Though we still have a long way to go, recent year’s have seen a number of substantial developments in cannabis policy across North America. From legalization in a handful of states (and potentially Canada) to ongoing research into the benefits of cannabidiol, it seems as though, after decades of prohibition, North America is turning over a new leaf when it comes to cannabis.
In addition to recreational legalization in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and DC, twenty other states (http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881) and all of Canada, have, to varying degrees, legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. Even some of states where marijuana is not legal medicinally have taken steps towards minimizing arrests for minor possession, and some have passed legislation legalizing medicinal CBD derived from marijuana (CBD derived from industrial hemp is legal in all states).
As ‘the Colorado experiment’ continues to thrive, other states will certainly follow suit. In fact, we are already seeing this, as legalization in Oregon and Alaska came hot on the heels of legalization in Colorado and Washington. Even the nation’s capital has gotten in on the action, with marijuana legal to consume and grow inside one’s home (but still illegal to sell, advertise or smoke outside) (http://www.ibtimes.com/marijuana-legalization-2015-dc-cant-sell-legal-pot-2-more-years-under-house-budget-1963399).
At the federal level, the picture is not quite as rosy right now, but it seems as though even the Feds are growing tired of the prohibition charade. The website for The National Cancer Institute (NCI), and agency sponsored by the federal government, touts the plant as having medicinal value and being an effective tool for combatting cancer. (http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq/#link/_13). The DEA has relaxed requirements for CBD research, easing some requirements imposed by the Controlled Substances Act for a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved research protocol. (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-marijuana-research-idUSKBN0U61SY20151223) The government itself has even gotten in on the CBD action, filing a patent entitled Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants. (http://www.google.ca/patents/US6630507) The abstract in the patent states: ( http://trofire.com/2015/07/17/if-the-federal-government-says-marijuana-has-no-medical-value-why-does-it-hold-a-cannabis-compound-patent/)
This new found [anti-oxidant] property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.
Hardly the cannabis attack piece we are used to seeing from our friends at the White House.
Though cannabis is still unfairly targeted by lawmakers, there is certainly hope for the future. Speaking to the Washington Times, (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/mar/29/gary-johnson-predicts-obama-will-reclassify-mariju/) former New Mexico Governor and current Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson stated that “It’s going to be just like alcohol.” He went on to state that he believes President Obama will reclassify marijuana federally on his way out of office, removing the plant’s Class I narcotic designation. North of the border, in Canada, steps are already being taken to legalize cannabis outright across the nation, and it is not unreasonable to think that, within the next few decades, cannabis prohibition in the late 20th and early 21st centuries will be seen as alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s – a relic from the past.
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