Trump won — So did marijuana, gun control and minimum wage


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❝ …Not all is doom and gloom. While Democrats lost big, liberals won some of the big initiatives that were on statewide ballots. It wasn’t a total sweep — several states, for example, affirmed the death penalty — but there were gains on some issues, including marijuana legalization, minimum wage, and gun control.

The full results paint a much more mixed picture than the top-ballot results suggest: The Democratic Party got clobbered, but some of the major policies Democrats support also won big.

1) Democrats mostly — but not entirely — lost in the state races

Four houses in 3 states – including here in New Mexico went the other way. And liberal control of our state Senate expanded. Not an accident. Hard work since the racist danger of tea party Confederates became obvious – has paid off.

2) Three — and maybe four — states legalized marijuana

❝ Voters in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada opted to fully legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. They join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, and the District of Columbia in legalizing pot.

Legalization was also on the ballot in Maine, but the race is too close to call…

Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota also opted to legalize medical marijuana. And voters in Montana voted to ease their state’s rules on medical marijuana. No state voted against allowing pot for medicinal purposes.

3) Four states approved a higher minimum wage

❝ Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington state all considered raising their minimum wages to $12 an hour. And the proposal won in all four of these states.

4) Three states passed new gun control measures

❝ California, Nevada, and Washington state all approved new restrictions on guns, while Maine narrowly rejected more gun control measures.

Progressive and Liberal policy ideas had a better night than the Democrat establishment. Many local ballot initiatives succeeded in moving the quality of life forward in states and cities around the country.

Guess what? The kind of activism that produced those victories need to continue and multiply if we’re going to maintain any semblance of sanity. Get ready for the mid-term election in 2018. Prepare yourself for the redistricting fight beginning in 2020. Time to sort out one of the major avenues of backwards political thought in Western Democracies.

American support for legalizing marijuana reaches new highs — Har!

❝ A new Gallup poll released Wednesday shows 60 percent of American adults now say that marijuana should be legal, the highest level of support in nearly a half-century of polling on the question…The Gallup poll tracks closely with numbers from the Pew Research Center released last week showing 57 percent support for legalization…

❝ …Support for legalization has soared in the past decade among nearly every demographic group. Close to 80 percent of 18-to-34 year olds now favor legal weed, up from 44 percent in 2003 and 2005. Gallup finds that Americans age 55 and older are now the only age group with less than majority support for legalization.

❝ Support for legalization has more than doubled among Republicans in the past decade, to 42 percent today. With 70 percent support, independents are the political group most likely to favor legalization, just edging out Democrats at 67 percent.

❝ This fall, five states will decide whether to join Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and DC in legalizing marijuana for personal use…The outcome of the November measures could have a transformative effect on the marijuana policy conversation going forward: “The percentage of Americans living in states where pot use is legal could rise from the current 5 percent to as much as 25 percent if all of these ballot measures pass.”

…The real prize for legalization proponents is California: “If recreational marijuana use becomes legal in California this year, many other states will likely follow, because the ‘Golden State’ often sets political trends for the rest of the U.S.”

The latest polling out of California suggest that the legalization measure is leading by a two-to-one margin.

Who wants to be the last state to board the train to the 21st Century?

Colorado’s legal weed impacts Kansas – not necessarily in a bad way

❝ Early results from a survey of law enforcement agencies conducted by the Kansas attorney general suggest legal Colorado marijuana is having a big impact on Kansas, but it may not be all negative.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt received responses from 390 Kansas law enforcement agencies and district attorneys indicating that less marijuana is being confiscated, but it’s much higher in potency than pot smuggled in from Mexico.

Survey results also show that the legal system has been swept by changing attitudes about marijuana, with some jurisdictions no longer enforcing pot laws much. When they do they’re finding it tough to win convictions…

“The criminal justice system is moving in the direction of what appears to be changes in public attitude,” Schmidt said. “Obviously not moving as far as some people would like, but there is obviously an evolution or a change, and this showed that it has reached the enforcement level as well.”

❝ Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have legalized marijuana. California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will vote on marijuana legalization this fall…

❝ Schmidt said he also is concerned about the growing popularity of edibles, which are food products made with marijuana or infused with marijuana oils.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported its seizure of marijuana edibles increased from zero in 2013 to more than 30 in 2015. Confiscated items have included chocolates and other candies, powder mix, hot sauce — even lip balm.

Got that part right. The simplest reason for me NOT smoking ganja is that I don’t smoke. Now, if it was legal for me to add Alice B. Toklas brownies to my weekly baking – I’d certainly check out some recipes.

American coppers arrest more people for marijuana use than all violent crimes combined

On any given day in the United States, at least 137,000 men and women sit behind bars on simple drug possession charges, according to a report…by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch.

