The War on Drugs rages on.
The War on Drugs rages on. Pot Activists / Shutterstock

DEA Approves Studying Pot Use for Vets with PTSD

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) finally gave the nod for a study to measure the effectiveness of pot as a treatment for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, reports Leafly News. The announcement, made early last week, marks the end of a five-year delay. The study was first approved by the FDA in 2011, only to be hamstrung by the complex federal approval process and conservative politicians in Arizona.

The study's approval is a big deal. Firstly, it represents a sea change at the DEA, which has historically acted as a roadblock for anyone wanting to do any productive research on pot. The fact that the DEA is open to a study on the benefits of pot could have major ramifications when it comes time to reassess cannabis’ scheduling status under the Controlled Substances Act this summer.

Secondly, the study's results could be life-saving. As I recently reported, many vets say cannabis is the only thing that works for their PTSD, and credit it with saving their lives. After my story was published, even more vets chimed in to agree. Sadly, the Veterans Affairs has refused to allow using medical cannabis to treat vets with PTSD, saying there is a lack of scientific evidence of its efficacy. After years of Orwellian doublethink on the subject—"we don't have any studies proving it's safe, but it's too dangerous to study"—we might finally get that evidence.

Also, while the study’s results could provide objective proof to corroborate the mountains of anecdotal evidence we already have, it might actually be a moot point. The decision to allow vets to use pot may ultimately be made in the legislature, not the laboratory. The Senate Appropriations Committee recently introduced an amendment to the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies appropriations bill allowing VA docs to recommend medical cannabis in states where it’s legal, and legislators have become increasingly vocal about changing the way the government handles pot, at least of the medical variety. Here’s hoping.

Prominent Hasidic Rabbi Huffs Pot, Likes It, Declares It Kosher for Passover

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, whose word carries some major weight in the Hasidic community, was recently asked by an Israeli medical cannabis advocacy group to weigh in on medical pot for Passover, reports the Influence.

While his assessment might not be as scientifically stringent as the DEA's, it's a whole heck of a lot simpler: He just took a whiff. After getting his schnoz between some pot leaves, he declared the plant to have a "healing smell" and blessed it for Passover. The news is surely a boon to Orthodox Jews who depend on medical cannabis. Perhaps also to the matzo industry. Here's an adorable video of the rabbi's decision-making process.

United Nations Stands Firm on Pot Policy, Prompting Grumbles Among Cannabis Advocates

ICYMI, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) held a drug policy summit last week, which coincided, completely coincidentally, with 4/20. I say "coincidentally" because the UN, despite pressure from such illustrious figures as Bernie Sanders and Busta Rhymes, is still not 4/20-friendly. The assembly approved a policy document that sticks by the UN's previous prohibitionist stance on drugs while calling for a slightly softer approach to enforcement. That didn't sit well with drug policy activists—or Jamaica.

In a speech during the summit, Werner Sipp, the head of the UN International Narcotics Control Board, doubled down on previous UN policy, which criminalizes all drug use that's not for medical or scientific purposes. He also took a moment to throw some shade toward those who have voted to legalize recreational pot.

"Recent legislative developments in some countries that permit and regulate the non-medical use of controlled substances, in particular cannabis, are in clear contravention of the conventions," Sipp said. "They defy the international consensus upon which international cooperation depends." Normally, I'm all for international consensus, but not when it's in favor of a policy that's wildly out of date and opposed by so many smart people, including former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Mexico and Canada, for their part, DGAF. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has previously opposed pot reform and said he might not even attend the summit, not only showed up but showed out for pot, characterizing cannabis as a public health issue, reports the BBC.

"We Mexicans know all too well the range and the defects of prohibitionist and punitive policies, and of the so-called War on Drugs that has prevailed for 40 years,'' he said in a statement last Thursday.

Canada, long a friend to pot, used their time on stage at UNGASS to announce plans for legislation that would legalize recreational cannabis for adults. In her speech at the summit, Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government would introduce the legislation by early 2017.