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Tuesday, 24 October 2017 06:24

While Jeff Sessions Opposes Legalized Marijuana, Other Nations Take the Lead

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medicalmarijuanaWhen will the US national government take the lead on medical marijuana, not for a long time it appears. (Photo: Chuck Coker)

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Peru has just joined a group of nations in legalizing the medical use of marijuana, as its Congress passed the legislation just a few days ago.

The origin of the Peruvian law shows that politicians can sometimes exercise compassion. According to the Guardian,

The legislative approval followed a government proposal to decriminalize the medical use of marijuana for the "treatment of serious and terminal illnesses" after a police raid in February on a makeshift laboratory where a group of mothers made marijuana oil for their sick children.

The laboratory was in the home of Ana Alvarez, 43, who founded the group Buscando Esperanza or Searching for Hope to treat her 17-year-old son Anthony who suffers from a rare and severe form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, as well as tuberous sclerosis, which causes tumors to grow on the brain and other organs.

The arrests led to a mass protest march in front of the Peruvian legislature. It is lamentable that such empathy and concern for health is not recognized on the federal level in the United States. There were 67 votes in favor of the bill in the Peruvian Congress, with only five in opposition and three abstentions.

A news release from the Drug Policy Alliance, a US think tank and advocacy group advocating for less restrictive drug laws, explains the rollout of the law:

"It's encouraging that Peru is finally recognizing the urgency of providing access to medical marijuana," said Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organization in the United States fighting for drug policy reform. "The government now needs to make sure that such access is meaningful, including for low-income families, and that it clears the records of parents and others who have been cruelly sanctioned for using and growing marijuana for medical purposes."

The bill will become law in 60 days, after the government establishes the regulations for production and sale. The Peruvian Congress envisions a confidential registry created by the Ministry of Health for patients where doctors can provide information on the illness and recommended dose. Authorization for cultivation and production will be granted by the government through state institutions and universities will receive permits to investigate the benefits and effects of medical marijuana.

The Drug Policy Alliance, in its news release, updated its list of nations moving forward on legalizing medical and recreational marijuana. Our neighbor to the north, Canada, is expected to legalize recreational use of marijuana soon:

Marijuana reform has gained momentum across the Americas in recent years. Colombia and Puerto Rico legalized medical marijuana through Executive Orders; Chile allows for the cultivation of marijuana for medical patients; Jamaica decriminalized the use of marijuana for medical, scientific and religious purposes; Brazil allows for the importation of CBD-oils; Mexico recently passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana; and Uruguay legalized marijuana for medical and non-medical use. The United States has legalized medical marijuana in 29 states and non-medical marijuana in eight states. Canada will soon join Uruguay in regulating marijuana for medical and non-medical uses nationwide.

In the majority of US states, the momentum remains with advocates for at least partial legalization. However, the political headwind in the states is up against an administration -- and an attorney general in particular -- opposed to marijuana use, for any purpose. Jeff Sessions has not officially stated that he attempts to stomp down on state-authorized marijuana use yet, but he has made his position clear.

In fact, The Motley Fool reported on September 17,

The House Rules Committee just blocked a vote on an amendment designed to protect medical cannabis businesses from federal prosecution....

[The] expansion in both medical and recreational-use pot has all come about thanks to a discernible change in how the public views marijuana. Before the legalization of medical cannabis in California, only a quarter of U.S. adults wanted to see the drug legalized across the country. However, in Gallup's October 2016 survey, an all-time record 60% of respondents were in favor of legalizing the drug nationwide. Growing acceptance of marijuana has led some pundits to believe that lawmakers in Washington will have no choice but to change their stances on cannabis or risk being voted out of office....

With compound annual growth projections of roughly 25% to 35% through 2021, depending on your source, the sky is seemingly the limit for marijuana stocks. However, that sky also has a pretty low glass ceiling that investors and the pot industry refers to as the "federal government." You see, marijuana is still a Schedule I drug at the federal level, which places it on par with heroin and LSD and also means it has no recognized medical benefits....

It is also worth pointing out that, according to data from Gallup's surveys on pot, just two groups of people oppose the expansion of legal marijuana in the United States: senior citizens and Republicans.

While numerous nations across the hemisphere develop a more enlightened federal approach to medical marijuana use -- one that is beneficial to the health and emotional well-being of the people in their countries -- the United States is poised to move backward.