Tag: Marijuana Moment

U.S. House Spending Bills Includes Cannabis Banking and Other Reforms

The fight to end cannabis prohibition at the federal level is a slow grind, seemingly with one step forward preceded by another step or so back, but progress continues. The latest sign of cannabis law reform advancing are the initial drafts of U.S. House spending bills that include some much-needed provisions for the cannabis community. As usual, Marijuana Moment is on top of the reporting:

As Congress prepares large-scale legislation to fund federal agencies for the next year, marijuana reform seems to be making progress. House versions of spending bills unveiled this week include provisions to protect medical legalization laws from federal interference, ease marijuana businesses’ access to basic banking services, expand cannabis research, oversee the country’s fledgling hemp and CBD industries and finally grant Washington, D.C. the ability to legalize recreational sales.

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Among the most notable inclusions in the new spending bills for Fiscal Year 2021 is a provision that would remove some roadblocks to banking and financial services for state-legal cannabis businesses. Cannabis firms have been pushing lawmakers to allow such access for years. The House has passed standalone banking legislation, later inserted into a recent coronavirus bill and approved again, but so far the matter has stalled in the Senate and is yet to become law.

The new spending rider suggests House lawmakers aren’t giving up. As introduced, the spending bill introduced Tuesday to fund fiscal and general government matters restricts Department of Treasury funds from being used “to penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, a producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling hemp, hemp-derived cannabidiol products, other hemp-derived cannabinoid products, marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana proceeds” that is legal under state or tribal law.

It has grown tiresome to continue having debates around the need for sensible solutions to our nation’s cannabis policies, but no one ever said that political revolutions are easy. Decades upon decades of Reefer Madness propaganda and the entrenched powerful interests that have benefited from prohibition aren’t going away easily, but we are chipping away with common sense and the truth. Stay tuned as bills weave their way through Congress and be sure to contact your legislators and urge your like-minded friends and family members to do the same.

Study Finds Cannabis Community Exercises More, Smashing Stereotype

Everyone in the cannabis community has dealt with stoner stereotypes of all kinds, from being stupid to being lazy. Time and time again, we shatter those stereotypes, whether it’s with geniuses like Carl Sagan or world-class athletes like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. The “lazy stoner” stereotype was just dismantled again, this time with a new study, as Marijuana Moment reported:

“Compared to older adult nonusers,” says the study, out of the University of Colorado at Boulder, “older adult cannabis users had lower [body mass index] at the beginning of an exercise intervention study, engaged in more weekly exercise days during the intervention, and were engaging in more exercise-related activities at the conclusion of the intervention.”

In other words, not only were adults over 60 who used marijuana generally in better shape than their peers who abstained from cannabis, they were also more responsive to an assigned four-month “exercise intervention trial”—essentially a regimen of physical activity prescribed by a clinician.

“These findings suggest that it may be easier for older adults who endorse using cannabis to increase and maintain their exercise behavior, potentially because cannabis users have lower body weight than their non-using peers,” wrote the study’s authors, a team at CU’s Department of Neuroscience and Psychology. “At minimum, the evidence suggests that cannabis use does not hinder older adults’ ability to engage in physical activity, to participate in a supervised exercise program, or to increase their fitness as a result of physical activity.”

Of course, the activity level of Oregonians (known for a higher than average rate of cannabis use) should have dispelled this myth long ago. As The Oregonian reported back on January 16, 2020, that a study revealed how Beaver State residents were among the most active in the nation:

Oregon is known for an outdoorsy brand of fitness, and new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests this reputation goes beyond an affinity for the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

The study, released Wednesday, defines physical inactivity as not participating in activities such as running, walking for exercise, or gardening for a period of at least one month.

In Oregon, just 15-20% of residents polled ranked as physically inactive. That means that along with Washington, Utah, Colorado and the District of Columbia, Oregon ranks as one of the most active states in the country.

This summer, be sure to experience a ton of natural beauty across the great state of Oregon, from border to border. Of course, no summer is complete without a trek to Eastern Oregon, so be sure to stop in Kind Leaf and acquire some amazing cannabis products from the craft cannabis boutique with the best selection around. Enjoy yourselves and keep shattering those stereotypes, step by step.

