Author: anthonyj1977

Amsterdam May Ban Cannabis Tourism, Oregon Should Step Up

I have been so fortunate to travel to Amsterdam a few times and the great city has never disappointed. The Van Gogh museum, the 120-acre Vondelpark, walking around the Jordaan neighborhood to check out the many houseboats on the canals that wind through the city, are must-see attractions along with historical sites like the Anne Frank House and the Old Church, built in 1306. The city is amazingly clean, public transportation is easy to use, the food is great, and I found the locals to be extremely friendly. And yes, of course, the city is known for its cannabis coffeeshops, making Amsterdam a cannabis tourist destination soon after Mellow Yellow was opened by Wernard Bruinin back in 1972. Cannabis tourism will take a serious hit if Mayor Femke Halsema has her way.

In a letter to Amsterdam’s City Council, Mayor Halsema proposed her intention to enforce Netherland’s ban on foreign tourists purchasing cannabis at the city’s famed coffeeshops. DutchNews reported:

In recent months, calls have increased from politicians, businesses, tourist bodies and residents of the Dutch capital to enforce a national law which means only residents can buy from the coffeeshops. It was never enforced in Amsterdam because of concerns that it would drive the trade on to the street.

‘We are absolutely not heading for a cannabis-free Amsterdam because coffeeshops belong to the city,’ Halsema said, according to the Parool. ‘But there is a huge desire to change the tourism. Our freedom should not be a license for large groups of young people to throw up in the canals because they have smoked and drunk too much.’

The mayor also intends to limit the number of coffeeshops in any chain and regulate the supply with a new ‘quality mark’. Although coffeeshops fall under the mayor’s responsibilities, the new proposal will be discussed by Amsterdam council to draw up definitive plans, and there will also be a transition period before any ruling is enforced.

While I certainly defer to the judgment of those living in Amsterdam, I imagine that such a ban on cannabis tourism will be a huge mistake for a number of reasons. First of all, the economy will suffer and second of all, this move won’t end cannabis sales to foreigners, it will just push cannabis sales to tourists underground, unnecessarily turning more people into criminals.

While Amsterdam’s ban on cannatourism will have negative consequences for the international tourist destination, it could open up opportunities for other cities and states, and Oregon should be chomping at the bit (when we can get back to freely traveling and congregating in crowds again, of course). During the COVID pandemic, the cannabis industry has been one of the few bright spots in Oregon and the state should be looking at ways to fully unleash the power of the cannabis community.

It will take a long time for the state to recovery from the pandemic as well as last summer’s wildfires. Unfortunately, fires are likely to be a recurring occurrence, so the state needs to do what it can to maximize its business sectors. Just as Oregon has embraced the local wine and microbrewery industries, it needs to do the same with cannabis.

With a supermajority of Americans now embracing legalization and federal reforms coming soon, Oregon officials need to be bold on a variety of fronts to help the remaining local craft cannabis businesses thrive, and legalizing cannabis cafes and promoting the industry are starting points. Federal legalization is coming relatively soon, (probably not soon enough, but soon) and Oregon should be at the forefront of the industry. However, if the state doesn’t start helping mom and pops and small businesses, there won’t be many Oregonian-owned cannabis businesses prospering. I’ll continue detailing other needed reforms, but step by step, Oregon needs to capitalize on cannabis before it’s too late.

After the Shakeout in Washington, D.C., How Likely Is Cannabis Legalization?

Well, our nation has had a very eventful 2021 thus far, huh? With federal elections finally decided, and a new president set to take office on January 20th, there is one burning question that the cannabis community wants answered: Will cannabis be legalized in the next two years? This is pure speculation on my part, but I would put the chances that federal cannabis legalization is signed into law within the next two years at about 33%, up to a coin flip at best. I do think that we have good odds of seeing much-needed reforms, such as opening up all banking services to state-legal cannabis laws and fixing the 280e IRS tax code that arbitrarily taxes regulated cannabis businesses at an exorbitant rate.

After the United States House passed the historic Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act late last year, most cannabis law reform advocates celebrated the victory as a great step in the right direction, but noted that passage in the Senate was unlikely with Republican Mitch McConnell in charge. After the Georgia special elections in favor of Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, Democrat Chuck Schumer will soon be the Senate Majority Leader, and Schumer has pledged to make cannabis legalization a priority. Now, we know that we can’t always expect politicians to follow through on their promises, so it’ll be imperative that we continue to pressure our representatives and let them know that they need to do the right thing and follow the will of the voters, by ending federal cannabis prohibition.

While cannabis legalization should be a no-brainer with strong majority support from voters across the nation, the Senate filibuster rule that can force most bills to need 60 votes to pass will stand as a huge obstacle to passing. The 60 votes could be overcome with some compromises and political horse trading, but Democratic leadership will need to really fight for legalization, and my hunch is that our elected officials will be busy with other issues regarding our health and economy, to place too much political capital in pushing through a legalization bill.

The cannabis community should be emboldened by our political position and strength and work hard to celebrate some major victories around banking, taxes, and other issues that will benefit us, and the nation at large. If we want local craft cannabis businesses like Kind Leaf to fully thrive, we need common sense reforms to pass. Success then begets success, and step by step, we’ll see legalization bills get closer and closer to passage, and if all things go right, we can see federal legalization pass in the near future. I hope that I’m too pessimistic about passage within the next two years, but I’m certainly optimistic about continuing to make good progress, step by step.

Americans are Utilizing Cannabis to Combat Pandemic Burnout

Everybody knows that 2020 was an extremely stressful year, so it’s no surprise that Americans turned to cannabis to help them cope with the stress and isolation brought on by the COVID pandemic. As use has become mainstream and Reefer Madness propaganda has been debunked, a supermajority of voters support ending prohibition, making it no surprise that legalization won big at the November ballot box across our nation. Cannabis was purchased in record numbers in legal states, with consumers wisely turning to online ordering and curbside pickup, like the services offered by Kind Leaf.

Leafly found that nationwide cannabis sales increased by 67% over the previous year, increasing sales from from just over $7 billion nationwide in legal states to nearly than $11 billion. And as Leafly noted, a large number of consumers turned to cannabis to deal with burnout, pandemic related or otherwise, as retail outlets’ were deemed “essential businesses” a rather crazy turn of events for those of us who remember prohibition days:

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States in March, many in the cannabis industry worried about a massive industry-wide shutdown. Instead, governors in most states declared cannabis an essential product. Dispensaries and retail stores responded by offering online ordering, curbside pickup, and delivery as Covid-safe options for their customers.

Customers, in turn, responded by stocking up for those weeks of stay-at-home advisories. After a brief dip in late-March revenue, most stores saw a significant bump in April—and then the bump became a plateau.

***

In October, multi-state dispensary operator Verilife surveyed more than 2,000 Americans and found that 72% of respondents named the Covid-19 pandemic as the leading cause of stress and burnout in their lives this year. Nearly 40% said they have used cannabis to cope with that burnout. Around 37% said they have used CBD, and a further 29% said they have considered using marijuana to lower their stress level this year.

Some nuggets from Verilife’s nationwide burnout survey:

Why are so many Americans experiencing burnout? Well, one reason might be that 73% say life has become overly complicated and 80% say life is more stressful than it was for previous generations. Surprisingly, 89% of Gen Z respondents (age 18-23) feel that their lives are more stressful than other age groups while millennials were least likely to say that their lives are more stressful than other age groups.

One thing all respondents agreed on is that the COVID-19 pandemic was the top reason for burnout in their lives. The pandemic was followed by work, finances, politics and the news. Our habits may be contributing to burnout as well especially during a 24/7 news cycle. Overall, 73% admitted to “doomscrolling,” or scrolling through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. As Americans were glued to the TV and the news during the 2020 presidential election, 67% say they experienced burnout from watching, reading or listening to the coverage. 

With the workplace currently going through dramatic changes such as remote work and social distancing, many respondents say they’ve been stressed out in the workplace. In fact, 80% say burnout has prevented them from focusing at work and more than half (56%) say burnout has prevented them from going to work.

