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July 16, 2017

A midsummer review of the basics of state and federal marijuana reforms

Today's New York Times has this article providing a basic overview of state and federal marijuana reform discourse circa summer 2017. The article is headlined "States Keep Saying Yes to Marijuana Use. Now Comes the Federal No."  Here are excerpts:

In a national vote widely viewed as a victory for conservatives, last year’s elections also yielded a win for liberals in eight states that legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. But the growing industry is facing a federal crackdown under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has compared cannabis to heroin.

A task force Mr. Sessions appointed to, in part, review links between violent crimes and marijuana is scheduled to release its findings by the end of the month. But he has already asked Senate leaders to roll back rules that block the Justice Department from bypassing state laws to enforce a federal ban on medical marijuana.

That has pitted the attorney general against members of Congress across the political spectrum — from Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, to Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey — who are determined to defend states’ rights and provide some certainty for the multibillion-dollar pot industry....

Around one-fifth of Americans now live in states where marijuana is legal for adult use, according to the Brookings Institution, and an estimated 200 million live in places where medicinal marijuana is legal.  Cannabis retailing has moved from street corners to state-of-the-art dispensaries and stores, with California entrepreneurs producing rose gold vaporizers and businesses in Colorado selling infused drinks.

Mr. Sessions is backed by a minority of Americans who view cannabis as a “gateway” drug that drives social problems, like the recent rise in opioid addiction.  “We love Jeff Sessions’s position on marijuana because he is thinking about it clearly,” said Scott Chipman, Southern California chairman for Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana. He dismissed the idea of recreational drug use. “‘Recreational’ is a bike ride, a swim, going to the beach,” he said. “Using a drug to put your brain in an altered state is not recreation. That is self-destructive behavior and escapism.”...

Lawmakers who support legalizing marijuana contend that it leads to greater regulation, curbs the black market and stops money laundering.  They point to studies showing that the war on drugs, which began under President Richard M. Nixon, had disastrous impacts on national incarceration rates and racial divides....

Consumers spent $5.9 billion on legal cannabis in the United States last year, according to the Arcview Group, which studies and invests in the industry. That figure is expected to reach $19 billion by 2021....

But marijuana businesses are bracing for a possible clampdown. “People that were sort of on the fence — a family office, a high-net-worth individual thinking of privately financing a licensed opportunity — it has swayed them to go the other way and think: not just yet,” said Randy Maslow, a founder of iAnthus Capital Holdings. The public company raises money in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon and a co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, is urging marijuana businesses not to be “unduly concerned.”

“We have watched where the politicians have consistently failed to be able to fashion rational policy and show a little backbone,” he said. “This issue has been driven by the people.”

Though this Times article does not cover any new or notable marijuana reform ground, it provides an excuse for me to do a midsummer review of some recent posts from Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform.  Here is an abridged set of links to some summer postings: 

July 16, 2017 at 01:28 PM | Permalink

Comments

Thanks for putting this together. I haven't read it thoroughly but I can see how useful it will be. Marijuana prohibition is such a costly government program and when the swamp is drained we may know who has been profiting. I have my own favorite candidates.

Posted by: beth | Jul 16, 2017 3:15:23 PM

“Using a drug to put your brain in an altered state is not recreation. That is self-destructive behavior and escapism.”...

There is a THC brain receptor. Why is it there, and what does it do?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabinoid_receptor

(Apologies for the medical jargon of that article. It is 100 times worse than legal jargon. You need a frickin' codebreaker.)

What if people who benefit from it have a deficit of endogenous cannabinoids, the way diabetics have a deficit of insulin? Then, the quoted statement is discriminatory against people with an involuntary condition. Guy needs to apologize to all people with hypo-cannabinoidism. They are disabled, and should be granted handicapped parking.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 16, 2017 3:28:47 PM

But oh how the tide turns when money is needed. Few yes ago everyone was charging, fining and jailing illegal use, but now its ok since we are controlling it and getting tax dollors.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Jul 16, 2017 4:14:20 PM

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