Monday, March 20, 2023

Weekly Canna: Biden Blocked

President Still Seeking Prohibitive Measures


President Joe Biden seems to be trying his hardest to avoid reelection. Despite the overwhelming support of cannabis legalization from his constituents, the president just can’t bring himself to even feign disinterest when the subject comes up. Instead, he froths at the mouth and pushes for reverse reform—wishing he could simultaneously push back the clock and return to the good old days of the Reagan Era. But Congressional Democrats aren’t letting the old codger get his way—at least for now.

Last month Biden introduced a federal budget proposal for 2022 that notably included language from the “Harris Rider.” This Republican provision that was added to the budget in 2014 bans the taxation and sale of cannabis in Washington D.C., despite the fact that our nation’s capital had legalized the drug that year. It was originally attached to the federal budget by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) in defiance of the city’s legalization initiative, which was supported by 64.87 percent of voters. Since it was added, the rider has kept D.C. residents from being able to purchase cannabis or open up dispensaries.

Biden’s decision to include the ban in his proposal upset many of the people who helped put him in office. The New Republic skewered the president’s “shameful, conservative stance” in a headline last month. “It represents a deeper missed opportunity for a president who casts himself as a defender of democracy,” wrote author Matt Ford. “By refusing to commit fully to marijuana legalization, Biden is losing the chance to prove that American democracy can actually work.”

This isn’t the only marijuana misstep that the president has made, however. During his campaign many cannabis advocates highlighted his leading role in the War on Some Drugs and the fact that he authored the 1994 Crime Bill—a law that increased drug offense penalties and opened the doors for mass incarceration in the Land of the Free. During the Democratic debates leading up to the run at the Oval Office in 2019, Biden called marijuana a “gateway drug.” He later walked it back, but it was clear to many that “law and order” Joe hadn’t changed his views on cannabis.

As a smoothing tactic, the administration would end up promising to decriminalize cannabis and release federal offenders, if it won the presidency. To date, that promise has gone completely unfulfilled. In April The San Francisco Chronicle asked Vice President Kamala Harris about the administration’s progress with decriminalization. “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,” she said. “That has been all-consuming.”

In context Biden’s inclusion of the Harris Rider was nothing short of a declaration that legalization will be all but impossible under his presidency. Luckily, our nation still has a system of checks and balances, and Democratic lawmakers in the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee actually defied the president last week by removing the rider from the appropriations bill that they filed.

The not-so-terrible news is that provisions to protect from prosecution medical cannabis companies in states that have legalized were left untouched in Biden’s proposed budget. The president also included funding to support industrial hemp production. So—so far—he’s only doing as bad a job as former president Donald Trump.

Producers Want Millions In Tax Refunds

Now that marijuana has been legalized in New Mexico, and medical cannabis will be given a tax deduction, the state’s largest cannabis producer is asking that the state refund the taxes it previously charged.

The Associated Press reports that Ultra Health has asked to be involved in a legal dispute between another medical cannabis producer Sacred Health and the Taxation and Revenue Department. Ultra Health has asked the state Supreme Court for permission to provide arguments in support of its colleague.

Sacred Health claims that medical marijuana should have always been exempt from gross receipts tax, like other medications. A state appellate court decided in favor of the company last year, but state taxation officials are asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to overturn the decision.

Ultra Health says it paid nearly $2.7 million in gross receipts taxes in 2020 alone. If the court rules in Sacred Health’s favor, the state could be required to pay that money back.

Going forward, medical cannabis sales will be exempt from the gross receipt tax thanks to the Cannabis Regulation Act. That stipulation was presumably included in the bill to assuage fears that the recreational market would harm medical marijuana companies.

Study: THC Better Than CBD For Some Symptoms

It’s become common for medical cannabis advocates to highlight the therapeutic benefits of using CBD while dismissing THC as the compound that gets you high. But research is making many question this divide. A recent study from the University of New Mexico has confirmed what some advocates have been saying all along: THC might be more medically beneficial than CBD.

The study, published last month in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, found that using cannabis improves symptoms of nausea by nearly four points on a 10-point scale. Researchers analyzed data provided from 2,220 self-administered cannabis sessions involving 886 users reported through the Releaf App. The app allows users to document changes in symptoms and other reactions while using cannabis.

According to the study, the relief of nausea was most noticeable for those using flower and concentrates, compared to tinctures and edibles. Improvement of symptoms was also associated more with strains labeled as either sativa or hybrid, compared to those labeled as indica. Among different consumption methods, joints outperformed every other option in improving symptoms.

Most shocking perhaps was the realization that THC had a higher association with the relief of symptoms than CBD.

The study’s authors say the mechanism behind THC’s ability to combat nausea is still unknown. In a press release from UNM, co-author associate professor Jacob Vigil at the UNM psychology department said it might be that the plant is able to activate CB1 receptor responses in the central nervous system.


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