Nevada Pardons Over 15,000 with Cannabis Convictions, Let’s Do This Nationwide

Cannabis prohibition has always been a terrible policy, but it is getting even more embarrassing to defend as each day passes. Reefer Madness prohibitionists can try all they want to rely upon decades of propaganda to prop up the racist and failed war on cannabis, but, when given the chance, voters would legalize nationwide. Even many that oppose cannabis use now see that our country has too many serious issues to tackle to waste limited resources citing, arresting, jailing, prosecuting, and jailing people for cannabis.

Nevada has taken a great step in the fight to right the wrongs of cannabis prohibition by pardoning over 15,000 people of their convictions. These folks can now become full members of society, getting their Second Amendment rights back and having their ability to vote restored, among other rights and privileges that have been denied to them for far too long.

Marijuana Moment reported:

The measure extends unconditional clemency to individuals with possession convictions of up to one ounce from January 1986 to January 2017. It was introduced to the board by Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) last week.

“Today is an historic day for those who were convicted of what has long been considered a trivial crime, and is now legal under Nevada law,” the governor said in a press release. “Since the passage of [adult-use legalization] in 2016 and the decriminalization of possession for small amounts of marijuana, many Nevadans have had these minor offenses remain on their records, in some cases as a felony. This resolution aims to correct that and fully restore any rights lost as a result of these convictions.”

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“Today we took another step toward justice by pardoning thousands of Nevadans for actions that Nevadans decided should no longer be illegal,” state Attorney General Aaron Ford (D) said. “I’m proud to work alongside Governor Sisolak to make it easier for these Nevadans to get jobs, housing, and financial aid for college. Together, we’re making criminal justice reform a priority across Nevada.”

We need to take this movement to pardon people persecuted by the war on cannabis nationwide and look for ways that we can right wrongs of our past. Too many tax-paying-otherwise-law-abiding citizens have had their educational and employment opportunities squashed by a racist and harmful policy that a vast majority of Americans now realize was a mistake. Legalization is great, but it’s just a first step of reconciling the sins of our past when it comes to cannabis prohibition.

Federal Representatives Urge Colleagues Legalize Cannabis to Promote Racial Justice

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer made cannabis legalization and drug decriminalization a part of his police accountability plan recently and now he, and Representative Barbara Lee, are urging their colleagues to legalize cannabis as part of the movement to bring about racial justice. Cannabis prohibition has been a racist policy from its inception and the consequences have definitely had a racist impact as Black Americans are much more likely to be arrested and imprisoned for cannabis, even though use among races is about equal. Marijuana Moment reported on the Reps. Blumenauer and Lee’s “Dear Colleague” letter:

“We have all seen the pernicious effects of selective enforcement of cannabis prohibition across the country, and it is not just in red states or rural Republican America,” the letter states. “We have seen for the last 50 years the cannabis prohibition used disproportionately against people of color, especially young Black men. The use of cannabis is fairly uniform across different racial groups, but the people caught up in the net of cannabis enforcement are heavily skewed towards these young Black men.”

“It is time that we as Democrats take a stand against this pernicious hold-over from Richard Nixon’s blatant attempt at criminalizing the behavior of African Americans,” the two lawmakers, who are co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, wrote, adding that prohibition has contributed to mass incarceration across the country.

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“We urge you to examine these issues, the legislative options, and to make federal cannabis reform part of the communities’ support in their quest for racial justice. We have information in greater specificity, if you wish, and have other pieces of legislation that will improve this tragic situation. Regardless, we hope you will be mindful of this rank injustice and the overwhelming support, which includes 93 percent of voters under 30. The cannabis reform train has left the station.”

As federal lawmakers debate legislation to address police accountability, reduce violent encounters with law enforcement, and bring about more racial justice, they should heed Reps. Blumenauer and Lee’s call to end cannabis prohibition. A whopping 40% of all arrests are for cannabis. Each law enforcement encounter has the chance of turning violent and each conviction can unnecessarily deprive someone of their freedom and employment, educational, and housing opportunities. It’s time that Congress follow the will of the voters and end federal cannabis prohibition. It won’t solve our racial issues, but it is one piece of the puzzle.

