California Lawmakers Use Cryptocurrency To Buy Marijuana From Dispensary

California Lawmakers Use Cryptocurrency To Buy Marijuana From Dispensary

Original Post: Marijuana Moment: California Lawmakers Use Cryptocurrency To Buy Marijuana From Dispensary

[Canniseur: Using cryptocurrency for cannabis transactions is a great stop-gap solution, or perhaps a permanent solution, for cash banking concerns. This really is the 21st-century solution for our industry.]

Two city councilmembers in California became the first elected officials to use cryptocurrency to purchase marijuana from a dispensary—at least publicly—on Tuesday.

Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett and Emeryville City Councilmember Dianne Martinez visited the Ohana Cannabis shop in Emeryville to demonstrate how the technology can reduce transaction fees and improve financial transparency.

The technology they used, called stablecoin, is a form of digital currency that has “price stable characteristics” linked to the U.S. dollar, meaning the sale and tax proceeds were settled in a way that’s consistent with cash.

Blockchain Advocacy Coalition, which is backing the technology, is advocating for legislation that would enable local jurisdictions in California to “determine and implement a method by which a licensee under [the state’s legal cannabis program] may remit any city or county cannabis license tax amounts due by payment using stablecoins.”

“By providing a cash-free method of cannabis tax collections, AB 953 can reduce costs and safety risks for cities and businesses,” Bartlett said in a press release. He added that the marijuana industry is “a 21st-century industry” that “deserves 21st-century legislation.”

“Tax collections leveraging stablecoin technology will help bring this new industry into the light.”

In a photo taken at the dispensary, Bartlett is holding up a pamphlet for VetCBD, a low-THC, high-CBD tincture that’s used to treat conditions such as anxiety and pain in pets. It’s not clear what Martinez purchased from the shop.

The bill to provide for alternative payment options at marijuana businesses is timely given that federal prohibition has made banks skittish of servicing such companies and results in many firms operating on a largely cash-only basis—an issue that has captured the attention of federal regulators and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress.

In California, legislation that would allow credit unions to accept cannabis business clients was pulled by its sponsor on Tuesday. Sen. Bob Herzberg (D) said he plans to reintroduce the bill next year.

“We are thrilled to build technology that solves real problems for customers, merchants, and politicians which will help usher in the next 100 million users of crypto,” said Dan Schatt, co-founder of Cred and the Universal Protocol Alliance, which developed the stablecoin technology, said.

“Not only does crypto result in significant cost reduction for consumers and merchants, but it also enables highly productive tax collection, transparency, and predictability for city and state governments,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Twitter/Rigel Robinson.

California Lawmakers Use Cryptocurrency To Buy Marijuana From Dispensary was posted on Marijuana Moment.

GOP Senator Wants Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Dangers Before Fixing Banking Issue

GOP Senator Wants Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Dangers Before Fixing Banking Issue

Original Post: Marijuana Moment: GOP Senator Wants Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Dangers Before Fixing Banking Issue

[Canniseur: There ought to be a way to stop these old dinosaurs with old data points from dragging out the legislative process simply because they can’t learn current facts. The dinosaurs are around, but they won’t be forever. But really? The gateway drug thing really has to be put to rest.]

Forcing marijuana businesses to operate on a largely cash-only basis is “a real threat,” anti-legalization Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) acknowledged in a recent interview. But the Senate should first hold a hearing on the “public health consequences” of ending cannabis prohibition before advancing legislation to resolve the financial services problem, he said.

Speaking at a Hudson Institute event on combating transnational crime last month, Cornyn first talked generally about conflicting state and federal marijuana laws and expressed concerns about THC potency in products available in state-legal markets.

“I think the mixed messages that we’re seeing as a result of the federal prohibition on marijuana possession, sales and transportation, and then the lack of enforcement at the state level because of initiatives taking place in those states that broaden the use from, let’s say, medical marijuana—whatever that is—to recreational, to other types of things. I think, you know, young people could understandably be confused about that,” he said.

The senator said he wants to hold a hearing before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, which he co-chairs, on the health impacts of legalization and specifically high-THC concentration products.

“It’s a new ballgame, with higher concentrations of the drugs, the challenges that brings to public safety, to individual mental health and also the consequences of being a gateway to some of these other drugs, certainly interacting with criminal organizations that peddle illegal drugs,” he said.

John Walters, the former White House drug czar and current chief operating officer of the Hudson Institute who led the discussion with Cornyn, brought up banking as an issue that could affect “the domestic expansion of marijuana.” He asked the senator what he thought of the prospects of passing a bill to fix the problem.

