Cannabis Headed for Legalization at
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced on New Year’s Eve that his office has expunged almost a half-million cannabis-related arrest records and has issued pardons for almost 10,000 low-level cannabis related offenses. What a marvelous way to start 2021 – the year that will see federal cannabis prohibition come to an end.
The actions by the Governor of Illinois are not an isolated event. Pardons and expungements are happening throughout the county as more and more states legalize cannabis.
In 2011, the year before Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize cannabis, there were 757,969 arrests for marijuana. In 2019, there were 545,602, a decrease of almost 30%, but that is still more then all the arrests made for violent crimes. We still have a long way to go, but the numbers will continue to drop as more states embrace legalization.
Ending the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of millions of Americans for cannabis offenses is one of the major reasons I, and so many others, strongly supported and continue to support legalization efforts even though they are far from perfect.
With four more states legalizing cannabis in the 2020 elections, the light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter and brighter. The 2020 elections have brought us to the precipice of truly “freeing the weed” as with the Dems in control of the Senate there really is a really real chance that federal cannabis prohibition will come to an end this year.
The Senate's new majority leader, Chuck Schumer, has said, "Cannabis is now Schedule 1—which is to the point of absurdity to say marijuana is more dangerous than crack cocaine. It's crazy. So we decriminalize it, we deschedule it, and we incentivize and invest in states and local governments to create expungement programs."
The House passed the MORE act in Dec. 2020 which deschedules cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act bringing about the end to federal cannabis prohibition. It will now go to the Senate where Schumer, unlike former Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnel, will allow it to come up for a vote. It will pass because almost all Democrats and a significant number of Republican Senators support it. From there it goes to the desk of President Biden.
Biden is in favor of decriminalization and not legalization, but that’s OK as the MORE Act doesn’t actually legalize cannabis - it just takes the feds out of the picture by no longer criminalizing it. By taking the feds out of the picture, it allows the states to make the decision on whether cannabis should be legal within their borders or not. That is a position that Biden has publicly supported many times during the 2020 election. Further I imagine Biden will also sign it since our new VP, Kamala Harris, was THE chief sponsor of the MORE Act in the Senate.
One thing that is not mentioned often about the importance of ending federal cannabis prohibition is recognizing that whatever the United States does has a profound impact the world over. This is especially significant for those Asian and Middle East countries that are still executing people for cannabis crimes. The imprimatur of the U.S. on cannabis legalization will eventually lead to an end of their hideous actions towards their own citizens.
With federal cannabis prohibition ended, each individual state will decide to either legalize or keep criminal marijuana. Unfortunately, those that chose to legalize can set up whatever Rube Goldberg system of legalization they want to. It is now up to those who live in states where cannabis is still illegal to see to it that cannabis is legalized and when it is legalized, make sure that the legalization system that is set up is not so complex that it would be easier to open up a nuclear power plant then open a dispensary.
In California, state and local elected officials will no longer be able to cite its illegality under federal law as a reason they cannot allow the implementation of Prop. 64 and the cultivation, manufacture and distribution of cannabis in their jurisdictions.
With state and local governments suffering massive loss of tax revenues due to the COVID19 pandemic, elected officials are desperately looking for new sources of revenue. Nothing changes minds faster than $$$. The lure of replacing some of those lost tax dollars with cannabis dollars will transform the mind of even the most reefer madness addled politician. It certainly has changed the minds of many California voters as 33 cities and counties that had formerly prohibited cannabis businesses passed ordinances during the November elections allowing them.
Although I thoroughly believe cannabis should be treated like caffeinated beverages, it is likely to have a byzantine system of complex and opaque regulations that makes the system regulating alcohol and tobacco seem like a Libertarian’s dream.
I know people complain that marijuana is not alcohol and not tobacco and that its regulation should not be so stringent. I only wish cannabis would be regulated like alcohol and tobacco.
If cannabis was as easily available and as cheaply available as alcohol and tobacco is, we would be ecstatic. Imagine walking down to your neighborhood convenience store to get your cannabis. Imagine going to big grocery stores and big box stores and they are all selling cannabis in competition with each other. Some might even offer cannabis as a loss leader to get you into the store knowing that you are very likely to purchase other items to enjoy your cannabis with.
My goal for cannabis legalization has always been when I can go to Costco and buy my cannabis. At Costco, it will be reasonably priced and good quality, although you will have to purchase a kilogram at a time. But that’s ok as it will come broken into packages of a dozen different strains which probably means there will be a drawer at home full of packages of that one strain you don’t like.