Oregon Attorney General Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging Cannabis Banking Access

It is rather incredible that cannabis businesses keep breaking sales records (two months in a row in Oregon!) with so many regulatory obstacles put in their way. Local, state, and federal laws and rules stifle cannabis entrepreneurs unlike any other industry, yet the hardworking folks keep the Mary Jane train chugging along.

The lack of access to normal banking services is one of the most burdensome prohibitions, hindering not only cannabis businesses, but also everyone that they conduct business with, from their landlord to their insurance company to their attorney. Additionally, forcing businesses to be cash only is a danger to our communities.

Thankfully, common sense banking reform could be on the horizon with the U.S. House passing a coronavirus relief bill that includes the SAFE cannabis banking act. In addition to a majority of federal representatives supporting cannabis banking access, a supermajority of state attorneys general are urging Uncle Sam pass the SAFE Act. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum joins 33 other AGs, forming a formidable bipartisan alliance. Marijuana Moment reported:

First, the public safety threat of operating on a largely cash-only basis has been exacerbated amid the crisis. Second, large cash transactions “places law enforcement, tax regulators, consumers, and patients at heightened risk of exposure to the virus.” Third, access to financial institutions would make it easier to collect tax revenue from marijuana sales, which is particularly needed to offset economic shortfalls due to the health crisis.

“The current predicament of a rapidly expanding national marketplace without access to the national banking systems has resulted in an untenable situation,” the officials wrote. “We stress that current legislative models are available to fix this situation.”

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The letter goes on to say that passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act as part of coronavirus relief legislation would not represent an endorsement of cannabis legalization by Congress. “Rather, it reflects a recognition of the realities on the ground and an embrace of our federalist system of government that is flexible enough to accommodate divergent state approaches,” they said.

As usual for the cannabis community, passing the SAFE Act won’t be easy as passage in the Senate faces many hurdles. However, the progress that we’ve made among politicans and top law enforcement officers across the nation and political spectrum, bode well for the future of the movement and industry.

You can read the entire letter from the 34 attorneys general here.

69% of Oregonians Believe that Cannabis Legalization Has Been Successful

Cannabis legalization laws certainly aren’t perfect. There are a lot of improvements that need to be made at local, state, and federal levels to better help patients in need and small businesses. However, there are a lot of successes to be proud of as well, especially around criminal justice penalties and the fact that cannabis retail sales, illegal everywhere just a decade ago, have now been deemed essential during a global pandemic crisis.

There are fewer arrests, jobs are being created and revenue has been generated for important social services, yet Reefer Madness prohibitionists want to turn back the clock and scream about how the sky has fallen in legal cannabis states. Thankfully, we have the facts on our side, and the voters. As Marijuana Moment reported, YouGov polled over 32,000 voters in legal states and a whopping 69% of Oregonians believe that legalization has been a success:

They were given five options: “Success only, more of a success than a failure, more of a failure than a success, failure only or don’t know.”

Here’s a breakdown of percentages of people in legal states who said the policy has been a success compared to a failure:

Colorado (71-17 percent)

Oregon (69-20 percent)

Massachusetts (67-15 percent)

Washington (65-18 percent)

Nevada (64-17 percent)

California (59-20 percent)

Illinois (59-17 percent)

Michigan (56-20 percent)

Maine (47-20 percent)

Too often, the cannabis community is still treated as second class citizens in many aspects of our lives, from child custody battles to employment rights. Entrepreneurs are still fighting for access to regular banking services (which could pass soon) and sensible taxation policies (further away, but needed ASAP). As we continue to mainstream cannabis legalization and advocate for equality, we should always note that the voters that know the best, those that live in legal cannabis states, understand that legalization is a much better policy than prohibition.

