Highs and Lows – Cannabis Policy This Week

Washington State – The federal prosecution of a medical marijuana dispensary owner threatens to disturb the precarious balance of legality in Washington. But is that a bad thing? An article on the libertarian Reason Foundation’s blog suggests that Lance Gloor, the entrepreneur in question, was an innocent victim of selective prosecution. Perhaps he is; that’s a matter for the courts to decide. More importantly, his prosecution creates a precedent of sorts for federal regulation of state cannabis markets. This could be a powerful tool for making those markets work, and it should be approached in a thoughtful manner, not a paranoid one. Hopefully federal prosecutors can be trusted to work constructively with local law enforcement to protect public safety in an equitable way. Meanwhile, the City of Seattle is reducing the buffer zones required around cannabis shops, and in the process allowing them to operate a little more like the real commercial enterprises they are meant to be. But detractors urge the city council to “slow down” and consider the backlash wanton deregulation could create. Read more: http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/seattle-shrinks-buffer-zones-around-marijuana-busi/np3WX/

New England – Echoing the call to decelerate aspects of legalization, a Colorado police chief urged the Massachusetts legislative delegation sent to study the pot market in his state to do just that, “Slow it down.” But, as the voters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are likely legalize cannabis in the upcoming elections, the delegation’s real task was not to set a tempo but to learn how to deal with their new paradigm. “It is not the purpose of this committee to determine whether or not MA should legalize marijuana–but rather, to really prepare ourselves for that possibility,” said State Senator Jason Lewis, chair of MA’s Senate’s subcommittee on marijuana, in a CBS Boston interview. Other legislators, such as Senator John F. Keenan, seemed less hearty, asking dispensary workers, “If I were to buy this, what would I do with it? Do I…roll it?” Keenan’s blanching is understandable. The big worry in MA seems to be the potential corporatization of weed, especially marketing toward children – heading “down the Joe Camel path,” as MA governor Charlie Baker put it. This is not, seemingly, off-putting to former Vermont Attorney General Kimberley Cheney, who has recently endorsed the legalization effort in his state. Read more: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/01/12/roll-senators-learn-about-marijuana/3TFl8EFDaZOCw8gf7dIaCK/story.html

California – Even with the most money and no opposition, the passage of the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” is not guaranteed, or so opines SF Weekly columnist Chris Roberts in a recent article. “For true believers, AUMA does not go far enough — and it’s viewed with suspicion solely because of its deep-pocketed backers, who the die-hards accused of wanting to take over the industry.” And those “die-hards” are not wrong. In every state considering legalization at this point (Ohio is a notable example), there are people who realize that, for a time at least, marijuana can be an extremely profitable business. Is fear of corporatization enough to make the purists rise up and quash the law? Probably not, especially if a proposed plan goes through to offer small-scale grow operations “terroir” label protections. But for now, supporters of AUMA are finding it prudent to heap on the endorsements. Recently the California NAACP has seen fit to throw their weight behind legalization (despite unnamed concerns), and former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders is set to headline the ICBC in February. And still the anti-legalization side continues to be voiceless. Do they even exist anymore? The do in Arizona, where Governor Doug Ducey vows to fight the “common culprit of drug abuse and addiction.” But for now, despite polls that show only a bare majority of support for legalization in California among likely voters, the smart money is on legal pot in 2016.

Meanwhile in Canada officials are also feeling the influence of the Centennial State (CO), and Justin Trudeau, Kathleen Wynne, and former Toronto police chief Bill Blair are all hunky-dory over weed.


And those are the highs and lows.

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