Month: December 2020

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! Please Support Small Businesses.

I am not much of a gift giver, except for my wife, because I’m not a complete idiot. My gift to you and everyone, is that you don’t have to give me a gift. However, when I do give gifts, I try my best to support small businesses and entrepreneurs. For instance, a group of dear friends of mine have pitched in several times this year to acquire art from local artists as birthday presents for friends. (Shoutout to the Bedhead Crew AKA The Verbose MFers!)

When shopping for the cannabis connoisseur in your life, or rewarding yourself for surviving 2020 thus far, please venture into Kind Leaf in beautiful Pendleton or another local small craft cannabis shop. By shopping at a local dispensary, you are supporting Oregon’s schools and drug treatment services with your tax dollars, but also helping provide jobs in your local community, and the money stays in Oregon, and not getting sent to another state or even another country.

Also, when you support Kind Leaf, you are helping other local businesses that they partner with AND you assist the sponsoring local families in need to provide a great Christmas for their children. Kind Leaf’s Kind Tree program is in its fourth year, and this year it made some adjustments.

BACKGROUND ON THE KIND TREE PROGRAM:

This is a time of happiness, connection, giving and making memories. There are some local children that don’t feel the same way about the holidays inside, even though on the outside they seem strong, resilient and happy even though they may not be finding much under their tree. Life happens so fast and parents sometimes need help this time of year, the cold makes the utilities rise, extra layers means buying extra clothes and all of the other expenses can leave the tree rather empty. This is where we step in. The Kind Leaf team has has helped gather support for over 25 families each year for three years in row by putting up the Kind Tree.

HOW IT WORKS:

The Kind Tree is uniquely decorated each year with beautiful ornaments and tags with children’s age and gender on them. Our visitors have the option to participate by selecting a tag from the tree and returning with a gift. Kind Leaf encourage gifts of $25 or more as we kindly return the participants generosity with a Kind Tree credit to use in our store during their next visit.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT THIS YEAR?

Due to the extra hardships involved with COVID, Kind Leaf decided to reduce the amount of families from 25 to 10, and instead of gathering three gifts per child from the community,the program will fully sponsor the selected families children, providing them their Christmas gifts as well as a delicious Christmas dinner food box.

This year has been an extremely difficult year for so many of us, but there’s also been some great achievements to celebrate and plenty of opportunities to spread love and joy. And you can’t spread much more joy than to help children wake up to a “Santa’s worth” of presents.

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas, everybody! Please be safe, and have an amazing New Year. (I may chime in again, especially if there is some more breaking news for the Kind Leaf Journal to break, but this is my last scheduled blog until 2021 as I take some time off. It’s been a crazy ride this year, thanks for being here.)

In addition to supporting your local community and great projects like the Kind Tree program, Kind Leaf has the best selection and great deals, along with discounts for senior citizens, military veterans, OMMP patients, and utilizing the pickup window. Plus, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique delivers quality content like this rendition of The 12 Days of Kushmas.

Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt Wisely Implements Oregon Decriminalization Law

Both District Attorney Mike Schmidt and the Oregon Measure 110 drug decriminalization law won overwhelmingly in Multnomah County, as residents throughout the Portland Metropolitan Area understand the need to move towards progressive “smart on crime” policies instead of regressive and ineffective “tough on crime” laws. Treating drug use and addiction as a health issue instead of a criminal matter, as Measure 110 calls for, is a foundational position of progressive criminal justice reforms, and it is great to see that Schmidt announced that his office will wisely implement Measure 110 early, even though the law doesn’t officially go into effect until February 1, 2021.

Multnomah County is joining both Clackamas and Deschutes County in saving limited law enforcement resources and taxpayer dollars, not to mention improving more lives, by promptly enacting Measure 110. From the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office:

“The passage of Ballot Measure 110 sends a clear message of strong public support that drug use should be treated as a public health matter rather than a criminal justice matter. Past punitive drug policies and laws resulted in over-policing of diverse communities, heavy reliance on correctional facilities and a failure to promote public safety and health. It’s time to move beyond these failed practices, expand access to treatment and focus our limited law enforcement resources to target high-level, commercial drug offenses,” said District Attorney Mike Schmidt.

Under Ballot Measure 110, people will no longer be arrested and jailed for the possession of small amounts of drugs. Instead, they will get the opportunity for a health assessment and be connected to treatment or recovery services, including housing assistance.

