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Legal Marijuana Coming to New Jersey and Virginia?

Legal Marijuana Coming to New Jersey and Virginia?

Author: Justin Mckibben

The elections held this past Tuesday may not have directly addressed the status of marijuana, but voters in multiple states did elect officials who are adamant about making legal marijuana more available.

Next Year in New Jersey

One of those states is New Jersey, who’s outgoing governor is Chris Christie, chairman of the White House commission on opioids.

Last week Democrat Phil Murphy, who made legal marijuana one of the cornerstones of his campaign, won the state over. This creates a radical change for the state. For years Chris Christie has blocked attempts to legalize cannabis, and even maintains his opposition to it while fighting to help the country get a grip on the opioid epidemic.

Phil Murphy has been pretty open about his support for marijuana legalization. According to Forbes, Murphy even talked about it during his primary night victory speech saying,

“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,”

“And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”

Apparently, it isn’t just Murphy in the state that is looking forward to pushing this legislation along. The Democratically-controlled state Senate is expecting to bring up legal marijuana as early as next year. In regards to the topic, earlier this year Senate President Stephen Sweeney said,

“We are going to have a new governor in January 2018. As soon as the governor gets situated we are all here and we intend to move quickly on it.”

Voters in Virginia

Voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia also elected an official who advocates for loosening restrictions on marijuana. Current lieutenant governor Ralph Northam is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession. While it may not be as liberal a stance as Murphy, it is still a big step in a lot of people’s minds. Northam writes,

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana. African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia.”

But it isn’t just about the individuals. Northam also points out the resources going to this issue. He has written to the Virginia State Crime Commission as part of its review of the effects of marijuana decriminalization.

“Virginia spends $67 million on marijuana enforcement—enough to open up another 13,000 pre-K spots for children,”

Again, not that he is pushing for complete legalization, but to stop stiff penalties for those with small amounts of marijuana. Northam also advocates for research into the medicinal uses of marijuana. According to Richmond Times-Dispatch, he has stated,

“As a doctor, I like to make the point to people, over 100 of the medicines that we use on a daily basis come from plants,” he said in an interview Monday. “So I think we need to be open-minded about using marijuana for medical purposes.”

He isn’t alone in Virginia either. Even the Republican state Senate leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. questioned whether or not small amounts of marijuana should remain a crime.

Marijuana in More Areas

But it isn’t just these two offices that indicate there may be more change coming for marijuana policy. In other areas around the country, there are other notable shifts that may dramatically impact marijuana policy.

  • Athens, Ohio

77% of voters in the college town eliminated fines and court costs for possessing or growing up to 200 grams of marijuana.

  • Wayne County, Michigan

In an area that includes Detroit, voters now allow cannabis businesses to operate in more areas and to stay open longer. Michigan is expected to have a marijuana legalization bill on the 2018 ballot.

  • Philadelphia

Lawrence Krasner won the election for District Attorney. Krasner has been outspoken about the benefits of marijuana reform. According to Krasner,

“One of the things we see in other jurisdictions is that, where marijuana is readily available, there’s a 25% reduction in opiate/opioid overdose deaths.”

“So if Philadelphia is looking at 500 opiate/opioid overdose deaths a year, a district attorney, by choosing not to enforce against marijuana usage, can potentially save 125 lives. That’s what a district attorney should exercise his or her discretion to do.”

It seems between lightening the punishments for possession, expanding programs for legal marijuana, and electing officials that will advocate for its use, marijuana may have already seen some real change this November.

What to Remember about Legal Marijuana

It is important to note for anyone who has a history of substance use disorder that the legal status of a substance does not make it safer. You could argue that marijuana is much safer than opioids like prescription drugs or heroin. While marijuana is not as lethal concerning overdose deaths, it still should not ignore the risks.

Marijuana reform has the potential for some positive and negative outcomes. Ultimately voters will have to consider weighing the pros and cons of reform. Either way, it is important to remember that any substance, legal or not, can be addictive. While marijuana may become more accepted on a legal level, it is still unhealthy to abuse this drug. If you find yourself abusing this or any drug it is very important that you seek safe and effective treatment resources.

Because drug abuse is always destructive, marijuana abuse is no exception. If you or someone you love are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seek help. Regardless of whether a drug is legalized or not, losing control of your use can lead to something much worse. We want to help. You are not alone. Call toll-free now. 

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Congressmen Push to End the Federal War on Weed

Congressmen Push to End the Federal War on Weed

Author: Justin Mckibben

We have seen how there were serious political efforts going into removing the federal government’s claws in the fight against marijuana in the states, and about how the midterm elections this time last year have brought with them a wave of continuous change in weed policies around the country.

Several states are already gearing up to follow the trend this coming November by reforming their marijuana regulations and legalizing the use of weed for either medical or recreational use, and some are soon to allow both.

But it ain’t over until it’s over, and despite the growing popularity weed is still illegal under federal law. Now there is even more effort being put into putting a stop to any and all federal interference in the states individual initiatives to legalize marijuana.

Saying No to the DEA

In an act of bipartisan support that would probably surprise some, there are members of both political parties fighting to make this big change a reality. 2 congressmen have stepped into the fold in the past months intent on pushing the progress in weed policies further.

  • Democrat Ted Lieu of California
  • Republican Justin Amash of Michigan

These men have chosen to work together on new legislation that would block the DEA from using federal funding to aggressively cracking down on weed in the states.

As we were saying before, the House of Representatives unanimously passed an amendment earlier this year that was designed to diminish the funding for the DEA’s marijuana eradication efforts by 50%. This was already a huge hit to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s budget for going after the state weed laws, and was largely due to the failed tactics used during the American ‘war on drugs’ that many speculate may have done more than a fair share of damage itself.

