legalization Archives - Green Market Report

Kaitlin DomangueKaitlin DomangueOctober 31, 2019
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4min2790

Bernie Sanders has released his cannabis legalization plan if he wins the presidential election in 2020. 

The senator has always been outspoken on his pro-cannabis views. It is interesting to note that Sanders’ Democratic competitor Joe Biden does not support any form of cannabis use. In fact, Biden was a huge driving force behind the War on Drugs during his time in the senate from 1973 to 2009. Sanders says the War on Drugs “has disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans.” 

Cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning the federal government categorizes it with other substances that have been shown to have a high potential for abuse as well as having no medicinal value. Under Bernie Sanders’ plan, he will take executive action to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. 

The Sanders’ administration says all past convictions will be expunged and ‘[they will] allow people with marijuana convictions to contact the state to ensure the list did not miss them. [The Sanders’ administration] will grant people with marijuana-related convictions an administrative remedy, if, after two years, the state has not taken action on their sentences and records.”

Bernie Sanders wants the revenue produced by legal cannabis sales reinvested into the communities that were most affected by the War on Drugs. They will do this [by creating] a $10 billion grant program to focus on businesses that are at least 51% owned or controlled by those in disproportionately impacted areas or individuals who have been arrested for or convicted of marijuana offenses. [They will also] provide formerly incarcerated individuals with training and resources needed to start their own businesses and worker-owned businesses, and guarantee jobs and free job training at trade schools and apprenticeship programs related to marijuana businesses.”

Ensuring that legalized cannabis does not turn into Big Tobacco is a priority for Sanders’ administration. Bernie Sanders says he will incentivize cannabis businesses to be structured like nonprofits. His administration will also prohibit products and labels that target those who are not old enough to consume cannabis legally, as well as banning companies that have created cancer-causing products. Big Tobacco has been guilty of advertising to children in the past using tactics like using popular hashtags to be part of social media conversations, putting their products in movies and video games, and making products that look and taste like candy. The presidential candidate says he does not want any tobacco companies participating in the cannabis industry. 

Bernie Sanders seems determined to create a booming and beneficial cannabis industry within the United States. His plan is a far cry from the United States’ current position when it comes to cannabis, so many are anxiously awaiting the rollout of his cannabis plan if he becomes president of the United States. 

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtSeptember 26, 2019
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9min2290
Editors Note: Readers can follow legislation AT NO COST on the website under the menu Legislation.
On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act 321-103. It was considered a historic event because this is the first standalone cannabis policy reform bill to ever reach a House floor vote. The legislation overwhelmingly passed with bipartisan approval.
The House of Representatives voted 321 to 103, representing 79% of the vote, in favor of HR 1595. The YES votes represented 99% of the Democratic majority caucus and 47% of the Republican minority caucus.
The bipartisan SAFE Banking Act (H.R.1595) was introduced by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Warren Davidson (R-OH), and it had 206 total cosponsors (including 108 original). The language’s goal was to address the state-legal cannabis industry’s lack of access to banking and other financial services. It provides a safe harbor from federal prosecution for financial institutions that offer services to state-legal cannabis businesses.
“We applaud the House for approving this bipartisan solution to the cannabis banking problem, and we hope the Senate will move quickly to do the same,” said Neal Levine, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation, which lobbied in support of the bill. “This vital legislation will have an immediate and positive impact, not only on the state-legal cannabis industry but also on the many communities across the nation that have opted to embrace the regulation of cannabis. Allowing lawful cannabis companies to access commercial banking services and end their reliance on cash will greatly improve public safety, increase transparency, and promote regulatory compliance.”