Cornyn said he recently spoke with Senate Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-ID), whose panel held a hearing on marijuana banking last month, and that he was aware of testimony outlining the issues posed by the current situation.

“There’s huge cash. And obviously, the danger of that from a corruption standpoint or just a public safety standpoint, that’s a real threat,” he said. “They’re actually beginning to explore whether there ought to be some sort of carve-out or some sort of accommodation made where the proceeds of this, quote, ‘legal’ business at the state level can somehow enter the banking system.”

Crapo “was expressing to me that that’s no easy task,” Cornyn said, adding that he told the chair about his desire to hold a separate hearing on the impact of legalization before proceeding with a banking fix.

“Let’s have this hearing on the public safety consequences so people can go into this with their eyes open,” the senator said.

Photo courtesy of YouTube/Hudson Institute.

GOP Senator Wants Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Dangers Before Fixing Banking Issue was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Top House Democrat Peddles Gateway Theory To Justify Marijuana Legalization Opposition

Top House Democrat Peddles Gateway Theory To Justify Marijuana Legalization Opposition

Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Top House Democrat Peddles Gateway Theory To Justify Marijuana Legalization Opposition

[Canniseur: Who is this guy? Actually, we know. And we know he’s a dinosaur. He’s a dinosaur who admits he’s not listening to his constituents. He’s listening to arguments from the 1960s. The arguments he’s presenting go beyond specious and he’s demonstrating he doesn’t know how to not conflate causation with correlation. We’re getting tired of this. We’re all getting tired of this.

The second highest ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives wrote on Monday that he remains wary of supporting the legalization of marijuana because he believes it is a gateway to “harder, very harmful drugs.”

In the letter from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), which was shared with Marijuana Moment by a constituent of the congressman, the top Democrat cited his record of embracing more modest cannabis reform proposals but stopped short of pledging to back adult-use legalization.

“I support the legalization of medical marijuana, as I am aware that it does have an ameliorating effect on pain and other circumstances that may be useful for patients,” he said, adding that he voted in favor of an amendment to protect medical cannabis states from federal interference. Hoyer more recently cast a vote for a measure that extends that protection to all legal marijuana states, though his letter does not mention it.

He also said he was in favor of Maryland’s decision to decriminalize marijuana possession in 2014, “as I do believe that there are too many non-violent offenders suffering in prison from a criminal conviction over possession.”

When Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke (D) first floated the idea of legalizing drugs as a means to curb drug-related violence and other issues related to prohibition in the late 1980s, Hoyer wrote that he was was “initially amenable” to cannabis legalization.

But in the decades since, he’s backpedalled—apparently so much so that he’s offering an argument against legalization in 2019 that even staunch prohibitionists have begun to distance themselves from.

“I still have concerns on this after speaking to people who deal with drug abuse and rehabilitation issues and particularly after learning of the drug’s harmful consequences as a threshold drug that leads to the use of harder, very harmful drugs,” Hoyer wrote, using alternative language to describe the widely criticized gateway drug theory.

Evidence doesn’t bear out the gateway theory, as it ignores the fact that marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance and would therefore logically be one of the first drugs that a person uses in many cases. It also conflates causation with correlation, as the same principle could be used to argue that any commonly used drug like nicotine or alcohol leads people to use substances like heroin or cocaine.

What’s more, a growing body of research has demonstrated that for some people, cannabis serves as an offramp, used as an alternative to addictive prescription medications and illicit drugs.

“Rep. Hoyer is showing himself to be a relic of a bygone era who is far out of touch with the majority of Americans on marijuana policy,” Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “Marijuana legalization and regulation has been proven, in the real world not in Hoyer’s imaginary one, to lead to a decrease in youth use and to help people struggling with opioid addiction.”

“By sticking to the long debunked myth of marijuana as a gateway drug, Hoyer is denying actual science and failing his constituents by advancing talking points straight from the Reefer Madness era,” Altieri said. “It is time he joined the rest of us on the right side of history or for his district to find new representation.”

Hoyer made similar remarks last year, acknowledging that voters are largely in favor of legalization and that it “probably makes sense” but stating that he’s “not so sure that it’s not a gateway drug to using other drugs.”

Robert Capecchi, the constituent who wrote to Hoyer about legalization, told Marijuana Moment that he while he doesn’t dislike the congressman and voted for him, “it’s incredibly disappointing to see opposition to cannabis policy reform—beyond accommodating medical cannabis laws—based on the debunked ‘gate-way theory,’ especially from one of the most senior members of Democratic Leadership.”

