Time to Legalize Marijuana at the Federal Level
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Time to Legalize Marijuana at the Federal Level
Posted by CN Staff on November 20, 2018 at 09:47:22 PT
By Joe Kennedy III 
Source: Stat News 
Massachusetts -- The first recreational marijuana shops in the commonwealth of Massachusetts are opening their doors Tuesday, two years after Massachusetts resoundingly voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. It’s a familiar trend across the country, where popular support for marijuana has surged. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana in some form — three on Election Day just this month.I’ve remained skeptical.
My reluctance to embrace legalization stems primarily from one place: my ongoing work with the mental health and addiction communities. I’ve seen the devastating effects of drugs that are used and abused. I’ve met family after family torn apart by addiction. And I’ve heard — repeatedly — from mental health advocates on the frontlines who have grave concerns about what access to marijuana might do for those prone to abuse. They worry about research showing marijuana can be addictive, particularly for adolescents.At the same time, I’ve heard from others who see marijuana quite differently. The parent whose epileptic child needs marijuana to calm her seizures. The veteran whose trauma it eases. The black teen arrested for smoking a joint while his white friends did the same with impunity.Over the past year, I’ve worked to rectify these perspectives. I’ve read, I’ve researched, I’ve had countless conversations with people on both sides. One thing is clear to me: Our federal policy on marijuana is badly broken, benefiting neither the elderly man suffering from cancer whom marijuana may help nor the young woman prone to substance use disorder whom it may harm. The patchwork of inconsistent state laws compounds the dysfunction. Our federal government has ceded its responsibility — and authority — to thoughtfully regulate marijuana.This needs to change. Given the rapid pace of state-level legalization and liberalization, I believe we must implement strong, clear, and fair federal guidelines. To do that requires us to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and legalize it at the federal level.Since 1970, marijuana has been included in the CSA as a Schedule I drug — those that have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse — along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.Given the FDA’s recent approval of prescriptions derived from marijuana, other countries’ recognition of its legitimate medicinal uses, and lower rates of addiction than alcohol or nicotine, this classification is hard to justify. And the failures of the resulting federal prohibition are stark.We see it in our criminal justice system, where skin color dictates how likely you are to be arrested and charged for marijuana possession — despite equal use by people of all races — which devastates families and communities of color.We see it in our system of health care, where our country lags woefully behind in research needed to ensure that the use of marijuana — whether medical or recreational — meets the highest health and safety standards as outlined by the FDA. The Schedule I classification of marijuana makes clinical research difficult, if not impossible, to pursue on American soil. At least 15 American companies have fully moved their clinical trials to Israel, where research on marijuana is better supported.And we see it in states like my home state of Massachusetts, where pervasive conflicts between federal and state laws disadvantage all stakeholders involved. Banks fear a crackdown on transactions with marijuana suppliers and dispensaries because they are still illegal under federal law, leaving the state-law-abiding businesses no choice but to operate with cash-only transactions. Career placement agencies in Springfield that benefit from federal dollars can’t point job seekers down the block to the marijuana dispensary that’s hiring. Affordable housing developers in Foxboro can’t lease to marijuana retailers without fear of losing funding.As long as marijuana remains regulated by the CSA, the federal government is barred from rectifying these failures or acting with any oversight authority as states move ahead with reform at record pace. So a broken, patchwork system flourishes in our country today with no federal guardrails — like the ones we have for alcohol and tobacco — to protect public health and safety and ensure equal justice.Legalization would restore the federal government’s ability to regulate a powerful new industry thoroughly and thoughtfully. It would allow us to set packaging and advertising rules, so marketing can’t target kids. It would help set labeling requirements and quality standards, so consumers know exactly what they’re buying. It would ensure that we can dedicate funding to encourage safe use and spread awareness about the risks of impaired driving. And it would create tax revenue for research on mental health effects, safe prescription drugs, and a reliable roadside test.My concerns about the public health impact of marijuana remain. But it has become clear that prohibition has wholly failed to address them. I believe legalization is our best chance to actually dedicate resources toward consumer safety, abuse prevention, and treatment for those who need it. It is our best chance to ensure that addiction is treated as a public health issue — not a criminal justice one.Legalization is not a cure-all. Risks remain and regulatory vigilance is required. Criminal justice inequities will persist until adequate state-level reforms are sought nationwide. But legalization would guide states choosing to move forward with strong and clear national standards meant to ensure that all Americans are protected fully and equally.Joe Kennedy III has served as the U.S. representative for Massachusetts’s 4th Congressional District since 2013.Source: Stat News (USA)Author: Joe Kennedy IIIPublished: November 20, 2018Copyright 2018 STATWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on November 24, 2018 at 13:19:00 PT
John Tyler
I got chills listening to a Long Time Coming. The very last concert of the tour that CSNY did together they played this. Mesmerizing.
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Comment #17 posted by John Tyler on November 24, 2018 at 10:58:41 PT
Long time coming
Groove on this.“We got to speak out against the madness.”Where are the new musicians of this caliber today? Anybody, let me know.Hope, I am a Cancer, born in June. Remember astrology? What’s your sign?
