State revenue from marijuana is hazy at best

…Now that 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, officials are grappling with projecting collections from a new sin tax. Forecasting revenue from a product that was illegal just a few years ago, and remains so under federal law and in most states, presents a unique challenge for state budget planning. For example, in Nevada’s first six months of collecting marijuana taxes, revenue came in 40 percent higher than budget officials expected, but in neighboring California revenue was 45 percent below projections in the first six months of collecting marijuana taxes.

And with more states considering legalizing marijuana, forecasting and budgeting difficulties for revenue from recreational marijuana taxes are likely to become widespread. These challenges have consequences: If tax collections come in below forecasted amounts, for example, programs that are funded by these dollars could suffer.

The Yellow Brick Road may be paved with nothing more than yellow bricks instead of the gold forecast by libertarian optimism. Don’t spend it before you get it, folks!

Canada’s legalization of cannabis is a success story

A highly regarded British think tank focused on reforming drug laws thinks Canada’s legalization and regulation of cannabis has gone well.

Transform has been monitoring Canadian reform efforts for some time, and advised the Canadian government and some provinces on how to develop regulations prior to legalization. Its positive views of Canada’s initiatives is a significant contribution in assessing our journey away from criminalization of simple possession and use of recreational drugs…

Transform also raised the need for amnesty for those convicted of simple possession and use when cannabis was illegal.

Criminal records dog these individuals, affecting everything from employment opportunities to travel to foreign countries.

While there have been some few pardons, the process is erratic, bureaucratic and doesn’t erase records causing follow-on negatives. Amnesty across the board would erase a problem past it’s sell-by date.

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.

WHO Proposes Downgrading Cannabis Under International Law


Yargin/Shutterstock

❝ The World Health Organization (WHO) is proposing downgrading cannabis under international law for the first time, in light of growing evidence of its legitimate medicinal benefits.

❝ Currently classified by the WHO as schedule IV – the same class as heroin – which is the most strictly controlled category, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) has proposed to reschedule cannabis, and other cannabis-related products as a schedule I classification. What’s more, they’ve proposed removing non-THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) cannabis products, such as CBD oil, from international drug controls completely.

WHO spent way too much time paying attention to thugs like Nixon BITD. Overdue at WHO. Overdue in the US of A.

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.

Legalize it! Join Senator Booker

❝ On January 1, California, Maine, and Massachusetts joined the growing list of states that legalized recreational marijuana.

Yet, Attorney General Jeff Sessions just announced that he will end the current policy of federal non-interference, so that the Justice Department could crack down on marijuana in states where it has been legalized for recreational use.

❝ For decades, the failed war on drugs has locked up millions of nonviolent drug offenders, especially for marijuana-related offenses. This has wasted human potential, torn apart families and communities, and squandered massive sums of taxpayer dollars.

That’s why I introduced the Marijuana Justice Act to call for the legalization of marijuana at the federal level. Will you sign my petition and call on your senators to join me in moving this critical legislation forward?

❝ Add your name to the Marijuana Justice Act, which will remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances and look to reverse the decades of failed policies that disproportionately target communities of color.

Sign Sen. Booker’s petition

If passed into law, the Marijuana Justice Act would have an immediate impact on our criminal justice system, policing, our communities, and even the economy. This legislation would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, making it legal at the federal level.

Overdue, folks. Overdue.

Here’s Canadian PM’s Plan to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

❝ Canada is advancing plans to become the first G7 nation to legalize recreational marijuana nationally, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is keeping key details hazy and allowing arrests to continue while parliament debates his plan.

Trudeau’s justice minister introduced proposed laws Thursday in the Ottawa legislature that set a minimum consumption age of 18, with individual provinces allowed to raise it as they see fit. Rules on retail sales will also be left to the provinces, with the government targeting legalization by July 2018 for a market analysts estimate to reach US$4.5 billion by 2021.

❝ Under the bills, possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis would be allowed, and up to four plants can be grown per residence. Exports of marijuana will remain a serious criminal offense and a new penalty for those convicted of impaired driving will be imposed. Details on prices, licensing fees and taxes will be announced in coming months.

