The United States House made the erroneous decision to NOT vote on ending federal cannabis prohibition before the November 3rd elections, only to see state legalization bills pass across the nation. Now, with public support at an all-time high, a vote is expected in December, according to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer who announced that the “House will vote on the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis and expunge convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses that have prevented many Americans from getting jobs, applying for credit and loans, and accessing opportunities that make it possible to get ahead in our economy.”
Under the bill, marijuana would be removed from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and criminal penalties for those who manufacture, distribute, or possess marijuana would be eliminated.
In addition, the bill would impose a 5% tax on cannabis products to be deposited in a trust fund which would support various programs to communities impacted by the war on drugs. Among other actions, it would also expunge convictions related to federal cannabis offenses.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also created a message form for those who support the bill to contact their local representative. The organization says passage of the bill would help end racial disparities in marijuana arrest rates.
While passage of the bill is uncertain, especially in the Senate, it will be a historic event to just hold the vote. The House passing the bill, which is very likely, will be another huge step forward in our fight for freedom. You can use the ACLU’s message form, or contact your legislators directly to help continue our momentum in our fight for freedom and equality.
It is easy to see that cannabis use has become more morally acceptable in American society. More and more states have passed various legalization laws, more federal politicians are embracing legalization, polling shows strong support, and you cannabis is being discussed more within our mainstream culture. A new Gallup poll now shows that 70% of Americans view cannabis as morally acceptable, up five points from last year, just below gambling (71%).
Americans View 13 of 21 Issues as Morally Acceptable
Of the 21 issues included in the latest poll, all but five have been measured since the early 2000s, and 13 are considered morally acceptable to majorities of Americans.
At least seven in 10 U.S. adults say birth control, drinking alcohol, getting a divorce, sex between an unmarried man and woman, gambling, and smoking marijuana are acceptable moral behaviors.
Likewise, two-thirds of Americans consider gay or lesbian relations, having a baby outside of marriage and medical research using human embryonic stem cells as acceptable.
In addition to the death penalty, medical testing on animals, buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur, and doctor-assisted suicide are morally acceptable to narrower majorities.
While utilizing cannabis is deemed more moral more so by liberals at 83%, a majority of conservatives (51%) now feel that using cannabis is a morally acceptable choice. Once again, it is great to see progress across the political spectrum, but the overall results remind us that we still have a lot of work to be done to combat decades of Reefer Madness propaganda. Drinking alcohol is viewed as morally acceptable by 86% of Americans when cannabis use is clearly the safer joice. Also, the fact that 28% of Americans still view cannabis use as immoral can have huge implications in housing, employment, child custody, and other aspects of our lives.
Step by step, we’re making change for the better, but revolutions are marathons, not sprints. Keep sharing your experiences and the truth about cannabis and we’ll continue making strides for true freedom and equality.
As the United States combats our history of systemic racism and police brutality, many of us are searching for the right answers. What police reforms are needed? Is reforming the police enough? Do we need to disband police and start with a new system of community protection services? Should we defund police? What does it mean to defund the police exactly? As we grapple with all of these questions, and more, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer has issued a federal action plan on reducing police violence that includes ending cannabis prohibition and decriminalizing drugs:
Only 5% of arrests in America have been for violent crimes. In 2018, the highest number of arrests were for drug offesnes. Over 40% of these drug arrests were for cannabis, with over 90% being just for possession of the drug. Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for cannabis possession, even though they use cannabis at about the same rate. Reducing police interactions by using non-law enforcement to deal with minor crimes and activities, and repealing punitive drug laws could reduce the criminalization and over-policing of communities of color. We need to rethink the way police are used and encourage alternative policing models that address institutional racism as they are being created.
Promote Alternatives to Policing • Provide federal funding to support local innovation of non-law enforcement alternatives. • Increase funding for federal grant programs that support partnerships between law enforcement and mental health associations. • Repeal policies that incentivize over-policing of communities of color, including the prohibition of cannabis and the decriminalization of other drugs.
Representative Blumenauer has been a leader on cannabis policy since he was a young state legislator voting to make Oregon the first state to decriminalize cannabis in the early 1970s. As time has gone along, Rep. Blumenauer has become a stronger and stronger leader, helping found the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus and taking on the harms of the Drug War. It is common sense that cannabis prohibition and the greater War on Drugs has failed us, with harmful and racist consequences. Let’s keep of the momentum folks, because the times, they are a-changin’.
In mid-December 2019, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission circulated notice that they were seeking applicants from the Oregon Cannabis industry to fill positions that had opened in the state of Oregon’s Metrc users group.
From December until January 12th, over 200 Oregonians applied in hopes of gaining a position in the important group.
