WASHINGTON – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi defended a provision in the $3 trillion Democratic stimulus bill that would allow legal cannabis businesses to access banking services Friday, while attacking “misrepresentation” in Republicans’ proposed package.
Asked to respond to the accusation that the cannabis language is not “directly related” to the coronavirus response, the California Democrat said she does not agree.
“This is a therapy that has proven successful,” Pelosi said at a press conference.
Pelosi did not cite any studies or health officials that have said cannabis may be a treatment for the coronavirus. Researchers have started to explore the possibility of its uses in treating lung inflammation, Forbes reported earlier this month, though no studies have yet shown any definitive benefits of cannabis use in treating COVID-19. It is legal for use in treating other medical conditions in many states, however.
The Food and Drug Administration has also sent warning letters to companies making claims about health benefits of cannabidoil products in treating coronavirus.
The Democrats’ Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act, includes funding for another round of stimulus checks for Americans, aid for state and local governments and billions for housing and food assistance.
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Included in Democrats’ package is the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, a bill already passed through the House that would prohibit federal financial regulators from penalizing banks and depository institutions that provide services to legal cannabis-related businesses. It would also provide for the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on minority and women cannabis business owners.
The HEROES Act notes that the cannabis provision would allow “access to financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers” while limiting the amount of cash handled at those businesses.
Cannabis industry leaders have said their businesses are being hit by the pandemic. Though they are deemed “essential” businesses and allowed to continue operating during lockdowns in many places, they are ineligible for Small Business Administration programs designed to help small businesses, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association.
“It’s critically important that essential cannabis workers are not exposed to unnecessary health risks due to outdated federal banking regulations,” executive director Aaron Smith said in a statement commending the inclusion of the SAFE Banking Act.
Pelosi pushed back on the idea that the cannabis language was akin to the $1.75…
How to make a cannabis-infused canna-grapefruit spritz
Cannabis beverages are a growing trend, and it’s easy to understand why. From CBD-infused coffee to THC microdose sodas, there are seemingly endless flavors and styles that can be used to make stoney signature drinks in place of traditional cocktails.
While no one is trying to take away our precious margaritas or frosé, reducing alcohol consumption in general is increasingly popular among people of all ages. With physical and mental well-being seen top priority, cannabis drinks can satisfy the thirst for delicious beverages that provide relaxation without hangovers or added calories.
Part of the fun of cocktails is the element of craft that goes into them. Of course, the many ready-to-drink cannabis beverages can be enjoyed on their own as an alternative to alcoholic tipples, but for those who crave the ritual of mixing something unique in their home bar — or for those who want to enjoy a complex drink that equal more than the sum of its parts — these recipes are for you.
The concoctions below use a combination of pre-made infused beverages and tinctures. Any type of tincture, such as full-spectrum hemp, CBD or THC, will work, though we are partial to nano tinctures that are made specifically for beverages since they mix in easily and don’t change the flavor profile.
How to make delicious cannabis-infused cocktails
Before you start mixing, there’s a few tried-and-true tips you should have at your disposal for the best canna-cocktail experience:
- After following a recipe, periodically taste and adjust the amounts of each ingredient to create your ideal balance.
- Add your own flare: play around with garnishes to put a personalized stamp on homemade drinks. Try anything from cinnamon sticks to fresh figs.
Why a canna-grapefruit spritz
Spritzes are easy-breezy cocktails that lend themselves well to brunch and summer days. The idea being that you’re probably going to have a few of them. Spritzes should be light yet flavorful, and not too sweet. An easily customizable drink, you can use any seasonal fruit, juice or herb — this recipe builds on the herbal and bitter-tangy-sweet grapefruit flavors that naturally pair well with piney terpenes found in cannabis
- 8 oz Cann Grapefruit Rosemary Tonic
- 2.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
- Fresh rosemary herb sprig for garnish
- Pour grapefruit juice over the ice in a large glass, then add the sparkling mixer.
- Massage the herb sprig between your palms to release its essential oils and place into glass.
