loosening of cannabis laws — both on the state and federal level — could lead to a rise in use rates, and subsequently lead to more health problems.
The team of researchers examined data regarding the smoking habits of almost 3,400 Americans over a 25-year period. Following the study period, the test subjects submitted to a number of cognitive abilities tests. The tests included analyses on their memory and focus, among other areas.
A new study has found that use of legal cannabis among adults has skyrocketed in the past year.
The report, compiled by New Frontier and ArcView Market Research, that the legal cannabis industry notched sales of $5.4 billion in 2015, an $800 million increase from 2014. Figures indicate that that jump is mostly attributable to the sale of legalized recreational cannabis: sales of recreational cannabis jumped to $998 million in 2015, a steep jump from the haul in 2014, which came out to $351 million. That amounted to a 184 percent increase over the course of one year.
“It is undeniable that cannabis is one of the fastest growing industry in the U.S. [sic] Twenty-three states already permit medical use, along with four states and the District of Columbia allowing full adult use. With nearly a dozen states debating changes to their cannabis laws in the coming year, 2016 will be the tipping point in which a majority of U.S. states transition from cannabis prohibition to some form of regulated legal market,” said Giadha DeCarcer, the CEO and founder of New Frontier.
States like Colorado and Washington –both of which have legalized recreational cannabis– saw financial windfalls from the sale of the substance.
According to experts, other states have already begun to take notice.
“Many in the business and financial sector have taken a ‘wait and see’ approach to the legal cannabis industry,”
said Troy Dayton, CEO of ArcView Group.
“The new data confirms what pioneer investors and entrepreneurs suspected. Legalization of cannabis is one of the greatest business opportunities of our time and it’s still early enough to see huge growth.”