Medical cannabis improvements on the move — act now!

While many state legislatures have adjourned due to the coronavirus, the Louisiana State Legislature is back in action — with social distancing precautions — and is considering a series of bills to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

On Wednesday, the House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously advanced bills sponsored by Rep. Larry Bagley (R) that would allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis for any debilitating condition (HB 819) and allow regulated home delivery permanently (HB 792). Next Wednesday, the committee is scheduled to consider several other reforms, including removing the prohibition on raw cannabis (Rep. Ted James’ HB 385).

Louisiana is one of only two medical cannabis states that continue to ban cannabis in its natural, plant form. Because extracts are far more expensive to produce, this drives up costs and results in a program that is out of reach to most of the state’s residents.

Let your lawmakers know these bills will improve the lives of suffering Louisianans.

Never doubt the impact constituent feedback can have on medical cannabis policy. The two bills that advanced out of committee are sponsored by a lawmaker who evolved from an opponent to a champion after hearing from constituents.

Rep. Bagley told Marijuana Moment he’d voted against previous medical cannabis bills. “But now, constituents in my area, they come to me and they ask me for help because they’re having pain, they can’t find things to cure the pain. …Now their personal physician can write them a script for [cannabis] and they can get it. Who knows you better than your personal physician? I thought it made perfect sense,” said Bagley.

After you write your lawmakers, please spread the word to other compassionate Louisianans, so that they, too, can raise their voices.


2020 Presidential Candidates on Marijuana: The Ultimate Guide

With support for marijuana legalization stronger than ever before, the issue of cannabis reform is slated to become a prominent issue in the 2020 presidential election.

Donald Trump, seeking a second term as President of the United States, is expected to earn the Republican party’s nomination. Trump has yet to take any notable actions related to marijuana, neither positive or negative, since taking office.

On the Democrat side, an abundance of declared primary candidates will battle in the primaries for their party’s nomination. Among Democratic voters, marijuana legalization has become a mainstream stance and politicians vying for their support have responded. So far, nearly every single declared Democratic presidential candidate has come out in support of either completely legalizing marijuana at the federal level, or descheduling it and leaving it up to the states.

Make informed choices by reviewing each candidate’s stance on marijuana legalization. Through the interactive tools below, you can quickly and easily sift through each candidate’s position on cannabis reform and any comments they’ve made about the issue. Click around the interactive graphic below to review each 2020 presidential candidate’s legislative support, public statements, and even tweets related to cannabis. Through the interactive timeline, you can click-and-drag and pinch-in and pinch-out zoom to discover when each candidate first made a pro-marijuana statement, first backed cannabis reform legislation, and any time there was a major development in their cannabis stance. Want to cut to the chase? A cannabis “temperature gauge” offers a quick-glance view of how strongly each candidate champions marijuana.

From now until the 2020 presidential election, this article will serve as home base for 2020 presidential candidates and their stance on federal marijuana policy. It will be regularly updated to reflect changes as presidential hopefuls enter and drop out of the race, as well as to document any shifts or major updates in cannabis views.

Read the entire article here


Bernie Sanders unveils plan to legalize marijuana, invest tax revenue in minority businesses

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders released a comprehensive plan late Thursday afternoon to legalize marijuana, begin a process to expunge old pot-related convictions and take steps to shape the emerging legal sales industry.

