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Social Consumption

  • by Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Roc NORML December 17, 2018

    Roc NORML was in the news earlier this week talking about what consumers and activists want to see included in the legislation currently being drafted to frame New York’s adult-use cannabis market. The legislation is being drafted by a work group, put together by Governor Cuomo, and we’re anticipating a first draft of the legislation will be introduced during the state of the state in January with the executive budget.

    So, what does this mean exactly? This means we are also anticipating the legislation will be on the trajectory to pass with the 2019 Budget Bill in April, with Article VII from the NYS constitution. It is not a matter of if, or even when, but a matter of what this legislation is going to look like and who it is going to benefit most.

    The article says: “The lawmakers working on writing the legislation that will be used as a framework for the program tell News10NBC they’d like to just “copy and paste” what the state of Nevada has done.

    “Nevada has definitely benefited from the implementation in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California,” says Senator Diane Savino.  

    Here’s what copying Nevada’s laws would mean for New York:

    • Legal recreational use for anyone over the age of 21.
    • Sales of one ounce per day.
    • No public consumption or usage while driving or in a vehicle.
    • Employers can still drug test and landlords can still prohibit usage while inside their dwellings.  

    When it comes to the business side of things, Senator Savino says she likes that Nevada started by offering recreational licenses to those who already have medical dispensaries.” Based on that statement, it would stand to reason that a holder of a medical marijuana license in New York has a vested interest in seeing a bill that gives all adult use license to medical marijuana license holders come to fruition.

    California based MedMen, Inc., one of the ten medical marijuana license holders in New York, was one of Senator Savino’s largest campaign contributors in 2018, donating $10,300 to her reelection campaign and has donated $20,600 to Senator Savino in total. It should also be noted that MedMen, Inc. has recently been sued in California for failing to “pay employees minimum wages for off-the-clock work, pay employees for the full amount of hours worked, including overtime, provide all mandatory meal and rest breaks, and keep accurate records of employee hours worked.”

    A New York resident might wonder why a California based company that does not operate a single licensed facility within the district of Senator Savino (who is also vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee) would be her second largest donor (Senator Savino’s largest donor is her own Diane J. Savino Campaign Committee). Moreover, why is Senator Savino listening to a company, accused of committing multiple wage and hour law violations, over the repeated statements of her own constituents and the Governor’s and Assembly’s statewide listening sessions who seek to ensure big businesses, especially those who are owned from outside of New York, do not create an oligopolistic market that shuts out locally owned small and medium sized businesses.

    Also quoted in the article, Mary Kruger, Executive Director of Roc NORML, said “We’re spending a lot of money on the black market right now and none of it is going back into the community,” regarding developing a Community Reinvestment Grant with tax money generated from an adult-use market in NY. And while some money from the illicit market is staying in communities, a majority of it is not, and the legislation must invest tax dollars into communities that have been directly targeted and harmed by the War on Drugs.

    While Nevada certainly has aspects that we can model after, Roc NORML, other activists organizations around the state, and allies in both the Senate and Assembly are in no way, shape, or form advocating to “copy and paste the Nevada model.”

    Assembly Members Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger sponsored the MRTA (Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act), companion legislation in the Assembly and Senate, introduced in 2017 to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult-use in NY. These Assembly members held listening sessions around NYS on this topic earlier this year, one of which Roc NORML was invited to speak at, are not in support of allowing the current medical license holders first dibs at the licenses. Nevada is currently in the middle of a costly lawsuit because of the way their licenses were distributed, has extremely restrictive home cultivation laws, which exclude almost all residents from being eligible for home cultivation, and doesn’t allow for on-site or public consumption; these are jusst some of the most important reasons why we urge NYS not to follow the Nevada model.