Products we mixed: Cann Social Tonics
If ever there was a drink that embodies the microdose mentality, this is it. This is the philosophy behind Cann Social Tonics, a small serving size sparkling drink that has only 2 milligrams of THC and 4 milligrams of CBD. Any of their flavors create a lovely spritz.
As an alternative, use your own low-dose tincture along with a high-quality tonic or sparkling mixer, like the ones from Q Tonic. If opting for a flavored seltzer, consider adding ½ ounce of sweetener such as maple or simple syrup.
Photos by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Could Joe Biden budge on cannabis legalization?
Cannabis legalization should be a no-brainer for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
As a standalone issue, cannabis legalization has widespread, bipartisan support. Over two-thirds of Americans favor legalization, and that support is intergenerational and spans across all political affiliations. Additionally, individuals aged 65 and over — a demographic that Biden polls well with — are the fastest growing category of cannabis consumers in the United States. In the broader political context, cannabis sits at the intersection of major contemporary issues Biden would face as president.
Cannabis is deeply intertwined with criminal justice reform and a key player in many local and state government economic recovery plans. The cannabis industry generates millions of dollars in tax revenue every year, supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, and provides numerous health benefits to patients and veterans alike.
But despite the numerous benefits, Biden stops just short of supporting adult-use legalization.
The Democratic Party and decriminalizing cannabis
Last month, the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force” submitted a set of policy recommendations to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) platform committee ahead of the Democratic Convention in August. Within the 110-page document lies a small paragraph (page 9) on cannabis policy, located in a broader section dedicated to comprehensive criminal justice reform. The recommendations include rescheduling cannabis through executive action, decriminalization, automatic expungement for use and possession charges, federal medical legalization, and allowing states to make their own decision about adult-use cannabis.
A few weeks later, the DNC’s platform committee rejected an amendment in a 50-106 vote that called on the Democratic party to support cannabis legalization as part of their 2020 policy platform. The committee opted instead to adopt a position that aligns with the Biden-Sanders recommendations, meaning that Biden faces no pressure from the Democratic Party to change his current position on cannabis.
Given that 78% of people who identify as Democrats support legalization, the Biden campaign and the DNC appear to be out of step with their base. Many are frustrated as to why, despite its legal status in 33 states, it’s well-documented social, economic, and health benefits, and its widespread support, Biden and the Democratic Party won’t endorse cannabis legalization in 2020.
So, if public opinion won’t sway him, and the Democratic Party won’t push him, what could it take to get Joe Biden to support adult-use legalization?
Biden’s history on cannabis and the criminal justice system
Historically speaking, Biden has budged on cannabis. Quite a bit, actually. For decades, Biden was a vocal opponent of cannabis and a believer in the disproven gateway theory, a myth born of the Reefer Madness era that believes cannabis causes users to go on to use hard drugs. Biden fully embraced the tough-on-crime philosophy and has a long track record of supporting legislation that directly contributed to the War on Drugs.
“Every major crime bill since 1976 that’s come out of this congress, every minor crime bill, has had the name of the Democratic senator from the state of Delaware, Joe Biden, on that bill.”
With his political career now under a microscope, the presidential hopeful has had to come to terms with his hand in contributing to the current state of mass incarceration and the perpetuation of racial inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system.
Among other things, Biden now supports expanding rehabilitation and social services, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, abolishing the death penalty, and ending the federal government’s use of private prisons. As for cannabis, he has come a long way. Even throughout his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden’s position on cannabis continues to evolve.
While it doesn’t appear likely, it’s also not entirely unfathomable to think that Biden could change his tune on cannabis before the election or during his possible presidency. Here are a few scenarios in which Joe Biden could potentially support adult-use legalization:
The “more research” defense
A major barrier preventing Biden from going all-in on his support for cannabis legalization is a lack of research. Biden wants proof that cannabis use will not result in long-term physical or mental health issues. In an interview with the New York Times he said, “we should just study it and decriminalize it, but study it and find out. Get the medical community to come up with a final definitive answer as to whether or not it does cause [other problems].” Which begs the question, if presented with definitive research demonstrating cannabis does not pose a major public health concern, would he then support adult-use legalization?