Erin Purchase, the Director of Operations at Kind Leaf Pendleton received congratulatory notice February 6th that out of those 200 applicants, she was chosen to participate as a member. Since the inception of Kind Leaf, Purchase has been an integral part in the development and progression of the brand into one of Oregon’s largest cannabis retailers, and compliantly tracking the State’s largest selection of cannabis products.
Member selection is determined by a number factors including: • Well rounded representation across all license types; • Ability to communicate process-driven solutions effectively; • Industry knowledge applied to compliance tracking software;
What is the Metrc User Group?
According to the Metrc Oregon Wiki, the Metrc User Group is comprised of approximately 60 industry members and staff partners (OLCC/Metrc).The purpose of this group is to identify, prioritize, and vote on enhancements to the OLCC’s Cannabis Tracking System (Metrc). The Metrc User Group is the representative body of licensees, medical registrants, and individuals using the Cannabis Tracking System. The Metrc User Group has been meeting since June 2017 and meets 3 to 4 times annually at the OLCC Headquarters In Milwaukie.
What Is Metrc?
“METRC” is an acronym that stands for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance. Metrc is a track and trace software program. Metrc is meant to monitor and verify cannabis inventories and product transits in real time for all licensed cannabis businesses in the industry. Metrc consists of a simple-interface web application, web-hosted services, a mobile application for on-site inspection by regulatory inspectors, as well as a mobile application licensee use in select states.
Metrc has the ability to integrate with other systems such as BioTrackTHC, Green Bits and other on-site programs through the use of the Metrc API, which offers an additional way of industry reporting into Metrc. The Metrc API is customized to each states rules or regulations and can vary based on the individual state requirements. This software is ready to evolve and update at anytime, with the help of regualtors and end-users
The Metrc Cannabis Tracking System (CTS) is an integral part the OLCC’s responsibility to ensure that recreational marijuana products can be tracked in the regulated market. Every OLCC Recreational Marijuana licensee is required to participate in the CTS.
Metrc is responsible for the technical and operational components of the CTS; the OLCC is responsible for CTS statutory and regulatory issues.
Franwell provides licensees with training sessions and webinars to provide a thorough understanding of the CTS. Prospective licensees will be required to pass a test on their knowledge of the CTS before the OLCC issues their license.
Steve Marks, OLCC
Currently 12 states and Washington DC utilize Metrc, of those areas, few are meeting to make sweeping and effective changes to the CTS. Oregon is leading the way by creating important user features like the Oregon Metrc Wiki as mentioned above, creating online access to Lab reporting and changing how certain products are regulated and reported to ensure complete consumer safety.
The Oregon cannabis industry has experienced so many ups and downs and twists and turns over the last few years that most of the small businesses that have survived are testaments to perseverance and a true love for the cannabis plant. With stringent regulations, a punishing federal tax code, and a massive amount of competition, the industry isn’t for the faint-hearted or anyone that thinks that it’s a “get-rich-quick” scheme.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the state regulators in charge of both cannabis and alcohol, have just issued a report providing a snapshot of the industry. Once again, a record amount of cannabis was grown by cultivators. The Portland Mercury listed some key points from the report:
• Between January 2016 and the date SB 218 was signed into law, the OLCC had received 3,034 producer applications, an average of 72 applications per month.
• As of December 12, 2019, the OLCC is processing producer applications received on or after February 17, 2018. 511 producer applications are awaiting assignment for investigation. 142 are currently assigned to investigators at varying stages of processing.
• Between April 29, 2016 and December 1, 2019, OLCC issued 1,387 recreational producer licenses.
• The 2019 outdoor harvest season was the largest since recreational licensing began in 2016.
• Between January 1 and November 30, 2019, OLCC producers harvested more than 5.7 million pounds (approximately 2,600 metric tons) of wet weight. This represents a 16 percent increase over the same time period in 2018.
• The quantity sold of usable marijuana increased by approximately 25 percent.
• Sales of extracts, concentrates, edibles, and tinctures collectively rose approximately 50 percent.
• Wholesale prices per pound of usable marijuana increased considerably beginning in spring and summer 2019, almost doubling from approximately $650 in April 2019 to $1,200 in November 2019.
Oregon’s nascent recreational cannabis industry has come a long way in a few short years. It has already experienced boom and bust dynamics similar to other commodities, as well as the effects of consumer demand and oversupply, while at the same time far surpassing expectations for providing a significant source of revenue for the state. OLCC views its role in regulating the recreational market as one of educating, building, and partnering with stakeholders as the industry develops, and OLCC takes seriously its mission to support both public safety and economic development in this state.
