Tags Posts tagged with "legal"

legal

0 1872

The marijuana industry is growing rapidly, as lawmakers in more states pass legislation making it legal. Twenty eight states have legalized medical cannabis, and eight states have passed recreational. According to the latest research by GreenWave Advisors, those numbers are about to greatly increase. Last November’s election transformed the cannabis state map. Ahead of the election, voters in only four states (Alaska, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon) had voted to establish recreational markets for use of marijuana, and twenty four states had passed medical cannabis laws.

As a result of the election, four more states will open up recreational markets: California, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts. Another four states passed laws allowing medical cannabis, including Florida. Matt Karnes, GreenWave’s founder, believes that we are on the edge of a considerable increase in the number of states that will pass recreational and medical cannabis laws.

Plans are already underway to get cannabis bills on ballots in 2018 and 2020, and depending on how those votes go, recreational or medical cannabis could be legal in all 50 states, plus D.C., by 2021. Donald Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, could be key to that projection coming true. In the past, the federal government has deferred to the states when it comes to cannabis legalization, however, that could change.

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump supported medical cannabis, but he was less than eager about recreational cannabis. His appointment of Jeff Sessions as the country’s top lawyer also creates skepticism. Sessions has been a vocal opponent of cannabis, and he may not be willing to continue with a lassez-faire policy when it comes to enforcing federal laws restricting cannabis. Recently, he suggested enforcement of federal cannabis laws could intensify, and in a speech in Virginia, he said that cannabis was “only slightly less awful” than heroin.

States have a lot of reason to legalize cannabis. According to Karnes, retail sales of cannabis clocked in at $6.5 billion last year, up from $4.8 billion in 2015. GreenWave estimates that the cannabis black market is worth $36 billion and that passage of marijuana-friendly laws nationally could lead to $30 billion in cannabis sales in 2021. Based on those predictions, the potential tailwinds for tax revenue over the next five years should be strong, and that could factor greatly into whether or not pro-marijuana laws pass.

0 2721

Israel’s cabinet recently approved a proposal to decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana, permitting it to go to a vote in the country’s parliament, the Knesset. If it passes there, as anticipated, first-time marijuana offenders will face a fine of 1,000 shekels ($270 USD), but criminal charges will only be brought on a fourth offense. Gilad Erdan, Public Security Minister who led the reform effort said, “The government’s approval is an important step on the way to implement the new policy, which will emphasize public information and treatment instead of criminal enforcement.”

Legislator Tamar Zandberg of the center-left Meretz party, chair of the Knesset Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, stated, “This is an important step, but not the end of the road. It sends a message that a million of Israelis who consume marijuana aren’t criminals. We will carry on following the details in the committee and ensure that the change is implemented.” The proposal was based on the suggestions of a committee headed by Public Security Ministry director-general Rotem Peleg, calling for a change of focus from criminal prosecution of marijuana users to fines and educational campaigns.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stated, “Israel cannot shut its eyes to the changes being made across the world in respect to marijuana consumption and its effect. Israel is already a world leader in medical cannabis, with some 25,000 registered in its national program, and cutting-edge research underway. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, almost 9% of Israelis use marijuana, although many believe the figure could be higher. For now, Israel’s predominantly conservative government is only going so far. Farming and selling marijuana would continue to be criminal offenses under the proposal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “On the one hand we are opening ourselves up to the future. On the other hand, we understand the dangers and will try to balance the two.” However, even some conservatives are coming around. MK Sharren Haskel of the right-wing Likud, chair of the Knesset Caucus for Medical Cannabis, said the proposal is “not enough.” Asserting that “criminalization does not work and wastes resources.” She stated, “I will keep fighting until we have a full-fledged legalization of cannabis.”

0 3973

Not far into the Trump administration, we are marking history’s most chaotic authoritarian rule via a narcissist’s Twitter account and a radical right wing presidential puppeteer, Stephen Bannon, who just moved on to the National Security Council. Despite Neil Gorsuch’s tenure on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, he has made few public announcements about cannabis policy. One way to gather more information is to look at his rulings. In one case, covered by the New York Daily News, Gorsuch governed a marijuana industry tax case in which a Colorado dispensary was forced by the IRS to pay taxes on their business expenses, which one typically is permitted to deduct. The dispensary in question deducted theirs but did not wish to disclose the nature of their business.

Gorsuch ruled against the dispensary, although he did go out on a limb and question the government’s strange and confusing federal versus state government pot laws and the “mixed messages” that continue to dumbfound all of us. Gorsuch stated, “This case owes its genesis to the mixed messages the federal government is sending these days about the distribution of marijuana. So it is that today prosecutors will almost always overlook federal marijuana distribution crimes in Colorado but the tax man never will.”

