California’s senior senator voted for medical marijuana before voting against. Can her constituents change their mind?
California NORML Senior Senator Dianne Feinstein of California turned 82 in June. She “celebrated” ahead of time by casting her first-ever vote for medical cannabis at the end of May — only to vote against advances in marijuana policy just a few weeks later.
On May 21, DiFi joined all Democrats and four Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee to approve a spending change that would cut funding for any Veterans Administration facility that refuses services to customers who require state-legal medical marijuana. use.
If the full Senate approves, veterans who use cannabis for pain or post-traumatic stress disorder will be able to do so until at least mid-2016.
Medical marijuana came back to the same committee on June 11, with a budget amendment that, like the Cromnibus bill in December, would “defund” the federal Justice Department’s efforts to tamper with state-legal medical marijuana. This time, faced with the chance to vote in accordance with the majority of her voters’ wishes, Feinstein became the only Democrat to vote against.
At the hearing, the former San Francisco mayor reiterated the debunked theory that cannabis is a gateway drug, arguing that the California cannabis industry is increasing the “addiction factor.” She also pointed to a new study that found 41 children under the age of 6 experienced “severe symptoms” after exposure to marijuana as evidence that cannabis may not be the safe tonic that proponents claim.
But Feinstein, a long-standing ally of marijuana prohibition, has evolved on the subject. At the hearing, she reiterated an earlier call for more research on cannabidiol — or CBD, the “non-psychoactive” cannabinoid with increasingly recognized medical benefits. In May, Feinstein and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called on the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to consider rescheduling CBD and figuring out how to remove “unnecessary barriers to research into its potential medical benefits.” of marijuana and CBD.” This is paying off: On June 22, health bureaucrats announced that marijuana research would no longer be reviewed by the GGD, but cannabis remains a Schedule I drug.
Meanwhile, Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee that also includes Feinstein, is blocking an attempt by the Senate to make a new appointment. Grassley has so far refused to invoke the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act for a hearing. Introduced in March by Sens. Corey Booker (DN.J.), Kirstin Gillibrand (DN.Y.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the landmark CARERS Act — the first major federal marijuana law to appear in the U.S. Senate — would replan marijuana and would also completely remove CBD from the Controlled Substances Act. Feinstein’s co-senator from California, Barbara Boxer, has signed on to co-sponsor the bill.
Booker and Gillibrand were able to dig into the obstacles during a June 24 hearing in the Senate International Narcotics Control caucus — chaired by none other than Grassley and DiFi. During the hearing, Dr. Colton’s Tom Minahan told Feinstein that his daughter, Mallory, had experienced a dramatic reduction in seizures after CBD treatment. Feinstein stated that she supports accelerating more funding for an expansion of a research program that is currently providing 420 children with severe epilepsy with the GW Pharmaceutical CBD product Epidiolex — and she has been given assurances by federal drug regulators investigating its benefits. of CBD and medical marijuana would be streamlined.
It is not yet clear whether Feinstein will stand for re-election in 2018, when she would turn 85. To help her get NORMS through it, California NORML has launched a letter-writing campaign for her. The Drug Policy Alliance also personally delivers petitions to its offices. To help change
her mind, visit calnorml.org and feinstein.action.drugpolicy.org.
Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo.