Tag: Marijuana Moment

Congress Holds More Cannabis Bill Hearings

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.

As usual, Marijuana Moment was on top of another historic cannabis hearing:

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.

Conversation was more limited when it came to legalization bills such as Judiciary Chairman Jerrod Nadler’s (D-NY) Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which was approved by his panel last year. That said, formerly anti-reform Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) did lead a powerful discussion about the failures of prohibition and the need to deschedule cannabis.

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.

South Dakota to Vote on Cannabis Legalization This Year

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.

Legal Cannabis Retailers Doing a Great Job Preventing Sales to Minors

Reefer Madness fear mongering has been a staple of prohibitionists for decades, but the truth about cannabis has been debunking each myth one by one. The fear tactics originally started with outrageous claims, like folks turning deranged, that a basic understanding of the plant and those that utilize it revealed that the stories were nonsense. The denial of medicinal properties has melted away as a majority of states legalized medical use and predictions of highway carnage have proven to be false as well.

The fact that regulated cannabis would do a better job of preventing sales to minors than the illicit market would take some studying, and now, the results are coming in, and legal retail outlets are indeed checking identification and turning away underage would-be buyers. A recent study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that cannabis retailers in Washington and Colorado, the first two states that legalized cannabis commerce to all adults, did a better job than alcohol establishments of denying purchases by those underage. Washington State retailers denied those under 21 86.6% of the time, while Colorado stopped minors 92.6% of the time. Marijuana Moment reported on the study:

The authors highlight that “refusal rates exceeded those for alcohol and are similar to those for tobacco.” In other words, the policies and regulations of the cannabis industry in Colorado and Washington could be used as potential models for other states looking to legalize recreational marijuana sales.

The findings are comparable to a sting operation conducted by Oregon regulators last year that showed a 100 percent compliance rate by licensed marijuana stores in not selling to underage individuals.

According to the new Colorado and Washington study, when it comes to cannabis, “regulators in both states worked with the industry, performed compliance checks, and penalized stores that failed.”

Those in the cannabis industry have a huge interest in ensuring that cannabis stays out of the hands of those under the age of 21 as minors’ brains are still developing and noncompliance with identification checks will lead to a backlash against legalization. Licensed and regulated cannabis retail outlets should be commended for their efforts in checking IDs and preventing sales to minors, helping prove, once again, that legalization is a better policy than prohibition.

Cannabis Community Must Rally to Pass Banking Bill in the U.S. Senate

Those thinking that the cannabis industry is a get-quick-rich plan are most likely to be severely disappointed. A long list of obstacles hinder cannabis businesses from over regulation to over taxation, at all levels of government. The lack of access to banking services is one major hurdle for hard working entrepreneurs that are foundational pioneers in the burgeoning industry. The lack of a bank account poses enough problems, but without the business loans and other programs available to other industries, growth is severely stifled.

Thanks to the diligence of advocates, we won a major victory by passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Act at the United States House this year, but unfortunately the much-needed banking bill faces a tough path in the Senate. Passage in the Senate will take a strong lobbying effort by the cannabis community after Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, while open to passing banking legislation, announced his opposition to the SAFE banking Act, as Marijuana Moment reported:

A powerful Senate committee chairman said on Wednesday the he opposes House-passed marijuana banking legislation and laid out potential changes he would like to see to the bill before he takes it up in his panel.

Among other amendments being floated for public feedback is a 2 percent THC potency limit on products in order for cannabis businesses to qualify to access financial services as well as blocking banking services for operators that sell high-potency vaping devices or edibles that could appeal to children.

“I remain firmly opposed to efforts to legalize marijuana on the federal level, and I am opposed to legalization in the State of Idaho,” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, said in a press release. “I also do not support the SAFE Banking Act that passed in the House of Representatives. I have significant concerns that the SAFE Banking Act does not address the high level potency of marijuana, marketing tactics to children, lack of research on marijuana’s effects, and the need to prevent bad actors and cartels from using the banks to disguise ill-gotten cash to launder money into the financial system. I welcome input from all interested parties on how to thoughtfully address these concerns.”