Because of the strong public support for Ballot Measure 110 and the need to conserve scarce law enforcement resources during a time of competing demands, the district attorney’s office will immediately change its practices relating to the handling of cases that contain a PCS charge.

I applaud District Attorney Mike Schmidt and every Oregon law enforcement official that is treating personal drug possession as a health issue instead of a criminal matter. The Drug War has not worked and it is time to implement a new, health-based approach. This is not a free-for-all to sell drugs as critics have nonsensically claimed and the sky will not fall, just as the sky remained above us when we legalized cannabis.

I urge everyone to support DA Schmidt and all elected officials who are following the will of the voters and turning the page on failed, harmful, and racist Drug War policies. I look forward to more Oregon prosecutors following this path and eventually more states following in Oregon’s footsteps in sweeping the War on Drugs into the dustbin of history. #NoMoreDrugWar

A summary of Multnomah County DA’s new practices can be obtained by here and a detailed explanation can be obtained by clicking here.

Innocence Project Helps Free Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for $20 Cannabis Sale

Thanks to a student Innocence Project group at the University of Missouri, I learned about the plight of Joseph Amrine, an innocent man on death row, while I was in law school. I was proud to help join a coalition of advocates, including political strange bedfellows such as Mizzou’s law school ACLU and Christian Legal Society chapters, to help fight for Amrine’s release. It was one of my life’s great honors to sit next to attorney Sean O’Brien as he successfully argued for Joe’s release before the Missouri Supreme Court. The Innocence Project has done amazing work across the nation, and I was so happy to see that they just helped release Fate Winslow, who had been sentenced to LIFE IN PRISON in Louisiana for selling $20 worth of cannabis while he was hungry and homeless.

ABC News reported:

Winslow was approached by undercover officers in Shreveport in 2008, and they asked him where they could get some marijuana. Winslow borrowed a bike, went and found some marijuana and came back to give it to the officers who then gave him $5 so he could buy some food, according to his attorneys at the Innocence Project New Orleans.

Winslow had already been convicted of three previous non-violent crimes stretching from when he was a 17-year-old to when he was 36, making him susceptible to the state’s repeat offender law.

The Innocence Project New Orleans took up his case, appealing his life sentence on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. He was eventually re-sentenced to time served. The director of the Innocence Project New Orleans, Jee Park, said Winslow received an “obscenely excessive sentence given his life circumstances and crime, and today, we are correcting that unconstitutional, inhumane sentence.”

It is such a shame that Mr. Winslow had to suffer through 12 years of prison before he was released. This case is a great reminder that while folks in Oregon, and other legal states, enjoy (mostly) sensible criminal cannabis laws, there are still too many people that are harmed by the failed and harmful war on the cannabis community. On the positive side, this case shows how dedicated people fighting the good fight can make a positive impact in people’s lives. Let’s support all of the great advocates such as the Innocence Project and the Last Prisoner Project who are working hard to free nonviolent, innocent people from prison.

Just Say “HELL NO!” to SAM’s Patrick Kennedy as Joe Biden’s Drug Czar

During the first cannabis law reform campaign that I worked on, all the way back in 2003, we were paid a visit by representatives of the United States Drug Czar’s office, in an illegal, taxpayer-funded trip to campaign against a local decriminalization measure in little Columbia, Missouri, AKA College Town USA. All in an effort to stop the decriminalization of less than 35 grams for all adults and the legal, personal possession of patients with a doctor’s recommendation, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONCP) sent the Deputy Drug Czar, Scott Burns, and a young staffer named Kevin Sabet, to stop our local city measure.

While the ONDCP’s meddling helped the Reefer Madness prohibitionists defeat our 2003 initiative, local advocates struck back, passing both decrim and medical measures in 2004, both with over 60% of the vote. While Deputy Drug Czar Scott Burns has seemingly lost relevance, at least from this drug policy reformer’s perspective, and my quick Google research, Kevin Sabet has continued to preach his Reefer Madness prohibitionist message as the executive director of the so-called Smarter Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), which he co-founded with former Representative Patrick Kennedy, of the famous political clan. While Sabet and Kennedy have tried to put a “kindler, gentler” face on their prohibitionism, claiming that they support decriminalization, just not legalization, their actions don’t support their rhetoric, and I don’t remember Sabet ever apologizing for campaigning against decriminalization in the past.

