3 Points for Voters to Consider When Reviewing Proposed Marijuana Laws
Cannabis Industry Expert Looks at Pros & Cons
Voters in seven states, one U.S. territory, and at least 17 cities and counties across the nation will face a marijuana initiative when they go to the polls in November. For some, the question is easy: They’re either for some level of legalizing marijuana or against it.
But for others, the issue is not so cut and dried. Decriminalizing marijuana can be good for the country – and it can be potentially dangerous, says Wall Street commodities expert Steve Janjic, CEO of Amercanex (www.amercanex.com), an electronic marketplace exchange for the cannabis industry.
“I’m a part of the industry, but that doesn’t mean I’m in favor of every measure to legalize pot,” Janjic says. “We need to proceed with care and thoughtful consideration of possible consequences, intended and unintended, of the decisions we make.
“We have the opportunity to fix some problems through decriminalization, but we don’t want to end up with even bigger problems down the road,” Janjic said.
The November initiatives range from legalizing recreational marijuana sales and use for adults in Oregon and Alaska to permitting it for medical purposes in Florida and Guam, to decriminalizing possession of small amounts in cities and counties in Maine, Michigan and New Mexico. Californians will decide whether to downgrade possession to a misdemeanor.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is filing a committee with the California Secretary of State on Wednesday to support a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in California. According to MPP, "It will be part of a broad coalition of local activists, community leaders, organizations, and businesses working to pass a measure similar to the one approved by voters in Colorado in 2012."
The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, will immediately begin raising funds to help place the measure on the November 2016 ballot. MPP was the largest financial backer of the Colorado initiative campaign.
“Marijuana prohibition has had an enormously detrimental impact on California communities," said MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia. "It’s been ineffective, wasteful, and counterproductive. It’s time for a more responsible approach.
“A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible," Kampia said. "Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.
“Marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than alcohol, and that’s how it needs to be treated," Kampia said. "Regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol just makes sense.”
Rick Steves, one of America's most respected travel authorities, is launching a six-day, 10-city tour around Oregon to talk about travel and the need for marijuana reform in Oregon.
The Yes on 91 campaign will join him. On the November ballot, Measure 91 will regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older.
In "Travel as a Political Act: Ending marijuana prohibition in Oregon," Steves will share how travel has shown him how different societies tackle the same problems. Steves co-sponsored I-502, Washington's limited ballot measure to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana.
"One thing I've learned in 30 years of travel is that treating marijuana as a crime does not work," he said. "A better approach is to regulate it, legalize it and tax it. I'm an advocate for better policy, and that's what Oregon will get once Measure 91 passes."
With one exception, all the events are free and open to the public. To RSVP, click here.
Tuesday, October 7
First Congregational Church, 5:30 PM*
*Wine and Cheese Meet and Greet, $250/person (Limited space, reserve tickets in advance online)
Tuesday, October 7
First Congregational Church, 7 PM**
Wednesday, October 8
Ava Roasteria, Noon
Wednesday, October 8
Grand Ballroom, Noon
Thursday, October 9
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis, 5:30 PM
Thursday, October 9
ACLU Annual Membership Meeting
Friday, October 10
By Steve Elliott
A new study indicates that if Maryland legalized marijuana, it would bring Maryland more than $40 million in taxes revenues.
The study by financial advisory company Nerd Wallet found that the United States would make $3 billion in taxes if cannabis were legally sold; it then broke down what every state could expect in marijuana revenue, reports Megan Pringle at WBAL-TV.
Due to the illegal nature of marijuana in 48 states, it's hard to get good numbers on the amount of weed that's bought and consumed. To estimate what each state would get from cannabis sales, Nerd Wallet said it had to rely on how many people report smoking pot to the federal government -- so it's a pretty safe bet that there numbers are substantially low.
The study found that in Maryland, more than 145,000 people use cannabis. Based on that, and estimated tax revenues, if marijuana were legal, it would bring Maryland $40,548,337m, the study estimated.
California would make the most, at $500 million, while Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota would make the least, each with less than $10 million, the study showed.
Texas, Washington, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida are all estimated to get more than $100 million from legalization.
By Steve Elliott
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said on Monday that he will drop all tickets issued for using marijuana in public that were issued through the first seven months of 2014, because most of them were written by one police officer, Randy Jokela (pictured), who disagrees with cannabis legalization.
In a briefing to the Seattle City Council, Holmes said he is moving to dismiss about 100 tickets issued by the Seattle Police Department between January 1 and July 31, reports Gene Johnson of the Associated Press.
His office also said it would be seeking a refund for 22 people who had already paid their $27 ticket.
One single officer, Jokela, wrote about 80 percent of the tickets, writing on one that he thinks pot legalization is "silly."
Jokela was temporarily reassigned, and the department's Office of Professional Accountability is supposedly investigating.
