The Vermont House of Representatives committee that is considering the cannabis legalization bill approved by the state senate weeks ago will likely not vote on the issue before early April. Issues that legislators have expressed concerns over include teen use and highway safety. These concerns are becoming a common refrain throughout the nation as more and more states consider legalization. As mentioned in a previous post, the White House drug czar, Michael Botticelli recently painted a troubling picture of legal cannabis, highlighting the dangers to children.
That said, cannabis legalization is a popular concept. Opinion polls and an analysis of previous cannabis proposals in Massachusetts seem to suggest that an overwhelming majority of state citizens do or will support the current initiative, despite the warnings of the governor and legislators sent to investigate the Colorado pot industry. All their trepidation may have a hard time flying in the face of what could be a $1.1 billion industry by the next election cycle.
Polls in Michigan, meanwhile, show a 53% support for legalization in that state. Pro-legalization activists think this is an underestimate, pointing to the earlier medical marijuana initiative that passed by a margin that was ten points large than polls indicated.
In California, the legal cannabis industry industry has a new investor: publishing mogul Larry Flynt. His $100,000 investment in the cannabis service provider Pineapple Express was undoubtedly welcome for the startup, but his political muscle may be even more important to the legalization movement as a whole. With more and more support rallying to the AUMA, the RAND Corporationâ€™s Beau Kilmer explains what exactly would change in the state if it passes.
With buzzwords like â€œorganicâ€ and â€œlocally grown,â€ why shouldnâ€™t cannabis be easy to market?Â The answer has to do with long-standing and ingrained image problems. Popular political opinion can change, but will advertisers be able to brand pot?
And finally, the Supreme Court declared that quashing aÂ cannabis industry in one state because it causes law breaking in other states was well beyond its jurisdiction. But even pot advocates realize that the issue is far from settled.
More transparency for the state-licensed cannabis industry in Colorado seems like a good thing. But, with uncertainty over legal protection, many dispensary operators see it as a roadmap for criminals to target their businesses.
As the state house of representative considers an historic bill, Vermontâ€™s governor wants his state to take a smarter approach to cannabis legalization. Next door, state policy makers arenâ€™t so positive: More officials speak out against legalization in Massachusetts.
The Ohio Attorney General has said that another cannabis legalization proposal in that state isnâ€™t up to muster, citing issues with language and licensing requirements.
Fed up with the Liberal government, a petition in Canada for full legalization is gathering momentum. Hereâ€™s what some people think legalization could look like in Canada.
There seem to be plenty ofÂ pros and consÂ to legalization in California, butÂ here is what Gavin Newsom has to say about a smarter approach to California laws. And, as a refresher, these are the key players in the debate in thatÂ state.
More Massachusetts groups have signed onto the opposition to cannabis legalization in that state. All 14 Massachusetts sheriffs have stated their concern that legalization of the drug will destigmatize it and make children more likely to try it. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe has published a response to the eviscerating op-ed it published two weeks ago. Not lost in the debate over whether to legalize are the details of how. Hereâ€™s why pundits think that Massachusettsâ€™s proposed stoned-driving law could use some work, and an overview of responses to the stoned-driving problem in America.
The politics of federal cannabis policy get a little more complicated: Obamaâ€™s choice for the Supreme Court has a history with cannabis, and he doesnâ€™t seem likely to support rescheduling anytime soon. The 2016 American election, unlike the last Canadian one, has avoided tackling the cannabis issue directly. But hereâ€™s why the substance could become an issue before November rolls around. If it does, the election could mean big things for legal cannabis. And with that in mind, hereâ€™s where your candidates stand on the issue.
The business end: The U.S. News and World Report wants to tell you how to invest in marijuana legalization. What theyâ€™re saying is nothing new: invest in niches and ancillary products, not the plant itself. But what about how to market all these new businesses? The Atlanticweighs in on the art of marketing cannabis to a newly created set of consumers.
A $44 billion grey area? New projections released in the Marijuana Business Daily 2016 Factbook suggest that by 2020, the US cannabis market will exceed $44 billion. That the industry is not legal on the federal level and perhaps will not be so in four years does not seem to daunt the authors. But Oregon cannabis industry insiders still call federal prohibition the â€œbiggest hurdleâ€ they face in creating successful businesses.
