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It Was A Big Week For Marijuana In America

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director February 17, 2018

    Valentines Day week 2018 saw a tremendous amount of activity when it came to addressing our nations failed policy of marijuana prohibition. From new federal legislation being introduced to two federal lawsuits having hearings, plus a number of members of Congress, old allies and new stepping up to demand the Trump Administration continue to allow the states that have reformed their laws be respected by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    Rick “Not Pro-Pot But Pro-Civil Liberties” Steves Went To Washington: Bestselling guidebook author and travel host Rick Steves held two briefings to address marijuana prohibition to a gathering of members of Congress and their staff. Inspired by Europe’s pragmatic approach to drug policy, with success measured by harm reduction rather than incarceration, Steves said that he is motivated to speak in favor of legalization because of its impact on civil liberties.

    “ There are so many reasons to end the prohibition on marijuana. Whether you’re concerned about the well-being of children, fairness for minority communities, redirecting money away from criminals and into state’s coffers, stemming the horrific bloodshed in Mexico, or civil liberties; it is clearly time for a new approach,” said Rick Steves. You can read more about his day at Capitol Hill here.

    New Legislation: Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) has introduced the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act which would codify the protections that were outlined in the now-rescinded Cole Memo.

    Upon the introduction, Rep. Correa said, “To date, eight states have legalized recreational cannabis, and twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, representing more than half of the American population, have enacted legislation to permit the use of cannabis. Attorney General Sessions’ decision to rescind the “Cole Memo” created great uncertainty for these states and legal cannabis businesses, and put citizens in jeopardy for following their state laws.

    In my state of California, voters want legal cannabis. It boosts our economy and is a strong medical tool. By 2020, revenues from cannabis sales taxes could reach $1 billion annually for California. This bill will protect California and other states from federal overreach and ensure the will of the American voter is respected.”

    Essentially, the Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act would give peace of mind to lawmakers, regulators, 149,000 workers, and the millions of patients and consumers who are dependent on the normalization of lawful marijuana markets. The most essential component in creating a stable business environment to meet consumer demand is certainty and that is what states would have with Reps. Correa’s legislation to protect state-lawful programs from militant marijuana prohibitionist Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    Click here to send a message to your Representative to urge them to co-sponsor the Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act. 

    Lawsuit Against Attorney General Jeff Sessions: On February 14th, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York heard oral arguments on the motion to dismiss Washington, et.al v. Sessions, et.al, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Schedule I classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. The federal government argued to have the case dismissed. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York reserved the decision.

    Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case are Michael Hiller and Lauren Rudick of Hiller, PC, and include NORML Legal Committee member Joseph Bondy and Empire State NORML Director David Holland.

    Click here to read more.

    HIA Against The DEA: A case brought forward by the Hemp Industries Association against the DEA regarding the classification of CBD had a hearing on Thursday. You can read more about that effort here.

    Banking On Mnuchin: Congressman and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus Earl Blumenauer pressed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the need for certainty for the banks that are currently providing services for legal, state-regulated marijuana businesses. You can watch the video by clicking HERE and send a message to your federal lawmakers to support the SAFE Banking Act.

    Letter To Senate Appropriators: This week, a bipartisan group of 18 Senators signed a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the powerful Appropriations Committee to demand that in the process of directing funding for the Department of Justice, the lawmakers should restrict the DoJ from being able to interfere with lawful state-regulated programs.

    The senators wrote that rescinding years of guidance has created “disruption, confusion, and uncertainty throughout the country. Citizens who have been acting in good faith based on federal and state assurances now feel exposed. This disruption may deny medications to the sick, push individuals back into illicit markets, and nullify the previously-effective regulations – all while thwarting the democratically-expressed will of the states.”

    “It is our hope that the fiscal year 2018 appropriations will alleviate the turbulence the Attorney General’s abrupt decision has caused and that the appropriations will help preserve the strong regulatory frameworks the states have created,” the senators continued. “Doing so will provide the opportunity to pursue federal legislation that both protects the legitimate federal interests at stake and respects the will of the states – both those that have liberalized their marijuana laws and those that have not.”

    The letter include U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-WV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maria Cantwell(D-WA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Edward Markey (D-MA).

    Click here to read the letter and click here to send a message to your federal officials in support of pending legislation to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. 

    New Justice Supporter: This week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York added her name as a cosponsor to The Marijuana Justice Act, making her the 3rd member of the Senate to be on the bill. Specifically S. 1689 and HR 4815 would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs. Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of the Marijuana Justice Act. 

    Additionally, Senator Cory Booker added the language of the Marijuana Justice Act as an amendment to the criminal justice bill that is moving, however, that effort was unsuccessful.

    DoJ Nominees Move Forward: Senator Gardner has backed down from his threat to the Department of Justice to block Senate-confirmable nominees after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the longstanding guidance memos including the 2013 Cole Memo.