“I sincerely hope that Rep. Hoyer and other members of the House Democratic Leadership team take a page from their Judiciary Chair and start taking the need to reform our failed federal marijuana laws with the seriousness it deserves,” Capecchi wrote, referencing legislation Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced last month to federally deschedule cannabis.

Other Democratic leaders in Congress such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) are also on board with reform plans, with the pair having introduced companion bills to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act in May.

“This is not about use; people use and will continue to use cannabis regardless of federal law,” Capecchi said. “It’s about safety, it’s about equity, it’s about compassion, and it’s about responsible regulation and accurate education.”

At a time when numerous cannabis legalization bills are being filed and a majority of Democratic presidential candidates are vocally supporting broad reform, it’s unusual to see a party leader openly peddle what most consider an outdated and inaccurate theory, even if that position is couched in less familiar language (i.e. “threshold” versus “gateway”).

But it’s not entirely unheard of, as Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, similarly subscribes to the gateway drug theory and didn’t shy away from saying so during an appearance on C-SPAN last year.

Read Hoyer’s letter below: 

August 26, 2019

Dear Mr. Capecchi,

Thank you for your letter regarding the legalization of marijuana. I appreciate your taking the time to make me aware of your concerns on this important matter.

I support the legalization of medical marijuana, as I am aware that it does have an ameliorating effect on pain and other circumstances that may be useful for patients. In the past, I have voted for an amendment in the Commerce Justice and Science appropriations bill that would prevent the Federal Government from impeding on Maryland’s ability to implement its medical marijuana laws. I also supported the decision made by Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly in 2014 to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in Maryland as I do believe that there are too many non-violent offenders suffering in prison from a criminal conviction over possession.

As you may know, I was initially amenable to the idea of the legalization of marijuana when Kurt Schmoke was Mayor of Baltimore and advocating for drug decriminalization. However, in the 30 years since, I still have concerns on this after speaking to people who deal with drug abuse and rehabilitation issues and particularly after learning of the drug’s harmful consequences as a threshold drug that leads to the use of harder, very harmful drugs.

Should legislation regarding the legalization of marijuana come before the full House of Representatives, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me. I encourage you to visit my website at www.hoyer.house.gov. While there, you can sign up for the Hoyer Herald, access my voting record, and get information about important public issues. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

With kindest regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Steny H. Hoyer

Image element courtesy of Tim Evanson.

Top House Democrat Peddles Gateway Theory To Justify Marijuana Legalization Opposition was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Americans View Marijuana As Far Less Harmful Than Alcohol And Tobacco, Survey Finds

Americans View Marijuana As Far Less Harmful Than Alcohol And Tobacco, Survey Finds

Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Americans View Marijuana As Far Less Harmful Than Alcohol And Tobacco, Survey Finds

[Canniseur: I’m surprised, but not surprised, by these survey results. It’s an important survey with far reaching consequences. The brainwashing of America about cannabis seems to be mostly over. Marijuana is no longer the evil weed. There are other areas where the government is trying to sway our minds in what are perhaps nefarious ways and ideas, but cannabis is no longer one of them. The truth will always win. Sometimes it takes a while, in this case since 1937.]

Americans are twice as likely to say that alcohol is “very harmful” than say the same about marijuana, according to a survey released on Monday.

In fact, far more respondents described alcohol, tobacco and e-cigarettes—all legal, regulated products—as seriously dangerous. The number of Americans who said that tobacco cigarettes are “very dangerous” is more than three times the share who believe that about cannabis, which the federal government continues to classify as an illegal Schedule I substance.

Via Politico/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Asked to rate the harmfulness of the four products, only 26 percent said marijuana is very dangerous, whereas 27 percent said it was “somewhat harmful,” 26 percent said it is “not too harmful” and a surprising 18 percent said marijuana is “not harmful at all.”

Via Politico/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Compare that to alcohol, which is widely available and legal for adults 21 and older. About twice as many respondents (51 percent) said that alcohol is “very harmful” than did so for marijuana, and just two percent said alcohol isn’t dangerous at all.

Via Politico/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Tobacco cigarettes topped the list in terms of perceived harmfulness, with 81 percent stating that the product is very dangerous and just one percent contending that there’s no risk.

Via Politico/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The survey, which was produced by Politico and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and involved phone interviews with over 1,000 adults, also broke down responses by political affiliation. By and large, Republicans, Democrats and independents are in consensus in terms of how they perceive the harmfulness of each product.

