Should We Be Disappointed by the Pace of Federal Marijuana Law Reform?

Should We Be Disappointed by the Pace of Federal Marijuana Law Reform?

Original Article: Marijuana Times: Should We Be Disappointed by the Pace of Federal Marijuana Law Reform?

[Canniseur: This is a good and reasoned explanation about why we haven’t reformed cannabis laws at the national level. It’s still infuriating to me however. Cannabis laws were enacted for racist reasons, not for reasons of science. People in the 1930s were afraid that black people were getting to ‘uppity’ along with the Mexicans and you’ve got to remember the ‘entertainers’.  Especially those jazz musicians. While the origins of the anti cannabis laws were based in racism, they’re institutionalized now and we need to move past the laws. It’s not a fast nor easy process.]

I’m a cynical person by nature. I try to fight against this – you can see me struggle with it almost daily on our video news show Cannabis News – for a few reasons. One is that I just don’t want to be that person. Cynicism can be healthy, but can quickly reach toxic levels if you’re not careful.

Another reason is that no one wants to hear constant negativity; it’s boring at best and maddening at worst. No one wants to tune into a video cast 5 days a week to hear someone tell them how much everything sucks. They want information, entertainment and some knowledge on how they can help advance the cause of cannabis law reform.

One of the main areas I have to fight my cynical nature so hard is federal marijuana law reform. Besides having absolutely no confidence in the abilities of people who run for and win federal office, I don’t trust them as far as I can spit, to borrow a down-home turn-of-phrase. These are the people that will lead us to salvation? I doubt it.

See what I mean? I have to fight that, because to be quite frank, they have to get the job done. No one else can legalize marijuana on a federal level except for federal lawmakers and officials. There is no plan B or appeals. They get it done or it does not get done.

So what should be done by the rest of us? I would submit that we have to focus on positive movements and push on all fronts for the rest. Celebrate little victories while never being satisfied with them.

“As an advocate who has been working on marijuana policy reform for nearly 20 years, I am pleased with the increased rate of legislative action in the House, but I could be more pleased,” Don Murphy, Director of Federal Policies for The Marijuana Policy Project, told The Marijuana Times. “We’ve had hearings on veteran’s access and banking, and more and more members are asking cannabis related questions of witnesses regardless of the hearing topic. (See Homeland Security, Attorney General, Treasury Secretary) I would be more pleased if those bills (or the dozens that have been filed) had made it to the Senate, or even the House Floor. To use a football analogy, we’re still in the first quarter of the term, so I’ll reserve judgement for about a year. Of course if I was a terminally ill patient, or one of the thousands of people who will be arrested tomorrow, I would not be happy.”

Progress is good, but what we have so far is not nearly enough. As I’ve said many times before, trouble in the Senate and even from the White House is to be expected, but with the expulsion of Pete Sessions and the Democrat takeover of the House, one would be forgiven for wondering why there have been zero floor votes for marijuana bills in the lower chamber.

An obvious roadblock would be the almost constant battle for positioning between President Trump and the Democrats. When you’re focused on trying to destroy the careers of your political enemies, other considerations tend to fall through the cracks.

And, according to Don, Democrats should be wary of an end run on the issue from Republicans. “I should also point out that it was a Republican controlled House that passed the Rohrabacher (medical) amendment, and President Trump has indicated his support for a Tenth Amendment approach (STATES) to marijuana policy, so Democrats need to deliver something substantial or risk being compared unfavorably to the GOP,” he said.

Lawmakers have a lot on their plate to be sure, but advancing legislation is their job, after all. There is nothing wrong with asking why they are not doing it better while recognizing advancements have been made.

Original Article: Marijuana Times: Should We Be Disappointed by the Pace of Federal Marijuana Law Reform?

Marijuana and Religion

Marijuana and Religion

Original Article: Marijuana Times: Marijuana and Religion

[Canniseur: As we cede our personal sovereignty, we reduce our innate ability to think for ourselves. Whether or not we smoke weed, whether or not we do anything out of the mainstream of society, it’s our own personal business. Joe Klare takes on weed and religion.]

With a title like that, I’m sure many of you are expecting some 10,000 word dissertation on the complicated ramifications of combining the subjects of religion and cannabis. My apologies to those excited by the idea of such a read; you won’t find it here.