The proposal dropped, winkingly, at precisely 4:20 PM ET.
Sanders, a longtime proponent of marijuana legalization, would also ban tobacco companies from getting into the increasingly lucrative business, while creating a $20 billion grant program — using tax revenue from marijuana sales — to provide new capital to minority entrepreneurs.
Decades of harsh laws and sentencing requirements have “disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans,” Sanders said in a statement. “When we’re in the White House, we’re going to end the greed and corruption of the big corporations and make sure that Americans hit hardest by the war on drugs will be the first to benefit from legalization.”
Sanders unveiled the blueprint ahead of his appearance Saturday at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College, an HBCU in South Carolina. The proposal takes a number of specific steps to address the disproportionately destructive impact federal drug policy has had on the African American community. The capital grant program will be would be administered through the Minority Business Development Agency.
As part of the plan, Sanders would create a federal clemency board to deal with past marijuana-related convictions, similar to a panel established in California. That body would instruct state and federal authorities to review all applicable cases to determine if a new or vacated sentence is required. It would also give prosecutors one year to appeal any decision, after which those convictions would be immediately vacated or expunged.
The 2020 Democratic candidates broadly agree on the need to reverse or roll back current drug laws. Decriminalizing possession and reducing sentencing guidelines, at the least, are popular among many of the leading primary contenders. But there is some disagreement over the scope of the reforms being suggested.
Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have said they would effectively legalize marijuana by executive action, with Sanders pledging to do it in his first 100 days in office. Their Senate colleague Cory Booker has been a leading reform advocate and his Marijuana Justice Bill counts Sanders, Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Michael Bennet among its co-sponsors.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg supports decriminalizing the possession of all drugs including marijuana, and said Wednesday during a visit to a marijuana dispensary in Nevada that past marijuana convictions should be expunged. Former Vice President Joe Biden does not back full legalization, saying he would leave that decision to the states. He would downgrade marijuana’s federal classification, to schedule II, which is the same as cocaine.
At Sanders’ rally this past weekend in Queens, the first after he returned to the campaign following a heart attack, he teased a plan to free prisoners convicted of certain drug-related crimes.
“We are going to end the horrifically destructive war on drugs and legalize marijuana,” Sanders said, tying the cause to a broader criminal and racial justice message. “And we are going to end the disgrace of 400,000 people right now locked behind bars because they are too poor to afford cash bail.”
In seeking to prevent major corporations from seizing on wider scale legalization, Sanders plans to incentive marijuana growers and distributors who choose to start non-profit or community co-op businesses that would benefit local economies. Existing companies that sell tobacco and cigarettes, along with those “that have created cancer-causing products or (are) guilty of deceptive marketing” would be locked out of the market, according to the Sanders plan.
At an event in Iowa in September, the Vermont independent promised that he was going to shift the bounty of marijuana sales from big corporations to the people who have been most heavily impacted by current, or only recently reversed, drug laws.
“I go to Nevada, and there are these big billboards, I don’t know if you’ve seen, and it says buy this or that brand of marijuana, have you seen this? They are advertising hemp,” Sanders said. “And I’m thinking that there are people in jail for doing exactly what these large corporations are doing, selling marijuana.”

Illinois becomes the latest state to legalize marijuana, these states may follow

Illinois became the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana on Tuesday after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the regulatory bill legislators passed at the end of May. Legal recreational marijuana sales will begin in Illinois on January 1, 2020.

While many other states have legalized marijuana through voter referendums that can leave details to be agreed upon after the fact, Illinois became the first state in the country to legalize through the legislative process.

“We did something that no other state in the nation has been able to do,” Pritzker cheered at the signing ceremony.

Other states looking to replicate the bipartisan legalization bill Illinois was able to pass haven’t been as successful, leaving many wondering what state might become the 12th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana.

During Yahoo Finance’s The Business of Cannabis special earlier in June, CEOs from the leading marijuana companies, including Canopy Growth (CGC), Curaleaf (CURLF) and Chicago-based Cresco Labs weighed in on that question with differing opinions.

Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton and Acreage Holdings (ACRGF) CEO Kevin Murphy agreed that New York would be the next state to legalize recreational marijuana, while Curaleaf CEO Joe Lusardi and Cresco Labs CEO Charlie Bachtell argued New Jersey would be next to change state law.

“The electorate is going to go to the ballot box and continue to vote for cannabis laws,” Lusardi said. “It’s going to get more popular every single month and I suspect we’ll have more medical states, more recreational states in 2020 and the pressure will mount on the federal government to address this issue.”

Setbacks to legalization in New York

In the weeks that followed their comments, New York legislators pushing for legalization through the legislative process suffered many setbacks despite having support from Governor Andrew Cuomo on the issue. New York state legislators failed to agree on where the $1.7 billion in estimated annual recreational marijuana sales would be directed and opted to pass a bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana instead.

