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Marijuana News Roundup: The Most Pot-Friendly US Representatives and Senators

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) last week released its 2016 Congressional Scorecard, ranking every U.S. Representative and Senator with a letter grade from ‘A’ to ‘F’ based on their comments and voting records on matters specific to marijuana policy. More than half of Congress (330 Representatives and 60 Senators) were given a grade of ‘C’ or better.

That’s the good news for marijuana legalization advocates. The less-good news is that just 20 Representatives and 2 Senators received grades of ‘A’ compared with 16 Representatives and 16 Senators who received grades of ‘F.’

Of 233 Democrats in the Congress, 215 received grades of ‘C’ or higher while just 113 of 302 Republicans attained the same score.

In NORML’s view, the scorecard underscores the fact that Congress is way behind the electorate when it comes to legalizing marijuana:

This analysis affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are well ahead of many of their federally elected officials. While the majority of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only four percent of Congressional members voice support for this position. Approximately half (51%) of federal lawmakers favor liberalizing medical cannabis policies. However, this percentage remains far below the level of support frequently expressed by voters in state and national polls.

In the U.S. Senate, only Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) received ‘A’ grades. Here’s the list of the 20 House members who were given ‘A’ grades:

  • Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)
  • Jared Huffman (D-CA)
  • Barbara Lee (D-CA)
  • Ted Lieu (D-CA)
  • Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
  • Dana Rohrabacher (D-CA)
  • Mike Honda (D-CA)
  • Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
  • Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
  • Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
  • Jared Polis (D-CO)
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
  • Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
  • Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
  • Mike Capuano (D-MA)
  • Jerry Nadler (D-NY)
  • Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
  • Steve Cohen (D-TN)
  • Don Beyer (D-VA)
  • Mark Pocan (D-WI)

For the full rankings and methodology visit the NORML website.

Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?
When a bipartisan group of the state’s top elected officials stood before a bank of cameras this summer and declared their opposition to legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts, they kept returning to a familiar argument: The drug too often leads to the opioid abuse destroying so many families.

“If you know anyone in the recovery community, talk to them,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh, a recovering alcoholic and longtime advocate for those struggling with addiction. “You’ll hear that most of them, many of them, started with marijuana.” Governor Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo echoed fears of marijuana as a “gateway” drug.

But six weeks before voters decide on a referendum legalizing recreational use of marijuana, a review of the scientific literature and interviews with experts shows that, while there is some evidence for the gateway theory, it is not as solid as the state’s political leadership would suggest.

Read more at the Boston Globe.

Facebook’s Relationship to Marijuana? It’s Complicated.

Facebook can’t decide where it stands on cannabis.

On the one hand, it says it doesn’t want to promote drug use and bans what it believes is content that approves of marijuana use, like pictures of people smoking pot. On the other hand, it sometimes allow cannabis-related companies to promote their businesses. Then Facebook reverses course and censors journalism about cannabis.

The logic that a story about legalization of marijuana or scientific studies on cannabis-related medicine is promoting cannabis is completely ridiculous. A story about war doesn’t promote war nor does a story about wine entice readers to go get drunk. Facebook didn’t respond to a request for clarification on its policy towards marijuana.

Read more at Forbes.

Marijuana Arrests Fall to Lowest Level Since 1996
Arrests for simple marijuana possession in the United States fell to nearly a two-decade low last year, according to new statistics released Monday by the FBI.

The number of arrests for marijuana possession in 2015 — 574,641 — is the lowest number since 1996. It represents a 7 percent year-over-year drop, and roughly a 25 percent drop from the peak of close to 800,000 marijuana possession arrests in 2007.

The FBI data suggest that, in aggregate, law enforcement officers are devoting less time to marijuana enforcement relative to other drugs. In 2010, for instance, marijuana sales and possession together accounted for 52 percent of all drug arrests. By 2015, that number had fallen to 43 percent. By contrast, the numbers show police have been making more arrests for cocaine and heroin, and for other non-narcotic drugs.

Still, the marijuana possession arrest rate works out to more than one arrest every minute.

Read more at The Washington Post.

Medical Cannabis 2016: New Benefits of Medical Marijuana
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the U.S. resulting in at least 584,881 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recent animal studies show that marijuana extracts can help kill certain cancer cells and even reduce the size of some of them. But, marijuana is still illegal in several states. The number of people who’ve died due to an overdose of marijuana? None.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes medical marijuana as “using the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat a disease or symptom.” The Food and Drug Administration has, however, neither approved nor recognized the drug as medicine. So far, 25 states have approved the usage of medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana is available in a variety of forms. It can be smoked, vaporized, consumed as a pill or can be added to brownies, cookies and chocolate bars. Here are some of the benefits of using the drug as medicine.

Read more at Medical Daily.

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