A violent drug?

illustration by sarah hansel

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.

Hey, I hear the feds are working on a new cannabis legalization bill. Any updates?

—Khan Gress-Ennall

There’s one in the books, but I wouldn’t hold my bong hit waiting for it to happen. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) has sponsored bill HR 420 (get it?), which would remove cannabis from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of prohibited drugs and allow states to regulate cannabis like alcohol. This is a great idea, but when was the last time a great idea made it through Congress? Obamacare, maybe? Listen: The feds can’t even keep their government open. How can we expect them to do something as simple as legalize cannabis?

I applaud Blumenauer and all of the members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus for continuing to press for federal legalization, but I expect the usual voices of prohibition to keep this bill from gaining traction (Big Pharma, the for-profit prison industry, etc.). It is nice to see politicians on the national stage take a stand for cannabis legalization. Senator Kamala Harris of California has come out for legalization, which is nice. When she was the state’s attorney general, she wasn’t exactly a stalwart proponent of ending cannabis prohibition. I’m glad she has changed her mind.

However, although federal legalization is still a ways away, legalization and decriminalization efforts at the state and local levels are accelerating. The city of St. Louis recently announced that it will no longer prosecute cases involving 100 grams of cannabis or less, as long as the cannabis is for personal use. One hundred grams is just under 4 ounces, so that’s a pretty big deal, and a reminder to keep all your cannabis in one big bag: 100 grams of cannabis in one bag—personal use; 100 grams of cannabis in 100 one-gram bags—that’s intent to sell. Also, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo just announced that she will call for cannabis legalization in her next budget proposal. It makes sense, because Rhode Island is surrounded by states with legal weed. The dominoes are falling, and weed stays winning.

What do you think about that new book that says that cannabis leads to psychosis and violence?

—Jed Wellred

Are you talking about Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence by Alex Berenson? Yeah. He is full of it. This book has been debunked by the very scientists Berenson cites. Cannabis doesn’t lead to violence. Ever. Ask a cop if he or she would rather work a cannabis festival or a beer festival. While it may be true that cannabis isn’t good for people with schizophrenia, there are no studies showing that cannabis makes people psychotic. This is Reefer Madness propaganda of the worst kind. If cannabis caused violence, Colorado would be a dystopian wasteland. Despite what you may have learned about Humboldt County by watching Murder Mountain on Netflix, weed is the safest recreational drug on the market.