The next step is for the Senate to approve the legislation. That group has a companion version of the SAFE Banking Act (S.1200) that was introduced in April by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and a bipartisan group of 21 original cosponsors. It currently has 33 total cosponsors. Earlier this month, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) said his committee will take up the cannabis banking issue this year and is working on preparing a new bill.
“The SAFE Banking Act is about public safety, accountability and respecting states’ rights. Our federal banking laws were designed to prevent illicit activity and help law enforcement do their jobs. These laws need to be applied to legitimate marijuana businesses and employees in order to improve transparency and accountability and help root out illegal transactions. Most importantly, the SAFE Banking Act will get cash off our streets, reducing the risk of violent crime and making our communities safer,” said Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), who introduced the bill in this session. “While Congress has stuck its head in the sand for many years, this Committee has shown leadership on this issue and I want to thank my cosponsors and members of the Committee for their support.”
The Arcview Group CEO Troy Dayton said, “We are extremely encouraged by these cannabis reforms passed by the House. It would be a game-changer for this developing industry and we are hopeful that the Senate follows suit. Legal cannabis businesses, which employ more than 165,000 people, would finally be able to operate safely, develop and grow their businesses. This step forward begins to pave the way for legal, regulated cannabis businesses to open up a plethora of opportunities, which were previously unavailable. The measure would also have a profound, positive impact on the investment landscape, patients and consumers. For years, Arcview has been working towards and supporting this moment. We applaud the progress taken by our regulators and industry and look forward to more reforms being fully enacted.”
“We are extremely uplifted by the House vote on the SAFE Banking Act, but there is still work to be done,” said Andrew Berman, CEO of Harborside. “The Senate needs to swiftly act to adopt similar banking protections. In addition, Congress needs to approve the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act that would start to repair the damage done by the decades of prohibition.”

Evan Eneman, CEO of the MGO | ELLO National Cannabis Alliance said, “Many of our cannabis clients openly struggle to establish banking relationships, with many of their accounts previously being closed due to the stigma of prohibition. Passage of SAFE Banking in the House is a major step toward ensuring that banks can operate hand-in-hand with cannabis companies out in the open versus previous ‘behind closed door’ interactions.”

Commenting on next steps, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: “Today’s vote is a significant first step, but it must not be the last. Much more action will still need to be taken by lawmakers. In the Senate, we demand that lawmakers in the Senate Banking Committee hold true to their commitment to move expeditiously in support of similar federal reforms. And in the House, we anticipate additional efforts to move forward and pass comprehensive reform legislation like The MORE Act — which is sponsored by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — in order to ultimately comport federal law with the new political and cultural realities surrounding marijuana.”

Würk CEO Keegan Peterson said, “We are pleased with the House’s decision today. For too long, legal cannabis businesses have not had access to regular banking and payroll services they rely on to operate and grow their companies. The industry has been a job machine across many communities in the U.S. and now employs 250,000 Americans. Not having access to banking puts the incomes of these employees at risk and causes unnecessary financial challenges for business owners. We urge the Senate to follow the Houses’ lead and pass the SAFE Banking Act before the year is out.”

 


William SumnerWilliam SumnerNovember 20, 2018
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4min4790

Is the cost of legalized cannabis too high? According to one study commissioned by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, the answer is yes. Hoping to understand the impact of cannabis legalization fully, the study examined publicly available data in the state of Colorado, highlighting nine areas of interest. Those areas include health, productivity, traffic, crime, housing, environmental impact, cannabis tourism, homelessness, and pets.

According to the study, for $1.00 generated by Colorado’s cannabis industry, state residents spent approximately $4.50 to mitigate the costs of legalization. The most significant contributors to costs were related to the healthcare system and high-school dropout rates.

The study also highlights the dramatic rise in cannabis-related calls to the state Poison Control center, the correlation between cannabis use and those without a college degree, and the yearly estimated costs for cannabis users ($2,200 for heavy users, $1,250 for moderate users, and $650 for light users).

“Studies such as this show that the only people making money off the commercialization of marijuana are those in the industry who profit at the expense of public health and safety,” said Kevin Sabet, an ardent cannabis critic and president of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), in a statement.

While the study presents a damning portrait of cannabis legalization in Colorado, the study also relies on flawed estimates and simple correlations to arrive at many of its conclusions.

