28 July 2022 |

House passes cannabis research bill, Brittney Griner might come home, and Texas’s inch towards legalization.

By Kaitlin Domangue

House passes cannabis research bill 

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act on Tuesday. 

This bill would allow researchers to explore medical cannabis by removing FDA barriers AND making it easier to submit federal applications to study cannabis. 👩‍🔬

The U.S. (and other nations) constantly cite “lack of research” as a reason why legalization can’t happen. But, more research can’t happen because cannabis is federally illegal and doesn’t qualify for research grants.

This quote from the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Earl Blumenhaur (D-OR), sums up the need for a bill like this: 

“Research is a foundational element for cannabis policy. … . For too long, the federal government has stood in the way of science and progress, creating barriers for researchers obtaining resources and approval to study cannabis. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is an important first step to changing that.” 

Unlike several other House-approved cannabis bills, The Senate is expected to pass tis research bill.

What I’m Thinking 🧠  

This is a huge step for medical cannabis patients across the world, y’all. And cannabis research in general. 

There is a lot of science already indicating the safety and effectiveness of cannabis, but this takes it one step further and removes “lack of research” as a reason to continue prohibition. 

But, realistically: removing cannabis from the list of scheduled substances would achieve the same thing. 

I understand the federal government doesn’t want to do that until we have more science, but over half the country has a functional, successful medical cannabis program. 

Doctors, state & local governments, business owners, and more are already involved with cannabis. Keeping cannabis federally illegal does nothing but hinder & hurt operations in these states. 

Regardless, I’m excited to see the research that comes as a result of this bill. Hopefully, there are no snags in the Senate!

Brittney Griner might come home via prisoner swap

WNBA player, Brittney Griner, recently plead guilty to bringing 0.7 grams of cannabis oil into Russia, which she lawfully takes in Arizona as a medical cannabis patient. 

Brittney was arrested at a Moscow airport and charged with drug trafficking, an offense that could land her 10 years in a Russian prison. All cannabis products are illegal in Russia, no matter how much THC they contain. 

Brittney says she acknowledges Russia’s views on cannabis and didn’t intend to bring cannabis into the country. She maintains that it was accidental and being a medical cannabis patient myself: I truly do understand how this could happen. 

Brittney’s family, the U.S. government, and the WNBA have been working in tandem to secure her release, though some critics say the government could be doing more. 

The U.S. government considers Brittney a “wrongfully detained” person, which even the Russian government called hypocritical since cannabis isn’t legal in every U.S. state. 

The future looked bleak for several weeks, but news broke yesterday that the U.S. is offering a prisoner swap with Russia. Brittney and former U.S. Marine, Paul Whelan, are the two Americans involved in the swap.

What I’m Thinking 🧠  

WNBA player Brittney Griner’s highly-publicized arrest has mattered to more than just the cannabis industry.

It seems like the entire country is keeping up with Brittney’s case, most people rooting for her safe return, whether they’re in cannabis or not. 

U.S. relations with Russia aren’t exactly diplomatic considering the state of affairs in Ukraine. 

For that reason, and the fact that Brittney was caught with cannabis as an openly-gay woman in Russia, has led many to believe she will be used as a political pawn. Her wife has agreed with this idea. 

Brittney recently wrote a letter to President Biden pleading him to help her return home safely. 

“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Brittney writes. 

I know I speak for everyone when I say we are all anxiously awaiting Brittney’s safe arrival home to the United States. 

Cases like this also put into perspective just how far the U.S. cannabis’ policy has come, though we still have much work to do. 

Is Texas on the cusp of legalization? 

It was just announced that Killeen, Texas will vote on cannabis decriminalization in November after more than 2,500 residents signed a petition to approve the measure. 

Okay, Texaaaas! I see you 👀 

Ok – state legalization isn’t THAT close, but I’m hearing more and more coming out of my very-Republican home state of Texas. 🤠

There have been local ordinances passing in Texas for several years. 

Most recently, the city of Austin decriminalized cannabis in May when 85% of the city’s residents voted to officially remove criminal penalties. It was attached to Proposition A, which bans the police from conducting no-knock warrants. 

Houston, my home city, passed legislation in 2017 preventing people possessing less than four ounces of cannabis from facing ciminal charges, so long as they attend a drug-education class. 

That would’ve come in handy when my friends were getting arrested in high school for cannabis but anyways

Texas Agricultural Commissioner, Sid Miller, has been public about his support for expanding medical cannabis access across the state. Sid emphasized how the current laws stem from a place of racism and compared them to the 1920s alcohol prohibition laws. 

“As I look back, I believe that cannabis prohibition came from a place of fear, not from medical science or the analysis of social harm. Sadly, the roots of this came from a history of racism, classism, and a large central government with an authoritarian desire to control others. It is as anti-American in its origins as could be imaginable. Today, in the 21st century, this must end. We must start with a new chapter and a new attitude about the use of cannabis – especially when it comes to its potential medicinal benefits,” Sid writes in an editorial published on the Texas Department of Agriculture’s website.

What I’m Thinking 🧠  

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott does not support cannabis reform in the state, despite 83% of Texans supporting medical cannabis regardless of political party. 

Gov. Abbott did approve the Compassionate Use Act in 2015 that creates a very strict medical cannabis program for Texans. Under this law, patients can’t access cannabis products with more than 1% THC. 

Considering I’ve literally heard a hemp operator tell me they’ve “generally noticed anything under 1% THC is passed and put to market”: the medical cannabis in Texas doesn’t differ much, if at all, from the hemp-derived CBD already available.  

I predict more jurisdictions like Killeen will continue voting on this issue at the local level. 

I’m drawing comparisons between Texas and the whole U.S. Our federal government doesn’t want to legalize, so states are doing it themselves. Similarly, Gov. Abbott doesn’t want reform and local ordinances are passing laws. 

Let the voice of the people speak ✊