This Weed in News, April 21: Grass is Becoming Greener for Legalization During 420 Week

Cannabis news dominating the headlines over the past seven days indicates the reform movement made significant progress during 420 week, covering April 14-21, 2018.

A New York Senator files legislation to end federal cannabis prohibition; a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel supports CBD as a treatment for epilepsy, and one potential presidential candidate for 2020 supports another’s bill to legalize marijuana.

While Jamaican officials contemplate banking for their medical marijuana industry, Mexico’s tourism minister called for legalization – in other words, it was another busy week in the trenches of the marijuana reform movement.

End of US Marijuana Prohibition?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York introduced legislation on Friday, coincidentally 420, that would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. Schumer told Vice News on Thursday, April 19, 2018, that “the legislation is long overdue,” and noted “I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail. Possibly tapping into the political zeitgeist in which support for continued prohibition is ebbing, Sen. Schumer has historically been one of the more vocal supporters of the war on drugs.

Schumer’s proposed legislation would not only remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, it also would create funding for minority- and female-owned businesses. When asked by Vice News about legalization in New York State, Schumer noted, “my personal view is, legalization is just fine.”

The FDA and CBD

Epidiolex, a Cannabidiol-based pharmaceutical received the unanimous approval from an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday, April 19, 2018. Made by GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex has successfully completed the necessary testing required to be considered for FDA approval. While the CBD-based drug was originally created to treat intractable epilepsy in children, physicians are now considering Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for a host of debilitating diseases ,including autism, anxiety, and autoimmune disorders.

The FDA’s advisory committee noted, “Overall, CBD provides a positive benefit risk for patients with drug-resistant LGS [Lennox-Gastaut syndrome] or DS [Dravet syndrome] and can satisfy unmet need by providing an additional treatment option to reduce the number of seizures in LGS and the first indicated treatment option for Dravet syndrome.”

Sanders Joins US Senate Push for Legalization

Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has long been a proponent of cannabis legalization. He was feeling the burn to reform America’s cannabis laws when he was running to be the Democratic presidential nominee in  2016. On Thursday, he did it again. This time, Sanders is supporting legislation introduced by New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker. Better known as the Marijuana Justice Act, S. 1689 now has three co-sponsors: Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sanders.

Sanders’ support of Sen. Booker’s bill would rescind existing federal marijuana statutes and allow individual states to decide their own marijuana policy. Sanders and Booker appeared on Facebook Live together on Thursday, April 19, 2018, to discuss the disproportionate harm communities of color experience by the federal prohibition of cannabis.

Under Booker’s proposed legislation, the federal government would offer states incentives to change their marijuana laws. Those states with marijuana laws shown to disproportionately affect communities of color would see their federal expenditures reduced, making them ineligible to receive federal funds for the construction or staffing of their prisons or jails.

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