And in today’s “Told You So” news: Vice President Kamala Harris tells reporters that President Joe Biden is too busy to free people who have been imprisoned by the draconian cannabis laws that he helped put into place.
That’s right. The one promise that the Biden-Harris campaign made that mattered to cannabis advocates—that the administration would decriminalize the drug and expunge the records of low-level marijuana offenders—has been taken off the table for the time being.
During an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Harris was dismissive when reporters asked about the issue. “We haven’t yet taken that on,” she said. “Honestly, right now, we’ve been focused on getting people food, helping them stay in their apartments or in their homes, getting kids back to school, getting shots into arms. That has been all-consuming.”
Considering that it’s literally their jobs to juggle all of these problems, it was either an admission that the administration is unable to meet the performance requirements of the position, or—more likely—it was a diversion to avoid a subject that will never be addressed.
As we’ve pointed out, many of the people locked away in prison on drug charges were put there by the very laws that Biden helped write and pass. Harris herself has a rocky past with marijuana, seeing as how she oversaw over 1,900 cannabis convictions during her time as attorney general in California—reportedly at a much higher rate than her predecessor.
While Harris was on the campaign trail, making promises she didn’t plan on keeping, anyone with a memory longer than a goldfish’s was raising the red flag and pointing out that expecting a jailer to release their prisoners because it’s the right thing to do was naive at best.
During an interview with theGrio back in the distant October of 2020, Harris said, “We have a commitment to decriminalizing marijuana and expunging the records of people who have been convicted of marijuana offenses—when you look at the awful war on drugs and the disproportionate impact it had on Black men and creating, then, criminal records that have deprived people of access to jobs and housing and basic benefits.”
So much for commitments. But it almost sounds like she actually got it back then. She seemed to have understood exactly how pressing the matter was and the moral necessity of acting swiftly. What could have changed?
NM College Offers Weed Course
Get that mortarboard out and get ready to care about learning again. A New Mexico college will soon be offering cannabis business courses that are meant to better educate the next generation of marijuana professionals.
Northern New Mexico College will be offering an online class in June called “The Cannabis Establishment Technician Course.” According to the course page on the NNMC website, students will be given a “baseline of knowledge” about medical cannabis, covering topics like cannabis’ biological effects, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, ethics in the marijuana industry, safety compliance and other subjects that pertain to the cannabis industry.
The course seems especially geared toward preparing students for work specifically in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program. During an interview with KRQE, course instructor Ishmael Mondragon said, “What we’re offering with the cannabis establishment program is that it’s going to catch you up on the last 14 years of cannabis in New Mexico while preparing you for what’s to come in New Mexico.”
Program organizers say the course would benefit entrepreneurs and professionals looking to enter the industry. Students will earn three college credits. They plan to expand the course to become a certification program with specialty training in cultivation, extraction, lab technologies and business.
Study: Teens At Risk of Marijuana Dependence
A new study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that teens are more likely to develop substance abuse disorders related to cannabis and prescription drugs than young adults.
Before we get too far into the study, let’s look at how cannabis use disorder is defined. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) defines it as dependence on cannabis with symptoms of withdrawal upon cessation of use. (A particularly funny note here is that one symptom of the disorder is continued use despite “adverse consequences from its use, such as criminal charges, ultimatums of abandonment from spouse/partner/friends and poor productivity”—side effects of prohibition rather than use.)
While the literature seems to agree that cannabis is addictive and cessation can lead to withdrawal symptoms, it appears that it’s a very rare condition to find oneself in, and few people report physical symptoms of withdrawal.
The new NIDA study, published last month in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found that adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 were more likely than young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 to develop a dependence on cannabis or prescription drugs within a month after their first use. The report found that 10.7 percent of teens who tried weed developed cannabis use disorders compared to only 6.4 percent of young adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol, cannabis and tobacco continue to be the drugs most often abused by teens.
Canopy Growth Buys Out Competitor
One of the biggest players in the Canadian cannabis market just made major waves by announcing that it’s buying out one of its competitors.
New York Post reports that Canopy Growth will be buying rival Supreme Cannabis for C$323.3 million ($256.85 million). Supreme Cannabis owns numerous brands including 7ACRES and Blissco. Including debt, the deal is reportedly valued at C$435 million.
Canopy is now set to overrun Canada’s pot market. Once the deal goes through, the company will own four of the top 10 brands in the country. The company says that’s 13.6 percent of the total recreational market. Following the announcement, U.S.-listed shares of Canopy rose 1.3 percent to $30.33.