While Gorsuch didn’t care for the mixed messages, he didn’t really say which side of the fence he was on. He went on to wonder how the IRS gets to cash in on a business the feds consider illegal. This leaves the question lingering to many people: who has the final word and will the federal government respect the will of the people who have voted to legalize cannabis in over 50% of the United States?

Another clue on Gorsuch’s viewpoint came out on the Joint Blog, which reported that a former student of Gorsuch’s asked him several years ago whether he supported legalization of marijuana or not. Gorsuch responded by saying that, at the very least, he supports “the federal government getting out of the business of prohibiting in.” Still unsure what that means. Gorsuch also recognized the Obama administration’s willingness to allow legal cannabis states to work out their own problems. He even expressed worry that everything could come crashing down in the event of a new attorney general.

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There are two reasons for the new investigation of marijuana by policymakers and journalists. The realization that marijuana will be made legal and the possibility that it could be reversed. The third phase in the history of marijuana research is currently happening.

The main purpose of research on marijuana has been to figure out how the drug caused its characteristic effects. Lyn Howlett and her research team at Washington University in the late eighties discovered the endocannabinoid receptor system. Consequently, this new research focus on cannabis is to better understand how it affects the human body. It is this second phase of research that paved the way for marijuana’s legalization.

While research on marijuana’s effects continues, the third phase of research has developed in response to these reforms in state-level cannabis policy. Those who understand that legalization is not reversible are dedicating greater attention to comprehending the impact of legalization policies. The reactionaries who want a return to prohibition will contend that any negative discovery about marijuana approves their historical opposition to change.

New investigations on marijuana have started. There are two crucial fault lines being uncovered in the study. The first is receiving attention among policy analysts. It concerns whether the priority for public policy will be the publics health or profits. The second fault line is between the interests of the marijuana industry and the interests of its consumers. Both produce problems for the growing cannabis industry.

It may seem that the cannabis industry’s two rivals have some problems of their own. Public health proponents wish to minimize the amount of marijuana used by consumers. Regardless of their differences over the characteristics use and abuse conflicts between the public health community and marijuana consumers, they are delusional because both groups grasp the idea of responsible use.

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In America, next-to-nothing happens on marijuana without voters taking the initiative and making the moves a prohibitionist government never would. Compare that to Ireland, where the Irish Parliament’s lower house just approved a bill to allow medical cannabis without so much as a donnybrook. According to the BBC, a clear majority of elected representatives are behind the plan.

The brainchild of democratic socialists with strong anti-capitalism bents-yet another thing you’re less likely to see in the U.S. than a skateboarding leprechaun-the bill would allow people with chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer, MS, and fibromyalgia to access medical cannabis products with a doctor’s recommendation.

As for when that would happen? Therein lies the dilemma. There’s more debate yet to be had about the bill, which needs further approval before becoming law. There doesn’t appear to be much opposition.
Ireland’s controlling government says it has no qualms with the bill, and even the national health minister says he’s open to the idea. There’s going to have to be buy-in from Irish doctors.

Health Minister Simon Harris states he’ll rely on advice from the country’s Health Products Regulatory Authority to decide whether or not to determine marijuana to be a legitimate palliative. Even if there is, there’s no clear picture of how many doctors would write recommendations or how easy it would be to secure one.

The sticky debate over how and where Ireland’s legal marijuana would be grown is still in the future. In the meantime, one thing is clear: there’s absolutely no government support for recreational marijuana. Harris says he wants changes made to the current plan so as to guarantee anyone who isn’t extremely ill can’t get their hands on cannabis, he said.

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Daniel Landes; owner of “City O’ City,” a popular restaurant, considers his options a few days after Denver voters approve the use of marijuana in bars, restaurants and other public places. He could use the comedy club he owns upstairs; having a cannabis and comedy night. Or maybe the yoga studio he owns; in a pot-inspired practice.

“This has been the missing ingredient,” Landes said. “You have people coming to Denver to enjoy legal pot, and they have had no place to use it.”

Things quickly changed on Friday following a ruling by state licensing authorities stating bars and restaurants with liquor licenses could not allow pot use on the premises. As per The Colorado Department of Revenue; this decision was made last summer following talks with: the liquor industry, health experts and groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

State officials released a news conference stating that the ruling prohibiting the “use of alcohol and pot” concurrently is in the best interest of public health and safety. Using both substances together greatly increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents as opposed to using one substance alone.

The Colorado Restaurant Assn. agreed, stating cannabis use in bars and restaurants “will dramatically increase the liability risks for these establishments.”

This new law “put the breaks” on what many were celebrating as a big step toward the goal of marijuana normalization in Colorado as well as the nation.