Proponents of marijuana reform in New York have defended the decision to abandon legalization efforts in favor of decriminalization as less of a failure as much as it is a step in the right direction.

“Six years I’ve been trying to get it done. We got it done, and it’s a great step forward,” Cuomo said, referring to decriminalization. Efforts to re-introduce legalization plans could resume with the next legislative session.

Cuomo pointed to the failure of politicians in New Jersey to legalize marijuana back in May as a reason for stalled progress in New York.

Legislators in New Jersey resigned to let voters decide the fate of legalizing recreational marijuana through a November 2020 referendum vote.

Read the full article at: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/illinois-becomes-the-latest-state-to-legalize-marijuana-these-states-may-follow-205113128.html


Lawmakers back legislation to legalize hemp, regulate CBD products in Louisiana

Original article by Sam Karlin at TheAdvocate.com

 

Louisiana lawmakers have agreed to legalize the growth of hemp and allow the sale of some CBD products, sending two pieces of legislation to the governor’s desk that would lay out a highly-regulated program in line with the federal farm bill.

State Rep. Clay Schexnayder’s House Bill 491, which was heavily rewritten in the Senate, won final approval from the House Monday. The bill lays out a tightly-regulated program for growing hemp, with oversight from the state Agriculture Department.

Another bill by Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, would exempt hemp grown in line with federal regulations from the legal definition of marijuana and defines the drug. House Bill 138 is headed to the governor’s desk.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has voiced support for allowing and regulating the growth of hemp.

Hemp comes from the same species of plant, Cannabis Sativa, as marijuana. Unlike marijuana, however, hemp does not have enough THC to get users high. Instead, it is used in a wide range of industrial products, textiles, fuels and other products. Producers also extract Cannabidiol, or CBD, from hemp, infusing the chemical with oils, tinctures, lotions, food products and others.

Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain would have broad regulatory powers over the hemp program, creating rules, handling permits and destroying crops that don’t meet THC thresholds. Strain has said the program will be tightly-regulated and in line with federal rules.

Supporters have touted the legislation as a potential boon to Louisiana farmers.

“When our farmers are having a down year, they’ll be able to grow a crop that will be successful,” Schexnayder said in a recent hearing on the bill.

The sale of CBD products has spread in Louisiana in recent years, but in a legal gray area. State agencies have disagreed on whether CBD products, which don’t get users high, are legally distinguishable from marijuana. Supporters have said CBD has health benefits, and while the products have become increasingly available to consumers, some state agencies have cracked down on their sale.

Sales of CBD products have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months, culminating in the high-profile arrest of a CBD seller in Lafayette last month.

Connick’s bill distinguishes CBD and marijuana, and Schexnayder’s bill lays out a list of regulations for selling CBD products. The products would be regulated by the Louisiana Department of Health and Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control under the bill.

Schexnayder’s bill was rewritten multiple times in the Senate.

The 2018 federal farm bill laid out a process for states to grow hemp, and Louisiana is expected to submit a plan to the USDA by November if the governor signs off on the proposal.

The legislation bans selling CBD in beverages unless the Food and Drug Administration approves of it as a food additive, and also prohibits CBD products marketed as dietary supplements. CBD products would have to come from hemp grown under a state program outlined by either the 2014 or 2018 farm bill and meet certain labeling requirements.

Penalties for processing or selling CBD products that don’t meet the requirements in the rule would take effect Jan. 1, 2020. Currently, CBD products are sold throughout Louisiana despite some state officials, including Strain, dubbing them illegal.

Read the full article at: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/legislature/article_8a8ea0e8-8646-11e9-a7e8-2343d72c48f5.html


Louisiana’s medical marijuana program the core issue in Agriculture Commissioner race

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s agriculture and forestry commissioner has drawn his first announced challenger for the fall election, an opponent slamming his management of medical marijuana.   Charlie Greer ran unsuccessfully four years ago against Republican Commissioner Mike Strain and announced Monday he’ll again oppose Strain on the Oct. 12 ballot.