    32 responses to “It Was A Big Week For Marijuana In America”

    1. Julian says:

      Thanks Justin;
      As the saying goes, “The Devil is in the details.” But we should say “The Angels are there too.”

    2. Julian says:

      A “Big week” indeed.

      I decided to look further into the announcement by former President of Mexico Vicente Fox on Real Time with Bill Maher about a Cannabis Expo in Mexico around the 30th of May. I discovered after a little research that it was more than my heart could have possibly imagined:

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/nacioncannabis.com/expo-weed-mexico-la-convencion-cannabica-ha-cambiado-juego/amp/

      Allow me to translate; the hemp and marijuana expo begins on the 18th of May in Mexico City at the World Trade Center;

      http://wtcmexico.mx

      And it includes presentations on all aspects of hemp and marijuana cultivation.

      I can’t help but recognize that the motivation from powerful Mexican cartels, government officials and proud Mexican citizens to legalize marijuana are to:

      A) Demonstrate that the world’s top drug cartels are here in the United States, as Vicente Fox correctly explains, and

      B). That the Mexican Cartels, the Mexican government and the Mexican people are agreed in a concerted effort to rub marijuana legalization in Donald Trump’s rotten orange face.

    3. overgrowem says:

      Did Gaedner back down or make a deal? If a deal, what did he get?

      • Dain Bramage says:

        @ overgrowem,
        Backed down. Any “deal” Gardner may have cut with Rod Rosenstein was almost certainly self-serving (my guess is the Senator from Colorado has skin in the game, one way or another — personal financial investment, or maybe fear of personal legal exposure) and not based on any genuine concern for his constituents.

        Remember, this is the same Senator who was dubbed “Cardboard Cory” by his own constituents in Colorado, because he refused to meet with them while he was voting to take away their Healthcare, and because he went into hiding.

        They had to make a cardboard cut out, life size photo of Senator Gardner, and “debate” with that instead!

        “Good faith” means obviously little to this sold-out Republican Senator.

        • Dain Bramage says:

          …Given the fact that Sen Gardner voted to take away his own constituents’ Healthcare, he clearly doesn’t give a damn about them, or their good health. So please consider the following question: if he doesn’t give a damn about them in general, or their good health, do you really think he gives a damn about medical marijuana patients in particular?

          Not likely!

    4. Dain Bramage says:

      It was a big week for marijuana in America, but America itself hasn’t been doing too well lately — we’ve caught a nasty case of fascist authoritarianism! No joke.

      If The Resistance fails, marijuana legalization fails. In order to avoid a pyrrhic victory, the marijuana legalization movement needs to do it’s part in fighting fascism in America by unequivocally opposing Trump and THE PARTY OF TRUMP!

      Think about it: bipartisanship means nothing, if one of the parties is a Nazi party, committed to destroying democracy itself! Bipartisanship, in that context, is Nazi collaboration!

      I say, fuck the Republicans, they had their chance, and they used it to screw us as hard as they could. “Sorry” don’t cut it, and neither does a bunch of flowery talk about legalization!

      Republicans are talking our legalization talking points, and then walking their votes with Trump and his Russian police state. Don’t fall for it!

      They’re fucking lying.

      • Dain Bramage says:

        Republicans will always put party before principle. Case in point, from the link in the article, regarding Senator Gardner’s “principled” stand against Sessions: a charade.

        From AP:
        “It was a dramatic move by the Republican senator against his own party’s attorney general and came after Gardner said Sessions had promised him there wouldn’t be a crackdown. Gardner said he was placing holds on nominees until Sessions changed his approach.

        “The holds created friction with Sessions, who has complained that critical posts are going unfilled, and some of Gardner’s fellow GOP senators who want key law enforcement officials in their states confirmed.

        “In an interview with The Associated Press, Gardner said Thursday that he’s discussed the issue with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and has been pleased with progress so far.

        Department leaders have “shown in good faith their willingness to provide what I think will be hopefully the protections we sought, and as sort of a good faith gesture on my behalf I’ll be releasing a limited number of nominees,” Gardner said.

        “He said he was releasing his holds on nominees for U.S. attorneys in a dozen federal districts, U.S. marshals in every district and on John Demers, who was confirmed later Thursday to head Justice’s national security division.”

        • Dain Bramage says:

          Now, I haven’t done the research to follow the money, but if I had to bet right now, I would bet that Colorado Senator Cory Gardner’s opposition to Sessions is because Gardner has skin in the game, one way or another. Did he invest in the industry? Thought he was going to cash in? I’d put a dollar on it!

        • Evening Bud says:

          “Republicans will always put party before principle”

          Your statement is playing out right now on the gun control issue. Tho the vast majority of Americans want gun control–something, anything–the GOP is circling the wagons around their NRA donors. It’s not easy prying their puckered lips from the teets of their NRA overlords. Most of these same money suckers oppose MJ legalization.

