[author: Susan Ryan]
Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.
Could DC be allowed to open a legal cannabis market? The feds look at marijuana research. We have an update on South Dakota and Mississippi. And finally, the DEA had some visitors recently.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
DC’s legal cannabis journey has truly been a long and winding road. The District legalized marijuana back in 2014. At that time, only Colorado and Washington had legalized; Alaska and Oregon joined the group the same year. But even though cannabis was legal to possess and consume, it was not legal to buy or sell. For a full discussion of why that is, see this post. Spoiler alert: Congress still partially rules the District, and there’s been a section in every DC Appropriations bill since legalization that prohibits the District from spending money to set up a legal market. But maybe, just maybe, things might change this year. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill that does not include this budget rider. Of course, we’re a long way from legal sales, but you have to start somewhere.
There are lots of opinions on the value of cannabis, from those who think it’s a cure-all to those who think it’s the devil’s lettuce. What might help to clear the air is research. Like all things involving marijuana and the federal government, however, spending money and time on research is not straightforward. The Veterans Administration continues to oppose research into medical marijuana’s possible use in treating PTSD and chronic pain. The Drug Enforcement Administration, on the other hand, is about to increase production of cannabis for research by 60 percent.
AFTER THE VOTE
Regular readers will doubtless recall that South Dakota and Mississippi both had legalization measures on their 2020 ballots (South Dakota both medical and adult-use; Mississippi medical only). Those measures passed by significant margins, and that’s when things got interesting. To get up to speed, see our most recent South Dakota post here; and our most recent Mississippi post here. So what’s the latest?
Lawmakers in South Dakota introduced a bill to legalize cannabis for all purposes for those 21 and older, while keeping medical marijuana in place for those under 21. The chance that the governor will sign such a bill is zero, so unless the legislature can override a veto, it seems unlikely this will go anywhere.
As for Mississippi, supporters of medical marijuana demanded that a promised special legislative session take place. There appears to be some agreement on what a medical marijuana bill should include, so chances seem better in Jackson than they do in Pierre.
Even with the increase in research, not everyone thinks the DEA has the right attitude towards controlled substances. And some of them are willing to dress up in gorilla costumes to get their point across.
Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!