    As a consumer advocacy organization, alongside with other advocacy organizations around the state and allies in the Senate and Assembly, we firmly believe this legislation set to pass in April must include the following, non-negotiable points:

    • Restorative and reparative justice, which includes: proactively seal and expunge all low-level marijuana related offenses, at no cost to the victim; strategically promote diversity and equity within the industry, focused on the small business model and only allowing vertical integration licenses within micro-businesses; develop a Community Reinvestment Grants fund as a revenue source for new community based programs for communities that have been directly targeted and most harmed during the War on Drugs, created using 50% of the tax money generated from the adult-use market
    • Home Cultivation with Collective Gardening: allow home cultivation for 6 plants in flower, per individual, with provisions that allow collective gardening centers, promoting “incubators” or hubs where folks can go if they aren’t able to cultivate in their own home
    • On-Site Consumption: allow for businesses to obtain on-site consumption licenses, similar to how liquor licenses are distributed, giving the public a safe, legal, and social place to consume; excluding this from the law is unjust to consumers and medical patients who aren’t able to legally consume in their home

    All of these points, and more, were discussed in depth at the Marijuana Justice, Equity, Reinvestment conference earlier this week in Albany, hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance, which both Roc NORML Board of Directors and Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes were in attendance. These points were echoed by advocates, activists, and industry professionals from around the country during the conference, calling for the urgency to keep Justice, Equity, and Reinvestment at the forefront of this legislation.

    Feedback has been gathered from New Yorkers around the state through the Assembly hearings, as well as 17 listening sessions facilitated by the Governor. The feedback from New Yorkers across the state has not echoed the call to “copy and paste the Nevada model”, as Senator Savino has suggested we do. Instead, the call to action from New Yorkers has been to develop a model that is justice based and consumer focused, neither of which the Nevada model offers.

    Governor Cuomo has stated more than once that New York has waited to legalize cannabis for adult-use so we can learn from other states, and set the standard for other states around the country. This is our chance to do so and we need to learn from where other states have fallen short and make it better, not just “copy and paste” a flawed model.

    Take action now by going to rocnorml.org and:

    1. Take the survey on our homepage, conducted by NYS on cannabis consumption, to inform the legislation currently being written
    2. Under the Events section, RSVP for our statewide lobby day on March 27th, in partnership with Drug Policy Alliance and other organizations from around the state, to advocate for cannabis consumer rights in Albany
    3. Join our mailing list to stay updated on local cannabis news, events, hearings, and become a member of Roc NORML
  • by Madisen Saglibene, Executive Director of Las Vegas NORML June 30, 2018

    Despite recreational marijuana use being legal in Nevada, the 42 million annual visitors don’t have any options for a place to consume. State law doesnt allow public consumption, and casinos and hotels have banned cannabis on their properties. In fact, claims have been made that Las Vegas security personnel have been very forceful and militant regarding public consumption despite confusion on behalf of the tourists.

    I thanked the City Attorney’s office on Wednesday for their leadership on the proposed social use venue ordinance. “Though the majority of intentions throughout this process today are revenue seeking, NORML views it as a form of social justice, and for this we thank you.”

    The ordinance would allow the City of Las Vegas to issue Business Licenses specifically known as “Social Use Venues”, which would allow people to bring in their own cannabis to consume. This ordinance would also allow patrons to purchase alcoholic beverages of up to 11%, but the space needs to be fully enclosed and utilize strict air filtration regulation, making it so no special event permits can be given. Las Vegas is, however, one of the few U.S. cities to allow cigarette smoking indoors still to this day.

    With a team of 7 in bright green, Nevada NORML advocated that cannabis consumers should not be forced behind enclosures, nor should they be subjected to a 24 hour live stream of their activities fed directly to law enforcement. Though the city was quick to respond that this was a safety measure that would only be utilized in certain circumstances, Saglibene told them a warrant should need to be obtained for the footage.

    City Attorney, Bryan Scott made it clear the proposed ordinance is only the first draft and will undergo many changes before it is approved. Skeptics say that the inclusion of alcohol will be a hard sell to voters on the committee.

    NORML volunteer Madison Rodgers inquired about how proposed federal legislation could impact this ordinance if passed, “Are you familiar with the STATES act?” The answer from all parties holding the meeting, was no.

    Last year, Las Vegas NORML made several attempts to ask the City of Las Vegas and the Convention & Visitors Authority to put information on their website to educate visitors on the laws to create less confusion, and ultimately arrests. After all, we can’t rely on dispensaries to tell the customers that there is nowhere for them to consume that product legally. The requests from both agencies were ignored, and almost a year after the program has gone into effect, there is still no public information available to our tourists through those channels. Public consumption in Las Vegas is punishable by $600 and could still result in being arrested. Though local law enforcement has been instructed to only issue citations in most situations, there have been more arrests for public consumption made already this year compared to last.For more information, please follow Las Vegas & Nevada NORML on Facebook & Instagram.