Nearly two-thirds of them are in local jails. According to the report, most of these jailed inmates have not been convicted of any crime: They’re sitting in a cell, awaiting a day in court which may be months or even years off, because they can’t afford to post bail.

“It’s been 45 years since the war on drugs was declared and it hasn’t been a success,” lead author Tess Borden of the Human Rights Watch said in an interview. “Rates of drug use are not down. Drug dependency has not stopped. Every 25 seconds we’re arresting someone for drug use.”

A significant number of those folks simply see no sense to criminalizing a vegetable less harmful than beer. They won’t arrange their recreational habits to please puritans and conservative politicians.

Federal figures on drug arrests and drug use over the past three decades tell the story. Drug possession arrests skyrocketed, from fewer than 200 arrests for every 100,000 people in 1979 to more than 500 in the mid-2000s. The drug possession rate has since fallen slightly, according to the FBI, hovering now around 400 arrests per 100,000 people…

“Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime,” the report finds, citing FBI data. “More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year.”

In fact, police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined.

The report finds that the laws are enforced unequally, too. Over their lifetimes, black and white Americans use illicit drugs at similar rates, according to federal data. But black adults were more than two-and-a-half times as likely to be arrested for drug possession…

The report calls for decriminializing the personal use and possession of drugs, treating it as a public health matter instead of a criminal one.

That brings us, as usual, to participating in the demented political construction of our 2-party political trap. Yes, a great deal of how issues and progress is treated is crap. Unseemly dedication to superstition, cultural leftovers useless as your little toe dominate legislative debates.

But – the big “BUT” – is winning what you can, making life a little bit better for people, while still being clear in your own mind what goals should be pinned in the long-term portion of that meat machine inside your skull.

Whether you decide to participate or not, the real creeps, reactionaries who still don’t approve of anyone voting other than white males whose wealth is measured by property-holding – are going to be at it 24/7.

Obama said he’d let science – not ideology – dictate policy — [except for the so-called War on Drugs]

On Thursday, the Drug Enforcement Agency formally refused to reconsider its classification of marijuana, which is officially regulated as a dangerous substance with no medical value, alongside drugs like heroin and LSD. Despite a growing body of scientific evidence and changes in public opinion, the federal government has refused to budge on a 46-year-old stance borne out of the War on Drugs.

According to the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 61 percent of Americans support legalization. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws reports that eight out of ten Americans support medical marijuana legalization…

As public opinion moves in favor of legalizing pot, the DEA is clinging to the past — with little scientific evidence to back up their position.

Research has shown that pot has a multitude of medical benefits. And by reaffirming its position, the government has set back patients who relied on it for treatment for years.

Thursday’s announcement means pot will remain a Schedule I drug, defined as having “no medical value and a high potential for abuse.” That means the federal government believes marijuana is just as harmful as heroin and less harmful than cocaine. It also bars scientists from receiving federal funding and forces them to jump through hoops to conduct their research. Insurance companies are banned from covering marijuana treatment, so patients have to rely on the black market for treatment.

As of 2013, 78 percent of physicians in the world support the use of medical marijuana. In May, Ohio became the 25th U.S. state to legalize it. Even Congressional Republicans who have long opposed pot legalization recently vocalized support for more medical marijuana research.

And Republicans are more afraid of science than they are of democracy, non-white voters and women. More or less.

If Obama persists in saying he prefers science over ideology, how about opting for backbone over election year-opportunism.

Native American teenager confronts a year in prison for possessing one gram of weed


Maybe the Feds want Chemawa students to live like this – again

An Oregon teenager could be sentenced to a year in prison for possessing about one gram of marijuana in a federal case that has sparked widespread outrage about the ongoing “war on drugs” – even in US states that have fully legalized cannabis.

Devontre Thomas, a Native American 19-year-old, is accused of possessing a small amount of weed – enough for about one joint – and will face a federal trial that advocates say is a waste of resources and a stark reminder that US law enforcement agencies continue to target people of color for low-level pot offenses.

The one-count charge brought by the US attorney’s office – which could also result in a $1,000 fine – is the latest illustration of growing tensions in US laws on marijuana. The drug is sold recreationally in four states but remains outlawed at the federal level.

The government’s decision to file charges against Thomas, which criminal justice experts say is a perplexing move that directly contradicts federal guidelines, has also raised questions about how the US Department of Justice enforces laws on Native American territories…

Thomas’s public defender, Ruben Iñiguez, told the local paper Willamette Week that the charge was for “about a gram” of weed and that the case stemmed from an incident at Chemawa Indian school, a boarding school operated by the federal bureau of Indian education.

Thomas, a member of the Warm Springs tribe, did not actually have weed on him at the school – which is located in Salem, Oregon’s capital – but he may have been involved in a $20 sale of marijuana, Iñiguez told local news station KGW-TV.

It’s unclear how or why US law enforcement officials got involved, but more than a year after the alleged incident, prosecutors pushed forward with a charge that carries a maximum sentence of one year behind bars.

