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Marijuana Won Big with More States Voting Yes for Recreational or MMJ

The 2016 election results are rolling in, and more states have voted to legalize recreational marijuana. With several states also voting to expand or legalize medical marijuana, it's a greener day today in America. Recreational marijuana legalization was on the ballot in Massachusetts, California, Maine, Arizona, and Nevada, while voters in Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota and Montana faced ballot questions relating to the initiation or expansion of medical marijuana programs. Cannabis activists around the country put in countless hours of work campaigning for marijuana legalization, and while their efforts didn't win out across the board, the 2016 election results are a definite win for marijuana.

Here are the state by state election results for recreational marijuana legalization and medical marijuana

Massachusetts marijuana election results

Massachusetts voters decided on Question 4 legalizing marijuana throughout the state. With 96% of people precincts reporting, the Massachusetts Question 4 results were 54% in favor of marijuana legalization with a lead of over 230,000 votes. Recreational marijuana will now be legalized in Massachusetts.

This measure allows for the sale, cultivation, use, and distribution of marijuana for adults age 21 or older and establishes a system for regulating and taxing retail marijuana sales.

California recreational marijuana election results

California voters decided to approve Proposition 64 legalizing recreational marijuana throughout the state. With 96% of the votes counted, Proposition 64 was leading by more than 1,000,000 votes. These California election results legalize marijuana recreational sales, possession, and cultivation.

Arizona election results for marijuana legalization

In Arizona election results for Proposition 205 did not legalize marijuana possession for adults age 21 and older. With 98% of the votes counted, there were over 80,000  more votes opposing Proposition 205 than there were votes in favor of marijuana legalization. For now, recreational marijuana remains illegal in Arizona.

Maine marijuana legalization election results

Maine voters decided on marijuana legalization initiative that would legalize marijuana possession of up to 2 ½ ounces and allow residents to grow up to six marijuana plants. At the time of this writing,the vote is extremely close with those in favor of Maine marijuana legalization having a slight lead. With 90% of precincts reporting, the marijuana legalization initiative had earned 50% of the votes with a less than 5,000 vote difference between those in favor and those opposed.

Nevada marijuana election results

Nevada marijuana election results have legalized marijuana possession and recreational sales, establishing a 15% sales tax and giving established medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada the first opportunity to apply for a recreational marijuana sales license. The Nevada marijuana legalization initiative passed by a very slim margin of less than 100,000 votes.

Arkansas marijuana legalization election results

In Arkansas voters decided in favor of medical marijuana legalization by a slim margin of less than 70,000 votes. The election results for Arkansas marijuana legalization Issue 6 legalizes marijuana use for 17 different medical conditions.

Florida medical marijuana election results

Florida has legalized medical marijuana.Florida medical marijuana election results legalize marijuana use for approved debilitating conditions and diseases. Amendment 2 passed by a wide margin. With 100% of precincts reporting, 71% of voters chose to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, with nearly 4,000,000 more votes in favor than in opposition.

Montana marijuana election results

Montana voters decided to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, voting in favor of Montana medical marijuana initiative I-182. With 97% reporting, the medical marijuana measure had won 57% of the vote. These election results repeal the three patient limit imposed on medical marijuana providers, adds PTSD and chronic pain to the list of approved conditions, and paves the way for the expansion of the medical marijuana industry in Montana.

North Dakota medical marijuana election results

North Dakota medical marijuana election results are in favor of medical marijuana legalization by a 64% margin. North Dakota Measure 5 legalizes medical marijuana for epilepsy, glaucoma, cancer, ALS, and several other specified conditions.

Marijuana Legalization across America

These 2016 election results show that the tides have turned in favor of marijuana. Marijuana legalization is being adopted by more and more states, and if the trend continues, marijuana legalization at the federal level seems almost inevitable. For now, marijuana entrepreneurs in the newly legal marijuana states are scrambling to get their business plans in place and their  applications ready to file, and marijuana activists are celebrating victories while looking ahead to a time when marijuana is legal across America.

 

 

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What the 2016 Election Means for Legal Marijuana

As the 2016 election draws near, the cannabis industry and community is waiting anxiously to see what a new administration will mean for legal marijuana. Will the many marijuana dispensaries be allowed to remain open under a new administration? Will marijuana become legal across the country, or will legal weed be completely shut down? Which candidate is likely to win, and where do the top candidates and political parties stand on the issue of legal cannabis? With billions of dollars at stake and access to medication on the line, the future of cannabis effects millions of Americans. Here is a breakdown of how cannabis legalization might be handled under a Clinton, Trump, or Stein administration.

