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Oregon Rep. Blumenauer disputes report that medical marijuana state protection amendment got nixed

Oregon Rep. Blumenauer disputes report that medical marijuana state protection amendment got nixed

How does a bill become a law? The classic Schoolhouse Rock Question degenerated over the last 24 hours into the latest spat between opposing sides of the medical marijuana debate.

Related: Medical marijuana, hemp protections included in federal spending bill

Wednesday evening, anti-marijuana legalization organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) sent out a press release announcing what they called “great news”:

The Rohrabacher-Farr language was eliminated from the Commerce, Justice, Science bill that funds the Department of Justice, even though it had previously been included in the 2017 base text. In addition, the Financial Services bill retained language preventing Washington, DC from implementing full retail sales and commercialization of recreational marijuana.

The $1 trillion omnibus bill passed by Congress in May included an amendment previously known as “Rohrabacher-Farr,” now sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), that prevents the Justice Department from using funds to interfere with the implementation of medical marijuana laws in U.S. states and territories.

Blumenauer said SAM’s analysis of the amendment’s status was flawed, in a press release Wednesday evening: “The folks at SAM clearly don’t understand the legislative process. Our amendment has never been in the CJS Subcommittee’s bill.”

Blumenauer’s statement clarified, “There is no news here. We are exactly where we thought we would be in the legislative process and look forward to amending the underlying bill once again this year to make sure medical marijuana programs, and the patients who rely on them, are protected. Voters in states across the country have acted to legalize medical marijuana. Congress should not act against the will of the people who elected us.”

Then the Oregon congressman took the battle to social media, tipping his hat to Tom Angell of advocacy group Marijuana Majority, who was the first to question SAM’s statement:

SAM’s CEO Kevin Sabet fired back with a release Thursday morning calling Blumenauer and Rohrabacher “two Members of Congress funded by illegal marijuana operations selling pot candies to kids” who “like the fox and the sour grapes… changed their tune once they didn’t get what they wanted.”

In April, the two congressmen had sent a letter to the House CJS committee chiefs requesting language protecting medical marijuana states be included in the base appropriations bill for the first time, based on its successful inclusion as an amendment since 2014. It was co-signed by 42 other members of the House.

In an email statement sent to The Cannabist Thursday afternoon, Blumenauer said he wasn’t surprised by SAM’s “complete misrepresentation” of the legislative process and that it was “entirely consistent with its repeated falsehoods about marijuana.”

“SAM claimed a false victory, and instead of correcting the record, it doubled down,” he said in the statement.

SAM also stated via Twitter Thursday that they believe Angell wrote the press release issued by Blumenauer.

Angell disputed the claim:

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 also includes provisions that restrict the Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Justice from using federal funds to prohibit the transportation, processing and sale of industrial hemp as outlined in the 2014 Farm Bill.

A similar amendment protecting state-based recreational marijuana laws was previously sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado. He told The Cannabist he will back the inclusion of the so-called McClintock-Polis amendment in the coming fiscal year’s spending bill.

In case you want to get this song stuck in your head:


Published at Thu, 29 Jun 2017 17:09:51 +0000

Posted in Uncategorized

Study: States with legalized marijuana see increase in car crash claims

Study: States with legalized marijuana see increase in car crash claims

DENVER — A recent insurance study links increased car crash claims to legalized recreational marijuana.

The Highway Loss Data Institute, a leading insurance research group, said in study results released Thursday that collision claims in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon went up 2.7 percent in the years since legal recreational marijuana sales began when compared with surrounding states. Legal recreational pot sales in Colorado began in January 2014, followed six months later in Washington, and in October 2015 in Oregon.

“We believe that the data is saying that crash risk has increased in these states and those crash risks are associated with the legalization of marijuana,” said Matt Moore, senior vice president with the institute, which analyzes insurance data to observe emerging auto safety trends.

Related: Do you get high? Do you drive? This is why you need to understand the laws behind DUI marijuana charges — and the particular science of THC, too

Mason Tvert, a marijuana legalization advocate and communications director with the Marijuana Policy Project, questioned the study’s comparison of claims in rural states such as Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana with Colorado, Oregon and Washington that have dense population centers and how that affected the study’s findings.

“The study raises more questions than it provides answers and it’s an area that would surely receive more study, and deservedly so,” Tvert said.

Researchers accounted for factors such as the number of vehicles on the road in the study and control states, age and gender of drivers, weather and even whether the driver making a claim was employed. Neighboring states with similar fluctuations in claims were used for comparison.

Insurance industry groups have been keeping a close watch on claims when auto accidents across the country began to go up in 2013 after more than a decade of steady decline. Insurance companies found several possible factors at play in the spike that included distracted driving through texting or cellphone use, road construction, and an improved economy that has led to leisurely drives and more miles driven, as well as marijuana legalization.

“It would appear, probably not to anyone’s surprise, that the use of marijuana contributes to crashes,” said Kenton Brine, president of the industry group Northwest Insurance Council that represents companies in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. He added: “It would be difficult to say that marijuana is a definitive factor, lacking a citation, in a significant number of crashes to say that what we’re seeing here is a trend.”

The Highway Loss Data Institute said its study examined claims from January 2012 to October 2016.

“The problem here is that it’s a pretty new experience,” said Carole Walker of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, an industry group that covers Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. “This is the first study that has been able to isolate legal pot as one of the factors.”

Eight states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana for adults.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety spokesman Russ Rader adds that alcohol impairment remains one of the biggest concerns on the road.

“While we have proven countermeasures, proven strategies for reducing alcohol impaired driving, there are a lot of unanswered questions about marijuana and driving,” Rader said.

A study released last year by AAA’s safety foundation found legal THC limits established by states with legal marijuana have no scientific basis and can result in innocent drivers being convicted, and guilty drivers being released.

Moore of the Highway Loss Data Institute said they hope the study’s findings will be considered by lawmakers and regulators in states where marijuana legalization is under consideration or recently enacted.


Published at Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:46:50 +0000