Now, Patrick Kennedy is trying to get appointed as president-elect Joe Biden’s Drug Czar, which would have disastrous consequences to our movement towards treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal one. Kennedy has had his own battles with addiction, for which I sympathize, but his wealth, privilege, and family connections put him out-of-touch with the realities that everyday people face when suffering criminal consequences due to the failed and harmful Drug War.

Joe Biden needs to pick a Drug Czar that understands that no one should suffer criminal consequences for their personal cannabis use and that we are not going to arrest and jail our way out of our nation’s addiction issues. NORML has made it easy to speak out against Kennedy’s appointment and to make the even better decision to shut down the Drug Czar’s office altogether:

At a minimum, the head of this agency must be someone whose views align with those of most Americans. Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy does not meet this criteria. Rather, he is a longtime opponent of legalization who has dedicated a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money to organize against marijuana policy reform. In fact, he co-founded with Kevin Sabet the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana — which has consistently lobbied against virtually every state and federal reform bill to legalize marijuana for either adult-use or for medical use. Further, while the group claims to support ‘decriminalizing’ penalties for the personal use of cannabis, it has failed to use its lobbying resources to advocate in favor of such policies in states like Virginia and in others that have done so. In 2014, Kennedy said “Incarceration is a powerful motivator,” in regard to his efforts to prevent the adult consumption of cannabis.

There is no place in the Biden administration for policy leaders who cling to these outdated viewpoints. It’s time to do as you promised and to move away from the failed drug war policies of the past. You promised to do so and we expect you to follow through on your pledge.

Please join in the effort to stop a Reefer Madness prohibitionist from becoming the next Drug Czar. The cannabis community, as well as the larger drug policy reform movement, have made too many strides forward to take a major step back. Just say NO to the Drug War, and just say HELL NO to Patrick Kennedy as Drug Czar.

Voters Find Cannabis Legalization Both Nonpartisan and Inevitable

I sometimes cringe when I hear people, especially non-activists, proclaim cannabis legalization as “inevitable.” On one hand, it is good for our political fight to ending prohibition as most voters don’t want to ruin lives and waste taxpayer dollars to perpetuate a failed and harmful policy that is going to end in the near future. However, the feeling of inevitability can discount the tons of work that people have put into the fight for freedom and make some people think that they don’t have to put in any work to help end the war on cannabis. While I do believe that it’s true that legalization is inevitable, it is only inevitable because so many people are working extremely hard every single day to spread the truth about cannabis and explaining the many reasons that prohibition should be repealed to voters, legislators, and policymakers.

A poll surveying voters in the four states that legalized cannabis last month (Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota) did indeed find that voters find legalization as inevitable, and most promising, non-partisan, as Marijuana Moment reported:

Three in four respondents said that, beyond their individual states, they view federal legalization as “inevitable.” And while Congress has been relatively slow to act to that end, their belief is bolstered by the fact that they view cannabis as an increasingly bipartisan issue.

Almost two-thirds of voters in these four states—which include a mix of red, blue and purple states—agreed that legalization is a policy that “both liberal and conservative voters can get behind.”

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“In sum, public opinion in the four states that legalized marijuana this fall shows a pattern of shifting opinions that bodes well for marijuana policy reform across the country,” FM3 Research and Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, which conducted the poll on behalf of the pro-legalization New Approach PAC, wrote in a memo. “Support for legalization in principle has become broad, strong, and bipartisan—reflecting a steady positive shift in perceptions of voters of all parties over the last few years.”

According to the New Approach PAC poll, a whopping 76% of these voters feel that legalization is inevitable, compared to 19% who don’t. Very promising, 65% of all voters, including 53% of Republicans, found that legalization is a non-partisan issue. I have long argued that cannabis law reformers needed to make the case to all voters about the progressive and conservative values at the core of the legalization debate, especially where the two sides meet: the need to remove government interference from the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens that aren’t harming anyone else. Virtually every poll on cannabis is good news these days, but never forget that polls aren’t votes and that we cannot get complacent. The polling looks good because people are putting in the work. Let’s keep it up.

“A Compassionate Approach to Ending the War on Drugs” Panel this Wednesday

The harms of the Drug War are legion. Most importantly, too many lives have been lost and ruined while civil rights have eroded and tax dollars have been wasted. Nations have even been destabilized and the harmful consequences of the Drug War impact virtually all facets of our lives. Thanks to the work of dedicated advocates over many decades, we have been chipping away at this failed war, starting with legalizing cannabis across the United States, whether for medical reasons, or for personal use by adults.