Craft cannabis companies have to work extremely hard to survive, let alone thrive, but there is still great news for consumers, as prices are still low, especially compared to the rest of the nation. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and local communities. Competition provides a lot of options for cannabis consumers. I urge folks to support craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf, a company that gives back to the Pendleton community and looking out for its customers and the cannabis community at large.
Carl Sagan is one of my all-time heroes. He was a giant of the scientific community and a great thinker that dared us to dream, to push the limits of our knowledge. I was so bummed when he passed away in 1996, but even in death he enriched lives, as his use of cannabis became revealed. He became the ultimate trump card when someone told you that using cannabis made you stupid, we could always point to Carl Sagan as proof that they were just spouting Reefer Madness nonsense.
You never know when Reefer Madness nonsense is going to rear its ugly head. The myth that cannabis lowers your IQ made it into the news recently, coming to light during a totally unrelated political debate that I don’t need to delve into here. Of course, leading cannabis law reform advocates were quick to counter the madness as Marijuana Moment reported:
“Trump’s remarks simply reveal that he is out of touch, given that the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization for both medical and adult use,” Sheila Vakharia of the Drug Policy Alliance said. “This type of rhetoric is fear-mongering and inflammatory.”
“The evidence is clear from the dozens of states that have legalized medical and adult use—the sky isn’t falling and the kids are alright,” she said.
Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, said that “what truly causes a decline in an individual’s intelligence is adhering to false Reefer Madness rhetoric that flies in the face of available science.”
If you hear someone spouting the Reefer Madness nonsense about cannabis making you dumb, the shorthand response can always be to refer to Carl Sagan, but if you really want to honor Sagan, you can point to the science. The most comprehensive study to date found no link between cannabis use and a decrease in IQ, as ScienceAlert covered:
The largest ever longitudinal twin study involving more than 3,000 adolescents from around the world has found little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline.
The study analysed the results of two separate studies that traced the lives of American adolescent twins over a decade, and both found that teens who engaged in regular marijuana use lost no more IQ points over time than their non-using twin siblings.
It’s telling that Reefer Madness prohibitionists have to rely upon lies and propaganda to bolster their position that cannabis should remain illegal. Like Carl Sagan, we just have to seek out and promote the truth. In the end, the truth shall set us all free.
Personally, I have nothing against the alcohol industry, but I do get miffed sometimes to see alcohol celebrated in our culture while cannabis is still publicly shunned and suffers through stigmatization, even in states where it’s legal. From a public policy perspective, it is clear that cannabis is the safer choice for adults as the societal costs of alcohol are much greater and taxes remain extremely low, not remotely covering the public health and safety costs increased by imbibing. We are now getting data that cannabis is taking a bite out of beer sales, as reported by Marijuana Business Daily:
The volume of beer sold in Canada declined 3% in the first 11 months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, according to new data from provincial alcohol boards and brewers.
The figure underscores how recreational cannabis has captured some of the beer market – and validates concerns among Canadian brewers who long feared the impact of adult-use marijuana on their sales.
In a note to investors, Cowen analyst Vivien Azer said the 3% drop in beer sales is far worse than the trends seen between 2014 and 2018, when beer sales volume declined an average 0.3% annually.
There are a lot of reasons why the cannabis community can be proud. We have put in a lot of work to end unnecessary arrests and build an industry from the ground up. We are creating jobs and revenue for our local communities and have helped decrease the use of more dangerous substances like alcohol and opioids.
We have started to see alcohol companies start making the transition to investing in the cannabis industry as they see the writing on the wall and the CEOs in charge will certainly follow the money. While these big companies may help mainstream cannabis and prove to be allies to implement much-needed federal reforms, let’s all do our best to support craft cannabis boutiques that have been on the right side of history for a long time.
While federal reforms are taking entirely too long, it is still newsworthy and important that the United States Congress is holding hearings on important legislation. Each step at the federal level brings us closer to real change and today marked another important milestone for the cannabis community and industry.
The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held the meeting to discuss six cannabis reform proposals, including two that would federally legalize marijuana. Most of the hearing involved lawmakers pressing witnesses from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) on the obstacles to marijuana studies that those officials claim are needed before pursuing broader policy reform.
Kennedy announced that panel leadership has agreed to hold a second hearing featuring the voices of people negatively impacted by marijuana prohibition, which he said “has failed.”
Portland Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer issued a press release praising the hearing:
Congressman Earl Blumenauer Applauds Energy and Commerce Committee for Holding Cannabis Policy Hearing
Washington, DC – Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, today released a statement applauding the Energy and Commerce Committee for holding its first cannabis related hearing.