Although the state denies it; advocates of marijuana accused them of openly fighting a battle for the liquor industry. The state says the ruling had nothing to do with the passage of the new marijuana measure. It is very likely that Colorado’s marijuana issues are being closely watched by other states who have legalized cannabis.

Colorado and Washington were the first states to make recreational marijuana legal back in 2012. Since then, The District of Columbia as well as six other states have joined them, including California this month. The newcomers are watching the pioneers to see what does and does not work and how to get around the conflicts with the federal government who continues to classify marijuana as illegal.

Supporters backing Initiative 300; (Denver’s new cannabis law) feel that even though they have encountered road blocks, they have come a long way toward addressing the confusion of legal cannabis vs. finding a place to eat, vape or smoke it.

“You have seen a dramatic rise in arrests in Colorado for public consumption of pot. People are using it in the parks and sidewalks where they shouldn’t,” said Kayvan Khalatbari, co-owner of Denver Relief Consulting, who campaigned in favor of the initiative. “Our hope is that [Initiative 300] will reduce public consumption.”

“They seem to think it’s fine for patrons of bars and concert venues to get blackout drunk, but unacceptable for them to use a far less harmful substance like marijuana instead,” said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the National Marijuana Policy Project. “This rule will not prevent bar-goers from consuming marijuana, but it will ensure that they consume it outside in the alley or on the street rather than inside of a private establishment.”

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The legalization of marijuana was just the beginning of what is soon to be hundreds of courts changing charges across cities adjusting to Proposition 64. The decriminalization of certain marijuana charges takes effect immediately and is impacting many residents. People who have been convicted of a marijuana-related crime can petition to have their convictions undone and/or reformed. Sacramento has about 75 of these cases and the state of California should have thousands.

Ken Marsullo, who worked at a Stockton dispensary for many years, was being charged with a felony for cultivation. Felonies commonly result in jail time, thousands of dollars in legislation, and a tarnished record. The new laws now make charges against Marsullo a misdemeanor.

“All this really happened unexpectedly,” said Ken Marsullo, “it really hasn’t been easy the last few months.”

Marsullo’s attorney Allen Sawyer stated, “Closes a lot of doors and forever impacts them and it could take a lifetime to try and undo that.”They’re not required to report that on job applications. It’s a lot easier to get an expungement. It’s a lot easier to move forward.”

Under the new law, cultivation is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 and a maximum of six months in jail.

“Whatever was charged as a felony and should be a misdemeanor, we were reducing them to misdemeanors as they come along,” said Steve Grippi, the Deputy District Attorney in Sacramento County.

1 1964

Berlin is currently one of the world’s most open and habitable cities. It not only has a booming art scene and lively club atmosphere, but its economy is also relatively stable and productive. Berlin also has a massive LGBTQ scene and support for it as well, along with foods and products popular amongst the younger generations.

What else could a booming city filled with younger people want? Hint: It’s green, valuable, and prominent on the news. It’s not money we’re talking about, but marijuana. Berlin’s current ruling government is a coalition of Social Democrats, Greens, and the Left Party are working hard to launch a project to make marijuana available to adults in a controlled manner.

Even though marijuana is illegal in Germany itself, people who are caught possessing less than 15 grams are not prosecuted. Very similar to the united states, the law on marijuana consumption is decided upon at a state level, not a federal level. This means that each of Germany’s 16 federal states can set their own laws regarding marijuana consumption.

Word on the street and on the web is that marijuana is already very accessible in Berlin. According to a German website, you can walk into almost any public park in Berlin and find people, mostly men, who are loitering around the park looking for people to buy marijuana.

Marijuana selling and consumption has become so widespread in Berlin that police have started to give up on attempting to prosecute users and control the substance. This makes some type of marijuana reform not only favorable but necessary to the city of Berlin if they want to keep marijuana controlled.

This is exactly what Berlin’s cannabis program would cover; they want to involve the federal government and follow a program similar to that of the United States. After seeing the success of marijuana laws and reform in the United States, Berlin thinks that they can expect a similar success in their city.

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California’s market for marijuana is estimated to be worth over $6 billion in 4 years after voters approved a measure on the ballot allowing for the recreational use of marijuana. Marijuana will be taxed under a higher rate than tobacco, funded like risky Silicon Valley startups, and grown under immense scrutiny. However, these changes will not be immediate as California has over a year to start rolling out these new changes.

Big corporations may be hesitant to invest and participate in the marijuana industry given acreage limits, which bans federal banks from participating in anything marijuana related. These laws also prevent movement of marijuana across state borders, which can cause potential political issues. California already has an advantage due to the number of medicinal dispensaries already open; California’s local medicinal cannabis industry has spent the past 6 years doing marijuana research and obtaining permits for opening more dispensaries.