Photo of Randy Jokela: Brandi Kruse/KIRO Radio
By Steve Elliott
If you're a television news reporter and you decide to quit, you might as well do it live on the air and in a spectacular fashion -- at least, that was apparently the thinking of Charlo Greene, who outed herself as the owner of a medical marijuana club and told viewers she was quitting her job to focus on legalization.
Greene reported on the Alaska Cannabis Club during TV station KTVA's Sunday night news broadcast, but didn't reveal her connection to the club until a live shot at the end of her report, according Laurel Andrews at the Alaska Dispatch News.
"Now everything you've heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all of my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness, which begins with legalization of marijuana here in Alaska," Greene said live on the air. "And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice, but fuck it, I quit."
With that, Greene walked off camera.
Alaska Cannabis Club had earlier urged its Facebook followers to tune in to the news broadcast Sunday evening. Greene later said KTVA had no idea she was going to quit, or how, or that she was connected to the dispensary.
Greene said she quit so dramatically "Because I wanted to draw attention to this issue. And the issue is medical marijuana.
Measure 91: Kris Olson, one of Oregon's most respected prosecutors, endorses campaign
Oregon's former U.S. Attorney, one of the most respected prosecutors in the state, has endorsed Measure 91, which would regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older.
Kris Olson has worked in justice and law enforcement for more than 40 years."I enforced our marijuana laws, and they don't work," she said.
"Filling our courts and jails has failed to reduce marijuana use, and drug cartels are pocketing all the profits," Olson said.
Olson joins several other high-profile supporters of Measure 91, including former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Bill Riggs and former Addictions and Mental Health Services of Oregon director Richard Harris.
By Steve Elliott
Military veterans who use marijuana are invited to Denver on Saturday, September 20, where a pro-cannabis organization plans to host a weed giveaway for vets who want it.
The group Operation Grow4Vets will hand out marijuana and cannabis products from 11 a.m until 3 p.m. at the Quality Inn in Central Denver, reports Denver Nicks at Time. Total value of the products given away to each veteran who RSVPs for the event by noon on Friday will be worth more than $200, according to the group.
Non-veterans will be asked for a $20 donation at the door and will get more than $100 in marijuana products in exchange, organizers told ABC7 News Denver.
Grow4Vets' mission is to "reduce the staggering number of Veterans who die each day from suicide and prescription drug overdose," by providing them "with the knowledge and resources necessary to obtain or grow their own marijuana for treatment of their medical conditions," according to the group's website.
The event is open to the public and restricted to adults 21 and older. "Our events are open to the public to help grow visibility for our cause," Operation Grow4Vets founder and executive director Roger Martin explained.
A repeat of the event will be held in Colorado Springs next Saturday, September 27.
As more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, entrepreneurs believe they'll get rich from cannabis businesses that comply with the laws of a particular state. However, marijuana businesses that comply with state laws are still breaking federal law and, therefore, are criminal enterprises.
Business advisory and advocacy law firm McDonald Hopkins addresses this issue in a special report designed to help potential investors, vendors, and professionals, such as lawyers and bankers, understand the risks involved in participating in the so-called "legal marijuana business."
The report, authored by Bruce Reinhart, co-chair of McDonald Hopkins' white collar and government compliance practice group, details how federal law regulates controlled substances, and that only certain persons registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) can manufacture, distribute, and dispense controlled substances.
Reinhart outlines the tremendous risks businesses and business owners take on when dealing with legal marijuana businesses, including exposure to criminal prosecution, loss of assets, civil penalties, loss of licensure, and fiduciary duty litigation. These risks are assumed in an environment with limited -- if any -- protection from legal counsel or insurance.
Given the current legislative landscape, the report warns that the decision to enter the legal marijuana market should be made cautiously and with the advice of legal counsel experienced in criminal, civil, and forfeiture law.
By Steve Elliott
A nationwide survey released on Thursday found that legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado hasn't led to more young people smoking pot there.
"The actual attitudes towards its use are really in line with other states," said Dr. Leslie Adair, reports MPR News. "What this survey has done is posed questions for further research in understanding why that is."
The survey was commissioned by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which operates drug and alcohol treatment centers in several states. It included interviews with more than 1,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.
The study also found that about one in 10 young adults reported being high every day at school, at work or while driving.
"What we certainly know is that marijuana use affects memory, it affects concentration, it affects attention," Adair said. "It affects a lot of the cognitive processes required to drive."
But most marijuana users disagreed, according to the study, which found about 60 percent of pot smokers said they don't think it has a negative impact on the brain, reports Ashley Michels at Fox 31 Denver.
The survey also found that 72 percent of young adults whose parents had used marijuana also used it themselves.
Oregon farmers are forced to watch while consumers here buy millions of dollars in hempseed for food, clothing made of hemp and thousand of other products made from this cash crop, all grown in foreign countries.
Ryan Basile is an Oregonian, a farmer and an agricultural businessman. In this video, he alerts us all to unintended consequences of laws banning marijuana and how it's holding back an entire economy perfect for Oregon's climate.
