One More Step Taken In National Legalization Of Recreational Marijuana

The House Judiciary Committee recently went further than anyone else has in changing federal law to legalize recreational marijuana — everywhere. The bill passed by the committee would remove marijuana from the Schedule 1 class of drugs (where it quite obviously does not belong). The bill passed in a 24-10 vote. But how far can it go beyond there? That’s the real question.

Democrats control a majority 234 seats in the House of Representatives, which means the bill could theoretically pass through there easily enough. But Republicans mostly oppose new marijuana legislation, and they control the Senate. More importantly, most Republicans are also under Mitch McConnell’s Jedi mind spell. If he says jump into a flaming abyss, they ask whether or not they should do it naked. And McConnell opposes marijuana legalization. 

The legislation isn’t particularly far-reaching in comparison to pass marijuana initiatives, but it’s still bigger and better than anything put forth before now, and the first one in the House. Basically, all it would do is provide states with the authority to draft and implement their own policies (which some states are obviously already doing, federal government be damned). 

The bill also does two very important things: First, it would eliminate criminal records for those who have been convicted of (and are possibly still incarcerated for) low-level marijuana-related criminal activities. Second, it would implement a 5 percent tax on all cannabis sales. Those monies would then be funnelled into programs that support individuals and communities that have been adversely — and disproportionately — affected by the failed War on Drugs.

This would make an enormous difference in drug arrests and convictions in the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union acknowledged that eliminating marijuana-related crimes would reduce drug-related arrests by more than half. That’s a huge difference in the welfare of people who aren’t actually doing anything wrong, even though current laws say they are. 

Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said, “The criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racial disparity in marijuana enforcement laws only compounded this mistake with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities.”

To make matters worse, the Democratic frontrunner for the 2020 presidential election is still Joe Biden (even though he’s faltering to others in the early primary states), who has gone on record as saying he doesn’t believe in lifting the prohibition on marijuana. 

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said, “I don’t think a majority of the Republicans will support this bill. It is even less likely that the Senate would take it up. Therefore, I would just suggest we deal with other bills that we can get a much larger bipartisan support from.”

Nadler replied, “I don’t think it’s a good idea…to say, ‘the Senate won’t take this bill.’ When the House passes a bill, it’s part of a continuing process. It’s not the end of a process.”

Where Do The 2020 Democratic Candidates Stand On Recreational Marijuana Legalization?

Well, the good news is this: all but two candidates running for president in 2020 support efforts to legalize marijuana at the federal level. But here’s the bad news (there’s always bad news): the two candidates who don’t support legalization are Joe Biden and Donald Trump. In other words, if either of the two people most likely to win the White House in 2020 actually get in office, they almost certainly won’t do anything. 

Literally anyone else will. Whoopty-do.

If you’re visiting our website you probably know where we stand regarding the war on drugs and the apparent facts that have determined its disastrous outcome for decades. Joe Biden has been a long-time proponent of this war, and he continues to support it now. He’s the only 2020 Democratic candidate who wants to keep marijuana illegal — but at least he wants to reclassify the drug as Schedule II. That’s hardly good enough, but it would pave the way to more scientific research.

He said in 2010: “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces and legalizing it…The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug.”

Logically, caffeine and alcohol are “gateway drugs” — because it’s nothing more than a fictional term made up to support nonsense propaganda disseminated to support the drug war decades ago.

That’s not to say Biden isn’t changing policy somewhat now that he’s realized he’s the only Democrat in the field still staunchly opposed to legalization: he wants a period of reform aimed at preventing drug use and racial profiling for drug use crimes. He also wants to end the absurd practice of constructing and funding privately owned prisons, and increase training by correctional officers in public facilities.

Not surprisingly, Bernie Sanders supports legalization (marijuana is already legal in his home state of Vermont as of 2018). Unlike almost all the other candidates, he’s supported legalization for at least two decades. He’s sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act as a senator in Congress. 