Clinton and the Democrats on Cannabis:

In 2007, Hillary Clinton summarized her feelings on marijuana legalization by saying “I don't think we should decriminalize it,” and in 2016, her official stance is that she does support moving marijuana from the Schedule 1 list of controlled substances, which are considered the most dangerous, to the Schedule 2 class of drugs where it would reside along other prescription medications such as opium and codeine. If marijuana does end up reclassified to Schedule 2, it could possibly lead to further prohibitions on the sale of cannabis as marijuana could potentially become subject to the same rules and FDA regulations as other prescription drugs.

The Democratic party as a whole seems to be taking the smallest of steps beyond Clinton's stance, deciding at the Democratic National Committee's 2016 National Platform meeting to endorse an amendment that would recommend legalizing marijuana federally and offer legal marijuana businesses protection from federal interference. The amendment would stop short of truly decriminalizing marijuana nationwide, however. Marijuana would be legal at a federal level, but it would be up to states to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to keep marijuana illegal or legal within their own state borders. The vote in support of endorsing the marijuana amendment passed with only a one vote margin, with a sharp division between Bernie Sanders supporters in favor and Hillary Clinton supporters opposed.

Trump and the Republicans on Cannabis

Meanwhile, cannabis legalization in any form doesn't seem to be anywhere on the Repulican radar, despite the number of Veterans and others who depend on marijuana for medical reasons. Neither medical marijuana nor marijuana decriminalization or even reclassification will be a part of the 2016 Republican platform. Donald Trump, meanwhile, sounds a whole lot like Clinton. He seems to favor medical marijuana, and says that states should decide their own marijuana laws without federal interference. Without the backing of his party on these endeavors, however, many are skeptical about his ability to actually carry any of that out.

Stein and the Green Party on Cannabis

Jill Stein and the Green Party as a whole are in full support of marijuana legalization, for both medical as well as recreational marijuana. Stein believes that, “Marijuana is a drug that is dangerous because it's illegal. It isn't illegal because it's dangerous.” The official platform of the Green Party states that “Cannabis/Hemp is to be legalized, regulated and controlled like cigarettes and alcohol. Until this happens we advocate that medical marijuana be made a prescription drug that doctors may prescribe to their patients.” If Stein were to win the presidency, efforts to truly legalize marijuana across our country at both the national and state levels could be expected and the marijuana industry could breathe a sigh of relief.

Who will win?

In a poll last week following the Republican National Convention, Trump and Clinton appeared to be very close in popularity, with Clinton scoring 41% of supporters to Trump's 38%. The poll, conducted by Reuters/Ipsos, surveyed 1036 English-speaking voters in 50 states. However, polling numbers are traditionally less accurate during this time period, with candidates often getting a short-lived boost following official nomination at the Party conventions. The New York Times presidential forecast gives Hillary Clinton a 74% chance to win. Does Jill Stein have a chance? If the thousands of marijuana business owners and millions of marijuana users decide to put protecting and expanding legal cannabis above other political concerns, Stein could very well become our country's next president. Only time will tell, so for now, smoke it if you've got it!

 

 

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DEA to Reclassify Marijuana: Official Confirms Looming Marijuana Decision

In a recent interview with aNewDomain, DEA staff coordinator Russ Baer confirmed reports that the DEA is considering reclassifying marijuana off the Schedule 1 list of controlled substances, and indicated that the enforcement of marijuana policy is not a top priority for the federal agency. Although stopping short of offering any specific details about how exactly marijuana might be reclassified, Baer did confirm the genuineness of a recently leaked letter from the DEA to the senate that stated the agency was hoping to reach a decision on whether or not to reclassify marijuana by mid-year. Baer downplayed the mid-year estimate though, stating, “We aren't holding ourselves to any artificial timeframe.”

