Marijuana legalization candidates have gained significant momentum in 2020. Proponents of state ballot measures have outraised opponents this year by nearly 36-to-1, a gigantic increase from the last presidential voting year, when advocates outraised their opponents by only 4-to-1.
According to Marijuana Business Daily, candidates supporting marijuana legalization in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota have raised approximately $19.6 million in 2020, compared with just $546,000 raised by opponents.
Adult-use legalization is back on the ballot this year in Arizona, and there is a good chance that it gets approved this voting period. A poll conducted at Monmouth University in New Jersey at the beginning of October showed 56% supported the measure with 36% opposed and 8% undecided. Marijuana legalization candidates have outraised competitions 11-to-1 in 2020. Up to now, Smart and Safe Arizona, the committee behind the measure, has raised more than $5 million while opponents have only earned $459,000.
29% of the supporting Arizona contributions came from the Marijuana Policy Project in 2016. The deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) , Matthew Schweich, stated that while the organization supports the Arizona and New Jersey ballot measures, its staff has been more focused on the Montana and South Dakota campaigns in the recent voting cycle. Schweich also stated, “That’s where our assistance can make the biggest difference.” MPP has given $84,330 in cash and in-kind donations to the two states, a much smaller amount compared with the $1.69 million it gave Arizona in 2016.
Other marijuana businesses, including Massachusetts-based Curaleaf, Arizona-based Copperstate Farms and Illinois-based Cresco Labs, have contributed a combined $1.3 million to support passing marijuana legalization in Arizona.
New Jersey marijuana legalization candidates received $800,000 from Scotts Miracle-Gro, a leading company in the lawn and garden industry. which possesses Hawthorne Gardening, a hydroponics subsidiary for cannabis growers.
Should New York legalize marijuana to combat COVID? Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor, recently said that legalizing marijuana represents a realistic way that the state can recover economically from the COVID pandemic.
The governor was promoting his new book during a virtual event and was asked when New York will legalize marijuana for adult use. Cuomo stated, “Shortly, because today we need the revenue. I have tried to do it the over the last couple of years.”, according to a recording which has been obtained by USA Today Network.
The governor also stated, “There are a whole lot of reasons to have it done, but one of the advantages is it also brings in revenue, and all sates, especially New York, need revenue and we are going to be searching the cupboards for revenue. And I believe that will place cannabis over the top.”
Andrew Cuomo supports marijuana legalization and included cannabis legalization in his past two budget proposals, but discussions between his office and the legislature dropped through each time, with sticking points being issues like how cannabis tax earnings will be allocated, preventing a deal from being negotiated. A leading adviser of his stated earlier this month that the strategy would be to attempt again to legalize cannabis in New York in early 2021.
Cuomo was likewise asked about cannabis legalization as a way to offset the budget deficit brought on by the coronavirus pandemic in May. So it is obvious he believes New York should legalize marijuana to combat COVID. While he said it is the federal government’s “obligation as part of managing this national pandemic that they will provide financial relief to state and local authorities,” he also stated that “I support legalization of cannabis passing. I’ve worked very diligently to pass it.”
Cuomo indicated in April that he believed the legislative session was “effectively over” for the year and increased doubts that lawmakers could pass marijuana reform.
Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Assembly Majority Leader, made similar remarks when asked about the reform issues in April, though she appeared to indicate that she laid partial blame for the failure to enact reform on the governor prioritizing different issues throughout the pandemic.
The New York State Association of Counties stated in a report published last month that legalizing recreational cannabis “will offer the state and counties with resources for education, public health and technical assistance” to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the state Senate has approved several small marijuana reform bills lately. The chamber passed a bill in July that broadens the pool of individuals qualified to have their low-level marijuana convictions automatically expunged.
As a result of a bill expanding cannabis decriminalization in the nation the governor signed this past year, the New York State Unified Court System made a statement last month outlining steps people can take to clear their records for prior cannabis convictions. Support continues to grow that New York should legalize marijuana to combat COVID.
More celebrities support drug decriminalization with their public platforms. On Friday, musician John Legend endorsed an Oregon initiative to decriminalize possession of currently illegal drugs while investing in substance abuse therapy and treatments. John has long been a supporter of issues pertaining to criminal justice reform and on a recent twitter thread, encouraged Oregon residents to approve the ballot measure.
The proposal would make Oregon the first state in the nation to eliminate the threat of jail time for simple drug possession, and it would put money towards substance abuse treatment with the support of cannabis tax dollars. Support for the reform movement has come from several interesting supporters during this election.
The Oregon Democratic Party officially endorsed Measure 110 earlier this month, in addition to another proposal to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapy in specific areas.
Also business celebrities support decriminalization. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, donated $500,000 to the decriminalization effort through a foundation he and his wife run. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (Democrat-OR) is also backing the initiative, as well as the psilocybin measure. Blumenauer said, “Meausre 110 will help change Oregon into a health-based approach from a health-based drug addiction crisis. This is more compassionate, more powerful, safer, and simple common sense.”
While Legend’s endorsement brings some star focus on the matter, it is not the first time he has voiced support for putting an end to drug criminalization. In 2018, Legend was asked about what policies he would enact in a position of political power and he replied, “decriminalize drugs–treat drugs as a public health issue rather than as a criminal matter.” He also stated, “I think plenty of people believe if we lock up more people, people will not do as many drugs. But what ends up happening is, we aren’t really solving the problem of drug demand by waging a war on drugs when people are still finding ways to get drugs. And the drug overdose problem is still huge. You would think, you know, criminalizing it and making it tougher on people that get caught would actually help solve the problem, but it doesn’t. I think legalizing marijuana is the first step, but I think going beyond that—realizing that the war on drugs was never a good idea, and that we should treat drug addiction as a health problem instead of a criminal problem—is the answer.”
The governor of Colorado discourages Texas from legalizing marijuana, saying it would mean less tax revenue for his own state from marijuana tourism. He may have been joking with the statement, but there is some truth to how he and other legal recreational use state politicians feel.
Governor Jared Polis (Demcrat-CO) tweeted, “That may be true BUT it would decrease tourism to Colorado, so be certain you consider Colorado first in any Texas decisions.” The governor was reacting to a Marijuana Moment study on a new economic analysis that revealed how Texas stands to create billions in tax revenue and tens of thousands of jobs if it enacted the policy shift.
Governor Polis has a track record of making comments about the cannabis tourism revenue Colorado receives from non-residents visiting recreational marijuana dispensaries in Colorado. Soon after he was sworn in this past year, Polis said “we get a great deal of extra business from those coming to our state” and so “from the financial standpoint of Colorado, I would like other states to go slowly so that we may continue to reap all these advantages for Colorado.”
Polis also said, “For years, I had been kind of countering this type of dire picture of Colorado, but if they think that it is bad, it is better for us to have less competition at this time. I mean, if I am looking at it as the Governor of Colorado, I’d hope they halt their attempts and drive all their business here.” So if Colorado discourages Texas from legalizing marijuana, it’s not a surprise that Polis is behind the sentiment.
Colorado continues to have record breaking sales every month and and while he has been quick to tout the financial advantages of regulating cannabis sales in Colorado, Polis has also highlighted the need for restorative justice in the marijuana industry. Earlier this month, he exercised new clemency powers to grant almost 3,000 pardons for individuals convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes.
Meanwhile, Polis is not the only governor making note of the fact that his state sells legal cannabis to those who reside in places where it’s still prohibited. Illinois Governor. J.B. Pritzker (Democrat), spoke about how his state’s new recreational marijuana market “gives us a opportunity to collect tax revenue from the residents of Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana.”
Andrew Cuomo supports marijuana legalization in New York and surrounding states. The New York Governor is renewing his push for marijuana legalization in 2021, and plans to issue fresh CBD rules in New York.
Canopy Growth recently launched a video series, “Under The Canopy“. In a discussion from that series, Axel Bernabe, one of Cuomo’s top cannabis advisers, told David Culver, an executive with Canopy Growth, that Cuomo intends to add adult-use cannabis legalization in New York’s 2021-2022 budget, which takes effect April 1.
Bernabe also disclosed that Cuomo intends to issue fresh CBD rules to regulate how the chemical is manufactured and marketed in New York state, including how it could be infused into beverage and food items, which is now prohibited.
Cuomo mentioned that New Jersey may get there first with the legalization referendum on their ballot next month. Cuomo stated, “We’re watching New Jersey closely. We’ve always been confident that we get to this before New Jersey, so if they pass the referendum they still have to have agreement between the governor the Senate over there. We’re working on this. We’re going to reintroduce this in our budget in January. We think we can get it done by April 1.”
Governor Cuomo supports marijuana legalization and pushed for adult-use marijuana legalization in 2019 and 2020, with a legalization bill stalling in the state legislature in 2019 and another legalization proposal cut from the New York’s budget earlier this season. In 2019 Cuomo signed a cannabis decriminalization bill into law as well as had meetings with the governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut to have initial conversations around a coordinated adult-use cannabis legalization plan.
The Governor also signed a hemp extract bill into law last year to create a regulatory framework for processing and growing hemp in New York. However, the legislation didn’t include the regulation of CBD in food or beverages at the time and is an issues that Cuomo would like to address as soon as possible due to the rapidly increasing popularity of the industry and the health and safety of consumers.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, through their formally recognized National Cannabis Working Group, will be reviewing the Cannabis Act that presides as legislation over the cannabis industry in Canada. The goal being to analyze the effects of legalizing cannabis in Canada.
The review will be a opportunity to look deeper at the effects of legalizing cannabis in Canada and to offer insight on how Canada can enhance their cannabis industry structure, and what sort of changes could be made to make legal cannabis better as well as solve current problems in the industry. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is a group that will help look into the economic consequences on and from the cannabis industry, and they expect to learn a great deal from taking a closer look at the industry as a whole.
Ryan Greer, senior manager of the Cannabis Policy in the Chamber and co-chair of the Working Group, stated, “As the first among larger developed economies to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use, Canadian cannabis businesses have learned first-hand about what portions of the Cannabis Act and related regulations have worked and what have not. During this review, the industry will offer comprehensive recommendations to the federal government about what changes are required so business can better compete with the illegal market, create more new jobs and maintain Canada’s leadership in global markets and help the government achieve its safety and health objectives.”
The Cannabis Act has to be reviewed three years after legalization, which happened in 2018, so as to keep up with the arrangements of the initial legislation. The review has to be launched October 17, 2021, on the anniversary date, so it is essential that the industry starts preparing now. Eric Foster of Dentons Canada will lead the review. Dentons Canada is a significant cannabis practice in the nation providing legal counsel to the Canadian cannabis market. Davies, a cannabis industry and investment law firm will support the review on the effects of legalizing cannabis in Canada.
Talks will start this fall to learn more about what ought to be looked at during the review. These discussions will also offer the public with a opportunity to let their feelings be known. The first conversations will set the stage for the real review to occur in 2021.
It’ll be a while before Canada has the results of the review and will know about any changes, but discussions have started to take a serious look at ways to enhance the industry for the next few years. A year from now, more will be known about the future of cannabis in Canada, among those nations paving the way for a global cannabis industry. This discussions will be held publicly with the next one November 11th, 2020,and if you are interested in attending you can click here to register.
In a recent interview, Kamala Harris (Democrat-CA), Democratic Party vice-president nominee, stated again that decriminalizing cannabis would be an administrative priority if Joe Biden and herself win the election. Democrats support marijuana decriminalization and expunging marijuana criminal records, in general, and have consistently voiced support for legislation to push these initiatives.
The interview was last Saturday on The Grio and the Harris spoke about the prospective Democratic government’s criminal justice agenda, comparing it with that of President Donald Trump. Harris reiterated the cannabis reform would be one of their policy objectives.
Harris stated, “We have a commitment to decriminalizing marijuana and expunging the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana offenses. When you examine the horrible war on drugs and the disproportionate effect it had on black males and generating then criminal records which have deprived individuals of access to housing and jobs and basic benefits.”
Cannabis reform advocates have enjoyed the senator’s repeated calls for marijuana reform on the campaign trail, they do not like her trend to refer to the drug war in the past tense, as she did here by referring to the impact the policy “had”, not recognizing that those prosecutions and enforcement disparities have persisted. FBI data shows that there were over 1.5 million drug-related arrests in the U.S. along last year and approximately one third of them were for marijuana.
Some people are also claiming that Harris has scaled back her reform drive since joining the Democratic ticket as Joe Biden’s running mate. When Harris was herself running for the presidential nomination, she strongly supported cannabis legalization while Biden did not. In general, Democrats support marijuana decriminalization and expungement and Biden does back modestly rescheduling the drug under federal law, allowing states set their own policies and legalizing medical cannabis.
Harris, who’s the lead Senate sponsor of a bill to deschedule marijuana on a federal level, said last month that a Biden government wouldn’t be “half-steppin” cannabis reform or chasing “incrementalism.” Harris has repeatedly discussed cannabis decriminalization on the campaign trail. She said during a vice presidential debate earlier this month she and Biden “will decriminalize marijuana and we will expunge the records of people who were convicted of marijuana crimes.”
Click here to watch the Kamala Harris interview on The Grio and discussions on the black male vote and Democrats support marijuana decriminalization and expungement.
AOC supports cannabis legalization and ending the war on drugs. Democrats and Republicans are usually divided on a range of big policy issues, however Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democrat-NY) said on Thursday that legalizing cannabis and ending the war on drugs are standing out as exceptions to hyper-partisanship in Congress.
During a virtual town hall with cannabis reform ally Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Democrat-OR), Ocasio-Cortez said that since she took office, it’s been encouraging to see members on both sides come together on issues concerning “civil rights policy and civil liberties,” including ending “drug prohibition laws.”
“We have been able to suggest solutions on a broad spectrum towards cannabis decriminalization, towards legalization, and that’s increasingly turning into a stance that more Republicans are amenable to,” Ocasio-Cortez stated.
Examples include her spending bill amendment to divert $5 million in funding from the Drug Enforcement Administration to an opioid treatment plan has been approved with no opposition in the House this past year, she stated. This shows the commitment that AOC supports cannabis legalization.
Blumenauer also stated that “part of why we’re fighting so strongly to get rid of the failed prohibition on marijuana is because that has been a tool that’s been used against people of color in particular that has horrible consequences and helps fuel that prison pipeline that has wreaked such havoc on our communities.”
Ocasio-Cortez explained that, beyond federally legalizing marijuana, it is important for lawmakers to make certain that any regulated markets which emerge are organized in a manner that encourages participation by communities hurt under prohibition. Considering AOC supports cannabis legalization on a federal level will have a big impact going into 2021.
Ocasio-Cortez said, “There are various ways that we may go about legalizing marijuana in America, and you can go about it in a manner that concentrates power in large agriculture, that concentrates power in large banks and that cuts out small mom and pops, and then there is another route towards cannabis legalization where regular people and especially the black and brown communities which have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs can be in the front of enjoying the financial benefits of legalization.”
Federal cannabis legalization could become a reality after the upcoming presidential election in November. Washington D.C. marijuana advocates are taking a hard look at what the post-legalization landscape would look like.
Many Washington D.C. trade institutions and nonprofits are predicting a bill to federally legalize cannabis could pass Congress in the near future if Joe Biden wins the presidential election and the democratic party controls the House and the Senate.
Randal Meyer, executive director of the International Alliance for Cannabis Commerce (GACC), said “If the Democrats do a clean sweep, then descheduling with interstate commerce is absolutely within the realm of possibility.”
Descheduling would be the best case scenario for federal cannabis legalization and would have the following impact immediately:
Legalizae cannabis federally
End 280E taxation restrictions
Open banking accessibility
Permit for interstate and worldwide cannabis trade
Steven Hawkins, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “Descheduling unlocks everything else, such as banking, relief on 280E, everything, It’s a stone that kills three birds.”
Meyer, a former staffer in the office of Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, said the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement, MORE Act “are the principal vehicle” if the Democrats do take the White House and the Senate, in part because it is already teed up in the House this year.
There are still many outcomes depending on how the upcoming elections pan out.
If, for example, Republicans retain control of the Senate or the White House, then the fallback strategy for several groups is to concentrate on piecemeal bills like the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. That piece of legislation would allow financial institutions to deal with cannabis-related companies without fear of governmental punishment.
But if Democrats are the majority winners this November, following the presumed passage of the MORE Act or legislation near to it, would turn into the regulatory framework that supports federal cannabis legalization.
GACC issued a 66-page draft of a bill which “ends cannabis prohibition and generates an all-encompassing regulatory framework” that would make it possible for states to take the lead and allow the U.S. FDA and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to manage interstate cannabis trade.
Senator Cory Booker (Democrat-NJ) raised the problem of racial disparities in cannabis enforcement and the wider war on drugs during his questioning of Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court nominee. Cory Booker is a strong advocate for cannabis reform, including decriminalization and dealing with the racial inequalities due to the War on Drugs, in the judicial system.
Booker stated, “The war on marijuana in 2017, there were more possession of marijuana arrests in America than all the violent crime arrests combined and they were disproportionately African American people.”
“My point is, you see an African American is not more likely to use marijuana, but they are more likely to be convicted of a felony for it in some three-to-four times compared to white people, I hope you can see that means they’re going to be more inclined to lose other rights and liberties that deeply affect their lives.”
“Their ability to vote, to raise their children when a parent has been placed in a position where today, because of the felony conviction for doing things which among their past 3 presidents admitted to doing, they can’t vote, they now can not get jobs, they now can not get business licenses,” Booker stated.
While Booker did not ask Barrett any particular questions on cannabis reform, the senator did inquire whether she has read any books or articles that delve into racial disparities in the criminal justice system. He explained “The New Jim Crow” by civil rights advocate Michelle Alexander for instance. The prospective justice replied that she could not remember having done any of this reading, however, during her academic career, did have regular discussions about the subject. Booker recommended the identical publication to now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing in 2018. Also, during Wednesday’s hearing, the senator more widely discussed the racial inequities of the war on drugs, including marijuana conviction records.
Booker stated, “One of the best drivers of disparities in the justice system, I have worked with partners of mine on both sides of the aisle, is the war on drugs, which is in fact a war on black and brown folks due to the outrageous disparities.” “There is no difference between blacks and whites in the case of using drugs, as well as dealing drugs, but in America blacks are numerous times more likely to be arrested.”
He explained that significant sentencing disparities for crack versus powder cocaine is “among the most tragic examples” of how this issue has played out and needs to be at the forefront of cannabis reform.
Under this system, Booker said, “someone caught with the quantity of crack cocaine the size of a candy bar would get roughly the exact same sentence as someone caught with a briefcase filled with powder cocaine,” and it just so happened to be the case that black people were often arrested with the latter drug.
This upcoming Saturday, voters in New Zealand will vote on a nationwide referendum that would legalize the possession and use of marijuana by people 20 years old and older. The world population has been anxiously awaiting for the New Zealand cannabis legalization vote. If passed, the vote could make New Zealand just the third nation worldwide to legalize cannabis in the federal level. The first two being Uruguay and Canada.
The Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill will require New Zealand Parliament to set regulations and rules for commercial sale and production of cannabis and products infused with cannabis. The measure would also allow adults at least 20 years old to buy up to 14 g of herbal cannabis each day. Home cultivation of around four marijuana plants per family would also be permitted under the ballot measure. Under current New Zealand law, the use of cannabis by adults is a crime punishable by up to 3 months in prison.
Last week, a group of New Zealand’s major public health professionals expressed their support for the New Zealand cannabis legalization vote on the referendum in an editorial printed in the New Zealand Medical Journal. Professor Michael Baker at the University of Otago, one of those health specialists who helped guide New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said that the country is a world leader in using “innovative and evidence-informed approaches” to addressing complex public health difficulties. Baker also stated, “It is time to take the identical fresh approach to cannabis law and put public health first.”
“Our prohibition position for cannabis is obsolete and does not work,” Baker added. “Supporting law reform is about reframing cannabis use as a health problem which opens up new, more effective methods of reducing effects caused by this drug.”
Public opinion polling on the referendum has shown a tight race for the New Zealand cannabis legalization vote, with one survey published last month showing that 49.5percent of respondents were in favor of legalization and 49.5percent were against, while 1 percent had no opinion.
Chief executive of Helius Theraputics biotechnology company, Paul Manning said, “The ‘yes’ vote has firmed up slightly, but it is still looking very close, with public opinion set to keep altering up until voting closes.” “Turn-out of 18- to 34-year-olds are also key. Young adults are the strongest supporters of the bill, but they also have the lowest intention and registration to vote.”
“Those wanting to find a yes vote needed to convince a fair number of individuals that their past prohibitionist views were incorrect,” he explained . “At the moment, it does not look like they’ve been able to do this and time really is running out.”
Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of the Labour Party, who currently serves as the chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, launched a publicity campaign calling on Republicans to support the legalization referendum.
Early voting for the October 17 election has already started. The vote was initially scheduled for September 19, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The French government will start a medical cannabis experiment that entails giving free cannabis to individuals participating in the experiment.
Last week, the French government published a decree that declares the medical cannabis experiment formally. According to their statement, up to 3,000 patients will be participating and qualified to receive free medical cannabis.
Nicolas Authier, a college professor and chair of the French Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products’ (or L’Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé [ANSM]) medical cannabis committee, said in an interview with Marijuana Business Daily he believes “an invitation to tender for the collection of cannabis-based goods” is coming soon, probably within the month, and providers “will most likely be overseas, in cooperation with pharmaceutical labs established in France and licensed for narcotics.”
As of right now, there’s a time limit of two years on the experiment and the French government believes by March 2021 the free prescriptions could start going out.
There are still a few stipulations for the medical cannabis experiment that haven’t yet been determined, and will be summarized by the general manager of the French Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products. Among the problems that will be determined are the consumption type and specifications of the cannabis-based goods, including composition and characteristics; the listing of conditions which will qualify for participation; and processes for storing, distributing, importing, and controlling the cannabis.
Businesses that opt to participate in this medical cannabis experiment will be responsible for supplying their own product at no cost, and though the cannabis will be free, it will still have to follow pharmaceutical standards like the Good Manufacturing Practice and other regulations that the French government has set in place. The ANSM will be responsible for implementing a patient registry which will be upgraded, with the consent of patients, by physicians and pharmacies.
Furthermore, physicians and pharmacies who wish to get involved will need to complete a training program, then will need to volunteer for the trial, and businesses who are interested in becoming involved will need to supply their own cannabis. Additionally, a budget for the experiment is currently awaiting approval by French parliament.
Vermont legalizes recreational marijuana market and becomes the 11th states to do so.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, announced he allowed legislation to regulate and tax cannabis earnings to become law without his signature, according to a press release yesterday from the governor’s office.
The news, which sets the stage for yet more expansion of the U.S. cannabis sector, was hailed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) as a significant victory, particularly considering that Vermont is just the second state in the country to legalize adult use via the legislature rather than in the ballot box. Recreational earnings in Vermont aren’t expected to start until October 2022.
Though Vermont legalized the possession and use of recreational marijuana in 2018, lawmakers at the time declined to authorize any framework for the legal production and sale of recreational marijuana.
Steven Hawins, MPP Executive Director said in a recent press release, “The importance of Vermont’s decision to legalize and regulate cannabis sales, particularly in a state with a Republican governor and throughout the legislative process, can’t be overstated.”
“This is an historic move that increases the momentum of our motion and underlines its depth and breadth, and importantly, it comes as other state legislatures are positioned to seriously consider legalization in the future.”
Although Governor Scott declined to sign into law a bill that establishes a formal framework around the sale and production of recreational marijuana, he still allowed Vermont legalizes recreational marijuana market without a veto.
Scott said he declined to sign the bill because it did not address several concerns he has, for example:
An”inequitable playing field,” he said”will benefit Vermont’s present (MMJ) dispensaries.” (Protesters gathered last weekend at the capitol to draw attention to the absence of a social equity program.)
The allowance of marijuana vaping products when he is not satisfied that vaping doesn’t pose a danger to public health.
Adding stricter advertising restrictions to guarantee marijuana is not made appealing to minors.
An”aggressive” timeline for the appointment of marijuana management board members by Jan. 8, 2021.
Increasing law enforcement funding and training to manage a possible uptick in impaired drivers.
New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy (D) wants voters to know that approving approving cannabis legalization supports social justice and voters should approve the referendum that will appear on the ballot in November.
In his most recent remarks, delivered to the Bloomberg Surveillance program on Sunday, Murphy emphasized that the principal objective of enacting the policy shift would be to promote social equity, and he also recognized that it represents a possible source of significant tax revenue for the state.
“I wish we could’ve gotten it done through a legislative process,” Murphy said, referencing lawmakers’ inability to progress a legalization bill last session. “We just could not find the last couple of votes, so it is on the referendum. I am strongly supporting it first and foremost for social justice reasons.”
“Low-end drug crimes are the biggest reason that we’ve got young persons of color, particularly young men of color, in our criminal justice system,” he added. “Beyond that, this is a potential significant, over time, revenue item for the state and a source of job growth, which are also advantages. I hope we will see it pass in November.” The focus continues to be that cannabis legalization supports social justice.
Last week, Murphy likewise called on New Jersey voters to support the proposal in an email blast that was circulated by the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
“Legalization would correct those wrongs while also driving massive economic growth opportunities, job development, and new tax revenue,” Murphy said. “Now, we’ve got the opportunity to do this and eventually legalize adult-use marijuana here in New Jersey, and I want your help to make it happen.”
Legislators attempted to enact the policy change during the previous session, but when negotiations stood still, they chose to put the question to voters by utilizing a referendum. If the measure is approved this November, the legislature will then need to pass implementing legislation containing details for how the legal cannabis industry and market should operate.
A poll by the law firm Brach Eichler released last month shows that 65 percent of voters are in favor of the policy change. That is consistent with the results of a survey the company published in August, signaling that support is steady.
In June, the state Assembly passed a cannabis decriminalization bill that would make possession of up to 2 ounces a civil penalty with no threat of jail time, though it has not progressed in the Senate.
A foundation run by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife gave a significant contribution to a campaign currently trying to pass a ballot measure that would decriminalize all drugs in Oregon. The $500,000 contribution from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Advocacy represents roughly a third of funding raised to date in support of Measure 110, which would decriminalize drug possession when using some of present legal marijuana tax earnings to cover expanded substance abuse treatment solutions. This could be a huge boost not only to Oregon, but also the rest of the nation, that Mark Zuckerberg supports drug decriminalization.
Supporters of the measure say it is part of an attempt to change the way we look at drug abuse as a health issue, instead of a matter to be dealt with through the criminal justice system. If accepted, low-level possession could be considered a civil infraction punishable by a maximum $100 fine and zero jail time.
The new half-million-dollar money donation made on Thursday, which was first reported by The Oregonian, makes the Zuckerbergs the initiative’s second-biggest backers, following the Drug Policy Alliance’s political arm Drug Policy Action, which has given $850,000.
The campaign said it has received over 400 individual donations up to now, with a median contribution amount of $50–and more than 83 percent of donations are made by Oregonians.
In 2018 there were 8,903 simple drug possession arrests in Oregon, according to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. This is more than one drug possession arrest each hour.
The commission estimated that the decriminalization initiative would reduce felony and misdemeanor convictions for drug possession by 91 percent, which would be “substantial for all racial groups, ranging from 82.9 percent for Asian Oregonians to approximately 94 percent for Native American and Black Oregonians.”
Over 50 other organizations have endorsed this initiative, some of which include; Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens, NAACP of Eugene, United Seniors of Oregon, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and Human Rights Watch, Oregon Latino Health Coalition and more.
Oregon voters will also find another initiative to legalize psilocybin treatment on the upcoming ballot. The Oregon Democratic Party have endorsed both drug policy steps measures.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, marijuana sales in Oregon have drastically increased. A number of that excess revenue would fund addiction treatment services if voters approved the drug decriminalization measure. This has been a big boos for recreational dispensaries in Portland and other Oregon cities.
As legalization continues to gain momentum across the nation, the fact that Mark Zuckerberg supports drug decriminalization should have a big impact on the continued forward progress of the movement.
Recreational cannabis legalization and/or medical cannabis is on the ballot this November 3rd for these five states. If you live in one, here are the details that will help educate you on what exactly you’re voting on and what the positive impacts could be if passed.
If the measures are successful, this could have big impacts on immediate surrounding states as well as states across the nation in upcoming efforts to legalize recreational and medical cannabis.
First-Year Projected Sales: $375 million-$400 million
2024 Projected Sales: $850 million-$950 million
Lawmakers and regulators decide on the number and type of marijuana business licenses available, but existing MMJ operators would most likely get first shot at the recreational cannabis legalization market.
Adult-use products would face a 6.625% sales tax.
Municipalities could pass ordinances to charge local taxes of up to 2%.
(*Projections are for a medical marijuana market only.)
Medical marijuana: A local government wouldn’t be able to ban MMJ but could establish the number of establishments allowed in its jurisdiction.
Recreational marijuana: Regulators would have to issue “enough licenses to substantially reduce the illicit production and sale of cannabis throughout the state.” But regulators also would be directed to limit licenses to “to prevent an undue concentration” in any municipality.
With New Jersey Set to Legalize Recreational Marijuana, Attention Turns to How to Profit
The support is sky high, pun obviously intended, for New Jersey voters to approve recreational marijuana in their state. As November 3rd fast approaches, the cannabis industry in general is repositioning itself for another record breaking quarter. In all legal states cannabis sales have exceeded even the most optimistic predictions. This is particularly true since the lockdowns began and a new normal emerged for the way people live their lives, at home, with cannabis. Large cannabis companies did quite well financially however others did not and the reasons are varied but most who went public too soon regretted not exercising a bit more patience. New Jersey expects to not only make record profits from sales to people living in the state, they also expect to get a lot of out of state cannabis tourists from nearby states such as Pennsylvania and New York. Currently investors are making the smart decision to diversify where they put their financial support, spreading it out to not only growers and sellers but also cannabis adjacent industries. These often over looked but essential companies that support the recreational market are wise investment choices as New Jersey gets ready to go full steam ahead with recreational marijuana after the measure is approved. Click here for more details.
Weekly Cannabis News Update October 4, 2020
Canopy Growth Co. is Going Big with a Line of Cannabis Drinks
One of the biggest companies in the cannabis industry, Canopy Growth Corporation is introducing a new line of cannabinoid drinks. 2020 has not been a good year for most people and for many companies as well. Canopy Growth Co, was not immune to a challenging and unpredictable economy and following a 32% drop in their stock price, decided to make some changes. Working with investors such as Constellation Brands, who happen to own Corona Beer, you really can’t make this stuff up, have announced an upcoming line of cannabinoid beverages. Noting that with the impressive growth of the cannabis market, some consumers who prefer not to smoke their marijuana are feeling left out. Rightfully so and in the edibles market, many people don’t have the knowledge or confidence to make their own edibles at home, mostly due to dosage concerns. So far there are some cannabinoid beverages on the market however most are not selling well due to taste issues and lack of promotion by dispensaries. Canopy Growth Co. plans to change that and they are not the only ones with this idea. Former boxer Mike Tyson plans to get into the ring (yes it had to be said) as well with his own cannabinoid beverage business. That is some serious competition! How it plays out will largely depend on the quality and taste of the beverages and the companies’ ability to position their products well. Stay tuned to see how Canopy does against Iron Mike. Click here to read more about this topic.
Arkansas Medical Marijuana Industry Facing Product Shortages, Prices Climbing
Just as your economics professor told you, it’s all about supply and demand. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana community is living proof of that principle. Presently there are three cultivation facilities up and running and that is proving to not be nearly enough to meet the demands of not just Arkansas’s medical marijuana patients but those from some nearby states as well. Arkansas allows out of state medical marijuana patients to obtain a temporary 30 day card and clearly many patients in nearby states, especially Missouri, have taken advantage of this opportunity. Even with two more cultivation facilties scheduled to be up and running by year’s end, it is still not enough to keep up with the demand and the prices are rising as a result. As with so many states that allow medical marijuana sales, recreational or both, the demand from patients and customers has shocked the industry. More growers are needed in Arkansas and this may be the beginning of a trend nationwide as people prepare for what could be a long winter. More details on the problem Arkansas medical marijuana patients and the industry are facing can be found here.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a couple of marijuana bills into law on Tuesday, creating a series of small changes to the country’s largest legal marijuana system including import California marijuana banking laws. More sweeping proposals like overhauling the state’s cannabis regulatory structure might need to wait until next year, the governor said.
One of the greatest of the new changes are revisions to banking and marketing laws. While many legal cannabis companies are still not able to access financial services, Newsom signed a bill (AB 1525) to eliminate state penalties against banks that operate with marijuana clients.
“This bill has the potential to grow the terms of financial services to the legal cannabis industry,” Newsom wrote during a signing statement,”and because of this, I support it.”
Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, have been working for months to eliminate obstacles to these companies’ access to financial services at the national level. A coronavirus relief bill released by House Democratic leaders on Monday is the most recent piece of legislation to add cannabis banking protections. Past attempts to include such terms have been rejected by Senate Republicans so this is a big win for California marijuana banking laws.
During his signing statement on the banking bill, Newsom directed state marijuana regulators to set rules intended to protect the privacy of cannabis companies that seek financial services, advocating that information be kept confidential and can be used only “for the provision of financial services to support licensees.”
Another bill, (SB 67), the governor signed on Tuesday will eventually create a marijuana appellation program, meant to signal where cannabis is grown and how that may influence its character. The system is very similar to the wine industry and how wine areas are regulated.
With this new law, processors and growers will be prohibited from using the name of a town or other designated area in merchandise marketing unless all of the product’s marijuana is grown in this area. There are already similar protections at the county level.
For outside growers, this new law makes note of the value of terrior, which is the original combination of soil, sun and other unique environmental factors which could influence the character of a marijuana plant. It is also a way for indoor growers to represent specific hometown or regions reputation.
The majority of the other new changes that the governor signed into law are more minor and most customers will not notice them. For instance, one of the changes assembles in more wiggle room on the quantity of THC in edibles (AB 1458), while another new one would permit state-licensed marijuana testing labs to provide services to law enforcement (SB 1244). These are all on top of changes to the California marijuana banking laws.
On Tuesday, Newsom rejected the proposal (AB 1470) that could have enabled processors to submit unpackaged goods to testing labs, which industry lobbyists said would reduce overall costs. Newsom said the proposal”conflicts with present regulations that stop contaminated and dangerous goods from entering the retail sector.”
“While I support reducing packaging waste, allowing goods to be analyzed not in their final form could lead to consumer harm and have a disproportionate effect on small operators,” Newsom stated at a veto statement.
Those adjustments to the testing processes should rather be considered next year, Newsom said, as part of a pending plan to streamline California’s marijuana regulatory and licensing agencies.
“I’ve directed my administration to combine the state regulatory agencies that now apply marijuana health and safety standards to pursue all appropriate measures to reduce costs and unnecessary packaging,” Newsom wrote. “This proposal should be regarded as part of that procedure.”
Newsom also last week vetoed a bill (AB 545) that would have started to dissolve the state Bureau of Cannabis Control, which manages the legal industry. In a statement, the governor said that this legislation is “premature” given his strategies for wider reform and changes to the California marijuana banking laws.
“My Administration has proposed consolidating the regulatory authority now divided between three state entities into a single department,” Newsom wrote, “that we hope to attain next year in partnership with the Legislature.”
Newsom signed into law (AB 1872) earlier in the year. The law freezes state marijuana cultivation and excise taxes for the entire year of 2021. and is meant to provide financial stability for marijuana companies in California, where taxes on cannabis are among the highest in the country.
After last nights mess of a presidential debate, which if you watched, you are probably now feeling less confident in either parties ability to lead the country through the troubling times ahead. The presidential candidates stance on marijuana legalization is going to be a hot topic for the upcoming election and both sides need to tighten up their official stance so voters know exactly where they stand. Here is how they currently stand and a little background on their past.
Trump & Pence
The Republican candidates are tough to read in regards to this situation. The overall Republican stance on legalizing recreational marijuana has always been that cannabis is a gateway drug but could be used for medicinal purposes.
Sponsors for all the marijuana legalization bills in Congress tilt heavily toward Democrat congressmen, which is just another sign that this matter is the elephant in the room within the Republican House and Senate.
Trump said in a June, 2018, press conference standing outside his helicopter that he supported the STATES Act, currently with 65 cosponsors and among a handful of marijuana legalization bills in Congress, after previously stating that it had been an issue for states to determine.
Like many things Trump, how he’ll really come down about legalizing cannabis is still unknown, even though his long-time political consultant Roger Stone is an admitted marijuana user.
Some pundits speculate Trump will create an”October surprise” and legalize cannabis merely to garner a few more votes and interrupt the Democrats.
Biden & Harris
Joe Biden created an anti-cannabis perception while he was a Delaware senator from 1973 to 2009, supporting the war on drugs and sponsoring many bills in the late 1980s and during the 1990s. Among those bills he cosponsored was the infamous Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1986, one of the important bills that resulted in racial injustice and disparities in arrests.
However, Biden has demonstrated a softening of his stance, saying on”ABC This Week” on August 23 that his government is “going to be certain we change the whole system in the manner in which we deal with criminal justice from punishment to rehabilitate. No one should be in jail because they are addicted to drugs. They ought to be going into mandatory drug treatment, that is why I set up drug courts.”
Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential running mate, Kamala Harris stated that the government will be taking a look at a policy that will be about decriminalizing marijuana.
Biden has said that he wishes to reschedule cannabis to Schedule 2, allowing cannabis to be available for medical research. That is about as close as he’s gotten to legalizing marijuana, but it is still far from his past war on drugs stance. His present position is in line with the Democrat platform: “Democrats will decriminalize marijuana usage and reschedule it through executive action on the national level. We’ll encourage legalization of medical marijuana, and think states should have the ability to create their own decisions about recreational use. The Justice Department shouldn’t establish federal prosecutions of conduct that’s legal in the state level. Past criminal convictions for marijuana should be automatically expunged.”
Harris takes a more aggressive stance on legalizing cannabis, and wishes to fully decriminalize and legalize both medical and recreational cannabis with the MORE Act which she introduced to Congress in July, 2019.
Where Do We Stand
So what happens based on the current presidential candidates stance on marijuana legalization?
If Trump/Pence win in November, there will likely be no motion on legalization unless its labeled to a Republican version of social justice reform. The government may proceed with rescheduling it to permit medical research. Also, a Republican Senate majority will most likely continue to kill any cannabis legalization bills.
If Biden/Harris win in November, they will probably create a new cannabis legalization bill which will be a type of hybrid STATES Act combined with the MORE Act. Should they get a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate, cannabis legalization might happen a bit faster state by state, even the whole country.
Both sides will need to eventually address what’s going on with cannabis around the nation particularly in light of bringing back economic stability. The marijuana industry is booming during COVID-19, and the two candidates need to cover the unbelievable revenue that the business is bringing in.
In November, New Jersey voters will be voting on legalizing adult use cannabis. recreational marijuana industry in New Jersey itself, with a population of almost 9 million people, would reach $850 million — $950 million in sales annually by 2024, according to a Marijuana Business Daily projection.
The cannabis industry is forecast to get $30 billion in sales by 2023–more than double the earnings in 2018, a figure which might vary by the end of the year based on customer demand.
These are all facts that can’t be ignored for either presidential candidates stance on marijuana legalization.
Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives have postponed a vote on a marijuana decriminalization bill which had been scheduled for this week, succumbing to pressure from moderates in the party who want lawmakers to concentrate on COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts. According to party leadership the MORE Act vote delay will be pushed to later in the year.
If passed, the bill would decriminalize cannabis at the national level and enable the states to set their own cannabis regulation policies. The bill would also expunge convictions for many national cannabis related crimes and levy a 5 percent commercial cannabis taxation which would be spent in communities that have borne the brunt of the injury brought on by the War on Drugs.
“Right now, the House is focused relentlessly on securing agreement to fend off a damaging government shutdown and continued to do its job addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer stated in a statement. “Later this fall, the House will pass the MORE Act with strong support as yet another critical step toward making our justice system fair for all Americans.”
Hoyer continued, “The MORE Act remains a vital part of House Democrats’ strategy for addressing systemic racism and progressing criminal justice reform.”
Aside from coming to an agreement on a new pandemic relief bill, Congress is also working on a bill to maintain the national government budget responsibilities and avoid a shutdown. According to Democrats Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and California Rep. Barbara Lee, co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, the Senate and the House are scheduled to recess in October, which would push the vote on the MORE Act into the lame-duck session after the November election. They said, “The leadership has given an ironclad commitment that the House will consider the bill this fall.”
Cannabis reform activists, business representatives, and lawmakers were quick to react to the the MORE Act vote delay. Maritza Perez, director of the office of national events in the Drug Policy Alliance, stated in a statement that the delay will result in “justice delayed for countless Black, Latina, Indigenous, and low-income people disproportionately impacted by our nation’s racist cannabis laws. We can’t continue to force those communities to await a politically convenient time while they continue to be robbed of employment opportunities, housing, schooling, other government programs, as well as their kids or immigration status.”
Cannabis industry investment firm CEO Joe Crouthers of Ceres Group Holdings stated that although the MORE Act might arguably be regarded as the best attempt at cannabis reform thus far, the end result is very likely to be more symbolic than transformative.
“The likelihood that this legislation gets passed by the Executive Branch and the Senate, irrespective of the upcoming election, is quite small. Additionally, while there are many elements of the bill worth observing, its shortcomings and possible unintended consequences shouldn’t be ignored, including another 5 percent excise tax on the cannabis industry, if not countered at the state level, is very likely to manifest itself in a push to the illegal market,”
Progressive Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rejected the argument that lawmakers should concentrate on the pandemic, noting that the House passed a $3.2 trillion relief package in May that the Senate has not acted on.
“I feel like the urge to postpone the expungement of people’s documents is a fear-based reaction to Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party,” she said, speaking to the Senate majority leader. “And I don’t feel that we should be governing that way,” adding that Democrats ought to be”unapologetic” abut their agenda. “Why is it that the one racial justice bill is the one which has been singled out for postponement?” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I believe that is wrong.”