Thanks to the cannabis community’s victories taking place city by city and state by state, we are now seeing momentum in the Halls of Congress. We have even seeing electoral success tackling other aspects of the Drug War, from reducing criminal penalties at the legislative level, to passing several local city measures, and even decriminalizing the personal possession of all drugs in the great state of Oregon. I was honored and humbled to serve as a chief petitioner of Measure 110, Oregon’s decriminalization measure, and the Measure 91 cannabis legalization initiative and I am so pleased to be joining a the Portland Psychedelic Society’s “A Compassionate Approach to Ending the War on Drugs” panel this Wednesday, December 16th, from 5:30pm-7:30pm. The event is free, just RSVP with Eventbrite.

I will be joining Diane Goldstein, Executive Board Chair of Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)(formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition); Sanho Tree, the Project Director of the Drug Policy – Institute of Policy Studies; and Abhi Dewan, the Student and Federal Liaison for the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). We will be discussing the history and evolution of America’s drug laws towards certain psychoactive substances, the enforcement and impact on society due to the Drug War, and the important efforts being made to put an end to these harmful policies. This is an exciting time for drug policy reformers. Join us.

A Supermajority of Americans Support Expunging Cannabis Convictions

I’ve seen past internal campaign polling showing that a lot of voters weren’t too high on expunging old cannabis convictions, even though a strong majority supported legalization. The dichotomy always seemed really strange to me and it didn’t make sense. I’ve also been proud to work on successfully passing bipartisan expungement legislation in Oregon, without many voters expressing outrage or punishing the politicians leading the legislative work. Now, just after Gallup’s poll showing that an all-time record of 68% of American voters support ending cannabis prohibition, a supermajority now favor expunging old, outdated and harmful convictions, as Marijuana Moment reported:

The YouGov survey, which was released on Tuesday and involved 7,141 participants, asked whether U.S. adults “support or oppose expunging marijuana-related convictions for non-violent offenders?”

Seventy percent of respondents said they favor the policy, with 46 percent strongly supporting it. There was majority back among every demographic surveyed, including political ideologies, regions of the U.S., age, gender and income level.

Eighty-one percent of Democrats back expungements, compared to 57 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of independents.

It is great to see voters coming around on expunging old cannabis convictions with supermajority support. Ending the Drug War includes doing what we can to eliminate past harms. Getting rid of a scarlet letter that prevents job and housing opportunities while increasing unneeded stigma, is one step in our journey towards true freedom.

New Poll: Voters Prefer Candidates that Support Cannabis Legalization

The passage of the MORE Act, the historic bill that would end federal cannabis prohibition, was a major milestone for the cannabis community, and it fulfilled a campaign promise by United States House of Representatives leadership. However, a new poll out finds that House leaders made a mistake of postponing a vote on the measure until after the November general election. While political opponents have criticized MORE Act supporters for passing the bill while the nation faces so many serious issues related to the COVID pandemic, polling shows that, SURPRISE, voters prefer candidates that support issues with strong majority support, such as cannabis legalization.

Marijuana Moment reported on the poll commissioned by Data For Progress, Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement and New Deal Strategies. The survey questioned 1,375 likely voters in 13 congressional swing districts:

Asked whether they support legalizing cannabis for adult use, 57 percent of respondents in the swing districts said they did. That includes 71 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independents and 38 percent of Republicans.

What’s more, “marijuana legalization—a major progressive proposal—appears to additionally be a popular persuasion policy for independent voters” whose support could make or break tight races. And while only just over one-third of Republican voters said they favor the policy change in this survey, that is still an important figure, the groups said.

“This significant and growing support for marijuana legalization across party lines demonstrates clear potential for the Democratic Party to capitalize on the popularity of marijuana legalization as a key part of their policy agenda,” they wrote said.

Let this be a lesson to politicians. Cannabis legalization is a winning issue. Do not be afraid of supporting a policy that has strong majority support across our nation. The upcoming Georgia special election determining control of the U.S. Senate will be a decent test of this theory with Democrats Reverend Ralph Warnock and Joel Ossoff supporting legalization while Republican Kelly Loeffler has criticized the the MORE Act and her fellow Republican Senator David Perdue hasn’t supported legalization either. With the GOP’s Mitch McConnell blocking cannabis legalization legislation as Senate President, based upon polling the Democrats would be wise to highlight the need to end prohibition, while the Georgia Republican Senators should rethink their support of the failed, harmful, and unpopular policy of prohibition.