There are over 100 dispensaries in Los Angeles who do not currently have a physical permit, a gray area that will be decided on in March on whether they need to get a physical permit in order to continue operating. Marijuana will be taxed at the rate of $9.25 per ounce, a 15% excise tax, and all other local and state taxes. In addition, growing will also be taxed at the rate of $15 per square foot. The high tax rates, as well as the security measures required for selling marijuana, places more importance on the regulation of these “gray market” sellers who are avoiding the taxes and normal regulations.

As of right now, Proposition 64 limits growing to about half an acre indoors and an acre outdoors, however these limits will be lifted by 2023. As of right now this will mean that there will be many small-medium sized growers offering many different varieties of marijuana, similar to small-scale wineries and craft beer producers. Having a limit on growing does restrain these companies and growers from reaping the benefits of economies of scale, keeping marijuana prices higher than if they were allowed to consolidate and have a larger corporation growing.

When the limits are lifted in 2023, smaller growers could see an increasing amount of competition from large tobacco companies and pharmaceuticals. Large tobacco companies already have the experience and resources for growing large scale plants; even though growing marijuana is a different type of process, we can expect the tobacco industries to want to get in to this lucrative business.

The large variety of marijuana plants could turn the industry into something more similar to the craft beer industry or specialized coffee. Consumers will require a knowledgeable person at the dispensaries to guide their decisions and to inform them of all the varieties, similar to a barista at a coffee shop.

Since marijuana is still a Schedule One controlled substance, no federally regulated bank can get involved in financing any marijuana ventures or touching its profits, which is why venture capitalists are very important to this industry. Overall, we can expect this new law to open up opportunities for many small-medium sized growers while allowing consumers to enjoy the many different varieties that will soon be more widely available to them.

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As of now, the polls look promising for making legalization of cannabis the law of the land throughout the nation, but there is no telling what voters in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada will do regarding the pending initiative measures come election time. This can pose many obstacles. To begin with, we have faced resistance from new, organized and well-funded groups in recent campaigns. Although legalization currently receives more public support than ever before, critics are using this against us stating we are treading unknown waters. Opponents are creating hysteria about legal cannabis in order to hype and motivate voters using distorted reports about the impact of legalization in states where legislation has already been enacted.

Another thing to keep in mind is that although growers in California favor an end to prohibition, they fear competition from big business under Proposition 64 which will go before voters this fall. Many growers find it more profitable to sell marijuana to non-legal states creating opposition from existing cultivators and another roadblock to reform. If this happens it will emphasize the need for national legalization, but can also create repercussions that will continue to stall legalization in other states. In order to successfully legalize the sale of cannabis, we need to educate the critics and help them realize that the sale of illegal cannabis is a successfully thriving industry under current prohibition. Despite all efforts by law enforcement to control the illegal industry, marijuana has remained widely available. According to national survey data, millions of people sell marijuana every year yet only an average of 90,000 arrest are made. This is roughly only 2 percent.

These facts alone should be enough to convince critics that prohibition is useless. There are two sides to the issues at hand. On the one hand, supporters of prohibition are in denial as to the extent, scope and determination of the illegal marijuana market. On the other hand, advocates of legalization avoid speaking about the yearly arrests for marijuana sales when addressing the need to abolish the illegal market. The public empathizes with the injustice of arresting marijuana users; however, they do not have any remorse towards people who sell marijuana. Legalization advocates know this, and consequently rarely refer to sales arrests when they make arguments against prohibition. But they need to start doing this to close the deal.

Marijuana sales arrests are important because in the aggregate, looking at the total, they quantify the futility of trying to make prohibition work as an effective means of drug control. Ironically, many individuals arrested for marijuana sales are in fact only marijuana users. Current law states that individuals possessing more marijuana than lawmakers feel is deemed as recreational are to be arrested, charged and prosecuted with intent to distribute. Many cultivation cases are charged as manufacturing with the intent to distribute based on a prosecution argument that the amount being grown is more than an individual would consume in a year’s time. They make this case by exaggerating the potential yield of the plants involved and minimizing the amount of marijuana someone might consume.

There are also many cases of people who smoke marijuana and simply buy large amounts in order to get better prices and avoid multiple trips in traffic; hence saving time and money. These individuals could be arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute solely because of the amount involved. These are some examples of how marijuana sales arrests are not a good indicator of how many professional drug dealers have been arrested. Even when people possess marijuana with the intent of selling it, their plans are to sell it to a close circle of friends in order to decrease cost (a fact also supported by national survey data).

In any event, sales arrests tell us something important about public policy—there is no way to control the current illegal marijuana market through arrests and criminal sanctions. That deserves discussion, and greater attention to this issue also will call supporters of prohibition to account for their implicit support for overpriced, non-regulated illegal marijuana sales. This is the discussion the public needs to hear in order to close the deal on legalizing cannabis throughout the United States.

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