He said in 2015: “Right now, marijuana is listed by the federal government as a Schedule I drug — meaning that is is considered to be as dangerous as heroin. That is absurd.”

Elizabeth Warren is another late-comer to the legalization game. Her home state of Massachusetts legislated an adult-use bill for cannabis, a bill for which she did not lend her support. Since then, she has sponsored a number of bills aimed at cannabis reform — but that could be an obvious effort to do as much as possible as quickly as possible to make it seem like she’s always supported these efforts. It’s a facade.

She said in 2018: “No one should go to jail for a joint. But more Americans are arrested for marijuana possession than all violent crimes combined.”

What To Do If You Are Charged With Marijuana Related DUI

Driving under the influence is a serious criminal offense. Prosecutors at the attorney general’s office are more likely to push for significant penalties if they think you might be a danger to society. That’s part of the reason those penalties include community service and drug treatment programs. They want to make sure you will not make the same mistake twice. We all know how DUI works with alcohol — but what happens when you get pulled over and charged with a marijuana-related DUI?

The most basic fact is that marijuana-related DUI charges work exactly like alcohol-related DUI charges. The arresting officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of the drug when behind the wheel to make an arrest. At the station you will likely be asked to take a blood test. This test will show the authorities exactly how much THC was in your system when you were driving.

If a driver is found to be over the state’s legal limit, then the driver will be considered “impaired” in the eyes of the law — even if the marijuana did not affect the driver’s ability to perform that function. This is called a “per se” marijuana DUI. Saying you weren’t really encumbered by smoking a little weed is not a valid defense.

States also define the word “impairment” in different ways. Impairment marijuana DUIs work a little differently for that reason. The prosecutor must sometimes prove that the driver was significantly affected by the marijuana to prove impairment.

Visit our website to learn how prosecutors might make mistakes in your marijuana-related DUI case in Florida. There are a number of defense strategies an attorney might use. If the arresting officer did not follow protocol (you’d be surprised how often it happens), then you might find safety. 

Part of the reason that these DUI cases sometimes fail to be prosecuted correctly stems from the fact that field sobriety tests are less accurate in determining a person’s ability to drive than they are when alcohol is a factor. There is no breathalyzer for marijuana — not yet, anyway.

The good news is this: marijuana laws and related offenses are changing due to the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. Sometimes this gives defense attorneys a good opportunity to poke holes in current regulations. Regardless of how you think the law applies to your case, it is always a good idea to contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer can always help lay out the facts better than anyone else.

Can Marijuana Use Affect Divorce Proceedings When In Court?

Marijuana is on its way to legalization; no one can argue with that fact. Dozens of states have already legalized the drug for medical use, while others are moving directly to recreational legalization. But in states where marijuana is still an illegal drug, many spouses are asking themselves if smoking could impact an upcoming court case related to their divorce. And unfortunately the answer is yes.

An uncontested divorce lawyer named Aaron Reynolds commented on the reality of illegal drug use for married couples who are separated. “Most people don’t really think about the consequences — even a joint or two can have a direct impact on a person’s ability to find an equitable solution to divorce,” Reynolds said. “In states where the substance is illegal, the court treats it that way. A spouse can use it against you. Seeking an uncontested divorce is the best way out of this, but they aren’t available to just anyone.”

Marijuana is especially damaging for parents seeking shared custody of children. The court will be extremely hesitant to award custody to a person who is knowingly breaking the law, especially since a number of publications continue to openly assert that marijuana is a gateway drug (which is an assertion long since debunked, but that doesn’t seem to matter).

Judges will claim that marijuana use leads to impaired judgement, memory loss, and reduced reaction time, all of which might affect a person’s ability to safely care for kids. Second hand smoke is especially dangerous in the eyes of the law, and no one wants children exposed to drugs. Regardless of whether or not these claims have any merit (most of them don’t in a society where everyone and their brother still cracks open a beer in front of the kids), a spouse who doesn’t smoke will always have an edge over one who does.

