When the fed comes around

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

What is the federal government’s current position on cannabis?

Who knows? Just last week, President Trump was asked about federal legalization efforts, and this is what he said: “We’re going to see what’s going on. It’s a very big subject, and right now we are allowing states to make that decision.”

Meh. This is a non-answer. Of course, states are making the decision to legalize cannabis. Cannabis legalization means jobs and tax revenue and keeping people out of jail. The question is: When are the feds gonna come around? Because at just about the same time Trump was giving his non-answer, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams released an advisory on cannabis use, stating that, “Marijuana’s increasingly widespread availability in multiple and highly potent forms, coupled with a false and dangerous perception of safety among youth, merits a nationwide call to action.” Adams went on to repeat the same old (I’m paraphrasing) “Cannabis is way stronger now than it used to be and potheads all end up addicted to opiates” claptrap that has been around since the 1950s.

Listen: There is nothing wrong with strong (high THC) cannabis. Stronger weed just means you smoke less. Less smoke in your lungs is probably better for you. Also, the “weed is a gateway to stronger drugs” theory has been debunked an umpteen number of times. Recent federal studies show that teen cannabis use decreases in states with legal weed. So do opiate overdoses. By any objective measure, cannabis prohibition—and the entire “war on drugs”—is a failure. It is way past time for the federal government to get it together and do the right thing.

There may be a little bit of good news though: Also last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that it would finally begin to process requests from science labs that would allow them to grow their own cannabis for research purposes. Of course, the DEA isn’t doing this because it believes in objective research. Instead, it has been compelled by a court order to stop messing around with folks’ proposals. We will see how long it takes to process these applications. I am not optimistic. The feds move slowly, especially when they don’t want to do something. It will most likely be at least a year or two before any lab gets any sort of approval. Who knows, the DEA might just process the applications and deny every single one of them. We shall see.

So as it stands now, the current administration isn’t doing anything new for cannabis. Surprise. Fortunately, just about every Democrat running for president understands that cannabis legalization needs to happen sooner rather than later. It is not too early to get involved. Vote.