    Click on the image above to watch the live stream! NORML begins at about 55 minutes.

  • by NORML May 2, 2018

    Maine lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to override Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of LD 1719; the enactment of the legislation establishes a framework for the retail sale of marijuana to adults, but also amends numerous provisions of the 2016 voter-approved measure — including those specific to home grow limits and taxation.

    Specifically, LD 1719 limits the number of mature plants an adult may cultivate at home from six to three. The measure also repeals language permitting the establishment of social-use facilities, and increases the excise tax rates on the sale of wholesale marijuana products. It also makes it easier for communities that wish to ban adult use operations to do so.

    However, the measure also permits state regulators for the first time to move forward with the establishment of rules permitting for the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Legislators anticipate that it will be until 2019 before these facilities are operational.

    Governor LePage, an ardent opponent of the 2016 initiative, vetoed LD 1719 last week, opining that he, “in good conscience cannot support a law that, on its face, violates federal law.” The Governor had previously vetoed a less conservative implementation bill last November. That bill did not amend home cultivation limits and did not outright ban social use establishments.

    NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano expressed mixed emotions about the law’s passage. “On the one hand, we are grateful that regulators can now — after months of undue delay — finally begin moving forward with the process of licensing adult use marijuana sales and regulating this retail market. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that lawmakers felt it necessary to amend and repeal other important provisions of Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Act, in what ultimately was futile effort to curry favor with the Governor,” he said. “At the end of the day, this measure is far from consistent with the language that the majority of voters approved at the ballot box.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 30, 2018

    Long-term exposure to cannabis smoke is not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function, according to clinical data published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases.

    A team of investigators led by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health assessed the relationship between marijuana use and respiratory function and symptoms in a cohort of 2,300 subjects ages 40 to 80, many of whom also smoked tobacco.

    Authors reported, “Neither current nor former marijuana use was associated with increased risk of cough, wheeze, or chronic bronchitis when compared to never marijuana users after adjusting for covariates. … Current and former marijuana smokers had significantly higher FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) … when compared to never users. … Both current and former marijuana use was associated with significantly less quantitative emphysema … when compared to never users, even after adjusting for age, … current tobacco smoking pack years, and BMI. … In agreement with other published studies, we also did not find that marijuana use was associated with more obstructive lung disease.”

    The long-term combined use of tobacco and cannabis also was not found to be associated with any additive adverse effects on the lungs. Authors concluded, “Among older adults with a history of tobacco use, marijuana use does not appear to increase risk for adverse lung function. … There may be no to little increased risk of marijuana use for a further increase in respiratory symptoms or adverse effects on lung function among those with a history of concomitant tobacco use.”

    Prior longitudinal studies assessing the effects of long-term cannabis smoke exposure on lung function have similarly reported that subjects’ marijuana use history is not positively associated with increased incidences of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, or with other significant detrimental effects on pulmonary function.

    Full text of the study, “Marijuana use associations with pulmonary symptoms and function in tobacco smokers enrolled in the subpopulations and intermediate outcome measures in COPD Study (SPIROMICS),” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 2, 2018

    Legalization in DCNeither the occasional nor the heavy use of marijuana by adolescents is associated with decreased motivation, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.

    A team of Florida International University researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis use and motivation in 79 adolescent subjects. Participants consisted of both long-term regular consumers and occasional users. Investigators assessed subjects’ motivational tendencies through the use of two validated tools, the Apathy Evaluation Scale and the Motivation and Engagement Scale.

    Authors reported: “After controlling for confounds, no significant differences were observed between regular and light users on any motivation index. Similarly, no associations between motivation and lifetime or past 30-day cannabis use amount were observed.”

    They concluded, “Our findings do not support a link between reduced motivation and CU among adolescents after controlling for relevant confounds.”

    An abstract of the study, “Is cannabis use associated with various indices of motivation among adolescents?”, appears here.

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