“After years of working to advance cannabis reform in Congress, this critical hearing is an important milestone where another major congressional committee focused time and attention on our movement. I’m pleased Chairman Pallone and Health Subcommittee Chair Eshoo made this hearing a priority. It was important to hear a number of senior members of Congress affirming the change that is taking place at the state level and affirming the contradictions that are created by the federal government being out of step and out of touch.
The topics discussed today are all relevant to bringing our cannabis policy into the 21st century, including my bill to clear the barriers to cannabis research. The hearing also included our top priority, the MORE Act, legislation to decriminalize cannabis federally and address the consequences of the failed war on drugs. It’s past time for Congress to catch up to the American people. We need action, and today was an encouraging and important step forward in our blueprint for cannabis reform in this Congress”
Step by step, we are moving closer to legalizing banking access, reforming our tax code, and ending the failed war on the cannabis community. It is not only notable that important congressional hearings are being held, but also that we are swaying former prohibitionists like Joe Kennedy to get on the right side of history. While there is a lot more work to be done, it’s nice to see our elected officials starting to give cannabis law reform the attention and priority that it deserves.
When I found out that my parents lied to me about Santa Claus, my immediate thought was, “What else have they been lying to me about?” I had a similar reaction with cannabis because I had been taught by the local DARE program in school that I would immediately be addicted to heroin and other drugs. After realizing that I had been lied to about cannabis I wondered, “What other drugs did they lie to me about?”
While DARE officers may have inadvertently sparked my interest in drug policy reform, we are doing children, and our society, a great disservice by lying about cannabis. The fear mongering scare tactics that have been around since Reefer Madness days are just counterproductive and could push minors into using more addictive and deadly drugs after they realize that they have been lied to and the adults that shared those lies will lose credibility.
When it comes to drug education, scare tactics and fearmongering are deeply counterproductive. The most infamous and commonly used drug education curriculum that relied on these approaches, D.A.R.E., has consistently been proven to be ineffective. Recent research about ideal forms of health education, including drug education, emphasizes the importance of skills-building as a fundamental approach.
DPA’s Safety First: Real Drug Education for Teens curriculum is the culmination of almost 20 years of work in youth drug issues by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The Safety First curriculum empowers ninth and tenth grade students to make healthier decisions about alcohol and other drugs. It gives them personal and social strategies to manage the risks, benefits, and harms of alcohol and other drug use, as well as information about the impact of drug policies on their own health and the health of their communities. Most importantly, it spends a good deal of time building the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate information about alcohol and other drugs. Safety First teaches young people to look at information critically and come to their own conclusions based on research. The aim is to give young people the tools to analyze sources such as Berenson’s book, and discover his inaccuracies and exaggerations on their own.
Personally, I believe that government agencies and nonprofits working to keep drugs out of the hands of children should bring in people from the cannabis community and industry to assist in messaging. Those of us that fight for legalization and have studied cannabis policy for years have a vested interest in keeping (non-medical) cannabis out of the hands of minors as much as anyone. Tell kids the truth about brain development and how some things are best left for adults, but don’t endanger children’s lives and your credibility with debunked myths. The truth is the way.
Since 1996, presidential election years have been big years for cannabis law reform measures on the ballot and 2020 is shaping up to be another monumental one for the cannabis community. A somewhat unlikely state may just make the leap to full legalization as advocates in South Dakota have put in the hard work of gathering signatures to qualify an amendment for the November ballot. Each state that passes a medical or recreational measure brings us one step closer to ending prohibition federally, and bonus points go to activists that have success in conservative locales like the Mount Rushmore State. Marijuana Moment reported:
The proposed constitutional amendment, which was submitted by a former federal prosecutor in September, would allow adults 21 and older to possess and distribute up to one ounce of marijuana. Individuals would also be allowed to cultivate up to three cannabis plants.
Under the broader recreational legalization proposal, the South Dakota Department of Revenue would be responsible for issuing licenses for manufacturers, testing facilities and retailers. And sales on cannabis products would be taxed at 15 percent, with revenue earmarked to cover the program’s implementation, public education and the state general fund.
Additionally, the measure requires the legislature to pass bills providing access to medical cannabis for patients and allowing for the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022. If the separate medical marijuana legalization initiative is approved, however, that specific provision wouldn’t be necessary.
Gathering thousands of signatures is no easy task, especially during the winter, so my gratitude goes out to everyone that braves the elements to help legalize freedom, jobs, and revenue around our great nation, especially in states that aren’t your typical hotbed of support. However, the times are a-changin’ with medical provisions passing in places like Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Utah as these victories give me hope that sensible cannabis policies will soon be the law of the land in red states like South Dakota and Idaho. State by state, freedom is on the march, bringing the cannabis community closer and closer to equality from coast to coast.