For example, when addressing the issue of cannabis addiction, researchers are keen on pointing out that the costs of treatment for cannabis addiction are approximately $31.4 million. However, what is not mentioned, although it is clearly presented in the study’s chart, is that the number of individuals admitted for treatment is the lowest it has been in 10 years.

Researchers also note that fewer cannabis users have a college degree (19%) when compared to non-users (27%). However, according to the study itself, on average recreational cannabis users have a slightly above average income ($60,000).

Furthermore, when calculating the potential cost of cannabis use among students, researchers take a specious approach. To come to their conclusion, researchers multiply the number of students who dropped out of high school and multiply it by the number of high school students who use marijuana and the cost of not earning a high school diploma. The study assumes that students who use cannabis will drop out of high school, ignoring all other mitigating factors or the fact that Colorado’s high school graduation rates are at an eight year high.

In the absence of long-term data, studies like the one commissioned by the Centennial Institute will remain inherently flawed; highlighting the need for extensive, peer-reviewed studies into the actual effects of legalizing adult-use cannabis in the United States.


William SumnerWilliam SumnerNovember 6, 2018
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7min5340

Today, millions of Americans will head to the polls to cast their vote in the U.S. 2018 Midterm Elections. As is often said, many are calling this one of the most important elections in a generation; and for the cannabis industry, it might actually be true.

On the ballot in four U.S. states are measures that are measures that would legalize either adult-use or medical cannabis in some shape or fashion. Those four key states are Michigan, North Dakota, Utah, and Missouri. Here’s a quick look at each ballot initiative and their odds of successfully passing.

Michigan

Resident in Michigan will be voting on Proposal 1, a ballot initiative legalizing cannabis for adults over the age of 21. If passed, the measure will allow adult-use cannabis sales through state-licensed dispensaries and, levy a 10% excise tax, and allow individuals to grow up to 12 cannabis plants for personal use. Current polling for the measure shows strong support among likely Michigan residents, with approximately 57% of respondents in favor of the measure and 40% opposed.

North Dakota

Similarly, Proposition 3 in North Dakota would legalize adult-use cannabis sales and cannabis paraphernalia for adults over the age of 21. Unlike previous legalization measures, Proposition 3 would expunge the criminal record for every individual arrested for cannabis possession, provided that they were over the age of 21 when the arrest took place. Skewing uniquely Libertarian, the measure is largely silent on cannabis sales, home cultivation, or possession limits. Polling has been all over the place with Proposition 3, with some polls showing it passing by 51% while others have the measure only garnering 26% of the vote. Given the erratic polling, this race is truly a toss-up.

Utah

In Utah, Proposition 2 would somewhat legalize medical cannabis for patients suffering from debilitating conditions. Instead of creating a taxed and regulated dispensary-based system, Proposition 2 would allow patients to obtain medical cannabis through a designated caregiver. Earlier this year support for Proposition 2 was relatively high, but in the intervening weeks before the election, support for the measure has waned to around 51%. Aggravating this declining support is the fact that patient advocates and Utah state legislators have already agreed to make changes to the legislation once passed, which has rankled cannabis supporters. Proposition 2 is still expected to pass, but what that means for patients or the industry is still unclear.

Missouri

There are three cannabis initiatives on the ballot in Missouri; Amendment 2, Amendment 3, and Proposition C. As the names imply, Amendment 2 and 3 would enshrine medical cannabis laws into the state’s constitution while Proposition C would merely change the law. All three measures would legalize medical cannabis, establish state dispensaries, and tax medical cannabis sales. For the most part, the only key differences are how high the taxes are and where they are distributed. The measure which has the most support is Amendment 2, and many outside observers expect that it will be the one to pass out of the three. Unlike the other two, Amendment 2 would allow patients to grow up to six plants and patients could grow up to 18 plants. Polling for this initiative has been somewhat spotty, with most simply asking about the public’s general support for cannabis. However, the most recent poll from Emerson College found that 63% of state residents supported legalizing medical cannabis; indicating that all three measures have a strong chance to pass.