In fact, both subjects are pretty simple. How someone practices their religion and whether or not someone uses cannabis is absolutely, 100% not your business.

To be sure, there are many – especially in various levels of government – that want you to think those things are very much their business. So when these issues cross paths, lawmakers and law enforcement need you to believe that they have twice the reason to be involved…for the public good, of course.

With the International Church of Cannabis in Denver to a recent case against a Rastafari church in Wisconsin, we see two issues that are no one’s business landing on the radar of authorities.

Since March of this year, two Rastafari men in Madison, Wisconsin – Jesse R. Schworck and Dylan Paul Banger – have been handing out marijuana as a sacrament to parishioners of the Lion of Judah House of Rastafari church. The men claim religious freedom and, naturally, authorities in Madison disagree.

Unfortunately, the track record for using religious freedom arguments in cannabis prosecutions is not good, which highlights the problems of authorities getting involved in things they have no business being involved in to begin with. We have become so used to the idea that we need special permission from the government to do just about anything that very few people raise an objection to stories like these.

One day the notion that giving marijuana to another adult would be deemed a criminal offense will be seen as ludicrous, yet here we are. We must slowly claw and fight our way to get to that day, when most would agree that giving marijuana to someone should not be criminal.

Why is this? Why are we stuck in this slow slog through the muck of prohibition just to get back to the way things should have always been? Because long ago we, as a society in general, surrendered much of the decision-making in our lives to strangers, simply because they got the most votes. “This person got more votes than this person, so the first person must be really smart and they can decide whether or not I’m allowed to give someone else a plant because that decision is just too big for me.”

When you give someone else power over your life, more often than not they will take advantage of that., Almost every single time. In the end, marijuana prohibition is just a symptom of the disease that is the abdication of responsibility all of us participate in.

Original Article: Marijuana Times: Marijuana and Religion

Native American Tribes Look for Entry into the California Marijuana Market

Native American Tribes Look for Entry into the California Marijuana Market

Original Article: Marijuana Times: Native American Tribes Look for Entry into the California Marijuana Market

[Canniseur: Perhaps Native American tribes have the advantage here. I would choose traditionally grown, dry farmed cannabis, over a Monsanto brand any time. The U.S. needs to make allowances for tribal sovereignty.]

The rollout of adult use marijuana sales in California has garnered a lot of press attention due to the sheer size of the potential market. In the near future, there could be thousands of businesses operating in the cannabis market in the Golden State, generating tens of thousands of jobs or more. But not everyone in California can access the legal market, and those on the outside looking in aim to change that.

As things stand right now, Native American tribes within California can set their own marijuana policy on tribal land. They can allow marijuana sales, and cannabis businesses on tribal land can engage in commerce with businesses on other tribal land. But marijuana companies operating on tribal land cannot access the regulatory framework set up under Prop. 64 – the adult use legalization measure that California voters approved in 2016.

Read the rest of the story at Marijuana Times…

Original Article: Marijuana Times: Native American Tribes Look for Entry into the California Marijuana Market

Illegal Dealers Say the Black Market is Here to Stay

Illegal Dealers Say the Black Market is Here to Stay

Original Article: Marijuana Times: Illegal Dealers Say the Black Market is Here to Stay

[Canniseur: In the states that have legal adult use cannabis, except Oregon and Colorado, the black market is thriving. That won’t change until sensible laws and regulations are enacted by legislators and bureaucrats. It’s not all taxes. Study the end of prohibition and the end of bootleg liquor. It’s a corollary to the cannabis black market.]

While this is certainly a subject I’ve addressed before – multiple times – the task of education is never quite done, especially in the age of the Internet. Many still see the illegal market for cannabis as something that is just going to melt away because marijuana is legal in some places for some people. But marijuana legalization itself will not eliminate the black market; it simply allows the opportunity for circumstances to be created that will decimate the black market from an economic point of view.

For illegal dealers, the legal market represents competition. Right now, the competition is not that formidable as the legal market suffers from a myriad of problems like restricted supply, inflated prices and confusion over a patchwork of laws that change from state to state and sometimes city to city. In retail terms, think of the black market as Wal-Mart and the legal market as an up-and-coming retailer that has a few dozen stores in a few states. Judging just by the current circumstances, it’s easy to see that Wal-Mart is crushing its smaller competitor. But there was a time in the U.S. when Sears was the dominant retailer and Wal-Mart didn’t exist, which is to say, things are always changing in the marketplace – no matter what the industry.