While an official decision is still yet to be announced, speculation is strong that the DEA will indeed reclassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 2 drug sometime this summer. Recently, an anonymous attorney for the DEA was reported by the Santa Monica Observer as stating that the DEA would soon reclassify marijuana to the schedule 2 list, sending marijuana industries and cannabis communities into watch and wait mode. The DEA's decision to reclassify marijuana to schedule 2 could have a significant impact on both the recreational marijuana and medical marijuana industries, and feelings are mixed as potential effects and consequences are still unclear.

Reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 2 drug makes medical marijuana legal at the federal level. This means that residents of any state could obtain a medical prescription for marijuana and be able to legally use it without fear of criminal charges, neither at the state nor federal level. “We’re not going to go chase after the mom who picks up cannabinol (CBD) in (one) state for her epileptic child and takes it to another state … ,” Baer stated.   

A reclassification to Schedule 2 would also remove many of the current legal obstacles to cannabis research, which could in turn help pave the way for new medical advances and discoveries. Baer explained, “We want there to be research on marijuana and its component parts, there needs to be (more) studies about both the benefits and the adverse effects about marijuana... We want to remove the roadblocks for (cannabis research.)”

While some marijuana activists that have been pushing for medical legalization at a federal level see a DEA decision to reclassify marijuana to Schedule 2 as a step in the right direction, others feel it doesn't go far enough and in fact could greatly inhibit the progress that's been made towards achieving full-scale marijuana legalization for recreational as well as medical purposes. The DEA divides controlled substances into five categories, or Schedules, based on accepted medical benefits and abuse potential. Drugs on the Schedule 1 list, where marijuana currently resides, are considered the most dangerous, with the highest potential for abuse and health risks, and no known medical benefits. Schedule 2 drugs are acknowledged as having some medical benefit, but they are still considered dangerous with high abuse and health risk potentials. The Controlled Substance Act is worded in a way that specifies Schedule 2 drugs can't be dispensed without a prescription, so a reclassification of marijuana to Schedule 2 could potentially destroy the recreational marijuana industry as we know it. It all depends on the specifics of how the drug is classified and how regulations are applied. As an official announcement on reclassifying marijuana is awaited, all eyes are on the DEA and many fingers are crossed that the details of the decision will allow for states to make their own choices regarding recreational marijuana.

 

 

Countinue Reading

Where the 2016 Presidential Candidates Stand on Marijuana Legalization.

By Melanie Marquis

If you own a cannabis-based business or work in the recreational marijuana industry, there's a big reason besides politics to start paying attention to the 2016 Presidential race. Depending on who gets elected and how much our new President's influence is able to sway the direction of U.S. Policy, your very livelihood could be at stake. While it's never clear what a candidate's actual policies will be once they get into office, the things they've said in the past can indeed provide strong indications.

The Marijuana Policy Project website provides an evaluation of such indications, and their ratings provide cause for alarm. Only one viable candidate received a grade “A” on their policy regarding legalized marijuana—Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton scored a “B,” Donald Trump a mediocre “C+,” and Marco Rubio an even lower grade of “D.”

To help you evaluate these candidates for yourself, we've compiled a sampling of relevant quotes from these politicians and their campaigns. Take a look, and if anything concerns you, be sure to do further research so that you can be sure to know who (and for what) you are voting for.

Marco Rubio: If one thing positive can be said about Marco Rubio's position on legal cannabis, it's that at least he makes his stance on the issue very clear. When he was a guest on the Hugh Hewitt Radio Show in February 2015, he was asked if he would enforce federal law and shut down the legal recreational marijuana industry in Colorado. Rubio responded, “Yes. Yes, I think, well, I think we need to enforce our federal laws. Now do states have a right to do what they want? They don't agree with it, but they have their rights. But they don't have a right to write federal policy as well.” He goes on to explain, “I don't believe we should be in the business of legalizing additional intoxicants in this country for the primary reason that when you legalize something, what you're sending a message to young people is it can't be that bad, because if it was that bad, it wouldn't be legal.” He reiterated that view at a Meet the Press conference in August of 2015, when he was asked if he would enforce federal law in states where cannabis legal. Rubio responded, “Absolutely. I believe that the federal government needs to enforce federal law.” Earlier this year, Rubio was quoted in the Washington Times as saying, “There is no responsible way to smoke marijuana repeatedly. There's nothing good about it.”