Maineâ€™s botched attempt at cannabis legalization hangs on by a thread: Despite clear support for legalization in the state, the courts will have to decide whether the secretary of stateâ€™s office acted appropriately in disqualifying over 40,000 signatures on a recent petition.
The increase in DUIâ€™s in Colorado has been the subject of much brow-furrowing over the last few months. The figures have been cited in other states as evidence of the inherent perils of cannabis legalization. However, it seems that many cannabis-related DUIâ€™s are, in fact, dropped at trial, perhaps inflating the stats. While state troopers concede that driving stoned is every bit as dangerous as driving drunk, they believe it is too soon to tell what impact legalization has had on Coloradoâ€™s roads.
Crashing the party: Viceâ€™s Rachel Pick infiltrates a cannabis business conference in Manhattan and tells us about the less typical breed of pot enthusiasts, the Marijuana Men. One of the “Don Dopers”Â at that conference may well have been Willie Franklin, a former packaging contractor for the defense industry, who has decided itâ€™s time to put a lid on cannabis. Franklin says his new business comes in response to anticipated federal regulations on pot. At the state level, every legislative pen stroke means the birth or death of whole industries. Colorado may be witnessing one such birth, that of the cannabis club. Whatâ€™s next? Somewhere to put all the money cannabis-related businesses make. Financial services providers are eager to establish the first cannabis bank. Meanwhile, pundits are quick to point out the challenges â€“ regulatory, ethical, and otherwise â€“ Big Cannabis is likely to create. One such challenge: chemical pesticides and the role government can take in regulating cannabis production.
A Washington Times op-ed blames drug liberalization for last yearâ€™s apparent spike in violent crime. In a surprise move, Robert Weiner and Ben Lasky exonerate the â€œFerguson effectâ€ and instead blame less anti-drug spots on TV.
â€œJust say no!â€: Mississippiâ€™s House of Representatives votes down a surprise attempt to change that stateâ€™s drug laws. In Maine, a citizenâ€™s petition for legalization fails after 17,000 signatures are invalidated on (what supporters say is) a technicality. In a nice piece of doublespeak, Maine secretary of state Matthew Dunlap tells journalists, â€œOur goal isnâ€™t to invalidate signatures. The goal is to make sure they are valid.â€ For comparison, the numberÂ of invalidated signatures equals,Â approximately, a third of the population of Portland, Maine’s largest city. Meanwhile,Â Portland, Oregonsays no to drive-through dispensaries. And legislators in Vermontâ€™s lower house are still not sure if the state is â€œready to move forward with legalization,â€ meaning, presumably, that they will start a process to get the state prepared for the fulfillment of an extremely popular public policy measureâ€¦or they wonâ€™t.
In the yes column: New Hampshire says yes to legalizationâ€¦or at least its citizens doâ€¦or at least those who participated in a recent poll. 62% approve of legalization for recreational use.
Oregon plays banker: Both houses of the Oregon legislature have approved a bill to allow financial institutions to provide services to the cannabis industry. National prohibition still limits the extent to which this policy will affect the industry, but pundits believe it is a step in the right direction.
The opposition to Californiaâ€™s most potent pot-legalization measure (AUMA) is finally gathering some green: The California Public Safety Institute, which successfully defeated the 2010 recreational cannabis use initiative, has begun fundraising in earnest, tapping law enforcement organizations, faith groups, unions, and other stalwarts of the anti-legalization camp. Though leadership does not anticipate outspending the forces behind the AUMA, they believe they will succeed. This in the face of 60% support for legalization in the state (compared to a 51% approval rating for CA governor Jerry Brown).
One year later in D.C.: The District of Columbia, still the largest jurisdiction on the east coast to legalize recreational cannabis, put the federal governmentâ€™s resolve (or lack thereof) to enforce federal prohibition laws to the test a year ago with Initiative 71. Now, pundits say, there is more work to be done.
Are Canadians getting cold feet? The new Liberal government has been given six months to reformulate Canadian cannabis policy. Many Canadians believe that recreational legalization is a given, but, realistically, itâ€™s more complicated than that. With so much popular support on the side of legalization, why the delay? The answer has much to do with the often complicated relationship between winning elections and writing policy.
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