Legal marijuana issue creating strange bedfellows

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Something about the word “high” seems to create controversy.

Today is “National High Five Day,” which was invented, depending on whom you believe, by Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 2, 1977, by Wiley Brown and Derek Smith of the Louisville Cardinals men’s college basketball team during the 1978-79 season, or by ancient Egyptians.

Others say “High” Five Day is actually a back-door tribute to marijuana users’ penchant for indulging in their favorite pastime at 4:20 p.m. daily or especially April 20 each year (see page 3 today).

President Obama was known to smoke pot in his younger days, and directed federal law enforcement agencies to look the other way when state laws allowing the medical or recreational use of marijuana ran afoul of federal law.

President Trump’s new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is a vocal opponent of legalized marijuana, and that has created some strange bedfellows when it comes to the issue.

Some even speculate a coalition of liberal Democrats on the left and Libertarians on the right may join forces to oppose the administration’s stance on legalization.

Even the Obama administration agreed with current liberal and conservative leadership that new candy products containing marijuana or even harder drugs need to be kept out of the hands and mouths of children.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Dianne Feinsten of California are re-introducing the Protecting Kids from Candy-flavored Drugs Act, which calls for a mandatory 10-year sentence for those convicted of marketing candy-flavored drugs to children. Two convictions could lead to a 20-year sentence.

“Once it’s out of the package, these things look exactly like the gummy bears you get in a movie theater,” said Kevin Sabet, “and this is done on purpose. Sabet is president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Grassley said such products are even mixed with drugs such as methamphetamine to get kids hooked on drugs.

Opponents say Grassley and Feinstein are going after legal operations in states where recreational use of marijuana is legal, and adults are marketed with edible marijuana.

They say federal penalties are already extremely harsh, with long mandatory minimums already on the books.

Grassley has introduced the bill before, but it’s never been passed by Congress.

Lawmakers in Washington and Lincoln are navigating a narrow strait between filling our jails with minor drug offenders and encouraging the use of drugs in the next generation.

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