Ryan knows that Measure 91 will compel the state Department of Agriculture to cut the remaining red tape and allow hemp growing and manufacturing in Oregon.
• Hemp plants are considered a dangerous narcotic simply because they're related to marijuana plants.
• Smoking hemp will NOT get you high.
• Hemp is a fibrous plant that can be turned into oil, wax, rope, resin, cloth, paper, pulp and food.
• Canadians make half a billion dollars a year on it, and about 90% of the hemp they grow is exported to the United States. Oregonians are seeing the consequences for our strange approach to hemp while Canadians are profiting off of us.
• Canadians have a 20-year lead on us in hemp research, and everyday it is illegal to grow hemp in Oregon we fall further behind.
"There is an entire hemp economy sitting on the sidelines waiting for voters to pass Measure 91," said Ryan Basile, a farmer and agricultural salesman from Oregon. "From fiber processing to clothing manufacturing, the hemp industry will create jobs and money for our economy."
Highest Support Ever for a Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative
Campaign to Legalize Marijuana in Racial Justice Context Resonating With D.C. Voters
A new Washington Post/NBC News/Marist poll released on Thursday shows support for Initiative 71, which would legalize marijuana, at 65 percent among likely D.C. voters.
Initiative 71 allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana on their person at any time, and allows for the cultivation of up to six marijuana plants at home.
District law prevents the ballot initiative from addressing the sale of marijuana. However, the D.C. Council is currently considering a bill which will tax and regulate marijuana within the District.
“D.C. voters want to take marijuana completely out the criminal justice system and refocus police priorities,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Voters are relating to the message that legalization will end D.C.’s rampant discrimination when it comes marijuana enforcement.”
D.C. has decriminalized marijuana, replacing criminal penalties with a $25 fine. However, data from the Metropolitan Police Department shows that 77 percent of all tickets have been issued in communities of color.
Award-Winning Author of High Price Shares Insights from his Remarkable Personal Journey and Career as a Scientist
Carl Hart, PhD, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, recently gave a compelling TEDMED Talk in which he dispelled myths about drugs, drug use and drug misuse. In the talk, Hart eloquently discussed the negative influence that drug hysteria had on the flawed drug laws the United States grapples with today.
His unflinching, eye-opening talk mirrored his widely-renowned book, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society (HarperCollins, 2013), a groundbreaking memoir/science book which recently won the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.
“My TED talk is a public education effort to combat drug myths, bad drug policy, and to help keep people safe,” said Dr. Hart. “Millions of people languish unnecessarily in jails and prisons largely, and still others needlessly die from preventable overdoses, underground market violence and police interactions, due to a misguided approach to drug regulations. And no one suffers more than African American men and the poor.”
A complaint was filed with the York County Superior Court on Wednesday seeking a temporary injunction requiring the Select Board of the Town of York to place an initiated ordinance which would legalize marijuana on the ballot for November's general election.
Plaintiffs include York voters who have signed and circulated the marijuana petition, as well as a York voter who did not sign the petition but wants the opportunity to vote on the measure.
The measure would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in York. It would remain illegal to consume or display marijuana in public. The measure also includes a statement in support of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.
Citizens for a Safer York initially submitted more than 200 signatures to place the measure in front of the York Board of Selectmen. On July 28, the board voted 3-2 against putting the measure on the ballot, giving the group 30 days to collect an additional 641 signatures. It submitted nearly 1,000 signatures on August 27. On September 8, the Board of Selectman voted 3-2 to not place the measure on the ballot.
“The right to petition your government is the bedrock of democracy. For the Selectman to ignore the will of their constituents goes against what our country is all about, and that is why I signed on to this case,” said plaintiff Sharon DaBiere.
By Steve Elliott
More people have joined a class action lawsuit against a company accused of handing out samples of marijuana-infused chocolate at the Denver County Fair.
Seven named plaintiffs have joined the lawsuit's amendment complaint, filed by Boulder attorney Corey Zurbach in Denver County Court, reports Alan Gathright at 7News Denver. The defendant is named as Beyond Broadway LLC, doing business as Full Melt Chocolate and LivWell.
The lawsuit, originally filed on August 7, now states that class action suit "as initially defined includes in excess of 100 individuals."
The alleged "victims" all ate free samples of Full Melt Chocolate, provided by LivWell at a "Pot Pavilion" exhibit during the Denver County Fair, which ran from August 1 through August 3, according to the lawsuit.
The Pot Pavilion was advertised as being drug free. "No marijuana will be onsite," the Denver County Fair's website stated.
"This civil action is for personal injuries arising from the defendants' negligent distribution of marijuana-infused chocolate bars under the guise that they contained no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive component (or cannabinoid) of the cannabis plant," the lawsuit states.
"Victims" named in the lawsuit claimed they began "to feel strange" and "physically ill" after consuming the chocolates.