Democratic candidates roll up to support legal weed

Kamala Harris, asked whether she had ever smoked pot: ‘Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?’


Brian Cahn/Shutterstock

❝ Among 2020 candidates, marijuana legalisation is a mainstream issue. Among Democrats, nearly all have expressed at least some degree of support. Even Donald Trump’s lone Republican challenger, the former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, supports it. Advocates are optimistic that the 2020 election could help bring an end to the federal prohibition of the drug.

“The support for marijuana legalisation has quickly become a litmus test in the 2020 Democratic primary,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml). “With the upcoming primary, it is also clear that support for prohibition is ultimately disqualifying with the Democratic electorate – and with the American electorate generally.”

If you aren’t supporting legalization – for purportedly moral reasons, some particular religious fetish, political dementia which has your brain locked into, say, the 16th Century – then, you might be missing the simple economics of “sin taxes” derived from social use of cannabis just as they are realized from beer and the hard stuff.

States generally include a proviso to spend all or most of those funds on something beneficial like education. Again, another issue which American conservatives seem honor bound to ignore. Hopefully, voters will learn to ignore stupidity as thoroughly as they’re starting to reject incompetence.

Politics of the War on Drugs Still Targets People of Color

❝ THE HUGE FAILURE we know as the “war on drugs” is back in full force under the Trump administration, thanks in no small part to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s retrograde tough-on-crime approach to drugs. It’s not hard to understand why someone like Sessions, with a history of racism, would love the war on drugs: In reality, it was always a war on a very particular set of people — and you can probably guess who those people are. And yet despite Sessions’s best efforts, there’s been a lot of progress on legalizing marijuana; opinions are changing and, in a lot of places, so are laws.

❝ At the intersection of these pushes to legalize weed and the so-called war on drugs, there are a bevy of major scandals unfolding, all of which are ravaging communities of color. And here’s the thing about these scandals: They can’t simply be blamed on President Donald Trump and his team. Instead, they’re deeply rooted in a bipartisan type of anti-blackness…

❝ In 2016, more people were arrested for simple marijuana possession in the United States than all violent crimes combined. More than one person is arrested every minute for marijuana possession in this country. An astounding 574,641 people were arrested for simple marijuana possession in the U.S. in 2016 — that’s 89 percent of all marijuana-related arrests. These aren’t dealers, distributors, or kingpins. They are just everyday people with a little bit of weed.

The continuing arrests are part of a long pattern. From 2000 to 2010, an astounding 7,216,000 arrests were made in the U.S. for simple marijuana possession. How many lives were ruined as a result? How many people lost their jobs? Their right to vote? How many of those people lost their college financial aid? How many were jailed or sent to prison? How many of those people were moms or dads that were ripped away from their families?

Cops pick on easy targets, folks who are obviously enemies of the status quo – especially when in America, racism is the status quo. Political scumbags like Sessions and Trump know they needn’t direct coppers to follow racist standards. The practices are still guaranteed. RTFA.

Support for legal cannabis in the United States surged in 2016


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Public support for marijuana legalization surged in 2016, according to data just released from the General Social Survey.

Last year 57 percent of Americans told the survey’s pollsters that they “think the use of marijuana should be legal,” up from 52 percent in 2014.

❝ The numbers from the General Social Survey — a large nationwide survey conducted every two years and widely considered to represent the gold standard for public opinion research — comport with other national surveys last year, which found support ranging from the upper 50s to low 60s.

But the survey indicates two significant fault lines when it comes to marijuana policy: age and political party. Fully two-thirds of respondents ages 18 to 34 supported legalization in the survey, as well as majorities of those ages 35 to 49 and 50 to 64. But seniors 65 and older stood apart, with only 42 percent supporting legalization.

Lots of my peers really are chickenshit about entering the 21st Century.

❝ Breaking the numbers down by political affiliation tells a slightly different story. In the early 2000s, opposition to marijuana legalization was more or less a bipartisan issue. Only 29 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Republicans voiced support for legal weed in 2000…

Since then, support for legalization among Democrats and independents has risen much faster than among Republicans. In 2016, more than 60 percent of the former two groups supported legal marijuana. Among Republicans support stood at only 40 percent, a gap of more than 20 percentage points between Democrats and independents on the one hand, and Republicans on the other.

