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Wyden Introduces S. 420 to Legalize Cannabis (senate.gov)
111 points by markovbot 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 49 comments



The (now obviously intentional) repeated use of 420 as a bill number is perhaps a new and interesting phenomenon.

As an homage to counterculture in the current political climate, it is quite unusual, right?


> current political climate, it is quite unusual, right?

The current political government has degenerated into memeing and clapbacks on twitter. I don't think it's out of place at all.


I wouldn't put the very reasonable proposal of legalizing marijuana on the same level as the current political twitter trash.


Do bills need clickbaity names to get attention?


You don't sound like a P.A.T.R.I.O.T. (act)


They may not need them but, more and more, “witty” acronyms are being used for bills. Apparently the wordsmiths of Capital Hill have oodles of time for Scrabble-like playtime: https://noahveltman.com/acronyms/

And my favorite, the COVFEFE ACT... just because... it’s funny: https://www.businessinsider.com/bill-acronyms-titles-trump-c...


I don’t think I’ve hear it anywhere else but a guy at work calluses these kind of things “retronyms” for retroactive acronyms. Maybe more common in enterprise tech marketing than law.


It's a backronym. retronym is a different word.


Considering many Americans struggle to name the Vice President or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: yes. I would bet more people could quote lyrics from a Drake song than remember a single sentence in the Declaration of Independece.


Marijuana taxes are obscene and immoral. I pay 30-40% on a plant that has medicinal properties in Colorado. The whole "sin" tax on marijuana makes no sense. God forbid this gets set at a Federal level.


They are indeed immoral.

They are also deeply irrational.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaUEwtHhEaQ


Perhaps an unpopular opinion, while being pro legalization, they really need to ratchet down on how it happens and where it’s allowed. In Denver and other CO areas, it seems there are weed shops on every corner, and it reeks like tobacco, though less offensively.

My hope is in 10 years or so the hype has died down...


Can we just do this already? Nobody these days has a genuine argument as to why cannabis should still be illegal to grow and posses.

Honestly if there's one thing that Trump could do to win a teeny bit of respect from liberals it would be to actually legalize cannabis, either by de-scheduling or signing legislation given to him by congress.


I have a weak argument -- here me out: it's a harmless substance that, as a teenager, I used not only to experiment with drugs, but also to experiment with transgressing the law. With marijuana being legal there will no longer be an ultra-safe illegal drug to experiment with -- As I said, very weak argument but that's all I've got :)


It would still be illegal for kids


Depends on your definition of harmless. I only have anecdotal evidence, of course, but I'd argue marijuana is more harmful than LSD. So until that's legalized, there will be ultra-safe illegal drugs to experiment with.


I would argue alcohol is among the most dangerous drugs available, and its legal, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


> I'd argue marijuana is more harmful than LSD.

What's your argument?


The first comparison to make is in the category of physical harm, in which both substances pose the very low risk of physical harm to the user as they both require an insane dose (>100x normal dose) to pose an immediate medical concern. However, if marijuana is smoked (like anything else smoked) it is not good for the health of the user over the long term. In this category, LSD is the clear winner in risk of harm to the user.

The other category is, of course, harm to the user's mental health. In my opinion, dependence is a huge part of this category and cannabis, while not particularly addictive, is definitely more addictive and can produce minor to moderate physical withdrawal effects. LSD seems to be the antithesis of addictive.

There's also the social harm category that I can't speak to, but the UK Centre for Crime and Justice Studies sponsored a study [0][1] in 2010 that also takes this into account.

[0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21036393

[1] https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2010/11/02/scoring-...


It might seem crazy but I also have to agree. For one, LSD can't be really used on a daily basis as the body's tolerance increases much more rapidly. Furthermore, marijuana's most harmful effect is that it makes you complacent with being bored. Its effects are so subtle over the long term that users might not realize how much it inhibits their mental growth.


There are some studies suggesting that legalisation may have increased the number of auto accidents by 3-6%[0], which doesn't sound like a lot but is equal to quite a few deaths. I don't know if this argument is correct, but it at least seems genuine to me.

[0] e.g. https://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/documents/masterfiledocs....


That study also cited a previous study that found no statistically significant increase.

And since this increase was so small, I'd be very sceptical until more research is done, particularly because of the amount of variables that need to be controlled for when comparing crash rates between states. We're only talking about 3 states and a few years here.

Not to mention changes caused by selective legalization that wouldn't be the case if it was legal everywhere (higher risk drivers moving to legal states, because of legalization for instance).

Also the study was police reported crashes not fatal crashes. If legal pot causes a 6% increase in fatal crashes that's worth serious consideration, if it's a 6% increase in fender benders, not so much.


I'm all for skepticism, and agree that it needs to be applied just as much to continuing to criminalize cannabis. I worry sometimes that legalization is seen as a completely solved argument with no grey areas, when that's not the case.


Everything is a trade off. If we made swimming pools illegal we'd prevent a fair number of drowning deaths.

But the burden of proof should be on the side that wants to make something illegal. We can talk about regulating use, limiting use through taxation and education etc..., but I think you need definitive evidence of extreme harm that can't be mitigated in any other way before you start putting people in jail for growing a plant.


We could do with less cars, the numbers of death without drugs is insanely high already.

People already drive drunk because there is no good public transport. I’m sure uber/lyft must have decrease road accidents immensly.


Even if true, that's still minor compared to the millions of lives destroyed in the War On Drugs.


You mean the War On Some Drugs


Are you talking about the legalization of alcohol in 1933? The number seems low.


And that's an inherently underreported stat due to the increase in hit-and-run. When a driver flees the scene,he can't be counted as impaired.