Donald Trump:  Trump's position, however, seems to change with the times. Way back in 1990, he favored the legalization of all drugs, calling the War on Drugs a failure. But when asked at a conference last June how he felt about Colorado's legalization of cannabis, Trump stated, “I say it's bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it's bad, and I feel strongly about it.” At an event just a few months later in October, Trump had this to say: “Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen—right? Don't we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.” He then went on to mention Colorado specifically, saying, “And of course you have Colorado. And I love Colorado and the people are great, but there's a question as to how it's all working out there, you know? That's not going exactly trouble-free. So I really think that we should study Colorado, see what's happening.”

Hillary Clinton: Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton seems generally positive about marijuana legalization at the state level, but seems hesitant to take an official position one way or another. In 2015, Clinton aired her support for legalization in Colorado, saying, “I really believe it’s important that states like Colorado lead the way, so that we can learn what works and what doesn’t work. And I would certainly not want the federal government to interfere with the legal decision made by the people of Colorado, and enforced by your elected officials, as to how you should be conducting this business that you have approved.” As a guest on WBZ Radio in January 2016, Clinton was asked about her stance on marijuana legalization and replied, “I think that states are the laboratories of democracy, and four states have already taken action to legalize, and it will be important that other states and the federal government take account of how that’s being done, what we learn from what they’re doing. I think that the states moving forward is appropriate and I think the federal government has to move to make this more available for research that they can then distribute to interested people across our country.” She went on to explain, “I do think on the federal level we need to remove marijuana from the Schedule I of drugs, move it to Schedule II, which will permit it to be the basis for medical research because it’s important that we learn as much as possible.”

Bernie Sanders: Bernie Sanders is the only candidate so far to take a clear and undeniable stance in favor of federal marijuana legalization. As a senator, Sanders introduced legislation in November 2015 that would result in marijuana being removed from the federal list of controlled substances, and allow states the power to regulate and tax marijuana if they have the desire to do so. Under Sanders's plan, cannabis-based businesses would also be ensured fair and non-discriminatory access to banking services and standard tax deductions just like any other business. According to the Bernie Sanders campaign website, “Bernie favors removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances regulated by federal law. Under Bernie’s proposal, people in states which legalize marijuana no longer would be subject to federal prosecution for using pot. Owners of stores that sell marijuana could fully participate in the banking system, like any other business.” Sanders also seems to favor reforming the way marijuana cases are handled in America's justice system, stating, “Someone in the United States is arrested every minute on marijuana charges. Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That’s wrong. That has got to change.”

Why it Matters:

Currently, federal laws against marijuana cause complications for many cannabis-based business entrepreneurs in states where commercial cannabis is legal, and the federal classification of marijuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance prevents hemp production and manufacturing from being economically viable under present law. Meanwhile, more and more states are seeing voter-led ballot initiatives to make recreational cannabis legal, and states like Colorado where it is already legal are experiencing the benefits of massive profit. Whoever wins the next Presidential election will likely hold heavy sway on determining which way the tide will turn.

Sources:

Marijuana Policy Project, “Where Do they Stand on Marijuana Policy,” Marijuana Policy Project, accessed March 11, 2016, https://www.mpp.org/2016-presidential-candidates/

“Trump Softens Position on Marijuana Legalization,” by Jenna Johnson, The Washington Post online, October 29, 2015, accessed March 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/10/29/trump-wants-marijuana-legalization-decided-at-the-state-level/

 

Countinue Reading

States across the US are changing their views on cannabis, and they have been doing so for some time. That’s why it was monumental to see movement at the federal level, and not just the state. On December 4, 2020, the US House of Representatives passed H.B. 3884, titled the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2020”, or the MORE Act for short. But when will weed be federally legal?

When will weed be federally legal

While it is likely to be blocked in the Senate, the passage at the House of Representatives comes after 50+ years of strict federal prohibition of marijuana. While it may have taken a lifetime, and we still are not there yet, this is hopeful - and not just because it would make marijuana federally legal. 

The bill is loaded with resolutions that reach across political parties and offers some compassion for the mistakes and tragedies our criminal justice system has placed on consumers, growers, and non-malicious purveyors. 

Let’s take a look.

50 Years in The Making: Removing Cannabis From The Controlled Substances Act of 1970

The Wall Street Journal reports “The vote was largely along party lines. Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan and five Republicans voted in favor of the bill, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) who was a cosponsor. Six Democrats voted against the bill, all centrist lawmakers.” 