With the exception of the toss-up in North Dakota, all of the proposed cannabis initiatives show strong signs that they will pass; giving many in the cannabis industry a feeling of cautious optimism. In a statement, Kevin Love, Director of Product Development for Cannabiniers, said that his company feels confident in the outcome of this upcoming election.

“We are optimistic for the election outcomes due largely in part to the fact that there are more candidates running in favor of cannabis reform than ever before,” said Love. “General public support of cannabis legalization is the greatest that it has ever been. As we bring our cannabis brands nationally, we are excited for more states to expand access to legal cannabis.”


William SumnerWilliam SumnerJuly 24, 2018
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3min8121

The United States stands to gain hundreds of billions of dollars by ending the federal war on drugs. This is according to a new report released by the Cato Institute which found that the federal government could generate billions of dollars in savings and revenue by taxing and legalizing drugs across the board.

To come to this conclusion, the report author first estimated how much local, state, and federal authorities spend annually on drug enforcement. State and local government spend approximately $29 billion on drug enforcement annually, while the federal government spends approximately $18 billion; representing a total of $47 billion.

The author then estimated the amount of potential tax revenue that could be generated if the government legalized drugs. According to the report, state and local governments would reap $19 billion while the federal government would net approximately $39 billion; which totals to $58 billion.

When combined with the savings from ending drug enforcement, the U.S. would generate approximately $106.7 billion annually. Although the political will to legalize all drugs in the U.S. is virtually non-existent, this report does have some interesting implications for cannabis legalization.

According to the report, state and local government spend approximately $6.04 billion every year on cannabis prohibition. The federal government spends a little more than half of that figure, or $3.96 billion. In total, local, state, and federal authorities spend a combined $10 billion on cannabis prohibition alone.

If the U.S. legalized cannabis, the federal government could generate an additional $8 billion, while states would take in another $4 billion. When combined with the savings from ending prohibition, cannabis legalization could save/generate the government approximately $22 billion annually.

However, there is a caveat to that figure. Further down in the Cato report, the author found that states with legalized cannabis saw little reduction in law enforcement expenditures; despite the fact that there were fewer arrests. One possible explanation put forward is that the resources dedicated to cannabis enforcement were simply shifted elsewhere.

Regardless, even when you disregard the savings in law enforcement, the government still stands to gain an additional $14 billion in tax revenue if cannabis is legalized. Lawmakers may continue to ignore public opinion or the humanitarian crisis created by the war on cannabis, but one thing they won’t ignore is money, and legalizing cannabis makes a lot of dollars and sense.

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtJune 29, 2018
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4min6312

Back in January, Vermont became the first state to legalize adult-use cannabis through legislative action versus the ballot box. That law, H. 511 will take effect on Sunday, July 1.

“Vermonters are ready to end marijuana prohibition,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which has been lobbying in Vermont since 2003. “Gov. Scott and the Legislature deserve a great deal of credit for listening to their constituents and moving forward with this first phase of legalization. Adults shouldn’t be punished for using a substance less harmful than alcohol, and starting July 1 they no longer will be in the Green Mountain State.

The new law will make it legal for adults to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana. Retail sales and commercial growing will not take place at this tie. Instead, a governor-appointed task force is going to make recommendations about retail sales and commercial cultivation. A final report is expected by November 15. A newly elected legislature will consider that proposal when it convenes in January. There will be separate legislation in order to set some rules around regulating marijuana like alcohol.

“A regulated market will create jobs and spur economic development, giving young adults a reason to stay in Vermont rather than seeking opportunities in other states,” Simon said. “It will also produce much-needed tax revenue that can be used for substance abuse treatment and prevention. Most Vermonters understand that eliminating penalties is only the first step in ending marijuana prohibition, and they expect legislators to finish the job in 2019.”