Regardless of one’s stance on cannabis legalization, everyone should support banking access for industry participants. The SAFE Banking Act will help businesses grow, creating more jobs and generating more revenue. Public safety and prompt tax payments will also improve if banking services are fully legalized. The lack of banking services hurts small and medium businesses the most and these mom-and-pops and craft cannabis boutiques need our support, both with our dollars and our political activism.

The future of the cannabis industry depends upon our community shopping with local companies and urging our elected officials, especially United States Senators, to treat the industry like any other business sector. It certainly seems like Idahoans need to contact Senator Crapo and it is imperative that we make our voices heard. We’ve come a long way, we just need to remain vigilant and keep making progress for the cannabis community step by step, piece by piece, law by law.

Two New Polls Show Strong Support for Cannabis Legalization

People that utilize cannabis have suffered with criminal punishments and negative stigma for two long. Even in states where cannabis is legal, too many people are still unfairly harmed by a variety of laws and policy practices from housing to loans to employment to child custody. Those that have studied the issue understand the need to end the Reefer Madness-inspired war on the cannabis community, and thankfully, poll after poll demonstrates that a strong majority of the American people agree.

Marijuana Moment reports on two newly-released polls that demonstrate that more than 60% of Americans support cannabis legalization:

A Fox News survey, which involved phone interviews with 1,000 adults from December 8-11, showed that 63 percent of respondents support legalizing “the recreational use of marijuana on a national level,” while 34 percent oppose the policy.

A Marist poll, conducted in collaboration with NPR and PBS, surveyed 1,744 Americans from December 9-11. The results similarly showed 62 percent of respondents saying it is a “good idea” to legalize cannabis, with 33 stating it would be a “bad idea.”

***

“This holiday season, Americans are more likely than ever to agree in favor of legalizing marijuana when the topic comes up at the dinner table,” Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “With a public majority mandate, now is our time to demand ending prohibition in advance of the 2020 elections.”

Holiday gatherings can be stressful for everyone, especially when sharing meals with friends and family with various disagreements, including whether cannabis should be legal. The cannabis community can feel strength in knowing that we are in the majority and that we are a part of a growing movement for freedom and equality. So, be sure to purchase that cannabis-related gift for your loved ones and don’t feel that you must hide your beliefs, you, and most folks across the nation, agree that it is time to stop prosecuting and persecuting the nonviolent cannabis community.

Featured Photo Credit: Drug Policy Alliance/Darrin Harris Frisby

 

History Made: Cannabis Legalization Bill Passes House Committee

Positive federal cannabis law reforms move forward step by step, person by person, as elected officials and policymakers start to catch up to the will of the voters. It took several tries through Congress to pass a budget provision protecting state-legal cannabis patients and providers from federal prosecution, but now this protection is a common yearly budget rider.

We’re still looking for the U.S. Senate to pass similar legislation for adult-use consumers and retailers, but we’ve passed such a measure through the House, after a couple of attempts; same thing for the SAFE Banking Act that will allow cannabis businesses’ access to banking services. Today, history was made as a bill to deschedule cannabis, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, passed the House Judiciary Committee with a bipartisan 24-10 vote.

As usual, Marijuana Moment was on top of the breaking news:

The approved legislation, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would federally deschedule cannabis, expunge the records of those with prior marijuana convictions and impose a five percent tax on sales, revenue from which would be reinvested in communities most impacted by the drug war.

It would also create a pathway for resentencing for those incarcerated for marijuana offenses, as well as protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis and prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearance due to its use.

“These steps are long overdue. For far too long we’ve treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health,” Nadler said in his opening remarks. “Arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people at the federal level is unwise and unjust.”

With two-thirds of American adults wanting to put an end to federal prohibition, it is only a matter of time before legalization becomes the law of the land. However, the Reefer Madness prohibitionists in power won’t go down without a fight. We must continue supporting advocates, organizations, and elected officials that are on the right side of history. Most importantly, the cannabis community just needs to keep speaking the truth.