>auto accidents

This is a grouping of words that connote happenstance while traffic collisions are generally the predictable outcome of willful, negligent, or criminal actions. #CrashNotAccident

https://twitter.com/hashtag/crashnotaccident?lang=en


This isn’t a conservative vs liberal issue. It has support within both parties. This is a old vs young issue, with those under 45 supporting legalization and older Americans against it


It seems like both political leaning and age are about equally significant:

https://news.gallup.com/poll/243908/two-three-americans-supp...

Support levels (October 2018):

Democrats: 75%

Republicans: 53%

Under 35: 78%

Over 55: 59%

Also note that now even older Americans are majority in support.


Kind of odd if you think about the fact that old-timers are likely the one who actually would benefit from cannabis legalization the most.


The conservative party in America--Republicans--tends to skew much older, so I'd say that makes it defacto liberal vs conservative to some extent.


People thought that he might be open to that one day. And then be went and selected Jeff "Good people don't smoke marijuana" Sessions as his Attorney General.


> Nobody these days has a genuine argument ...

There are real dangers for some. eg. In people predisposed to mental illness, THC can trigger psychotic episodes (there is lots written on this topic, just google "thc psychosis"). I witnessed this happen in somebody, and it's scary stuff with real negative consequences.

That's not an argument against legalization but I do think the culture needs to not see it as totally harmless.


I don't disagree with this, and I think the trend of weaponizing marijuana to ridiculous levels of strength is concerning to me. But even at the new crazy strength, as far as I know it has not caused death by overdose. I would prefer that people understand that its possible to over do just about anything that makes you feel good, so lets figure out a smarter way to handle the drug problem than "war".


The "ridiculous levels of strength" is a good thing. It means you can consume far less to get the same result.

If pot is five times stronger than it used to be, then you only use a fifth as much. That's not "weaponizing". Nobody I know sits around smoking joint after joint any more, you just have a little bit and you're done.

Actually, no one I know smokes any more. It's all vaporizers and edibles now.

Modern cannabis is much healthier than the stuff we had in the '60s.


I haven't looked very deeply and am not an expert, but I do believe there is research suggesting that higher concentrations of THC and less cannabidiol is associated with more psychotic symptoms.

Second google hit: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2801827/ - says this on page 9.

The scenario I have in mind is someone who has latent or "below the surface" susceptibility to schizophrenia or bipolar without visible symptoms and THC triggers their first episode. Most people who use it won't see this. Some will and it will come to them without warning. Denial that this is a possibility however unlikely is not great.


Wait, what? Did you miss articles in the medical journals recently that it retards (literally) cognitive abilities in at least teens?


Then we should legalize it so that teen usage will drop.

Because IIRC that's the result from the history of societies doing that.


So the companion bill to HR 420 introduced last month, but in the Republican controlled Senate? Not really much newsworthy here.


This isn’t a partisan issue. Diane Feinstein, for example opposed California’s legalization in 2016 and has opposed it at the federal level. Rand Paul supports legalization (or at least leaving the decision to the states. Democrats owned the legislative and executive branches a few years back and yet didn’t legalize. The point is that politicians in both parties have opposed and supported legalization. This, however, is an issue that could be bipartisan similar to Trump’s prison reform bill. As a conservative myself, legalization is at the very heart of a philosophy of limited government; for liberals, this issue is a chance to actually be liberal. Unfortunately true conservatism and actual liberalism have lost all meaning. Now it’s just tribes trying to “win.”


You're correct that there are Republicans who support legalization, and there are Democrats who are against it.

But if you look at the demographics of who supports legalization, it's clear which party will eventually pass legislation to legalize. Republicans are increasingly dependant on their aging, white base, and that's the exact demographic that still supports prohibition.

The Republican party as a whole has no reason to support legalization until they decide to try to broaden their appeal, which exactly what they planned on doing after their defeat in 2012. But the rise of Trump changed that. Look at who Trump appointed as his first Attorney General--a man who pined for the Reagan era war on drugs--a man who urged prosecutors to use the death penalty to fight drug trafficking.

If they lose in 2020 and decide to rebrand, who knows, but as of right now there is no chance of a Republican Senate passing legalisation, and I think a small but non-zero chance that a Democratic Senate would.


I think you may be underestimating how much value conservatives place on improving the economy. Legalizing the marijuana market on the federal level will create a gold rush in the financial markets. New tax sources, new jobs, stacks of hidden money being deposited in banking institutions, marijuana securities, licensing fees -- all brought in by a relatively safe drug. I wouldn't be surprised if the bill gets passed.


How many conservative states have legalized cannabis?

I find pragmatism rare in politics.


It's safe to say that Trump regretted his AG pick almost immediately and frankly, Sessions isn't that popular among conservatives. Also Trump has come out in support of ending a federal ban https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/06/08/dona...


>It's safe to say that Trump regretted his AG pick almost immediatel

Yes because he recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, not because of his drug policies.

>and frankly, Sessions isn't that popular among conservatives.

Only because Trump spent time attacking him for recusing himself, not because of his drug policies.

>Also Trump has come out in support of ending a federal ban

Trump also signaled that he was going to sign the spending bill before he shut down the government for 33 days. He signaled that he was will to accept money for his wall to made DACA permanent. He's changed his position on H-1Bs at least 3 times.

He comes out in support of a lot of things, because he speaks off the cuff, and changes his mind often. His public statements are so loosely correlated with his future actions that with the exception of a few topics where he's been consistent, I mostly ignore any statement that doesn't include an executive order or a signature on a bill.


Precisely. Ron Paul (R) and Barney Frank (D) introduced a legalization bill in 2011 which didn't get anywhere.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/12789013/1/ron-paul-barney-f...




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