For marijuana, 25 percent of Democrats said it is very harmful, while 26 percent of Republicans and independents said the same. Democrats and independents were equally likely to say that cannabis isn’t at all harmful (19 percent), compared to 14 percent of Republican respondents.

The poll reflects a trend that seems connected to legalization efforts across the country, which generally involve educational campaigns aimed at debunking drug war propaganda about marijuana and highlighting the relative safety of cannabis compared to legal, recreational substances.

At the same time that relatively few Americans regard marijuana as seriously harmful, perceptions of the immorality of using cannabis are also notably low, according to a separate survey released last year. Gallup found that 65 percent of respondents considered smoking marijuana “morally acceptable,” whereas fewer said the same about watching porn, the death penalty and cloning animals, for example.

But while perceptions of marijuana’s risks are declining, that hasn’t been associated with a corresponding increase in underage usage. That finding comes from a federally funded national survey that was published last week.

Federal Data Shows Youth Marijuana Use Isn’t Increasing Under Legalization

Photo courtesy of Rick Proctor.

The post Americans View Marijuana As Far Less Harmful Than Alcohol And Tobacco, Survey Finds appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

Americans View Marijuana As Far Less Harmful Than Alcohol And Tobacco, Survey Finds was posted on Marijuana Moment.

Here Are The Top 20 Most And Least Marijuana-Friendly U.S. Colleges

Here Are The Top 20 Most And Least Marijuana-Friendly U.S. Colleges

Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Here Are The Top 20 Most And Least Marijuana-Friendly U.S. Colleges

[Canniseur: It’s back to school time and the annual lists of most and least cannabis friendly colleges appear. Here’s one of the 2019 versions of the list.]

It’s back-to-school season, and as college students get ready to move into their dorms, some might be wondering about campus culture—including whether their school is marijuana friendly.

The Princeton Review is here to help. Besides ranking colleges overall each year, it also includes breakout sections offering ratings on a wide range of college features. For this year’s issue, the review guide looked at the top 20 universities where students use cannabis the most and least.

To compile the list, released earlier this week, Princeton Review asked 140,000 students at 385 schools a simple question: “How widely is marijuana used at your school?”

The results, for the most part, aren’t especially shocking. In general, marijuana is consumed most frequently at colleges located in states with looser cannabis laws, or more libertarian climates. Students are least likely to consume cannabis, according to the rankings, if they attend religious or military schools, or if the campuses are located in states with more restrictive cannabis policies.

Here are the most marijuana-friendly colleges: 

1. University of Vermont (Burlington, Vermont)

2. Pitzer College (Claremont, California)

3. University of Rhode Island (Kingston, Rhode Island)

4. Wesleyan University (Middletown, Connecticut)

5. Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, New York)

6. Reed College (Portland, Oregon)

7. University of Maine (Orono, Maine)

8. Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York)

9. Marlboro College (Marlboro, Vermont)

10. University of California at Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, California)

11. Warren Wilson College (Asheville, North Carolina)

12. Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, New York)

13. State University of New York, Purchase College (Purchase, New York)

14. Champlain College (Burlington, Vermont)

15. Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

16. University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, Colorado)

17. Ithaca College (Ithaca, New York)

18. University of Wisconsin at Madison (Madison, Wisconsin)

19. Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York)

20. Hamilton College (Clinton, New York)

Here are the least cannabis-friendly colleges:

1. United States Air Force Academy (USAF Academy, Colorado)

2. United States Military Academy (West Point, New York)

3. United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, Maryland)

4. College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, Missouri)

5. Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, California)

6. Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah)

7. Wheaton College (Wheaton, Illinois)

8. City University of New York, Baruch College (New York, New York)

9. Calvin University (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

10. Grove City College (Grove City, Pennsylvania)

11. City University of New York, Hunter College (New York, New York)

12. Baylor University (Waco, Texas)

13. Gordon College (Wenham, Massachusetts)

14. Hillsdale College (Hillsdale, Michigan)

15. Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, Illinois)

16. Stephens College (Columbia, Missouri)

17. University of Dallas (Irving, Texas)

18. Pepperdine University (Malibu, California)

19. Agnes Scott College (Decatur, Georgia)

20. Simmons University (Boston, Massachusetts)

Regardless of how much or little students at a given college consume marijuana, those who choose to partake could be at risk of losing the means by which they pay for their tuition. Drug convictions can lead to the loss of federal financial aid, which is why some lawmakers are pushing for legislation to protect such students from being denied access to education over a substance that is becoming legal in more and more places.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Here Are The Top 20 Most And Least Marijuana-Friendly U.S. Colleges was posted on Marijuana Moment.

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