Greer is a Democrat from Natchitoches (NAK’-a-dish) Parish and a farmer who worked in the Department of Agriculture and Forestry for 20 years before retiring in 2013.
In his announcement, Greer criticizes Strain for his regulation of Louisiana’s medical marijuana program. Though lawmakers approved a dispensing framework for cannabis nearly four years ago, medical marijuana still hasn’t reached patients.

Greer says the commissioner created unnecessary roadblocks and he’d work to lessen bureaucracy.
Strain has defended his approach, saying the regulations ensure public safety.

read the original story at: https://www.klfy.com/news/your-local-election-hq/louisiana-s-medical-marijuana-program-the-core-issue-in-agriculture-commissioner-race/1908720072


AUSTIN — Physicians and patients came out in full force Tuesday to support a proposed medical cannabis bill that will be considered in the Texas Legislature next year.

Senate Bill 269, which was filed Tuesday morning, would allow patients with debilitating or chronic conditions to receive medical cannabis under their doctor’s recommendation. The bill would expand on a 2015 Texas law that allows patients to receive certain forms of cannabis if they have intractable epilepsy.

Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, who authored the proposed bill, said the law is helpful but excludes many Texans who have other conditions that could benefit from cannabis treatment.

Twenty-eight states have legalized medical cannabis, but Menéndez said Texans should not have to leave the state to get care.

“Why are we forcing Texans to become medical refugees?” Menéndez asked. “If that’s what they’ve come to find that works for them, they should be able to live in their state and be able to have access to the medicine that their doctor feels is best for them.”

Debbie Tolany, a mother to a child with autism and intractable epilepsy, said her son has tried multiple different medications that have not worked for him.

“I can assure you that when you witness these things in your child and you know that it is because of the medication that you have given him, you wrestle with many emotions,” Tolany said. “These are harmful band aids and do nothing to address the physiological sources of my son’s pain and suffering.”

 Menéndez co-authored the bill that allowed for limited cannabis use for people with epilepsy, and also filed another bill in 2015 that would have extended medical cannabis use to more health condition

2016 Is “Biggest Year Ever” for Marijuana Reform, Advocates Say

Sunday, 30 October 2016 00:00By Michael Corcoran, Truthout | Report
Marijuana grows at a legal collective in the hills near Clearlake Oaks, Calif., July 11, 2014. Should any of these ballot initiatives pass, they will be the latest in a 20-year run of progressive reforms on this issue. (Photo: Jason Henry / The New York Times)

Marijuana grows at a legal collective in the hills near Clearlake Oaks, California, July 11, 2014. Should any of these ballot initiatives pass, they will be the latest in a 20-year run of progressive reforms on this issue. (Photo: Jason Henry / The New York Times)

If the unthinkable occurs and Donald Trump is elected president on November 8, residents of a handful of states may soon be able to legally smoke weed to cope.

Legalization of recreational use of marijuana is on the ballot in five states, and medical marijuana laws are up in another four. In legalization states, it may be a clean sweep: recent polls in Arizona, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada all show significant public support for legalization, and there is a wide margin of support in some of these states. Support for medical marijuana is strong in Arkansas,Florida and North Dakota, although a ballot question seeking to improve already existing medical marijuana laws in Montana lags in the polls.

This year’s “marijuana election,” as Newsweek described it, comes just four years after Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize and regulate cannabis and reflects the US’s growing acceptance of marijuana. These developments have advocates optimistic that, as Mike Ludwig reported in 2014, “the end of America’s marijuana prohibition is finally in sight.”

“The 2016 election may be a tipping point for marijuana reform,” said Morgan Fox, a spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project in an interview with Truthout. “This is by far the biggest year we have ever seen on this issue.”

