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Vets' Groups Urge Quick Marijuana Rescheduling, German Parliment Votes to Legalize Weed, More... (2/23/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1205)
Consequences of Prohibition

Marijuana Policy

The Mexican military is investigating clashes between rival drug gangs in Guerrero. (Creative Commons)
Veterans Groups Join Calls for Biden Administration to Reschedule Marijuana. A number of the country's largest veterans' groups have sent a letter to the Justice Department urging the Biden administration to "expeditiously" reschedule marijuana. The move comes six months after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended that it be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

"The men and women who served in the US Armed Forces often face difficult physical and mental challenges upon returning home," wrote the groups. "As such, we hope that in treating the wounds of war -- both visible and invisible -- that our servicemembers and veterans would have access to the widest array of possible treatments."

Signatories to the letter included the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, AMVETS, the American GI Forum, the American Legion, the Blinded Veterans Association, and the Minority Veterans of America.

President Biden ordered a review of federal marijuana policy in the fall of 2022, and now that HHS has acted, it is up to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to make a formal decision. That could be happening in the coming weeks.

"We understand that the administrative scheduling process involves several steps, but the sooner the DEA moves forward with a reclassification of cannabis, the sooner it could potentially be integrated into the [Veterans Health Administration] -- our nation's largest healthcare system," the veterans' groups wrote.

Virginia Compromise Bill on Marijuana Sales Wins House Committee Vote. The House General Laws Committee on Thursday gave its approval to a compromise bill that would legalize and regulate retail marijuana sales. The bill they passed is an amended version of Senate Bill 448, which was originally one of two competing bills that aimed to achieve that goal.

SB 448 was up against a separate House measure sponsored by Del. Paul Krizek (D), but the committee amended it in an effort to close the gap.

"After these bills passed their respective bodies," Krizek told the House General Laws Committee on Thursday, "Sen. Rouse and I went to work immediately with stakeholders to harmonize them. Fortunately, there was already many areas of agreement, such as public safety, public health, enforcement, local land use referendum and regulatory oversight. We took up three policy areas where the bills differed," Krizek continued. "Thanks to creative and diligent efforts, the bills are now aligned with respect to those issues, which were: one, timing for market for the market; two, the canopy size and how it’s characterized; and three, what we kind of call equity."

Krizek's bill, House Bill 698, is expected to go before the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee today, where members are believed to be ready to amend it to align it with SB 448.


German Parliament Approves Limited Marijuana Legalization. The Bundestag voted Friday to approve a measure legalizing marijuana possession and home cultivation, as well as social clubs or co-ops where members could share the fruits of harvests, but not commercial marijuana sales.

The "traffic light" coalition of Free Democrats, Greens, and Social Democrats overcame the objections of parliamentary conservatives and police, judges, and doctors' lobbies, and the measure passed on a vote of 407-226.

The measure does not need to be approved by the Bundesrat, parliament's upper chamber, but some states may challenge it, potentially leading to delays in implementation.

Under the bill, as of April 1, people 18 and over can possess up to 25 grams of weed in public and twice that at home, and they can grow up to three plants at home. For those who cannot grow their own, nonprofit "cannabis clubs" will begin to open this summer. Each club will be limited to 500 members.

Germany now becomes the largest country in Europe to embrace marijuana legalization and the third to do so, after Malta and Luxembourg.

The Mexican military is investigating clashes between rival drug gangs in Guerrero. (Creative Commons)
Mexico Cartel Violence Leaves 17 Dead in Guerrero. According to local authorities, at least a dozen members of La Familia Michoacana were killed, dragged into a pile, and set afire by members of a regional drug gang known as Los Tlacos. At the same time, authorities reported five charred bodies in the town of Las Tunas.

"Following the release of videos on social media of an alleged confrontation between criminal groups [….] state police, forensic experts and members of the Mexican army visited Las Tunas to corroborate the facts," the Guerrero Attorney General's Office said. "There they found the calcinated bodies of five people."

But while the Attorney General's Office downplayed the death toll, Mexican news reports put the toll at 17 and said not all the bodies had been burned.

The clashes come days after Catholic bishops in the state said they had met with cartel faction leaders in a bid to reach a peace accord as fighting between rival drug gangs has forced thousands of rural residents in Guerrero and neighboring Michoacan to flee rural districts for large cities.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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