❝ …With victories for legalization in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts last year, roughly 1-in-5 Americans will soon have access to legal marijuana in their home states…But many lawmakers and law enforcement groups remain resolutely opposed to legalization. In Massachusetts, one of the most reliably Democratic states in the nation, lawmakers lobbied strongly against last fall’s voter-approved ballot initiative, and have been working since then to delay implementation of the measure. Similar efforts are underfoot in nearby Maine…

Ayup. Our lawmakers tend to be better at foot-dragging [knuckle-dragging?] than providing leadership.

❝ Meanwhile, Canadian lawmakers are expected to formally announce that nationwide marijuana legalization will be implemented by July of 2018, meaning that for Americans in northern border states, a legal pot fix is just a crossing away.

California got enough signatures to allow referendum on legalization of marijuana

Californians are set to decide whether to make recreational marijuana use legal, as other Western states have done, after the California Secretary of State’s office said on Tuesday the issue could be put to voters in the November ballot.

The proposed so-called “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” which is supported by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom among others, would allow people aged 21 and older to possess as much as an ounce of marijuana for private recreational use and permit personal cultivation of as many as six marijuana plants…

The measure would also establish a system to license, regulate and tax sales of marijuana, while allowing city governments to exercise local control over or disallow commercial distribution within their borders…

Opinion polls show attitudes have shifted more in favor of liberalized marijuana laws since California voters defeated a recreational cannabis initiative in 2010.

California led the way in legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in 1996, with 22 other states and the District of Columbia following suit, although cannabis remains classified as an illegal narcotic under U.S. law.

Voters in four states – Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska – plus the District of Columbia, have gone a step further since 2012 in permitting recreational use for adults. Voters in several more states will consider similar legislation in November as well.

We’ll have to see if the range of stodgy to backwards politicians here in New Mexico will allow such an opportunity. There are few places where hypocrisy so thoroughly rules a question like smoking or otherwise consuming weed. I’ve witnessed coppers chasing a suspect where neither vehicle was going faster than 25 mph! 🙂

California weed smells more like real business every day

After decades of thriving in legally hazy backyards and basements, California’s most notorious crop, marijuana, is emerging from the underground into a decidedly capitalist era.

Under a new state law, marijuana businesses will be allowed to turn a profit — which has been forbidden since 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis — and limits on the number of plants farmers can grow will be eliminated.

The opening of the marijuana industry here to corporate dollars has caused a mad scramble, with out-of-state investors, cannabis retailers and financially struggling municipalities all racing to grab a piece of what is effectively a new industry in California: legalized, large-scale marijuana farming.

And with voters widely expected to approve recreational marijuana use in November, California, already the world’s largest legal market for marijuana, gleams with the promise of profits far beyond what pot shops and growers have seen in Washington or Colorado, the first states to approve recreational use…

Twenty-three states allow some form of legal marijuana, and up to 20 will consider ballot measures this year to further ease restrictions.

California is now making the largest effort in the country’s history to pull marijuana out of the black market. Medical marijuana sales in California hit $2.7 billion last year, accounting for nearly half of all legal marijuana sales in the country…Approval of recreational marijuana use in November could double the market here by 2020, experts said.

Legalization brings jobs and tax revenue to a state. I’m not surprised when some states with an old dope-smoking culture still drag their feet. Face it. Even stoner politicians from either of the two old parties are chickenhearted when it comes to challenging the folkways of church and 14th Century morality – no matter how out-of-date and useless.

But, as the wave of good sense sweeps across a nation sparked by a couple new generations of education and backbone – encouraged by a Great Recession the old politicians rolled over for – change has to come to social behavior whether Liberals approve or Conservatives whine.

RTFA for lots of detail. Some of it silly and irrelevant, of course.

Marijuana legalization in the US making Mexican drug gangs poorer

We’re still not sure of the full impact of marijuana legalization, in terms of pot use and abuse, in the states that have legalized. But a report from Deborah Bonello for the Los Angeles Times shows one way that legalization for recreational and medical purposes is working:

The loosening of marijuana laws across much of the United States has increased competition from growers north of the border, apparently enough to drive down prices paid to Mexican farmers. Small-scale growers here in the state of Sinaloa, one of the country’s biggest production areas, said that over the last four years the amount they receive per kilogram has fallen from $100 to $30.