Polling on legalizing marijuana has shown strong support for legalization in Arizona (poll done by Arizona Republic/Morrison/Conkite), Alaska (Ivan Moore), Maine (Portland Press Herald), Massachusetts (WBUR) and Nevada (Suffolk University). *A poll released on the same day (Dittman Research) found conflicting information in Alaska (43 support, 53 oppose, 7 undecided). (Credit: Michael Corcoran / Truthout)

Polling on legalizing marijuana has shown strong support for legalization in Arizona (poll done by Arizona Republic/Morrison/Conkite), Alaska (Ivan Moore), Maine (Portland Press Herald), Massachusetts (WBUR) and Nevada (Suffolk University). *A poll released on the same day (Dittman Research) found conflicting information in Alaska (43 support, 53 oppose, 7 undecided). (Credit: Michael Corcoran / Truthout)

California to Colorado: 20 Years of Progress

Should any of these ballot initiatives pass, they will be the latest in a 20-year run of progressive reforms on this issue. The first major victory was in 1996 when California voters passed Proposition 215, legalizing marijuana for medical use for the first time. Since then 24 more states and Washington, DC, have passed similar laws.

Medical marijuana was a stepping stone to other reforms. And in time 20 states decriminalized non-medical cannabis, making possession of small amounts punishable only as a civil offense — like a parking ticket. These changes proved to be very effective, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ).

“As a result [of decriminalization], many fewer young people in the former states are suffering the damages and costs of criminal arrest, prosecution, incarceration, fines, loss of federal aid, and other punishments,” concluded CJCJ’s 2015 study on five states that decriminalized cannabis. “Meanwhile, no harmful consequences appear to be materializing.”

The report, however, concluded that “staggering racial disparities” did not improve even after decriminalization. While decriminalization greatly reduced arrests for marijuana, it did not abolish them; arrests still occur depending on the weight possessed and how the marijuana is packaged, among several other factors. “One particularly striking finding is that post-reform marijuana arrest rates for African Americans across these [decriminalization] states remain considerably higher (251.9) than pre-reform rates for people of all other races (167.7),” the reportconcluded.

The report, in light of these lingering issues, suggested the states “move toward full legalization.” And, as the 2012 election showed, legalization is where the movement is headed.

“The Sky Hasn’t Fallen”: Two Case Studies in Legalization

The legalization of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington was obviously a watershed moment for the movement to end prohibition. But more than that, these first states also functioned as valuable case studies showing the potential impacts of legalization. The results have debunked the doomsday scenarios predicted by the opposition.

“I would say that the rollout was extremely smooth: the sky hasn’t fallen like some had predicted, and we’re moving forward and trying to fine-tune this regulatory model,” said Ron Kammerzell, the director of enforcement at the Colorado Department of Revenue, in an interview with Vox. This quote is proudly shared byadvocates of yes votes in states where legalization is on the 2016 ballot.

As the Marijuana Policy Project reported in a July 2016 study, marijuana cases in Colorado plummeted 77 percent, eliminating a lot of wasted time and money. Meanwhile, the industry created almost 30,000 jobs, especially since retail saleslocations opened in 2014 and tourism boomed. In 2015 Forbes named Denver as the best city in America for “business and careers.”

Furthermore, while many opponents of legalization have argued that it would increase drug use among children, trends suggest otherwise. A 2016 study from theWashington School of Medicine has concluded that “rates of marijuana use by young people are falling despite the fact more U.S. states are legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use and the number of adults using the drug has increased.”

What is arguably most inviting to voters is the tax revenue that has been collected. The Tax Foundation reported in 2016 that “Marijuana tax collections in Colorado and Washington have exceeded initial estimates.” Colorado collected over $135 million in fees and taxes from marijuana businesses, including $35 million that was earmarked for school construction. Washington State, likewise, is expected to collect$270 million annually in revenue from taxes on marijuana. Given that these laws were passed in the aftermath of the Great Recession when states suffered from depleted tax bases and huge budget shortfalls, this added revenue is especially important.

Marijuana and the Political Establishment

While marijuana advocates are thrilled about recent developments, it is worth noting that these citizens are winning despite a political and media establishment that is “way behind the public on this issue,” as Fox told Truthout. “Many politicians are still afraid of being considered ‘soft on drugs,'” he said.