Additionally, married couples hold communal property. Often, the finances included in that communal property go to the purchase of any marijuana used by one spouse, and then the other spouse can use that fact to influence the court’s decisions regarding the distribution of property. 

If a spouse smokes marijuana but knows a court date is coming up, it’s time to stop. Without proof, the court can’t render judgement in favor of one person over another. In most cases an immediate court-ordered drug test will be rendered when a party accuses the other of using marijuana. These tests are accurate for a period of about 90 days.

California Restaurant To Marijuana-Laced Cuisine On Menu

It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for: while we might not be able to smoke in public, there’s nothing stopping anyone from consuming food laced with the calming substance. What better place to start the new trend than West Hollywood in Los Angeles? The Lowell Cafe will provide customers with a number of prepackaged food-related options to try the drug on their premises, and it’s completely legal based on state laws.

Only customers aged 21 or over will be allowed to peruse the “flower menu,” of course. Unfortunately, state laws do prevent the establishment’s owners from actually offering any marijuana-laced cuisine that isn’t prepackaged. Isn’t that a shame?

According to the Lowell Cafe’s website, they want their restaurant to be a “welcoming space for those who are cannabis connoisseurs and those who are canna-curious.” Lowell Cafe’s flower menu will be based on what the owners are able to keep in stock from the marijuana-growing local farms in the Los Angeles area. 

The website also says, “There hasn’t been anything like this in existence for over 100 years, dating back to pre-prohibition era cannabis tea pads. We’re excited to set the standard on what a cannabis cafe is and create this experience for the community.”

The idea is based on combining a person’s love of marijuana with their love of local cuisine, which is why the restaurant owners and chefs decided to build the menu only from regional family-friendly farms. 

You can expect the Lowell Cafe to open sometime next month, although the exact date has not been provided yet. The restaurant owners promised to take reservations at least two weeks in advance.

It looks like not everyone is happy about the idea, though.

Synagogue Rabbi Denise Eger of the Kol Ami Congregations said, “The business is to have outdoor space for smoking pot — and I don’t know why my congregation members and participants have to walk through clouds of marijuana to get to synagogue.”

That’s quite an assumption to make, but the city agrees that the cafe’s license should be monitored — and it will be for exactly one year, at which time it will be evaluated. If the cafe has a positive influence on the community as a whole, then it will be renewed. If not, then who can say?

Co-owner Sean Black said, “We want to set a high bar. We better do it right and not mess it up for everybody else. We all feel that pressure.”

What Kind Of Conditions Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

Maybe it was fate that medical marijuana would precede recreational marijuana; after all, medical marijuana has a purpose with which few can argue. The medicinal properties of the plant can work wonders for people when no other drug will alleviate the symptoms. Even though that’s the case, there are some states that haven’t legalized medical marijuana yet — angering proponents and victims of these diseases both. So what kind of symptoms and diseases can we use marijuana to treat?

Basically if you’ve got it, marijuana can help (if you believe the advocates). Here are some of the symptoms it can alleviate:

  • Cancer.
  • Loss of appetite. 
  • Alzheimer’s.
  • Epilepsy. 
  • Glaucoma.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Spasms. 
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Nausea.

The list goes on and on. It can even be used to treat a few mental health conditions (such as PTSD or schizophrenia). According to opponents of legalization, there’s no proof that marijuana helps remove any of these symptoms or that it can be used to treat any of these diseases. In other words, while certain compounds within marijuana can be activated to reduce stress or pain, the drug can’t be used as a cure. Not really the best argument, since most American medicine is based on relieving symptoms anyway.

Although government regulations have resulted in limited research being done on the drug, much of the research that does exist suggests it can help reduce anxiety, nausea, vomiting, inflammation, relax muscles, or increase appetite. These properties make it ideal for treating chemotherapy, cancer (the cells of which it might even kill or slow down) and AIDS.

One of the examples proponents of marijuana most often use when attempting to overcome legalization laws is that the drug can help eliminate seizures in small children prone to epilepsy. A new drug made from CBD oil was recently approved by the FDA to help people with these and similar diseases, but it’s still not legal everywhere in the United States.