What can a smaller competitor do to undercut a larger one? Many things, and when talking about the legal marijuana market versus the illegal one, something else comes into play: legal marijuana has the natural advantage of, well, being legal. If Wal-Mart was outlawed tomorrow, that smaller retailer would stand to benefit greatly.

So what does the legal market need to do to compete? The short answer is as much as lawmakers and politicians will allow them to do. Less restrictions and regulations and lower taxes will certainly go a long way toward lowering prices for legal businesses and helping them compete with the un-taxed illegal market. But nothing puts more downward pressure on prices than increased supply.

We have seen this concept in action in states like Colorado and Oregon. Increased supply – as in more places to buy legal marijuana in more locations and a better variety of products – will lower prices and do more to drive illegal dealers out of business than prohibition could ever hope to.

Currently, illegal dealers still have the advantage and they know it. They have had a huge head start in building a customer base, they have the best prices and – thanks to advancements in growing techniques and technology – the variety of products available on the black market is expanding.

But the legal industry is just getting started. How many legal growers and retailers will be in operation in the U.S. in five years? In ten?

Exponential growth in the legal supply will drive prices down, eventually undercutting most illegal dealers in operation. The black market will likely never be completely eliminated, but once a legal industry is fully functioning and holds 90%+ of the total cannabis market share, who will really care?

Original Article: Marijuana Times: Illegal Dealers Say the Black Market is Here to Stay

How Marijuana Exposes the Fallacy of “Government Expertise”

How Marijuana Exposes the Fallacy of “Government Expertise”

Original Article: Marijuana Times: How Marijuana Exposes the Fallacy of “Government Expertise”

[Editor’s Note: While I think what I think about this author, read this and make up your own mind. Interesting conclusions.]

I often write and talk about the ignorance of lawmakers when it comes to cannabis. We wonder how, in this day and age, someone can remain so in the dark when it comes to the actual effects of consuming and legalizing a plant.

To be sure, much of it is by choice. I read and write and talk about cannabis every single day and have done so for almost 9 years. But it doesn’t take anywhere near that level of effort to learn some basic facts about cannabis.

Other factors come into play, of course, like the inability to shed that which we were told in our youth and monetary compensation from those who benefit from the status quo – in this case, marijuana prohibition.

But under all of that, something else contributes to the amount of ignorance seen among so many lawmakers: the sheer amount of things they have been given power over.

Imagine being a member of the House of Representatives. Thousands of pieces of legislation will be introduced in the chamber every year and hundreds will get a floor vote. The bills will cover hundreds of subjects and affect thousands of industries. In many cases, there isn’t even time to read the bills that can be hundreds and even thousands of pages. The federal government has a hand in so many aspects of our daily lives that there is no way a lawmaker could know enough about every aspect to make an informed decision about it.

In this context, is it any wonder that a 70 year-old man who has been in Congress for 45 years knows very little about cannabis policy and its real world implications? Again, to be clear, there is no doubt greater effort to learn can be made from said lawmaker, but there is a limit to how much someone can retain, especially if they have no real interest in the subject.

Yes, federal representatives have staffs, but even under the best circumstances, the lawmaker is getting the opinion of that staff member after it has been distilled through what they may or may not know about a subject.

And while state lawmakers have less people to govern, it doesn’t mean they are involved in less aspects of daily life, especially in states with larger government involvement when it comes to what citizens do (like California). How can one lawmaker possibly know enough about the subjects covered by the bills they vote on and the regulations the stack up? In 2013, the Federal Code of Regulations was over 175,000 pages long, and it’s only grown since then. How many people in the federal government could really be considered an expert on the 175,000+ pages? And regulations are only part of what a lawmaker must decide on.

It would be great if lawmakers had time to learn more about the issues they vote on, but we have come to a point where the government is involved in so much that is it utterly impossible for them to have enough knowledge of each problem to make a well-informed decision.

Sadly, cannabis is often a subject that is put on the back burner as a priority for many politicians with limited time and interest.

Original Article: Marijuana Times: How Marijuana Exposes the Fallacy of “Government Expertise”

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