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Arkansas Governor Rallies Law Enforcement to Stand Against Cannabis Legalization, States with Legal Cannabis See Fewer Poisonings from Synthetic Marijuana, and The Federal Government is Seeking a Contractor to Help Test Cannabis in People’s Breath

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Arkansas Governor Rallies Law Enforcement to Stand Against Cannabis Legalization

Last week, Arkansas’s Governor Asa Hutchinson spoke to law enforcement at the Arkansas Municipal Police Association Convention. While addressing attendees, he encouraged police to “stand firm” against cannabis legalization. He encouraged officers to become an active part of the opposition to the proposed ballot initiative for this November. The measure is facing legal challenges and advocates remain hopeful that the initiative will appear on the ballot. Gov. Hutchinson was the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) under President George W. Bush. During his time with the DEA, Hutchinson oversaw raids in state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries and has actively spoken out against cannabis legalization for Arkansans. 

States with Legal Cannabis See Fewer Poisonings from Synthetic Marijuana

Recent data suggests that states with legal cannabis see fewer poisonings from synthetic marijuana. Synthetic cannabis is marketed under names such as Spice, K2, and AK-47. Beginning in 2010 until around 2015, poisonings from this synthetic weed were on the rise. According to numbers from the ToxIC Case Registry, there were over 42,000 instances of “toxic exposure” to these substances during those five years. But a recent study shows that states with legal adult-use cannabis saw calls about these poisonings fall by about one-third between 2016 and 2019. Synthetic marijuana products have sent numerous individuals to the ER and have even been responsible for several deaths. Oftentimes, copycat cannabis is laced with toxic substances such as rat poison. Of all the calls to poison control centers regarding synthetic cannabis between 2016 and 2019, only 5.5 percent occurred in states with recreational cannabis programs. 

The Federal Government is Seeking a Contractor to Help Test Cannabis in People’s Breath

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a non-regulatory agency of the federal government, posted a “sources sought” notice last week where they announced they are looking for a contractor to help conduct a study on the impact of cannabinoids on people’s breath. The government has long been searching for a way to create a reliable roadside test to check the intoxication levels of drivers who have used cannabis. Over the last decade, many efforts have been made to create a device that would measure cannabis levels in the same way a breathalyzer can check for alcohol levels. According to the posted notice, NIST is seeking a contractor to help research cannabinoid levels in breath and blood samples from study participants. The contractor would collect the samples and send them to NIST for lab analysis.