In Massachusetts, for instance, the most powerful politicians in both major parties oppose the referendum, including the governor and the mayor of Boston. In Florida, which must meet a 60 percent threshold to pass the medical marijuana ballot initiative, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) just filed a lawsuit against a county election supervisor for allegedly leaving the medical marijuana question off the ballots in Broward country.

On the federal level marijuana is still illegal, with the White House’s website devoting a sizable section to express opposition to legalization. It is worth noting, however, that the presidential candidates are more open to reforming marijuana laws than many politicians on the state level. The Marijuana Policy Project grades each candidate for president, and gave Hillary Clinton a B+ for saying that reforms in the states for both medical marijuana and recreational use “need to be supported.” Trump has given conflicting statements and received a C+. Both Jill Stein and Gary Johnson have As.

The Return of “Reefer Madness”?

The 80th anniversary of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the first law to prohibit marijuana in the United States, will come in October 2017. The law was passed after Henry J. Anslinger’s absurd and openly racist campaign, “Reefer Madness,” which alleged marijuana was a “burning weed with roots in hell,” that could cause one tokill their own family members.

The campaign was so bizarre — and unintentionally hilarious — that the Reefer Madness film has a cult following. Yet, in 2016 one can still watch prime-time cable news and hear almost identical ruminations. In 2014 Nancy Grace famously said“people on pot” “shoot,” “kill” and “strangle” each other, and even “kill whole families.” This kind of language is almost identical to the absurdities expressed in the Anslinger days.

Of course, Grace does represent the extremes. CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, for example,reversed his past opposition to medical marijuana in 2013 and now calls for a “medical marijuana revolution.” Still, even “serious” commentators, like The New York Times’ David Brooks, argue that states that legalize marijuana are “nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.” And Brooks, like so many other opponents of legalizing marijuana, does so without even trying to reconcile opposition to a drug that is non-fatal and relatively benign, with his acceptance of legal alcohol, which is potentially fatal and far more dangerous.

Despite Marijuana Reform, Drug War Rages On

Whatever the trajectory of marijuana laws, it cannot be forgotten that it is just one sliver of a much larger injustice: the country’s failed “War on Drugs.” This war rages on — with complicity from the Obama White House — at a steep price to our country, and especially to people of color, who face institutionalized racism at every level of the criminal justice system. Every year well over a million Americans are arrested for drug offenses, often resulting in life-long consequences, including, in many states,losing the right to vote.

“Any changes in the war on drugs will require continued organizing and agitation, because history has shown that one step forward has also resulted in two steps back [for] communities of color,” David Simon, creator of HBO’s “The Wire,” told In These Times in 2013. “Changing the laws in two states, while a step forward, does not cut off the legs of this broader system.”

But since then, Oregon and Washington, DC have legalized marijuana. The 2016 election offers the chance for voters to take the biggest step toward ending marijuana prohibition in the nation’s history. It is possible that by 2017, eight states (plus DC) could be added to the list. And the momentum seems likely to continue into the future. Efforts for more ballot questions in 2018 are already under way.

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission


Alaska opens up!

Alaska made history and opened it’s very first legal Cannabis shop today!

Alaska’s first marijuana retailer opens to throngs of customers

By Yvette C. Hammett

VALDEZ, Alaska, Oct. 30 (UPI) — They weren’t giving away marijuana, but that didn’t stop dozens from lining up hours in advance for the opening of Alaska’s first pot shop on Saturday.

Residents of Valdez are calling their community “the highest little town at sea level,” KTVA reported.

People in Alaska see the opening of Herbal Outfitters as a historic event in their state.

Mike Holcombe was chosen to be the first inside the shop, and called the moment “monumental.”

“I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime that it would be legalized,” Holcombe said of his opportunity to purchase marijuana legally. “I’ve been waiting 46 years for pot to be legal.”

It was worth the wait, said those who braved the chill and drizzling rain to encircle the store’s entrance.

“We wanted to be part of the crowd that bought the first legal weed in Alaska,” Christopher Front told The Alaska Journal. He traveled from Anchorage with his wife Hannah and dog, Daisy.