The Cannabis Community Is on Fire: United States House Passes Cannabis Research Legislation

The hits keep coming for the cannabis community as our hot streak continues in the political realm. Fresh off the heels of the passage of the historic MORE Act to end federal prohibition, the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a research bill today on a voice vote.  House Resolution 3797: The Marijuana Research Act, facilitates research by establishing a process so that allows scientists to access cannabis flower and other products manufactured in accordance with state-regulated programs.

As Marijuana Moment reported, the research bill had the backing of cannabis law reform leader Earl Blumenauer and prohibitionist Andy Harris:

“The cannabis laws in this country are broken, especially those that deal with research,” Blumenauer said on the House floor prior to the vote. “It’s a narrow bill that fixes one of many broken cannabis laws. And I want to hasten to add that this in no way negates the need to move forward with other areas of legalization… But this is sort of a foundational question. No matter where you are, there’s no reason the federal government should impede this critical research.”

Harris, for his part, pointed out that he and Blumenauer probably disagree more vigorously with one another about marijuana legalization than any two other members of Congress. But “we agree 100 percent that we need to do this research,” he said.

“Now, unfortunately, because of the public policy we’ve had in place with marijuana and its scheduling, [research] simply couldn’t be done,” Harris, who is a medical doctor, said. “You can’t do it under the current scheduling… This is on us. It shouldn’t have taken so long to get to this point.”

As NORML’s Paul Armentano wrote previously in The Hill, the DEA has stifled research on a number of fronts:

It’s been nearly three years since the Drug Enforcement Administration formally announced plans to facilitate FDA-approved marijuana-related research in the United States. Unfortunately, in the 36 months since then, the agency has woefully failed to follow through on their pledge.

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Moreover, U-Miss’s “research-grade” marijuana is only available to scientists in the form in rolled cigarettes. Marijuana-infused oils, edibles and capsules — items that are now commonplace in both medical and adult-use states — are not available to investigators absent explicit permission from the DEA to import such products from countries outside of the United States.

Scientists wishing to better study the effects cannabis plant in controlled human trials have long been aware of these onerous hurdles, which often discourage many investigators from engaging in such activities.

Like the MORE Act, this research bill faces an uncertain future with the Mitch McConnell-led Senate. However, unlike the MORE Act, this legislation was passed in a bipartisan manner, elevating hopes that McConnell will allow it to proceed. Whether HR 3797 ultimately passes this year or not, its future, and the future of the cannabis community is certainly very bright. Let’s keep the fire going.

Make Your Christmas Tree the Dankest with Custom Kind Leaf Ornaments by JJ and Co

Yes, Kind Leaf in beautiful Pendleton, Oregon, has the biggest and best selection of cannabis flower and products in Oregon, if not the entire Great Northwest. Thankfully, they employ a friendly, knowledgeable staff that can answer all of your questions to help you find what you need, either for yourself, or for the cannabis connoisseur on your shopping list. However, in addition to cannabis, Kind Leaf carries many other locally-made items that can light up the life of anyone, whether they are a regular member of the cannabis community or not. This December, make your Christmas Tree the dankest of them all, or stock the stuffing of a loved one, with a custom Kind Leaf ornament, made locally by JJ and Co.

When you venture into Kind Leaf, you’ll definitely notice the amazing cannabis selection, but you’ll also see cool wooden signs made by JJ and Co, a mom-and-pop home decor store in Pendleton. When you venture into other area businesses, you likely see a lot of JJ and Co’s handiwork as they have proven to provide excellent products and service for both home and business decor. JJ and Co also make stickers and you can order all kinds of custom-made products directly from them, to provide the perfect gift for your perfect someone. Of the ornaments available at Kind Leaf, I think that I’m gonna have to pick up a Sasquatch one, actually probably a few, so I can keep one for myself and gift a couple.

It shouldn’t take a pandemic to bring home the importance of supporting local businesses, but the COVID economy has brought the importance of shopping at small businesses to the forefront. When you shop at Kind Leaf, you know that your hard-earned dollars are staying in Oregon and that they do all that they can to assist other local businesses as much as possible. From the Kind Leaf Tree program that benefits families in need, to partnering with businesses like JJ and Co, I’m proud of Kind Leaf for doing its part. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas everybody!

You can peruse Kind Leaf’s menu online at Leafly and don’t forget about the discounts given to veterans, OMMP patients, senior citizens, and for utilizing the pick-up window. #BeKind