Currently medical marijuana is legal in 33 states with legislation pending in many more that would both legalize medical and recreational marijuana in one fell swoop. The wave is coming, and it seems opponents of legalization can do very little to stop it.

Medical marijuana is prescribed orally, through inhalation, or as a skin lotion or spray. Potential side effects include low blood pressure, depression, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness.

Illinois Legalized Recreational Marijuana, But That Isn’t Stopping The Arrests

Lawmakers from the state of Illinois voted to approve recreational marijuana earlier this month, but the moment failed to arrive without the expected obnoxious resistance from opposing lawmakers. One even cooked up some eggs in a frying pan to “scientifically” represent how the brain appears when introduced to oh-so-dangerous drugs like marijuana. When the Illinois House of Representatives voted 66-47 contrary to that belief, he probably went home and knocked a few stiff ones back.

The Illinois Senate approved the measure and Governor J.B. Pritzker acknowledged his intent to sign the bill into law, which will pave the way for the legalized possession and sale of recreational marijuana on the first day of January next year. Although ten other states have so far approved similar measures to legalize the drug, Illinois is the first to approve the commercial sale of marijuana through legislative efforts alone.

The law won’t come soon enough to help Thomas J. Franzen, 37, of Chicago, though. He was recently sentenced to a whopping four years in prison after postal workers obtained a warrant to search suspicious packages arriving on his doorstep. Subsequent investigative efforts discovered he ordered 42 pounds of chocolate edibles from the great state of California, where apparently you can do anything.

The Kane County State Attorney’s office provided a statement acknowledging that Franzen had been accused of intending to sell or distribute the marijuana-laced chocolate goodies.

Will the new legislation affect this ruling, possibly overturning it sometime in the future? Probably not.

In addition to the 42 pounds of chocolate heaven, authorities found other “evidence of drug dealing” including over $2,000 in bills, postal receipts for packages he’d sent out both in the United States and abroad, and a digital scale. Oh, and cocaine. If that state decides to overturn prior marijuana-related convictions, it’s the cocaine that’ll end up keeping Franzen in prison.

Ouch. That’s got to sting.

Franzen’s attorney had previously failed to argue that he needed the 42 pounds of marijuana (and a smattering of cocaine dressing) for treatment of testicular cancer. The Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon actually took it easy on Franzen, who could have been sentenced to what would have been a mandatory 12-year minimum in accordance with the sentencing standards bound to the aforementioned crimes.

“In recognition of the seriousness of Mr. Franzen’s medical condition,” (and probably because they maybe thought Franzen had been running through an intense Breaking Bad marathon at the time), “our office reduced a 12-year mandatory minimum sentence to four years, of which he is required to serve only two years.”

Prosecutors also dropped more serious trafficking charges. All said, Franzen got off a lot easier than most would have.

Can I Travel With Medical Marijuana?

Medical Marijuana is prescribed to patients who are suffering from chronic pain, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, and other medical conditions.  Even if you have a Medical Marijuana card that was issued by your state, it is highly advised that you do not travel with any amount of Medical Marijuana in your possession.

Currently, 29 out of the 50 states have some sort of legalized form of Marijuana but that means that 21 states do not. If you have a Medical Marijuana card it is only valid for that state. It is not valid for any other state. Regardless, Marijuana is still technically illegal under Federal United States Law even if it has been legalized in your state. Interstate travel is considered a federal jurisdiction so if you drive to another state while in possession of Medical Marijuana and get pulled over for an unrelated charge – you could be arrested for Marijuana possession, even if you have your card and show it to the officer.

If you live in a state where Medical Marijuana is legal, you cannot get on an airplane with it even if you are travelling between airports within your own state (for example from Los Angeles to San Diego). The airports are regulated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which is an arm of the federal government. If you are caught by the TSA with any form of Marijuana, even if you have your Medical Marijuana card, you will be arrested for possession of Marijuana.

