This Weed in News, April 27: Marijuana Support Rises, Sessions’ Stance Softens, and Midwest States Steps Toward Medical Access

The cannabis reform movement created some absorbing headlines for the week of April 21 – 28, 2018. As a new poll shows, cannabis legalization is supported by a majority of Americans, Jeff Sessions admitted there may be some medicinal benefits to medical marijuana. Meanwhile, in the Midwest, the governor of Kansas signed hemp legislation into law, and Missouri’s House of Representatives passed legislation that could legalize medical cannabis in the Show Me State.

After another progressive week in the marijuana news cycle, it’s time to cultivate a greater understanding of the headlines influencing the American perspective on legalization.

Americans Support Marijuana

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, April 26, 2018, indicated 93 percent of surveyed Americans support legalizing medicinal cannabis, and 63 percent support legalizing recreational marijuana.

Asked if they “support or oppose” the legal use medical marijuana when recommended by a physician, roughly 9 in 10 said they support it. For the poll, respondents were broken down by political affiliation, age, and gender.

The poll found that medical marijuana is supported across party lines, with 86 percent of Republicans voicing support. As for full legalization, the poll found support has increased by 12 percentage points since Dec. 5, 2012. The poll also revealed a majority of American voters have come to the understanding that marijuana is not a “gateway drug.”

Jeff Sessions Finally Admits What Many of Us  Know

In his testimony before the US Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made two noteworthy revelations. After first admitting “there may well be some benefits from medical marijuana,” Sessions noted that it is “perfectly appropriate to study” the plant’s compounds.

Sessions, whose epiphany was short-lived but welcome,  proceeded to explain to the senators how cultivating cannabis research in the US could violate international drug policy. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz asked Sessions whether more suppliers of federally approved research-grade marijuana would be granted licenses.

“We are moving forward and we will add fairly soon, I believe, the paperwork and reviews will be completed and we will add additional suppliers of marijuana under the controlled circumstances,” said Sessions.

Kansas Hemp Legislation Signed into Law

Kansas’ Alternative Crop Research Act, or HB 2209, was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on Monday. Signed into law by Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer on Tuesday,  April 24, 2018, the bill amends the definition of cannabis within the state controlled substance law to exclude industrial hemp.

Under the hemp law, “the [Department of Agriculture], alone or in coordination with a state educational institution, may cultivate industrial hemp grown from certified seed and promote the research and development of industrial hemp. Under the new Alternative Crop Research Act, hemp research may be conducted at the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Wichita State University, Emporia State University, Pittsburg State University and Fort Hays State University.”

Missouri House Passes MMJ Bill

Missouri HB 1554, a bipartisan bill making its way through the General Assembly, would allow the state’s citizens with serious medical conditions to use smokeless forms of cannabis.

The legislation was passed by a voice vote on Monday, April 23, 2018, in the House of Representatives. Referred to House lawmakers on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, for a fiscal review, the bill would allow qualified patients with long-term, terminal illnesses to legally use cannabis. Representing hard-fought progress for legislators in the Show Me State, the proposed bill represents hard-fought access to medical marijuana for patients with terminal conditions. After an extended debate on the House floor, lawmakers accepted amendments to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and other non-terminal conditions to the list.

If passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, the law would apply to patients ages 18 and older.

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