The bill passed the House with 228 Congressperson's voting in favor and 164 votings against the Bill, marking the first time since 1970 a measure for reforming cannabis laws that make marijuana federally legal was passed by either chamber of Congress.

What Would The MORE Act of 2020 Change?

There are several high-impact components in the Bill, most of which can stunningly reduce the past, existing, and future harm individuals and communities have faced from criminalization. 

Given these harms are and have always disproportionately impacted minority communities, the push to right the wrongs of our systems is front and center in the minds of many voters - and it seems most US House representatives support change as well. See some of their remarks below.

  1. The MORE Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act

If signed into law, the MORE act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively leaving it to states to determine how they want their residents to engage with the plant.  

“Across this nation, thousands of men and women have suffered needlessly from the federal criminalization of marijuana, particularly in communities of color and have borne the burden of collateral consequences for those ensnared in criminal legal systems that have damaged our society across generations.” - Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)

  1. Like the states already do, The MORE Act would allow the Federal government to tax cannabis

The legislation would impose a five percent federal tax on cannabis products. These funds would be used by programs in communities hurt by the war on drugs.

According to Marijuana Moment, “As now structured, the MORE Act would make it so cannabis would be federally taxed at five percent for the first two years after implementation and then increased by one percent each year until reaching eight percent. After five years, taxes would be applied to marijuana products based on weight rather than price.”

If passed, the MORE Act would both make cannabis federally legal - or at least states can choose without fear of a federal crackdown - and would create a Community Reinvestment Grant Program. 

The program would use tax dollars for job training, literacy programs, and youth recreation and mentoring services, and numerous other community services and organizations.

“This is about allowing states and localities to self-determine what their marijuana policies should be.” - Justin Strekal, political director at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, to WSJ.

weed federally legal

  1. The MORE Act expunges criminal records for most offenders

Within the bill, there are measures to resentence individuals currently incarcerated for criminal offenses related to cannabis. While ‘resentence’ means that the individual may still be sentenced for a crime, under the MORE Act, a majority of low-level cannabis offenses will be expunged. 

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2020 clarifies that not all marijuana offenses are eligible for expungement. More specifically, violent marijuana offenders and “kingpins” will be barred from resentencing/ expungement under the MORE Act. 

Under the rules making cannabis federally legal, the number of incarcerated individuals for nonviolent marijuana charges would see a substantial drop. 

  1. The MORE Act does not require that federal positions be tested for THC or other cannabis-derived compounds, except in limited circumstances

The rules go on to say that the Transportation Department and Coast Guard may continue to include marijuana in drug testing programs, but most federal employees (and applicants) would no longer be ineligible for work because they got high on holiday. Hurray!

If you didn’t know, marijuana testing was a federal employee requirement. And since THC can be detected in urine for 2-4 weeks, people seeking federal employment had to worry about their employment, and their activities outside of the office would collide in a negative way. The MORE Act would allow this anxiety to disappear. 

  1. Immigrants would have broader marijuana protections under the MORE Act

The bill, passed Dec. 4, 2020, aims to further protections for immigrant individuals and families. With regard to immigration laws, the MORE Act, in making marijuana federally legal, states the following:

....an alien may not be denied any benefit or protection under the immigration laws based on  any event, including conduct, a finding, an admission, addiction or abuse, an arrest, a juvenile adjudication, or a conviction, relating to cannabis, regardless of whether the event occurred before, on, or after the effective date of this Act.

BONUS: The MORE Act minimizes barriers to entry for small business owners through loan program access

Under the MORE Act, a Cannabis Justice Office would be started. The Office would have appointees under the Justice Department. This individual or office would be responsible for distributing funds provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) that provide loans for small cannabis businesses owned and controlled by socially and/ or economically disadvantaged individuals. These loans seek to reduce inequality by minimizing any existing bias or discrimination in current borrowing practices. 

federally legal weed

Making Marijuana Federally Legal: What’s Next?

While the MORE Act passed the House of Representatives, the Senate is less favorable. The reasons for this are largely political and civil. However, since criminal penalties are being discussed, it is likely to cause a bit of frothy conversation first. 

The passage of the MORE act in Congress marks a first, but also a half-way point. There is more political and social support for changing the law than ever before, but it is not yet enough. When will weed be federally legal?

Not yet, but we're almost there.

Countinue Reading

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