 

Majority of Americans Agree that Cannabis is Essential

During the coronavirus pandemic, American residents and government officials have had to make important decisions on what services are deemed essential. For policymakers, they have had to weigh the pros and cons of keeping various industry sectors open and how some businesses could adapt to keep consumers, workers, and patients as safe as possible. Individuals have had to decide which food and supply trips are necessary, and what items can be skipped. Thankfully, Oregon decided that cannabis dispensaries are essential businesses that should stay open and a majority of Americans polled by YouGov agree, as reported by Marijuana Moment:

A majority of Americans believe that medical cannabis dispensaries should be kept open as “essential services” amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll.

The survey asked simply: “Do you believe medical marijuana dispensaries should or should not be considered essential services?”

Fifty-three percent said the cannabis providers should be regarded as essential, 26 percent said they shouldn’t and 21 percent said they didn’t know.

YouGove Poll

YouGov polled over 5,000 American adults, a rather large sample of people. It is rather remarkable how cannabis was illegal throughout the nation until California passed its landmark medical law in 1996 and now, during a global pandemic in 2020, dispensaries are considered essential businesses in legal states. It is great that the truth about cannabis has been winning hearts and minds across the nation, we must remain vigilant as Reefer Madness prohibitionists are lobbying government bodies to reverse the decision. The cannabis community just needs to keep sharing the truth about cannabis and remind our elected officials to follow the will of the people.

Kind Leaf has led the way on implementing sensible policies to keep its workers, customers, patients, and the community as safe as possible, even putting into place safe physical distancing policies before they were mandated. Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique has built upon its pioneering safety precautions, recently hiring Metcalf Painting and Contracting, a local contractor, to install “sneeze guards” to help protect everyone in the store. Cannabis is medicine and essential, a sincere thanks to the Kind Leaf crew, and everyone working to protect the health and safety of our people.

Kind Leaf’s message to its customers and patients:  

KIND LEAF is an essential business and open. We have implemented several measures to help keep our staff and the public safe during the pandemic.

PICK-UP and DELIVERY only – pick up orders can be placed on Leafly between the hours of 9am – 8pm. Pick-up/curb side/delivery begins at 10am. Deliveries cannot be made after 6pm, pick-up orders can be picked up until 8pm.

Only one customer in the lobby at a time. If someone is waiting to pick up their order please wait outside the front door until the receptionist is ready. Hand sanitizer is available inside the front door.

CURBSIDE PICK-UP!!! We can now meet you at your vehicle (have your ID and cash ready). NO MINORS CAN BE IN THE VEHICLE. All occupants of the vehicle must have valid identification. Call the receptionist and let them know you are at the store. Park in the front parking spots. 541-612-8588.

Online menu Ordering for pick-up and delivery:

https://www.leafly.com/dispensary-info/kind-leaf-pendleton

Senior citizens and those with technical problems can place an order via phone 541-612-8588. If the receptionist doesn’t answer please try again (phone lines are busy).

Thank you for choosing Kind Leaf.

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Mexico Advances a Cannabis Legalization Bill

While we have made great progress legalizing cannabis state by state, the U.S. federal government continues to painfully lag behind the people, even with a majority of Americans supporting legalization. As we’ve seen more and more U.S. politicians including presidential candidates move towards supporting sensible cannabis legislation, we should seen an end to federal prohibition within the next decade. One thing that might speed up the process will be other countries joining Canada in legalizing cannabis.

As Marijuana Moment reports, Mexico is moving closer to joining our neighbor to the north, as the Mexican Senate has just advanced a legalization bill: to the Senate floor via a 26-7 Senate vote:

The proposal as introduced would allow adults 18 and older to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. Individuals could grow up to 20 registered plants as long as the total yield doesn’t exceed 480 grams per year. Medical patients could apply to cultivate more than 20 plants, however.

Personal possession would be capped at 28 grams, but possession of up to 200 grams would be decriminalized.

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The bill proposes a 12 percent tax on cannabis sales, with some revenue going toward a substance misuse treatment fund.

Very exciting for tourists and locals alike, public consumption would be allowed, except in designated spaces deemed to be 100% smoke-free. It is bad enough that the United States has let Canada reap economic benefits that should be going towards American citizens. Are we gonna let Mexico beat us to the punch as well? On the bright side, the enlightenment of our friendly nextdoor neighbors should spur our politicians to act sooner rather than later.