Most importantly, especially from the affordability angle, is that farmers will be able to grow cannabis like any other agricultural crop. When they are able to do that and grow hundreds and thousands of acres of cannabis, prices will come tumbling down to levels that the taxes will be, like a lot of alcohol products and almost all tobacco products, the biggest part of the purchase price. Cannabis selling for $25 a pound, before taxes, would be an entirely reasonable price providing a fair profit for growers, manufacturers and distributors. After all, what other agricultural crop sells for $25 a pound – especially in its natural unprocessed state?
With the end of federal prohibition, we have the opportunity to make this happen, but this cannabis nirvana is not going to be served up to us on a silver platter. We have to be active to shape the coming changes to cannabis accessibility.
I know many of you are concerned about big businesses and conglomerates taking over the cannabis industry. It is a legitimate concern and they will be there with big bucks representing their business interests, but who will be representing yours?. Who is going to be lobbying your city councils and county boards if you don't?
That's where you come in. You need to be involved - you need to contact your local officials to see to it that when cannabis comes to town, it comes in a way that benefits the consumer. Call them, email them and most importantly go to the City Council and County Board of Supervisors meetings and let them know how the ordinances allowing cannabis business and home cultivation should be written. I have seen it time and time again - when enough citizens show up at these meetings - they listen and then they act to get done what needs to be done so they will vote for them in the next election.
We need to coordinate and work with other cannabis organizations on the state level to make sure state regulations and taxes don’t financially strangle but rather promote consumers access to cannabis. We need to go to Sacramento and lobby our state Assembly members and Senators to make the needed changes to Prop. 64 so that we do indeed have cannabis nirvana in California.
More and more cities and counties are opting to allow the cannabis business provisions of Prop. 64 to take effect. Even more will join in when federal prohibition comes to an end. I know many of you want to see cannabis cultivation, manufacture and distribution take place in your local communities along with reasonable home cultivation regulations. I am here to help you with that, so contact me if you are ready to roll up your sleeves to make cannabis safely, reliably, legally, locally and AFFORDABLY accessible.
A Holistic Outreach to Veterans at Sat. Feb. 6 MAPP Virtual Meeting
Two veterans’ organization that promote the use of cannabis as part of their programs providing health services to veterans will be featured at the 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 virtual MAPP meeting.
A Future for Veterans Foundation is developing a program called SPACE (Safe, Predictable, Affordable, Collegiate Environments) to empower veterans in the development of their mental and physical well being by providing housing, education, job assistance and peer support counseling to military veterans.
Veterans Walk and Talk is a community of veterans who advocate for outdoor and psychedelic therapy utilizing exercise, cannabis, psychedelics and community to enable veterans to take control of their health journey.
Alex De La Campa, the founder of A Future for Veterans Foundation will discuss how his organization ensures that charities like Veterans Walk and Talk and Operation Evac have a fiscal 501c3 sponsor for their hikes and peer support groups. His presentation will include information on veterans' transitional housing programs as well as their work with the tech community in the development of AI to facilitate veteran reintegration.
A veteran of Afghanistan having served in the Army Infantry, Colin Wells is the founder of Veterans Walk and Talk. Formed in 2016, there are now VWAT chapters all over the country. Facilitating psychedelic and cannabis medicines for VWAT members, he will be discussing their cannabis related programs that employ and empower veterans in the legal cannabis space, enhance wellness programs and relate personal anecdotes that illuminate how cannabis benefits veterans on many different levels.
Luna Stower, CEO/Founder of Luna Stower Marketing, LLC will share her experience as a liaison helping to provide cannabis to veterans utilizing SB34 and Prop. 64 via the Bloom Network's Compassion Program, Fiorello Brands' partnership with A Future for Vets and Jetty Extracts Shelter Project for Cancer Patients.
The Saturday, Feb. 6 virtual MAPP meeting at 1 p.m. is free and done entirely on the phone – no need for a computer, internet connection, camera and all the other Internet paraphernalia needed to attend a virtual meeting. The MAPP virtual meeting is truly come as you are. To hear and speak with Alex, Collin and Luna this Sat. Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. call 701-802-5390 and enter the access code 2545046#.
Want to help MAPP? Consider joining our 420 Club and make an effortless donation of $4.20 each month or make a one-time donation. Your support would be gratefully appreciated.
Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project
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