American Cannabis Report (ACR):Governor, it’s quite an honor to be sitting with you today and thank you for taking your time to speak with us. We are fascinated by your support of cannabis because we assume a conservative governor would typically feel it’s risky to support it. What encouraged you to support cannabis andto join the Board of Acreage Holdings?
I don’t feel it’s risky at all to support a responsible cannabis industry. It always feels right to lean into the pitch when it’s the right issue.
For me, the clincher is all the medical evidence coming out of research programs like the one at Hebrew University in Israel. The science is there. They’ve shown that compounds from cannabis can be injected into cancer cells directly so those cells die.
It’s also tremendously powerful as a palliative agent, which helps people with intense and chronic pain. They’ve demonstrated positive impact on the nervous system as a neuroprotectant, and strong anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect the heart. They’ve shown good results against spasticity, such as exists with MS, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy. And it’s been shown to help with common diseases that affect Americans in huge numbers – allergies, asthma, insomnia, obesity, and low-appetite as you see in patients with cancer and other wasting diseases.
All of these benefits, and no negative side effects.
The bottom line is, eliminating symptoms eliminates suffering. What could be more important than reducing human suffering?
The Supreme Court recently ruled on sports betting, essentially leaving it to the states to decide. Do you feel this ruling sets a guidepost for how the federal government should deal with cannabis?
I cannot believe the federal government will continue to hold the old line against cannabis which is based on lies, rumor and innuendo of the Reefer Madness era. The propaganda of Reefer Madness has lived on for decades without any scientific support. The DEA, the FDA - - it lives on in all these federal agencies. Why it can’t be left to the states to decide what’s best for their own people is beyond me.
I cannot believe the federal government will continue to hold the old line against cannabis which is based on lies, rumor and innuendo of the Reefer Madness era.
So, to answer your question, the sports betting decision is absolutely a political guidepost for the states-rights position. And remember, I’m a Libertarian – so I take the 10th Amendment very seriously.
During the election, President Trump said that cannabis should be a states’ rights issue, and I support that position.
ACR: It’s interesting that other governors have felt so much pressure either from corporate donors or from powerful education/research organizations that they have pushed against legalization – Chris Christie comes to mind. As a leading headquarters of both business and education institutions, Massachusetts might that mold, but you’re on the other side of the issue – why?
WW: I never felt any pressure from any college or corporate entity in the State of Massachusetts. The people elected us, and we answered only to them.
Our cannabis ballot measure passed in 2016. The State legislature tried to change things immediately – they wanted to raise the taxes – which would only perpetuate the black market. I fought that.
ACR: Governor, you’ve been more than generous with your time. Is there anything you wish I had asked?
WW: “The Prince of Denmark” is to deschedule cannabis. It will allow our scientists to research the plant freely. The Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research makes it abundantly clear that cannabis can address a wide array of conditions, and we should know these things, confirm them, and allow the American people to access the best treatments available.
The science is there. I can’t understand why it should be kept secret from the American people. And I’m going to keep asking that question in Washington until I get an answer.
William Weld is the Libertarian former Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and a Board Member of one of America’s largest cannabis companies, Acreage Holdings.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The The Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research at Hebrew University is spearheaded by Professor Raphael Mechoulam, whom we have recommended for a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his decades of work in cannabis, discovery of the endocannabinoid system, and THC, among many other breakthroughs]
image source: Acreage Holdings