Inevitable growth

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

Hey can I get an update on what’s been happening in the Wide Wide World of Weed?


Yes, you can! So much has happened in the last week. It’s been incredible. And away we go.

In legalization news, Jamaica is proceeding with plans to decriminalize and regulate marijuana. This is incredible news. Everyone thinks of Jamaica as a bastion of ganja freedom, but weed has been illegal there seemingly forever. The bill to decriminalize, which also contains language to permit the growing and selling of marijuana, has passed the cabinet and went to the Jamaican Senate last week.

Over here in the states, medical marijuana is booming. Nevada is set to open 65 medical cannabis dispensaries throughout the state, and the Legislature is most likely going to address a recreational marijuana law submitted by an initiative this year. If the Nevada Legislature doesn’t approve the measure, the law goes to a vote of the people. Yes.

Illinois is having problems getting its medical marijuana program into gear. The new governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, is asking for more studies, but really he’s just being an ass by delaying the inevitable.

Some state senators in Nebraska just introduced legislation to allow medical marijuana use. Yes, the same Nebraska that is suing the state of Colorado over recreational marijuana is looking to have its own marijuana law. Embrace your dichotomies, I guess. Good luck.

In South Carolina, where they already have a law allowing some patients to use cannabis-derived medicines containing high amounts of CBD (Cannabidiol, a compound found in marijuana that has been shown to be very effective at treating certain forms of epilepsy), state Senator Tom Davis and Representative Jenny Horne plan to introduce a bill to allow broader use of the cannabis plant.

The American Academy of Pediatrics just released a position paper asking for marijuana to be rescheduled from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 to allow for more research. “A Schedule 1 listing means there’s no medical use or helpful indications, but we know that’s not true because there has been limited evidence showing [marijuana] may be helpful for certain conditions in adults,” said Seth Ammerman, clinical professor in pediatrics at Stanford University, member of the AAP and co-author of the position paper, in a recent interview.

And in our The-DEA-is-Still-Acting-Like-a-Bunch-of-Asshats file, we have the story of the Kettle Falls Five. Long story short: The DEA has brought marijuana cultivation and distribution charges against five people in Eastern Washington. All five people are clearly medical marijuana patients. If convicted, they face a mandatory 10 years in federal prison. The feds have a good chance in this case, mostly because the defendants are not allowed to mention their compliance with Washington’s medical marijuana laws in federal court. Jacob Sullum has a good article at about the case called “Eager to Imprison Medical Marijuana Users, Prosecutors Hide The Truth From Jurors.” Give it a read. This trial is a waste of resources and more proof that the DEA needs to step into the future and quit behaving like assholes.