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on November 23, 2018 at 10:10:28 PT
Sam. Comment 14 Lol! John. Comment 15.
Sam Adams. "Hard for me to be judgemental - if beautiful, intelligent, friendly women were throwing themselves at me all the time I'd probably become a womanizer too! I doubt I could hold out very long......"You're funny. I can understand what you're saying though. Marilyn Monroe. Don't have to say much more than that. Can I forgive them for imperfections? Yes, I can. I have a few myself.John Tyler. Oh, how I have appreciated yours and the venerable Sam Adams comments over the years! And this one you've just posted... as usual, right on. I, too, celebrated my seventieth birthday just this last summer. I remember well the days of "Don't trust anyone over thirty." Lol! It has, indeed, been a long time coming. But it's good. So good. I'm very grateful it's happening and I'm very grateful to be here and I'm very grateful that so many of us made it this far. Some didn't. In remembrance of our own Dank Hank. Three words. He was fierce. He worked hard for the cause of justice and freedom. I hope he somehow knows, in that light that he surely is a part of, somewhere, the good that's going on in Oklahoma. He certainly helped with that.
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Comment #15 posted by John Tyler on November 22, 2018 at 08:13:25 PT
Keep on keeping on
I’m thankful for the progress we have made so far. (It took way longer than I though.) I would be even more thankful if the movement toward re-legalization would move south faster. I’m 70 now. I probably don’t have a whole lot of time left on the physical plain (maybe a decade or two). But, we have to keep our “eyes on the prize” of re-legalization and keep voting for political leaders that will make it happen and ensure that the rules and regs are “fair and square” for everyone and not for some crooked monopoly for the wealthy and well connected who had nothing to do with it. People sacrificed a lot for this beloved plant and it would be shameful if it was “stolen” from them. Keep on keeping on. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
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Comment #14 posted by Sam Adams on November 22, 2018 at 07:52:50 PT
I used to think JFK and RFK were just more politicians telling lies, etc. but I don't think so any more. The recent PBS special on JFK told a story of how they basically took on the military establishment and mafia head-on, and sacrificed everything for it. The military wanted to start a nuclear war against Russia just after JFK took office & he stopped it. He was killed shortly after deciding to end involvement in Viet Nam. I think JFK launched the Moon program to have the military contractors make money by building spaceships instead of competing with the Russia in bloody wars.  We spent a massive amount of money on the Apollo program in the 60's. I read an op-ed piece recently saying the US has been a military dictatorship since the Kennedy's were killed and I tend to agree. I think MLK and RFK were killed to make sure Nixon got in and kept the war going. Hard for me to be judgemental - if beautiful, intelligent, friendly women were throwing themselves at me all the time I'd probably become a womanizer too! I doubt I could hold out very long......
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on November 21, 2018 at 10:02:17 PT
It's hard to ever trust a long time prohib.
He wants to be in the forefront of making as many oppressive rules as he possibly can... while appearing to have had an epiphany. He wants the money and he wants to make the rules.Sorry, FoM. I know you have a bit of love for the entire Kennedy clan. I have a bit of love for JFK and Bobby. I was just a kid but they seemed like stars to me. Stars of something. And I still admire Robert. Very much. The rest... not so much. Even JFK, who I found admirable in so many other ways, was a womanizer. (Nice word for 'Screw around".) Womanizing isn't cute. I'm not fond of womanizers. It hurts people. It's a thing I don't like about Trump. Can't trust a womanizer is my motto! Oh well.  I don't hold the sins of the old man, the old Joseph, against them all. Not at all. But I'm looking right at this dude and old Patrick. I'm not going to judge their deeds on the basis of an ancestor's or relative's behavior and choices. I'm looking at their actions.Except that he's made a few true statements on our behalf now, I'm still seeing somewhat of a pawn for the fearful prohibs. He says he's seeing the light now. I hope so. The prohibitionist's fear is based on sheer ignorance and lack of true understanding. Oh and hatred based on decades of lies. Oh my gosh! It's weed! Run for your lives! It'll get you! It's so bad! It's so dangerous! You're not smart enough to deal with it! Good grief.On the other hand... his way of speaking probably calms the prohibs fears a little. He is speaking their language... with a new idea (for them). They probably understand and feel reassured by most of what he is saying. They need stroking and his words may accomplish that for them. Maybe he can soothe them a bit. His promises of all that vigorous and thorough regulating and strictness have to be reassuring to them. These people, prohibitionists, are so afraid, they are dangerous. We've always known that. Freedom, at least for the rest of us, scares the you know what out of them. This restoring of a bit of freedom for the common man (not like them) is extremely frightening to them. I think holding the chains and shackles behind his back kind of... like sneaking up on a horse holding the bridle behind his back... (We see it! And hear it rattling.) Kevin? Patrick? Are you back there? I think they know their jig is up... but they still want to hammer us as much as they can.I'm thankful for what he's said. It does indicate he's got a little sense. A little. It took a long time for him to see through whatever it was that blinded him. Experts? Now if he follows through on his words with some action, and dismantles some of the federal behemoth that's been riding everybody's back for decades now... I'd be even more appreciative. I am not trusting him though. By any means. Though I like what he's saying... mostly. I'm not going for a ride in the country with him just yet though... awake or asleep. I am watching him. though. Thoroughly and thoughtfully.