The government’s aim is “putting drug dealers and organized crime out of the cannabis business,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a statement accompanying the legislation. “It will allow law enforcement to focus on other serious offences, including the distribution of cannabis to children and youth and driving under the influence of drugs.”…

❝ Trudeau’s proposal — expanding on medical marijuana, which is already legal in Canada — is expected to spur merger activity and insiders…are already taking profits. The governing Liberals have a majority in the House of Commons that will all but guarantee the legislation’s passage. The country’s Senate typically rubber-stamps legislation, though has grown more unpredictable since measures by Trudeau boosted its independence.

All the usual phonies are whining. Nothing new. Same sort of unreal, anti-science, crap promoted by pharmaceutical manufacturers who see diminishing profits in all the US states which have already gone through this process. Still, it will be a big step forward for a G7 nation. Pointing out the silliness and hypocrisy of the rest of that political establishment.

The Feds have no idea how to grow decent pot

❝ The only marijuana researchers can legally obtain for studies looks like something you would scrape off the bottom of your shoe after walking on a grassy field.

This is not an exaggeration. Take a look at this photo, courtesy of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies:

This is the marijuana that researchers were sent for a study looking at whether pot can help treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

❝ Due to federal prohibition and regulations, all of the marijuana used for US research is provided by one facility at the University of Mississippi through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). But researchers have complained for years that the quality of marijuana that NIDA supplies is terrible — typically far below what you can get from state-legal medical or recreational marijuana markets or even the black market.

The photo above exemplifies this. The marijuana looks like it’s made up more of leaves and stems than the actual bud you’re supposed to smoke. As anyone who’s ever smoked pot can tell you, you’re typically supposed to throw out the leaves and stems — meaning what you see in the photo is basically garbage to the typical user. Usable pot is supposed to look chunkier and laced with crystals that are high in THC (which is what gets you high).

❝ Here’s an example of higher-quality pot, taken before the stems are fully removed:

It ain’t just aesthetics, folks. The questions of usability, effectiveness, say, as a product to be used to wean Americans off opioids – are relevant.

RTFA for all the details and discussion.

Huge study refutes the federal government’s crap marijuana laws

❝ In the federal drug classification scheme, marijuana is classed at the very top. It is considered to be a Schedule I substance — a category reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

For years, however, scientists have done study after study showing that this classification is misguided. On Thursday, the National Academy of Sciences put one more nail in the coffin with one of the most thorough reviews of the research to date: a massive, 396-page report on 10,000 research studies on marijuana, assessing therapeutic benefits and risk factors.

❝ The review, conducted by a panel of experts led by Harvard public health researcher Marie McCormack, is broken out into 100 different conclusions — many of which are just assessments of the current state of the research…

It is particularly significant, however, that the review states quite clearly that there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” that marijuana is effective for the treatment of chronic pain, as a tonic for nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and in treating spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients…

❝ Marijuana has also been floated as a potential treatment for a whole host of other disorders — such as easing insomnia relating to painful syndromes, increasing appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, decreasing severe anxiety, and combating the effects of PTSD. Although there’s moderate to limited evidence supporting marijuana’s effectiveness, the report found, the research here isn’t yet conclusive.

The review also looked at the health risks associated with marijuana use, dispelling some popular arguments against it. For example, according to the review of the research, smoking marijuana is not associated with the same cancer risks as tobacco — there was no evidence that marijuana use was associated with lung, head, and neck cancers. Tobacco, unlike marijuana, is recreationally legal nationwide.

❝ That doesn’t mean, however, that marijuana is completely absolved of health risks…“It just reinforces what our policy makers should already know,” said Taylor West. “This is a product with significantly lower risk factors than other things that we regulate and consume, like alcohol.”

Congress has the power to change these absurd and outdated laws. The White House could help progress along. Obama didn’t do much about that. I expect even less from Trump.

The big “but” lies with the grassroots organizing every Democrat from here to the Halls of Congress is talking about. If push is going to come to shove, if science is to return to stable, reasoned responsibility in the development of political platforms, then Democrats and Independents seeking my vote – and many, many others – had better get up-to-date on results from legal, recreational sales of marijuana, taxed for the general benefit of the voting public.

This ain’t the biggest deal in real reform needed in this ethically-backwards nation; but, it counts as one with liberty, justice and fiscal responsibility as recommendations.