Over 70% of all respondents reported that life has become too complicated, regardless of their generation, and I must admit that I’m envious of those that don’t feel like life is too complicated. We live in trying times and stress is literally a killer. According the the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to several leading causes of death including heart disease, cancer, and suicide.

If you are among the nearly 70% of folks that either utilize cannabis or are thinking about using cannabis to relieve stress, then don’t hesitate to venture into Kind Leaf in beautiful Pendleton, Oregon. Not only does Kind Leaf have the best and biggest selection of cannabis and infused-products around, but the staff is knowledgeable, and there are many non-cannabis items to peruse as well. Check out the amazing deals, order online, and use the convenient pick-up window. As always, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique offers discounts for military veterans, senior citizens, and OMMP patients.

Nearly Half a Million Cannabis Arrest Records Expunged in Illinois

The New Year started off better for nearly 500,000 Illinois residents who have had their lives unnecessarily hindered for utilizing cannabis as Governor JB Pritzker announced that 492,129 cannabis-related arrest records have been expunged by the Illinois State Police. This is such welcome news for people that have had to suffer through Reefer Madness-inspired penalties that hurt people’s ability to get a job, find housing, and earn a better education. As more and more states move away from the failed and racist policy of prohibition, it is extremely important that we remember those harmed by the Drug War and do what we can to repair the damage caused by ignorance, bigotry, and greed by special interests that have profited from the War on Drugs.

Illinois’ Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) has given the state government until 2025 to expunge low-level cannabis arrest and conviction records, but in a somewhat surprising move for government, the Pritzker administration is ahead of schedule. The Governor’s office had this to say in a press release announcing the expungements:

“Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that damage. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past—and the decency to set a better path forward. I applaud the Prisoner Review Board, the Illinois State Police, and our partners across the state for their extraordinary efforts that allowed these pardons and expungements to become a reality.”
 
The CRTA requires cannabis-related arrest records created between 2013 and 2019 be expunged by January 1, 2021, a total of 47,000 records. With the expungement of all 492,129 cannabis arrest records, ISP is four years ahead of the January 1, 2025 statutory deadline for completing automatic expungements. While the expungement process has been completed at the state level, county clerks are still processing expungements at the local level. Arrest records from DuPage, Kane, Knox, Lake, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Will, and Winnebago Counties have been expunged at the local level. The remaining counties have until January 1, 2025 to expunge their arrest records.  
 
“As we near the end of the first year of Illinois’ new legal cannabis industry, I am heartened by the progress we have made towards undoing the harms dealt by the failed war on drugs. Eleven states in the nation have legalized cannabis for recreational use, but no other state has done the important work we’re doing here in Illinois, where equity intentionality takes center stage,” said Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor to the Governor on Cannabis Control. “We are one year into what will be an ongoing effort to correct historic wrongdoings. The administration remains committed to working with legislators to address any challenges to equity and on building an industry that re-invests in our state’s communities.”

One of the issues facing advocates fighting for cannabis legalization is “how” to legalize. I respect many viewpoints that folks have, but personally contend that ending criminal penalties for the cannabis community should be the number one priority. After ending damaging arrests and convictions, it is imperative that we lift up those that have had their lives hurt by prohibition and clearing their criminal records is a necessary foundation of that.

Here in Oregon, we immediately improved expungement laws regarding cannabis convictions following legalization, but we must do more. Too many people are unaware that their records can be expunged or they may lack the resources to submit the necessary paperwork as there are filing fees and some may need to hire an attorney to assist them. Oregon is a pioneer in cannabis law reform, but we can still learn from others. We need to learn from Illinois and other states that have made expungement automatic. Those with Oregon records, can check their eligibility for expungement here with RecordSponge, courtesy of the Qui Qui Law Firm.

Our cannabis tax dollars do a lot of good, especially when we support local businesses, and it’s time that those dollars help repair some of the wrongs of the Drug War. We can be proud that we are setting aside funding for schools and providing more drug treatment and recovery programs, but we need to always remember those harmed by the war on cannabis and utilize our resources in righting some wrongs of our prohibition past as well.

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.”

***

“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.