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Comment #12 posted by Sam Adams on November 21, 2018 at 09:35:12 PT
Giving thanks and respect
wow, this one video makes it all worthwhile for me!  'nuff respect to all the freedom fighters today and let's take a minute to remember those who didn't make it this far. Thanks to FOM for running this website and keeping the faith for 20 years!>>>Roger Crocker, 68, of West Haven becomes emotional as he talks about buying legal recreational marijuana from New England Treatment Access in Northampton, Mass., where he was customer No. 5 on the first day of adult-use sales.
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Comment #11 posted by John Tyler on November 21, 2018 at 08:50:05 PT
Congrats Massachusetts
Schedule I was a gift that kept on giving from the disgraced President Nixon. He purposely included cannabis and LSD as a tool to oppress the hippies (that evaporated years ago, well maybe not all of us), any minority he didn’t like, and other political dissidents. It was a huge mess that led to incredible social injustice, and mass incarcerations of minorities. Now we are seeing kind of former prohibition politicians climbing on board the cannabis legalization train before it leaves without them. My, my, what a difference a few decades of common sense along with continuous political agitation and money makes.
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Comment #10 posted by soup herb on November 21, 2018 at 03:33:05 PT:
The Feds?
Good luck. The feds are owned by the very corporations that would lose profits due to Cannabis Legalization.By the way, everything legal is not a cure all as well...Just another article of B.S.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on November 20, 2018 at 21:56:22 PT
Representative Kennedy's perspectives.
"Legalization would restore the federal government’s ability to regulate a powerful new industry thoroughly and thoughtfully." Ability to regulate a powerful new industry thoroughly and thoughtfully? Prohibitionist style regulation? Alarms are going off with some of his statements. Oh boy. I'm sure "Thoroughly" wouldn't include much of a chance of personal gardening. Those "Federal guardrails" he mentions have a kind of big brother sound to them. Federal guardrails? "Regulatory vigilance is required"? By the federal government?Why can't the federal government just back off a bit? Quite a bit. Imagine that. Why can't they shrink up a little? Why do they have to keep so many people employed by the federal government? Especially the enforcement arm of that government. It could pull back some and still be huge.That's right. Shrink the federal government a little bit? What would be wrong with that?Still, this is amazing... and it's better than the status quo as we have it. 
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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on November 20, 2018 at 16:09:26 PT
Time to RE-legalize cannabis at Fed level?
It's past time.Do it yesterday.Since You didn't, EXCUSE US WHILE WE QUIT WAITING.We don't need help from cannabis prohibitionist. We are circumnavigating their ignorance and batting nearly a 1000 while doing it.
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Comment #7 posted by Sam Adams on November 20, 2018 at 15:42:52 PT
look what he's up to - challenging Nancy Pelosi - this is leadership:
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on November 20, 2018 at 15:41:23 PT
one more thought
isn't it nice how the news media never mention the Kennedy family history - their fortune and political power came from being illegal alcohol bootlegger during Prohibtion.That is highly relevant! Naked hypocrisy is what they're serving up today. The media also never mention Mitch McConnell's ownership of a cargo ship running hard drugs up from Central America. All is forgiven! Well.....the North remembers
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on November 20, 2018 at 15:37:55 PT
I've got no love for this bandwagon-jumper - I'll save that for Rep. Seth Moulton, who endorsed our legalization referendum right away when it was announced, not 2 years after it passed, after shilling for Big Pharma during the campaign. Note the source of Kennedy's piece - STAT, a medical industry news outlet.this is some interesting history on RFK, his grandfather....the more you learn about the JFK and RFK, the more you understand why they were killed:
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on November 20, 2018 at 15:37:04 PT
I saw Joe Kennedy on Colbert a while ago and he said he was against marijuana legalization so this is a remarkable turn around.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on November 20, 2018 at 15:23:20 PT
FoM Comment 1 It is amazing.
"One thing is clear to me: Our federal policy on marijuana is badly broken, benefiting neither the elderly man suffering from cancer whom marijuana may help nor the young woman prone to substance use disorder whom it may harm."So far as I've read, this appears to be a thoughtful and knowledgeable opinion piece. It is amazing. It takes a strong, decent person to admit he was wrong in his previous perception... or lack thereof. Hallelujah! 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 20, 2018 at 09:53:16 PT
Also Home Grown for Personal Use
I hope he also understands that people should be able to have a small garden of their own. 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on November 20, 2018 at 09:49:56 PT
Joe Kennedy was very much against marijuana legalization but he researched and learned and now he wants it legal at the Federal Level. It's been a long time coming to read something like this today.
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