The price decline appears to have led to reduced marijuana production in Mexico and a drop in trafficking to the U.S., according to officials on both sides of the border and available data.

As Bonello reports, the drop in price — and competition from higher-quality US-made marijuana — is hitting drug cartels, too. So now they have to look to other opportunities, or look for ways to deal in high-quality cannabis, to make up for lost profits, or just accept the hit in their finances.

This was a predictable outcome of legalization, but still a big deal and welcome news. One of the major arguments for legal pot is that it will weaken drug cartels, cutting off a major source of revenue and inhibiting their ability to carry out violent acts — from mass murders to beheadings to extortion — around the world. And cannabis used to make up a significant chunk of cartels’ drug export revenue: as much as 20 to 30 percent, according to previous estimates…

❝Will this be enough to completely eliminate drug cartels? Certainly not. These groups deal in far more than pot, including extortion and other drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Still, it will hurt. As the numbers above suggest, marijuana used to be a big source of drug cartels’ revenue, and that’s slowly but surely going away…But it’s a potentially huge win for Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Which is exactly what was predicted by the example of other nations more enlightened than Congress and the average flavor of American politicians. This is what anyone who examines the results of prohibition – and the end of prohibition – around the modern world would expect.

The rest is silence – and cowardice.

Mexico’s Supreme Court says OK to grow your own, dude!

Mexican cannabis

The Mexican Supreme Court has opened the door to legalizing marijuana, delivering a pointed challenge to the nation’s strict substance abuse laws and adding its weight to the growing debate in Latin America over the costs and consequences of the war against drugs.

The vote by the court’s criminal chamber declared that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for their personal use. While the ruling does not strike down current drug laws, it lays the groundwork for a wave of legal actions that could ultimately rewrite them…

The decision reflects a changing dynamic in Mexico, where for decades the American-backed antidrug campaign has produced much upheaval but few lasting victories. Today, the flow of drugs to the United States continues, along with the political corruption it fuels in Mexico. The country, dispirited by the ceaseless campaign against traffickers, remains engulfed in violence…

The marijuana case has ignited a debate about the effectiveness of imprisoning drug users in a country with some of the most conservative drug laws in Latin America. But across the region, a growing number of voices are questioning Washington’s strategy in the drug war. With little to show for tough-on-crime policies, the balance appears to be slowly shifting toward other approaches…

Although the rising production of higher-quality marijuana in the United States reduces demand for Mexican imports, experts say that Mexican gangs continue to account for an important percentage of the American supply…

The one thing that could significantly affect the cartels’ marijuana business is legislation in the United States. As marijuana growing for commercial purposes in America expands, demand for Mexican marijuana could eventually dry up.

Marijuana is just one of many sources of income for the cartels, which smuggle narcotics across the border to the United States and run kidnapping and extortion rings at home. The criminal infrastructure will persist whether or not marijuana use is legal.

President Enrique Peña Nieto said his government would respect the Supreme Court’s decision, but his government, legislators and security and health officials all oppose legalization, as does the Roman Catholic Church.

Armando Santacruz is determined to change minds. Invoking the specter of Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpin, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as El Chapo, he likes to remind people: “Bad regulation is better than whatever regulation El Chapo and the narcos can provide.”

Gangsters will always find way to profit from a corrupt society. Reducing that corruption by modern means, enlightened remedies reduce the effectiveness of criminal elements, diminish the profitability of corruption. A lesson we should have learned decades ago.

The process of removing the whole effect of bad laws, incompetent understanding – like Nixon’s War on Drugs – will continue to be an uneven process. Like any social reform. Nevertheless, as victories roll out, progress will not be halted.

No correlation between medical marijuana legalization and crime

The legalization of medical marijuana has sparked debate across the nation for decades…Some have argued that medical marijuana’s legalization will lead to higher crime rates. But according to a new study at UT Dallas, legalization of medical cannabis is not an indicator of increased crime.

It actually may be related to reductions in certain types of crime, said Dr. Robert Morris, associate professor of criminology and lead author of the study…

The UT Dallas team began its work in summer 2012 after repeatedly hearing claims that medical marijuana legalization posed a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crime.

The study tracked crime rates across all 50 states between 1990 and 2006, when 11 states legalized marijuana for medical use…Since the time period the study covered, 20 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical use.

