OTTAWA — The first federal budget in more than two years extends Ottawa’s COVID-19 “lifeline” for workers and struggling businesses another few months as it aims to pull Canada through the pandemic once and for all. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s first crack at a budget plan is also widely viewed as a pre-election platform with more than $100 billion in new spending over the next three years targeting a wide variety of voters, from seniors and their caregivers, to parents and business owners.
New Mexico is joining a wave of states legalizing recreational weed as its Democrat-dominated legislature sent a package of marijuana bills on Wednesday to a supportive governor. Lawmakers used a marathon legislative session to push through marijuana legalization for adults over 21 and a companion bill that automatically erases many past marijuana convictions. The bills would legalize recreational pot sales in New Mexico by April 2022. New Mexico would join 16 states that have already legalized marijuana. California and Colorado were among the first in the U.S. to legalize the drug, with Arizona following suit earlier this year through a ballot initiative. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a legalization bill on Wednesday, and a proposal in Virginia is awaiting the governor’s signature. The New Mexico bills would reconsider criminal drug sentences for about 100 prisoners and give the governor a strong hand in regulating the industry. New Mexico flirted with cannabis legalization in the 1990s under then-Gov. Gary Johnson. The state’s medical marijuana program founded in 2007 has attracted more than 100,000 patients.
New Yorkers over the age of 21 can now possess and use marijuana — even in public — under a legalization bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, though legal sales of recreational cannabis won’t start for an estimated 18 months. Passed after several years of stalled efforts, the measure makes New York the 16th state to legalize use of the drug. New York becomes the second-most populous state, after California, to legalize recreational marijuana. “By placing community reinvestment, social equity, and justice front and center, this law is the new gold standard for reform efforts nationwide,” Melissa Moore, New York state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said. The legislation also prohibits police from using the odor of cannabis as a reason for searching someone’s car for contraband. New York will start automatically expunging some past marijuana-related convictions, and people won’t be arrested or prosecuted for possession of pot up to 3 ounces.
A two-week course of high doses of CBD helped restore the function of two proteins key to reducing the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, and improved cognition in an experimental model of early onset familial Alzheimer’s—a form of Alzheimer’s that doctors know for certain is linked to genes—investigators report. The proteins TREM2 and IL-33 are important to the ability of the brain’s immune cells to literally consume dead cells and other debris like the beta-amyloid plaque that piles up in patients’ brains—and levels of both are decreased in Alzheimer’s. The researchers report for the first time that CBD normalizes levels and function, improving cognition by more than seven-fold as it reduces levels of the immune protein IL-6 in mice, which is associated with the high inflammation levels found in Alzheimer’s, says Dr. Babak Baban, immunologist and associate dean for research in the Dental College of Georgia and the study’s corresponding author. He joined colleagues at the Medical College of Georgia, writing in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Democrat legislators are firing back at the White House amid news that the Biden administration disqualified would-be staffers because of past marijuana use that turned up on background checks, despite early administration signals indicating a more progressive policy on weed. “On Friday, responding to a news report in The Daily Beast that said dozens of young staff members had been pushed to resign or had been reassigned to remote work based on their past marijuana use, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, confirmed that some employees had been sidelined but said that it applied to fewer people,” The New York Times reported late last week. Psaki also responded to the claims on Twitter, writing that “The bottom line is this…of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy.”
These are heady times for the cannabis industry. Countries from Mexico to Norway are taking concrete steps towards decriminalizing the drug. The biggest prize of all is the American market, where cannabis is now broadly legal in 15 states, and analysts believe the dominoes will keep falling. With that liberalization of pot laws comes increased investment – but also a greater focus on the environmental cost of cultivation. Strict laws around growing cannabis leave the crop with a heavy carbon footprint. In Arizona, cannabis is believed to produce more carbon dioxide emissions than coal – and that state is one of the 10 largest coal producers in the U.S. In this week’s Riskin Report, CTV News Science and Technology Specialist Dan Riskin looks at what’s behind the heavy pollution price of pot, and what could be done to reduce a large chunk of the cannabis industry’s emissions.