The American Bar Association Passes Resolutions Supporting Cannabis Banking Rights

No matter your stance on legalization, everyone that wants safe neighborhoods should support legal banking services for state-regulated cannabis businesses. The lack of access to banking services severely hinders the ability of entrepreneurs to conduct business, pay taxes, and expand operations. Along with the despicable 280e IRS tax code, access to normal banking services is a top policy change needed to allow the cannabis industry to thrive. As with most issues, banking reform is needed most by small craft cannabis boutique’s like Kind Leaf, which don’t have the deep pockets of multinational corporations.

Thankfully, we are seeing great momentum for normal banking services for the cannabis industry. The SAFE Banking Act has passed the House of Representatives, awaiting some movement in the Senate. As Marijuana Moment reports, the American Bar Association added its voice to the cause:

The group’s House of Delegates voted in favor of proposals endorsing pending federal legislation to protect banks that service cannabis businesses and calling for a clarification of rules to ensure that lawyers will not be penalized for representing clients in cases concerning state-legal marijuana activity.

Under the banking resolution, ABA “urges Congress to enact legislation to clarify and ensure that it shall not constitute a federal crime for banking and financial institutions to provide services to businesses and individuals, including attorneys, who receive compensation from the sale of state-legalized cannabis or who provide services to cannabis-related legitimate business acting in accordance with state, territorial, and tribal laws.”

ABA added that “such legislation should clarify that the proceeds from a transaction involving activities of a legitimate cannabis-related business or service provider shall not be considered proceeds from an unlawful activity solely because the transaction involves proceeds from a legitimate cannabis-related business or service provider, or because the transaction involves proceeds from legitimate cannabis-related activities.”

It is great to see some allies coming around to help out the cannabis community. Let’s keep the pressure up and momentum going. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is currently the Senate Banking Committee Chair that will determine the fate of the SAFE Act. Please contact him and let him know that you support banking services for cannabis businesses and spread the word.

Just Say NO to Trump’s Budget Plan to Cut Medical Cannabis Patient Protections

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal sent shockwaves through the cannabis community yesterday as his administration’s plan would eliminate protections for medical cannabis patients. Under current federal policy, the William Barr’s Department of Justice is prohibited from using any funds from prosecuting, arresting, and jailing medical cannabis patients and their providers who are following their state’s laws.

This is a surprising move by the Trump Administration as he is going back on a campaign promise and protecting state medical cannabis patients and programs has been a largely bipartisan endeavor over the last few year, thanks to the supermajority support medical use enjoys among Americans. Rarely do politicians want to go against the wish of 85% of voters.

As Marijuana Moment reported, this isn’t the first time that Trump has called for an end to the policy and thankfully, Congress has ignored previous attempts to gut the protections, following the will of the people:

President Trump proposed ending an existing policy that protects state medical marijuana programs from Justice Department interference as part of his fiscal year 2021 budget plan released on Monday.

The rider, which has been renewed in appropriations legislation every year since 2014, stipulates the the Justice Department can’t use its funds to prevent states or territories “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

This isn’t the first time that an administration has requested that the rider be stricken. Trump’s last two budgets omitted the medical cannabis protections language, and President Obama similarly asked for the policy to be removed. In all cases, Congress has ignored those requests and renewed the protections in spending bills.

While there is a great chance that Congress won’t listen to Donald Trump on his proposal to end federal protections for state-legal medical cannabis patients, his administration’s budget plan is a reminder that we must remain vigilant. The gains that we have made can be taken away at any time. It is rather remarkable that anyone in government would have the notion to authorize the arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment of medical patients legally using cannabis under their state’s law.

The fact that this cruel and ill-advised policy would make its way into the 2020 budget plan of the President of the United States demonstrates how there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve true equality for the cannabis community. The good news is that the people, and the truth are on our side, so we just have to keep working hard to support the right public officials and spread the truth about cannabis.

Featured Photo Credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance