Posted on Leave a comment

AOC Looks For Republican Support to Legalize Cannabis & End War On Drugs

AOC Supports Cannabis Legalization

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.”

Watch the joint town hall with Reps Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez.

Posted on Leave a comment

Cory Booker Hammers Amy Coney Barrett on Cannabis Criminalization and War On Drugs

Cannabis Reform

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

MORE Act Vote Delayed by Congress

MORE Act Vote Delayed

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.”

Be sure to check out: Legalize Interstate Cannabis Trade Plan Unveiled by Marijuana Coalition