Using crime data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, the researchers studied rates for homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft, teasing out an effect for the passing of medical marijuana laws…

None of the seven crime types increased with the legalization of medical marijuana…

While it’s too soon to say if there are definitive drawbacks to legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, Morris said, the study shows that legalization does not pose a serious crime problem, at least at the state level.

Anyone with a studied view of crime and criminology isn’t in the least bit surprised by the finding. If you pay attention to what makes crime a growth industry – we usually witness the quest for scarce goods dramatically and artificially shaped by restrictions that have nothing to do with reality.

Cannabis is no more deleterious to human beings than alcohol. As thoroughly as I advise moderation in food and drink, especially booze, I would encourage the same about cannabis consumption. In fact, in my own life I don’t even drink beer anymore though I appreciate it as a natural product of fermentation just like the bread I bake every week.

If and when cannabis becomes legal for recreational use here in New Mexico, I’ll hunt down a recipe for Alice Toklas brownies. Probably make one batch for family consumption. And never bother again.

That has nothing to do with the need to support an end to the stupidity that infects our legal system.

Stodgiest political cowards in the hemisphere put marijuana legalization up for discussion

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A comprehensive report on drug policy in the Americas released Friday by a consortium of nations suggests that the legalization of marijuana, but not other illicit drugs, be considered among a range of ideas to reassess how the drug war is carried out.

The report, released by the Organization of American States walked a careful line in not recommending any single approach to the drug problem and encouraging “flexibility.”

Prompted by President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia at the Summit of the Americas last year to answer growing dissatisfaction and calls for new strategies in the drug war, the report’s 400 pages mainly summarize and distill previous research and debate on the subject.

But the fact that it gave weight to exploring legalizing or de-penalizing marijuana was seized on by advocates of more liberal drug use laws as a landmark and a potential catalyst for less restrictive laws in a number of countries…

The report said “the drug problem requires a flexible approach,” and “it would be worthwhile to assess existing signals and trends that lean toward the decriminalization or legalization of the production, sale and use of marijuana.

“Sooner or later decisions in this area will need to be taken,” it said. “On the other hand, our report finds no significant support, in any country, for the decriminalization or legalization of the trafficking of other illicit drugs…”

“The region’s leaders expressed their frustration with the limits and exorbitant costs of current policies and their hunger for a fuller, more creative debate,” said John Walsh, a drug policy analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group.

But the United States has so far rejected legalization as a solution to drug violence…A State Department spokesman, William Ostick, said “blah, blah, blah”

Yes, the OAS statement on decriminalizing is rather like the American Institute of CPA’s noting that little solid-state hand calculators work as well as pencil and paper and may be faster. Still, even an acknowledgement of solutions without prior approval from the US State Department is an achievement for the OAS.

Facebook bans image in marijuana legalization advert

After serving up 38 million ads from a group supporting the legalization of marijuana since August 7, Facebook told the group on August 16 that it could no longer use a pot leaf in its ad, since it might promote smoking.

“The image in question was no longer acceptable for use in Facebook ads,” wrote Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes in an e-mail to Wired.com. “The image of a marijuana leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies.”

But the Just Say Now campaign contests that Facebook isn’t harshing on their mellow — it’s censoring them, especially given that marijuana legalization is on the ballot in the upcoming election in California. And it’s calling on its supporters — some 6,000 fans on its Facebook page — to swap out their profile picture for an image of a pot leaf with a banned box over it:

The ads were entitled “End the war on marijuana” and called on users to sign a petition asking President Obama to support the right of states to legalize marijuana.

Facebook’s core audience supports drug legalization, according to polls, and a large number of young adults say they are more likely to vote if legalization is on the ballot, according to Jane Hamsher, the co-founder of the Firedoglake blog, whose helping run the campaign in concert with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.

“We aren’t trying to sell people pot. This is a policy issue,” Hamsher told Wired.com, noting that more than 50 percent of inmates in the federal prison system were there on drug charges and that law-and-order types like former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein support decriminalization. “The time is right for this and Facebook shutting this down is a real blow when we are trying to open up a conversation…”

“It seems like a decision made to appease somebody’s grandma,” Hamsher said.

More like a decision made to appease some reactionary investor. Or reactionary potential investor.