Folks have been told time and again – in the face of a groundswell of legalization and decriminalization – that minor busts like this were over. Folks in states with updated laws would not be affected by out-of-date laws. We have been promised at a minimum the Feds would back off from the travesty of using the so-called War on Drugs to destroy the lives of the young and innocent.

Someone in Washington must have noticed that Native Americans may as well be Black or Hispanic in the eyes of law as practiced in America.

Our government may soon announce decriminalizing marijuana — or not

When President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, the federal government put marijuana in the category of the nation’s most dangerous drugs, along with LSD, heroin and mescaline.

In legal parlance, pot is a Schedule 1 drug, with a high potential for abuse and no medical purpose.

Forty-six years later, the law might soon change, as the Obama administration prepares to make what could be its biggest decision yet on marijuana.

Suspense is mounting after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration missed its self-imposed June 30 deadline to decide whether to reschedule the drug and recognize its potential therapeutic value. Twenty-six states already have legalized its medical use…

Voters in Washington state and Colorado became the first in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012…

With the Obama administration adopting a policy to “just look the other way” in states with recreational marijuana, Gregoire said it would be hard for the DEA to justify keeping marijuana on the Schedule 1 list.

Opinions differ on what exactly might happen when the DEA responds to the petition, but a move to reschedule marijuana would be a major milestone in the decades-long push to legalize pot.

Among other things, it could pave the way for pharmacies to fill marijuana prescriptions and allow universities and others to conduct more medical research.

Many pot entrepreneurs hope that Congress would respond by helping marijuana businesses, allowing them to deduct their expenses from their federal taxes and giving them access to banks so they can phase out their all-cash operations.

Someone mail me a penny postcard when Congress decides on bipartisan validation of science less than a century out-of-date, when health and well-being is treated as more important than death and destruction — by that herd of ignoranus conservatives in Congress whose sole function is to stand in the way of anything that smacks of progress.

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! 🙂

Canada will stroll past the United States to become cannabis capital

…Chief executive of Denver’s largest marijuana dispensary…Andy Williams struggles with a lot of financial hurdles.

The First Bank of Colorado closed the accounts of everyone in the family business, Medicine Man Technologies, including children who have no part in the industry. Williams can’t take on any investment and needs to fund expansion through personal loans from friends and family.

Customers can only pay in cash; banks refuse to hold his money and everyone from employees to contractors need to accept cash payments. Employees, who can’t prove their income as a result, often struggle to get loans and mortgages.

Furthermore, section 280E of the US tax code prohibits the deduction of expenses related to controlled substances for tax purposes, and Williams predicts that he gives the internal revenue service an additional $600,000 each year as a result of business expenses that can’t be written off.

While recreational marijuana legalisation is well on its way in states like Colorado, it remains illegal at the federal level, stifling the growth and innovation of the industry’s first movers.

Our elected officials waver from know-nothing moralists to anti-science hypocrites to old-fashioned cowards. Most know better. Damned few have the courage to act.

Meanwhile, north of the border, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to legalise recreational marijuana consumption on a federal level, opening the door to investment, less restrictive tax policies and banks that can treat the marijuana industry like any other. While legalisation hasn’t yet taken place in Canada, when it inevitably does American marijuana businesses may suddenly find themselves at a disadvantage.

“They’ll be first to market,” says Williams. “There’s going to be a lot of development and innovation in Canada that’s going to spur economic growth and attract investment. First to market is going to get a lot of attention, so it’s a lost opportunity for the United States if and when that happens.”…

“The real setback will be longer term in their jump in developing that intellectual property, whether that’s in producing marijuana or developing brands or discovering new uses for cannabis in the medical field,” he said. “It’s the long-term effect of being behind the eight ball that I’m concerned about.”

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Canada but many look to its medicinal marijuana system, which is considered among the best in the world, as a sign of things to come. Health Canada, the country’s federal health authority, already regulates over one million square feet of approved marijuana production space spread across 30 industrial-sized facilities…

Recreational legalization in Canada, however, could force policymakers in the US to modernize their federal policies in order to level the playing field.

Between populist hypocrite dope-smokers and spineless liberal hypocrite dope-smokers, our elected officials are doomed to a reaction policy roughly akin to snails racing to escape roadrunners. Trudeau in Canada will be replacing lost revenue from previous conservative government’s allegiance to fossil fuel producers. Obama – and whoever next sits in the Oval Office confronting a Congress populated with close-minded Republicans and centrist-dominated Democrats – will continue to dither and panic over popularity polls that show American consumers ready and willing to move ahead on legalizing cannabis as readily as they have every other so-called controversy petrifying the brains of our spoon-fed politicians.

Other nations in the educated world will continue to remind Americans there ain’t any greatness associated with being backwards, governed by fear.