“She wanted to be the first dog,” he added.

Herbal Outfitter manager Derek Morris said he was as surprised as anyone to learn the first shop would open in Valdez instead of in Anchorage or Fairbanks.

“We never anticipated that we’d be the first legal sale,” Morris said. “That’s still a little bit of a shock to us.”

Valdez’s previous claim to fame was as the site of the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill. That spill funneled federal disaster relief funding into Alaska when it was undergoing an oil-driven economic recession, similar to the one Alaska has now, only worse.

Now, it is part of an industry raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

 

 

Source: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2016/10/30/Alaskas-first-marijuana-retailer-opens-to-throngs-of-customers/2301477854270/


These 5 industries are the reason why marijuana is still illegal

We’ve seen some big, public pushes for marijuana policy reform from certain legislators and pro-marijuana organizations in recent years. But we hear less from the other side —  the groups fighting to keep marijuana illegal. That’s probably because these anti-marijuana lobby groups are interested in preserving the War on Drugs for their own financial interests.

Here are the top 5 anti-marijuana lobby groups:

1. Pharmaceutical corporations

Pharmaceutical companies stand to lose a lot of market share if marijuana is legalized because cannabis would offer a cheap, safe alternative to their products, according to Republic Report.

Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”

Drug manufacturers gave nearly $21.8 million to various federal candidates and committees as well as the parties in the 2012 elections. And in 2013 alone PhRMA spent nearly $18 million on lobbying, according to OpenSecrets.

2. Police unions

Police unions donate heavily to anti-legalization efforts, probably because ending the War on Drugs would translate to decreased police funding.

Ending marijuana prohibition would not only disrupt federal awards to police departments ($2.4 billion in 2014), it would also cut into marijuana-related asset forfeitures, as reported by The Nation’s Lee Fang.

But this is how Jim Pasco, the executive director of The National Fraternal Order of Police, defends the pushback against marijuana legalization efforts, as reported byPolitico:

“The sentiment within the law enforcement community, which has to deal with the effects of addictive drugs, is that we’re not going to sit on our hands and watch these people misrepresent.”

“The country is going to hell in a handbasket. … People are worried about their Social Security and health care, and these people are worried about getting high.”

3. Private prison corporations

Private prisons are another industry that would obviously be disrupted by legalizing marijuana.

Fewer people being sentenced for marijuana crimes translates directly into fewer bodies private prison corporations can reap incarceration profits from.

OpenSecrets reports that the two largest private prison operators, Corrections Corporation of America and GEO, have been lobbying heavily against policies that would reduce incarceration. Corrections Corporation of America has spent at least $970,000 a year on lobbying since 2008, and GEO has spent anywhere from $250,000 to $660,000 a year on lobbying.

According to The Intercept, private prison companies aren’t just funding conservative politicians’ campaigns, they’re also contributing to campaigns for perceived progressive politicians, like 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

4. Prison guard unions

States that legalize marijuana are more likely to see declines in prison populations, which will reduce the need for the government to utilize private prison companies and correctional officers, according to OpenSecrets.

For example, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association gave $1 million to the campaign that successfully defeated Proposition 5 in 2008, which would have reduced parole sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders as well as emphasizing drug treatment and rehabilitation programs as an alternative to incarceration.

Another politically active labor union representing many prison guards and donating to the campaign against drug reform is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

More from OpenSecrets:

In the 2012 campaign cycle AFSCME gave more than $13 million to candidates, parties and committees at the federal level. In 2013, AFSCME spent almost $2.7 million on lobbying efforts.

5. Alcohol and beer companies

Alcohol interests are lobbying to keep marijuana illegal because they just don’t want the competition for Americans’ leisure spending, according to Republic Report.

For example, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed $10,000 in campaign contributions to a committee working to prevent Proposition 19, which would have legalized and taxed marijuana, from passing back in 2010, as reported by LA Weekly. Needless to say, Proposition 19 failed to pass.

 

Source:  Extract


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