The truth is, acquiring more research is not that simple — a fact that Biden is likely keenly aware of. By claiming he needs to see more research, Biden is kicking the can down the road on cannabis legalization while maintaining an appearance of open-minded pragmatism. There are over 29,000 published scientific papers on cannabis, 3,300 of which are dedicated to its medicinal use. There is, arguably, plenty of convincing research documenting the medical benefits of cannabis, however there are few clinical studies that actually involve the plant.
Because cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance on the Controlled Substances Act, conducting research using the plant requires a lengthy review process and clearing a number of bureaucratic hurdles. It can take years to receive approval to begin research using cannabis.
Biden has indicated he will reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I substance to a lower schedule, but his policy plan does not specify whether he would remove other barriers to research. So long as receiving approval to conduct clinical studies is exceedingly difficult, it is unlikely the type of research it would take to get Biden to support adult-use legalization will come out any time soon.
His VP pick
Whoever Joe Biden selects as his running mate will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping public policy and influencing the potential future president. During his own time as VP, Biden often received credit for forcing President Obama’s hand on LGBTQ marriage by making a simple statement in support of the issue on Meet the Press. Perhaps Biden’s vice president could employ a similar tactic to pressure him into supporting adult-use cannabis legalization.
The influence of former political rivals
During the primaries, Biden stood out as one of the only major candidates who did not support cannabis legalization — a point of contention during the debates that further solidified him as the moderate candidate. Rumored cabinet picks among his former opponents include Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, Julián Castro, and Amy Klobuchar, all vocal supporters of cannabis legalization. If given a spot on the transition team or the cabinet, perhaps it’s possible that Biden’s former political rivals could dust off their legalization plans and sway him on the matter.
However, keep in mind that even after months of deliberation, the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force recommendations still fell short on legalization. The fact that Bernie Sanders — a candidate who vowed to legalize cannabis on day one if elected — was unable to push Biden’s team on legalization lends skepticism to the level of influence other candidates could have on this particular issue.
Congress puts cannabis legislation on his desk
What would happen if Biden won the presidency and somewhere down the road a cannabis legalization bill landed on his desk? For a bill to even get to that point would require a few key changes to the legislature, most notably in the Senate. The current Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is vehemently opposed to cannabis legalization. The role of the Senate majority leader is to serve as a spokesperson for their party and decide what bills will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
While the House of Representatives is gearing up to vote on the MORE Act, a bill that would effectively legalize cannabis at the federal level, it’s extremely unlikely it will be taken up in the Senate so long as Mitch McConnell is the majority leader. For a legalization bill to make it to the President’s desk, a change in leadership in the Senate would be necessary. Even then, legislation passing in both chambers of the legislature would be no small feat.
But as to whether Biden would sign legislation that would legalize adult-use cannabis at the federal level, there is no clear answer. Biden has not provided any indication as to how he would vote in this particular situation. It’s reasonable to assume he would vote alongside his party, as is typical of the president, but nothing is certain.
Biden’s position on many issues, including healthcare, criminal justice reform, and cannabis, continues to evolve along with an ever-changing political landscape and the Democratic Party. It’s worth noting that, although his position appears out of touch with voters, he would be the most progressive president ever on cannabis.
While incremental change is better than inaction, hopefully, Biden will budge on cannabis.
Featured image by Trevor Bexon/Shutterstock
4 weed products Weldon Angelos can’t live without
Weldon Angelos has a lot of catching up to do.
The up-and-coming hip-hop artist and music producer was working with his friend Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur’s recording group when he got busted by local cops in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah for selling less than an ounce of weed.
At that time, Angelos was 22 and the father of two young boys. He had no priors and was gainfully-employed, yet a federal court found him guilty and sentenced him to 55 years thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Even the presiding judge in Angelos’s case expressed regret.
After serving thirteen years, Angelos was released in 2016 when a federal court granted him a reduction in sentence.
