Schumer Says Senate Will Move Ahead on Marijuana Legalization With or Without Biden

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declared that Senate Democrats will move forward on marijuana legalization with or without Joe Biden’s support, highlighting Biden’s lack of influence within his own party.

In a Politico interview published Saturday, Schumer indicated that Biden’s hesitation to back federal marijuana legalization won’t stop the Democrats from enacting it.

“He [Biden] said he’s studying the issue, so [I] obviously want to give him a little time to study it. I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will,” the Senate Democratic leader said. “But at some point we’re going to move forward, period.”

“When a few of the early states — Oregon and Colorado — wanted to legalize, all the opponents talked about the parade of horribles: Crime would go up. Drug use would go up. Everything bad would happen,” Schumer explained.  “The legalization of states worked out remarkably well.” 

“They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom. And people in those states seem very happy,” he added.

Schumer’s remarks come after Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki noted on Friday that Biden “believes in decriminalizing the use of marijuana, but his position has not changed” on broader nationwide legalization.

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Cannabis compound inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication in human lung cells

Researchers in the United States have conducted a study showing that a cannabis plant compound inhibited infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in human lung cells.

SARS-CoV-2 is the agent responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that continues to sweep the globe posing a threat to global public health and the worldwide economy.

Marsha Rosner from the University of Chicago in Illinois and colleagues found that cannabidiol (CBD) and its metabolite 7-OH-CBD potently blocked SARS-CoV-2 replication in lung epithelial cells.

The CBD inhibited viral gene expression and reversed many of the effects the virus has on host gene transcription.

The compound also induced the expression of interferons – cell signaling proteins that are produced by host cells as an early response to viral invasion.

Furthermore, the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was up to an order of magnitude lower in a cohort of patients who had been taking CBD, compared with matched patients who had not been taking CBD.

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New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.854-A/A.1248-A) legalizing adult-use cannabis, fulfilling a key component of his 2021 State of the State agenda. The bill signing comes after the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced this past Sunday, March 28, that an agreement had been reached on the legislation. The bill establishes the Office of Cannabis Management to implement a comprehensive regulatory framework that covers medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp. The bill also expands New York State’s existing medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp programs. The legislation provides licensing for marijuana producers, distributors, retailers, and other actors in the cannabis market, and creates a social and economic equity program to assist individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement that want to participate in the industry.

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Biden White House Cracking Down on Staffers Over Past Marijuana Use

President Joe Biden’s White House reportedly has clamped down on staffers who admitted using marijuana in the past, even those from states where the drug has been legalized, with some being suspended or asked to resign, according to former staffers.

Although the Biden administration officially changed its marijuana guidelines to allow for “limited” use of the drug in the past, questions about past marijuana use were included on its background check form given to potential staffers. Some new hires reportedly were told that the White House would “overlook” anyone who answered yes, only to ask them to resign later.

“There were one-on-one calls with individual affected staffers — rather, ex-staffers,” one former staffer told The Daily Beast. “I was asked to resign.”

This staffer added “nothing was ever explained” on these calls, which White House Director of Management and Administration Anne Filipic led. “The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained.”

Other staffers report being suspended or reassigned to remote work due to their past marijuana use.

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Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco Coalition Emerges to Shape Legalization in Their Favor

We’ve already seen the influence of these corporate interests. In some instances, many of these same people have lobbied against consumer-friendly legalization provisions, such as the right for adults to cultivate marijuana in the privacy of their homes. These corporate entities also have pushed for statewide limits on the number of licensed cannabis producers and retailers, in an effort to keep prices and supply artificially limited — and to keep the economic benefits of legalization largely out of the reach of average Americans, especially people of color.

That’s their vision of legalization. NORML’s vision of legalization includes the right to personal cultivation and mandates low barriers of entry to the cannabis market so that every American who wishes to benefit from legalization can do so. Our vision includes the mass expungement of criminal records and provides justice to those communities that have been historically most impacted by the failed drug war. Our vision of legalization stops the discrimination in the workplace against those who choose to consume cannabis in their off-hours. Our vision includes low taxes and ready access to those adults who wish to legally obtain affordable cannabis products in a safe, licensed, regulated environment.

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