According to MPP, H. 511 reads as follows:

Allow Adults to Possess and Cultivate Limited Amounts of Cannabis

Adults 21 and older will be allowed to:

  • Possess up to one ounce of marijuana or five grams of hashish;
  • Cultivate up to two mature and four immature plants in a secure location (the plant limit applies to the entire dwelling unit); and
  • Possess the marijuana produced by the plants at the same secure location. 

Send Younger People to Diversion for Growing a Small Number of Plants

  • Cultivation of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants by a person under 21 will be downgraded to a civil offense, punishable by diversion and enrollment in the Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program.

The new law does not keep cities from creating additional penalties for public consumption or change the law on driving under the influence. It also won’t limit schools from creating additional penalties and it won’t prevent landlords from prohibiting cannabis in a lease.

“Now that marijuana is legal for adults, it’s time for the state to get serious about regulating it and ensuring it is being produced and sold safely and legally.”


StaffStaffJune 27, 2018
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4min10470

Oklahoma became the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana after voters approved State Question 788 on Tuesday. The measure was leading 56-44 with 85 percent of precincts reporting when the New York Times called the election. According to StateImpact Oklahoma, The Oklahoma State Department of Health has already begun drafting rules for a Medical Marijuana Control Program.

“The passage of State Question 788 highlights the strength and diversity of public support for laws allowing the medical use of marijuana,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project.Most Oklahomans agree that patients should be able to access medical marijuana safely and legally if their doctors recommend it. It is noteworthy that this measure passed in such a red state during a primary election when voter turnout tends to be older and more conservative than during a general election.”

MPP said that State Question 788 is the fourth medical marijuana initiative in a row to win in a state that went for Donald Trump, and that number could grow to as many as six by the end of the year. They were approved in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota in 2016, and they will appear on ballots in Missouri and Utah this November.

O’Keefe added, “We are pleased to see state officials are already working on developing a regulatory framework for medical marijuana, and we hope they will include patients, advocates, and other stakeholders in the process. It is important that patients have reliable access to the products that work best for their conditions. Oklahoma officials can learn a lot from the successes and shortcomings of other states’ programs, and hopefully, they will create a system that will serve as an example for other states in the region.”

Opposition

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) said that there was a strong and well-funded effort from opponents to the referendum in the months before the vote.

“In spite of a well-financed and misleading opposition campaign, Oklahoma voters proved that medical cannabis is no longer a controversial issue by enacting a sensible law at the ballot box tonight,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the NCIA. “We applaud Oklahoma for joining the growing list of states that allow patients to legally access the medicine that works for them.”


William SumnerWilliam SumnerJune 8, 2018
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3min8200

The prospect of legalized cannabis in North America just got a little bit brighter. On June 7, 2018, the Senate voted to approve Bill C-45, a measure legalizing recreational cannabis in Canada. The measure will now go to the House of Commons for a final vote.

If approved, the potential financial effect could be tremendous. A recent report released by Stifel Financial estimated “a total medical market opportunity of $1.3 billion CAD and a recreational opportunity of $8 billion CAD (retail sales).” Additionally, the report found that the wholesale market opportunity for licensed producers could reach as high as $5 billion CAD.

With the majority of the House controlled by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, which successfully campaigned on cannabis legalization in 2015, the odds of Bill C-45 passing are quite high. However several amendments to the measure made by the Senate, such as allowing provinces to ban personal cultivation, could slow down the legislative process.

Speaking with The Toronto Star, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said that once passed, it would take upwards of two to three months to implement the new law.

In the United States, President Donald Trump stated that he would most likely support a bipartisan bill, introduced by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, that would essentially end the federal war on cannabis.

“I support Sen. Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing; we’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes,” Trump told reporters, as quoted by NPR.

Under the proposed legislation, the Controlled Substances Act would be amended to allow states to write their own cannabis laws without fear of federal interference. The apparent support offered by President Trump breaks with the position of his Attorney General, Jeff Session, who has been an ardent opponent of legalized cannabis and most recently rescinded the long-standing Cole Memo; which was put in place by then-President Barack Obama.



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