Since then, he has been making up for lost time with his family, friends, and community by setting up several projects that occupy most of his waking hours. He’s a full time criminal justice reform advocate whose infectious good humor and optimism have helped him rally support from a wide range of politicians, activists, entertainment figures and legal experts as he helps other pot prisoners who’ve been left behind.
Angelos named several of his music peers who are joining his reform movement, including Ty Dolla $ign, Loon, Baby Bash, as well as NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett, and fashion model Jeremy Meeks (otherwise known as the “Hot Felon”).
Angelos first set up the Weldon Project, which is dedicated to funding social change and providing financial assistance to those still serving prison time for cannabis-related offenses.
Shortly after that, he and his music producer Big Hollis launched the cannabis reform advocacy campaign Mission [Green] to raise the bar for awareness, social justice, and social equity. Mission [Green] also provides unique ways for cannabis businesses and consumers to participate in a nationwide campaign to bring relief to those who have been negatively impacted by prohibition.
Garnett is on the board of advisors of Mission [Green] and is the executive producer of a feature documentary being made about Angelos’ life.
“Our nation’s view of cannabis has evolved, and it is indefensible to incarcerate citizens based on the unduly harsh attitudes of past generations. It’s unconscionable to allow some to enrich themselves while simultaneously keeping select individuals in prison for doing the same thing, sometimes for decades,” Angelos told Weedmaps News.
“When I got word I was getting out, I promised them [fellow prisoners] I would not forget about them. I am their representative.”
And he did not forget.
Recently, working through the First Step Act, Angelos led a successful campaign to secure the release of a former Bad Boy Records rapper who’d spent nine years in prison.
And when he’s not personally writing court motions for the compassionate release of pot prisoners and rappers like his friend Loon, Angelos is enjoying some of his own cannabis products.
He launched REEForm Cannabis, which is pledging to financially support cannabis prisoners on a monthly basis by transferring a portion of the profits from the company’s amazing products straight into the commissaries of those still incarcerated for cannabis offenses.
Angelos explained that the general public assumes prisoners get all the basic essentials, but that’s not the case. “Prison feeds you enough to keep you alive, not full. I remember sitting in prison on Christmas Eve and having to choose between getting food and hygiene products or calling my family.”
Now that Angelos is out of prison and can get what he wants, these are his favorites, spoken from the source:
Chemdog Strain | REEForm
“My favorite strain Reeform offers right now is our Chemdog. It’s very high potency that inspires creativity, which is why I like it so much. Being in the music industry requires a high-level creativity in order to compete in today’s industry. I’m in the process of bringing back to life some unreleased music I had recorded with some of the rap legends of the 90s and early 2000s. I really need my creative juices to be flowing in the process and so the Chemdog is a product I can’t live without right now.”
Diamond Infused Blunts | ST IDES
“I’m a blunt smoker, and the best blunt I’ve smoked is ST IDES’ Diamond Infused Blunts, which use high-quality flower infused with pure THCa crystals and are filled into tobacco-free hemp cones.”
Mission Green Dank Tank Bong | Daily High Club
“When I can’t get to a blunt, I prefer to use the Mission Green Dank Tank Bong by the Daily High Club where you can smoke your favorite cannabis product while helping a person incarcerated for a cannabis offense.
This scientific glass tank bong features a 14mm male joint as well as a 2-hole diffuser perc for great percolation and milky rips. Designed by the Daily High Club, this piece is a limited run created to support the Mission Green Initiative which is dedicated to securing the release of those serving prison time for a cannabis-related offense.”
GrapeGasm Strain | North Country Pharms
“I’m a sativa lover, but there is one indica that really helps me with anxiety and when I need to take my mind off of the trauma I experienced from my trial and incarceration, which is GrapeGasm from North Country Pharms.”
Graphic by David Lozada/Weedmaps
Maureen Meehan is a 25-year veteran journalist who worked in Latin America, the Middle East and Europe for NBC Radio & TV and numerous U.S., Canadian and European news outlets. She moved back to New York City in 2012 where she began writing for High Times magazine and continues her freelance career. After covering many wars around the world, Meehan finds the War on Drugs among the most perplexing, devastating and misguided.
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