          • Dain Bramage says:

            Evening Bud,
            I have to wonder if all this talk from the NRA and GOP about “mental health” is really a cry for help!!!

            Their “solution” is an arms race between teachers and students?! That is completely fucking insane — until you remember that the Republicans are War Profiteers by trade. It’s not crazy, it’s just pure evil.

            I should have known, after seeing George W. Bush’s “flagophile” followers, that when the Republican Party finally “came out” as The Party Of Evil — openly fascist, KKK and Nazi — it’s base wouldn’t even blink.

            That’s not a political party, that’s a death cult.

      • Anonymous2 says:

        Traditionally, Republicans are traditionalists. I wonder how many republicans partook in alcohol during the alcohol prohibition, and were active in legalizing it’s legitimate return to the American past time.

        What’s so different about cannabis that republicans can’t get their heads out of their asses and actually act on what’s been promised. (Referring to them as a whole, since there are a few on both sides that want legalization)

    5. Dan Viets says:

      Rick Steves is a member of NORML’s Board of Directors!!!

      Might be worth noting in future articles

    6. Anonymous says:

      Rand Paul represents Kentucky not WV.

    7. Bill Holic says:

      Keep up the attack on dip shit sessions, he is a weasel and not to be trusted, force that red neck asshole to back off

    8. Dain Bramage says:

      For the past year or so, I have been trying to understand an apparent paradox.

      One the one hand, the marijuana legalization community has made remarkable advancements, both in the legal landscape, as well as in the hearts and minds of Americans in general. Yet, on the other hand, America (with lots of help from Russia) elected Trump: drug war enthusiast, wannabe dictator, and white supremacist Nazi, among other disqualifications.

      How can this contradiction be? Are the American People coming to their senses? Or have we completely lost our freaking minds?

      The best explanation I have heard so far relates to a rather grisly biblical metaphor, involving two women in a dispute over who was the rightful mother of the child. Many people are familiar with the phrase “cutting the baby in two” which means, essentially, a compromise in which all is lost.

      “Splitting the baby” was a wise king’s tactic for sussing out the real mother. The woman who immediately yielded her claim to the baby, in order to save the baby’s life, was awarded custody of the child by the wise king, who saw her devotion to the child, and understood her to be the real mother.

      Trump and his Republican supporters are the other mother. Bitter and griefstricken over having lost her own child, the other mother lays claim to another woman’s child. When she is forced to give it back, she chooses death for the baby. If she cannot have her own dead baby back, then she chooses that both women shall be childless and grief stricken.

      For white supremacists like Trump and his supporters, they lost their idea of America, long ago; Obama was only the final straw. Like the fake mother, they are intent on making sure America is “split in two”, that is to say, “killed.”

      America. If they can’t have it, they will kill it to make sure no one else can have it either.

    9. Denny Strausser Jr says:

      Hopefully after Trump and Sessions are out of office, the next administration will recognize the majority, and legalize.

      I am anxious for a day that cannabis is much cheaper, do to high sells in it. It will get cheaper once its legal everywhere. Probably what pharmaceutical companies are worried about. Why treat the cancer when you can cure it cheaper? 😀

      • Dain Bramage says:

        This relates to the inherent conflict between marijuana legalization and commercialization. If grown commercially outdoors, like any other ordinary agricultural product (with no reefer madness to contend with — call it full NORML-ization) the price of marijuana would be mere pennies on the pound.

        In Colorado now, depending on where you go, you can now pick up decent, one hundred dollar ounces. That’s amazing prices, from old-school, prohibition level prices.

        So, is that a deal, or is that a rip? It’s all relative.

        I think the answer lies in harm reduction. From a harm reduction perspective, it’s a good deal.

        Is a medical marijuana patient safer in Colorado now, as a result of legalization? I think so.

        • Denny Strausser Jr says:

          We are probably both right on our assumptions. I’m sure once legal everywhere, and everyone has some, or everyone who cares, prices will continue to drop. They will still manage to make enough on it too.

          Stay Blazed As Much As You Can. 😉

    10. Jack Herrer says:

      Sessions leave Marijuana alone. Keep up the attack on hollow shit sessions, you are a weasel and not to be trusted.

      Jack Herrer

      • Denny Strausser Jr says:

        Jeff Sessions is probably being paid off by pharmaceutical companies as it’ll hurt their money. They don’t want cancer cured, then they lose billions of dollars. They’d rather treat cancer for 1000s of dollars per month, than to have it just cured.

        The thing is, many people know they make more money treating it, then to cure it completely.
        The government has known a compound found in cannabis kills cancer cells since like 1973. They’ve known for awhile, they’re just scared they won’t make as much money on it in the future.

        So the a**hole Jeff Sessions will keep his paycheck, as long as he continues to demonize a plant.

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