Our advice is that if you plan on traveling, do not bring Medical Marijuana with you. If you need Medical Marijuana to live, then perhaps traveling isn’t the best option for you to begin with. Hawaii just announced that it will be honoring other state’s Medical Marijuana cards at their dispensaries. So if you must travel – go to Hawaii.

Is Marijuana Use On The Rise In The United States?

Legalization of medical and recreational marijuana has led to a surge of users–especially senior citizens. About 12 percent of Americans aged 50 to 59 report toking up, while about 8 percent of Americans aged 60 and up report the same. Both demographics have seen substantial growth in usage over the last decade, but the 60+ demographic has taken a wild upswing in the past few years, while the 50 to 59 demographic seems to be leveling off. But why?

It’s hard to say for sure before more research is done, but part of the reason seems to be the shift in social attitude between the era during which the drug war began and the era during which acceptance has become more common.

Simply put, fewer people feel compelled to lie when taking a survey. Even while anonymous, researchers long ago concluded that survey and poll takers aren’t always 100 percent truthful when answering questions about taboo or controversial topics (sort of along the same lines as why the number of homosexual or “mostly” heterosexual people is on the rise).

We’re becoming a society in which fewer people are frowned upon for reasons that never made much sense to begin with.

Back in the 80s, the statistics were quite a bit different. Today, senior citizens are about twenty times as likely to use marijuana for medicine or recreation.

Because medical marijuana is a big part of the equation, it should be noted that more senior citizens are allowed to legally benefit from those medicinal qualities as more and more states all doctors to legally prescribe the drug. That’s part of the reason for the uptick.

Surprisingly, legality hasn’t really stopped anyone else. The rate of marijuana use for Americans aged 18 to 29 has basically remained stagnant since 1984, hovering at around 29 percent. That means changing laws are allowing states to reap the taxation rewards of recreational marijuana without having even the remotest impact on young social attitudes toward pot. The attitudes of older citizens in general, meanwhile, are shifting towards legalization. When everyone else is enjoying the drug, why not?

Social attitudes are in part driven by what our parents did or didn’t do. Teenagers rebel simply because they can. Because rebellion is the biological constant, no one really knows if marijuana use will continue to rise, taper off over the next few years, or decline in a decade or two.

Does Marijuana Affect Cognition In Adolescents?

There is a constant influx of information about marijuana recently, especially as the elder law governing its use are being loosened around the country. Most of these studies seek to determine marijuana’s effect on younger minds.

Cognition is a word we use all the time, but how many of us could accurately define it? Cognition is the collection of all the processes we use to procure knowledge in conjunction with how we understand by thinking or experiencing various stimuli. Because we have cognition, we can perceive or sense, and even use intuition to acquire knowledge. When experts say that marijuana reduces mental cognition, it means that our ability to think, understand, or learn isn’t what it should be.

So does marijuana actually reduce cognition?

If you ask users, then sure it does. Although marijuana affects people differently (and specific pot strains make a big difference!), many users indicate increased cognition due to use. Their capacity for creativity is greatly increased, and suddenly everything just makes sense. All of life’s mysteries are finally answered. If only.

The science is much less certain. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, adolescents who take marijuana routinely but then stop will notice their capacity for learning and memory heightened. The scientific body of evidence that marijuana hinders growth in the mind of the adolescent is nigh incontrovertible. The study used 88 smokers to conduct its research. Some of the users smoked as often as every day or as little as once a week.

This is especially concerning because, according to the National Institutes of Health, almost fifteen percent of students in middle school and high school use marijuana at least once a month.

The number of children who believe marijuana is a health risk has declined in the last two decades, and it probably doesn’t help that legalization has opened the floodgates of misinformation. THC in general is known to primarily affect brain functions that develop during the teenage years. This development commonly continues until the early twenties.

There’s nothing wrong with recreational or medical marijuana–but it is important to have all the information about the drug before one makes the decision whether or not to partake, and children seem especially vulnerable to both the drug’s effects and the social forces which help govern its use.