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This Weed In News: Illinois Allows Marijuana to Kick Opioid Habit; Nevada’s in the Money; Trump Takes a Nixonian Turn
Author: Monterey Bud  04/09/2018 - 17:49:00

This Weed in News is Monterey Bud’s weekly column offering his thoughts on the crucial stories of the week. Monterey Bud recaps the news and tells us why he cares — and why we should, too.

There was a lot of intriguing marijuana news in the headlines for the week ending Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, and some of it was unfortunate. While one state received an alternative form of pain relief, another was cashing in on its newest industry.

The governor of Illinois signed legislation allowing medicinal cannabis as an alternative to opioids; Nevada raked in a pile of marijuana tax revenue in its rookie year of adult-use sales; and President Donald Trump threatened a clandestine crackdown on marijuana.

As the plant saves lives and generates revenue, one question remains: Why is Trump threatening to extinguish the fast-growing industry?

Illinois Bill OKs Marijuana As Alternative to Opioids

“We are creating an alternative to opioid addiction,” said Republican  Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018. “It’s clear that medical marijuana treats pain effectively, and is less addictive and disruptive than opioids.”

Rauner signed SB 336, which commands the Department of Public Health to adopt emergency rules to expedite approval and allow patients to receive medical marijuana if they otherwise might be considered for opioid treatment. The bill amends the state’s Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act through June 30, 2020.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported that 13,395 people overdosed on heroin and other opioids in 2017 — 2,110 of the cases were fatal. Fatal and non-fatal overdose cases showed a sharp rise over the past five years.

Sponsored in the Illinois House by Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the representative from Chicago has said that she believes the change to the medical marijuana program will ultimately reduce the rate of opioid-related overdoses. But while the progressive plan sounds helpful, can medical marijuana really save lives?

According to a 2016 study published in Health Affairs, a health policy journal, there’s a good chance it can. The passage of statewide marijuana reform has been directly linked to a sizable reduction in the total number of opioids prescribed and filled.

Two later studies published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in May 2018 support the Health Affairs journal’s findings. One study by Hefei Wen and Jason Hockenberry found states that reformed their marijuana laws after 2010 witnessed a decline of about 6 percent in their opioid prescribing rates among Medicaid enrollees. A study by University of Georgia researchers  Ashley Bradford, W.D. Bradford, and Amanda Abraham concluded that legal medical marijuana led to 3.742 million fewer daily doses for prescribed opioids among U.S. seniors ages 65 and older who are enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.

While marijuana legalization is not a panacea for stopping America’s addiction to opioids, it certainly seems like ending prohibition is a step in the right direction for saving thousands of American lives annually.

Nevada Cultivates $69.8M in Marijuana Tax Revenue

Nevada’s marijuana tax revenue outpaced its projected earnings in the first year of recreational sales, according to The Associated Press.

The Nevada Department of Taxation collected $7.12 million in total marijuana taxes in June 2018. During the fiscal year, recreational marijuana sales totaled $529.9 million. Nevada recorded $69.8 million in tax revenues and fees from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018; that’s almost 39 percent better than the $50.3 million the state projected for the first year of adult-use sales.

Generated by 64 state-licensed dispensaries and retail shops, Nevada’s 15 percent wholesale tax produced $27.27 million, and the 10 percent retail tax garnered $42.5 million.

While this was good news for the state’s coffers, it was even better news for the kids. In August, the tax department transferred $27.5 million to fund education.

More productive for society than prohibition, legalization in Nevada has dramatically increased the state’s potential tax revenue, produced thousands of new jobs, generated millions of dollars in new real estate investments, and has protected thousands of innocent consumers from facing the very real possibility of incarceration.

According to a study by market and economic research firm RCG Economics, Nevada stands to create 41,000 jobs by 2024 and generate over $1.7 billion in new labor income. Yet another upside for adult-use legalization, the RCG Economics study makes the argument for continued prohibition seems weak and feeble by comparison.

Presidential Flip-Flop on Marijuana

President Donald Trump has staked out a position on both sides of the marijuana legalization debate, since he announced his candidacy and took office in January 2017. Despite the fact that recreational use of marijuana is legal in nine states and Washington DC, the White House has instructed 14 federal agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration to submit “data demonstrating the most significant negative trends” of legalization, according to an Aug. 29, 2018, report published by Buzzfeed News.

Per the report, officials at the White House asked the department heads to drill down on the “most significant data demonstrating negative trends, with a statement describing the implications of such trends.” A Nixonian moment based on fear and loathing of a plant and the people who support it, Trump’s newest about-face smells like a revived front on the propaganda war against marijuana.

Broadly speaking, the idea of marijuana legalization enjoys a 65 percent approval rating among Americans, according to a poll by Gallup; President Trump’s approval rating was 42.8 percent on RealClearPolitics’ Aug. 31, 2018, aggregated poll; a majority of Americans — 53.9 percent — disapprove of the president’s job. Despite that, Trump seems ready to cultivate a new wave of national paranoia, continue his assault on the democratic process, and try to roll back the progress of legalization through fear and intimidation. A purported fan of states’ rights and cultivating new industries, Trump seems to be targeting marijuana for the same reason Nixon did – political expediency, as personal finance contributor Erik Sherman argued in his 2016 piece for Forbes.

Original article from marijuana.com: This Weed In News: Illinois Allows Marijuana to Kick Opioid Habit; Nevada’s in the Money; Trump Takes a Nixonian Turn

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