Now politicians are saying even that is not enough. Representative Ted Lieu of California authored the amendment, and is now trying to go a step further and eliminate all the funding for the DEA’s work against legal weed, confident that the voters will support it. In an interview Lieu stated:

“We had such strong support [in June], we figured why not just eliminate all funding. It’s a waste of federal resources and ends up driving up prices for Americans.”

All that makes perfect sense. With so many people stepping up to support the laws in their individual nation one way or another, it seems a waste of money for federal funding to be used to aggressively hunt and prosecute people involved in weed-related activity their state has already deemed illegal.

Who are you really protecting from these growers, businesses and users if their own community has approved their existence?

Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program

Through the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program the DEA has already done a lot, including:

  • Spent $18 million in 2014
  • Arrested 6,310 people
  • Confiscated over a million marijuana plants

Not saying these are all bad things, but if we take a closer look at some of the circumstances, the program isn’t exactly the best thing out there.

Civil Asset Forfeiture

For one, the program is funded through the Department of Justice’s civil asset forfeiture fund, which has been highly controversial since this initiative allows the authorities to seize money and property from people who have been suspected of a crime… but not convicted.

Amash is against this element of the war on weed because he feels civil assets forfeiture allows-

“innocent people to have their property taken without sufficient due process.”

This subject has been debated time and time again, because of the maze of red tape and scandals of corruption that wraps around these situations.

Amash is believes this aggressive federal enforcement is a problem because he says enforcement is a state-level issue, so the federal government should not be expending resources on marijuana prohibition, especially with so many states eliminating weed prohibition. Why should the DEA be able to procure all the belonging of an individual because of weed when their state legally permits them to use it?

Marijuana activist groups from all over are supporting this cause this year, including:

  • The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
  • Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)

Weed advocacy groups have praised the bill as a key concept in the fight towards blocking federal prohibition of weed in America. So while the individual states work to decide what’s best for them, still more are going to push for the federal government to stop spending money to contradict the states choices.

While marijuana can be harmful to recovering addicts, it is still important to understand 2 things (in this addicts opinion):

  1. That alcohol is legal and it too is dangerous for an addict. Being legalized does not make it safe for us. We still have to remember the hopelessness and devastating drugs deal to our lives.
  2. A lot of the money being used to persecute people in the states for using a drug their own elected officials have given them a right to use could be more effectively spent developing treatment for addiction and promoting programs to help educate the communities and prevent substance abuse.

Drugs and alcohol hurt people, no doubt about it. Legal or not legal they hurt people, and when recovering from addiction we must learn that. We should also continue as a society to work towards addressing addiction as the health issue it is. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

Ohio Voting on Legal Marijuana in November

Ohio Voting on Legal Marijuana in November

Author: Justin Mckibben

Last November was a huge period for marijuana reform in America, and with November 2015 right around the corner, the campaigns for pot politics are picking up all over the place. The nation has seen over the last year how reforms in legalization of marijuana have taken form in several states, and we have witnessed the aftermath of those reforms in both positive and negative light.

Presidential candidates looking for office in 2016 are already seeing how big of an issue this is going to be, and swing states are weighing in as to how they will be voting and how that will impact the overall image of legal marijuana in America.

One swing state in particular is showing signs of playing a vital role in the forward momentum of marijuana reform, and on November 3 voters in the Buckeye State will be deciding whether legal marijuana will become a reality, or if it will get pushed out of focus.

Power of Petitions

Earlier this past week the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted confirmed the private investor group ResponsibleOhio had collected 320,267 signatures of registered Ohio voters. That actually puts this particular petition at over 14,676 more signatures than required to qualify for the general election ballot, so it would seem Ohioans are all for putting it to a vote.

Fun Fact: Ohio has a reported 11.6 million residents, meaning that if this measure passed in November, the Buckeye State would be the most populous jurisdiction to legalize marijuana to date.

ResponsibleOhio is just one out of a handful of active groups in the area that are actively pursuing marijuana reform, and it has reportedly no qualms with putting its money where its mouth is. As of now ResponsibleOhio spent $2 million since March on the petition drive to collect signatures and has kept very busy, but apparently they have so much more planned including:

  • ResponsibleOhio pledged to spend an additional $20 million over the next three months leading up to voting
  • Already starting running TV spots
  • Planning future Internet and radio advertising
  • Preparing a door-to-door campaigning
  • Planning a bus tour

Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio is very enthusiastic about the progress the group has already made, and are more confident than ever in their plans to inspire the rest of the state to vote for the change. James stated:

“It’s time for marijuana legalization in Ohio, and voters will have the opportunity to make it happen this November—we couldn’t be more excited. By reforming marijuana laws in November, we’ll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities.”

Still in light of the strategies the ResponsibleOhio group is using, many are debating as to whether or not it is a good enough system even the residents of the state who support marijuana legalization can trust.

The Culture of Cultivation

Initially ResponsibleOhio had proposed an oligarchy which would limit the cultivation of the commercial crop to 10 farms that have already been named. Also on the ballot in November there will a response to this proposal in a measure written by the Ohio legislature this past June designed to prohibit “a monopoly, oligopoly or cartel” in Ohio, especially involving any federally controlled substance such as marijuana.

So far over 20 wealthy investors have already purchased farms or put under purchase option including:

  • Reality TV star Nick Lachey
  • NFL player Frostee Rucker
  • Former NBA star Oscar Robertson

So it seems there are those who are confident enough this is going to pass, and it is going to have a huge ripple in the state’s communities and economy.

Secretary of State Jon Husted stated the legislative initiative would take precedence if voters passed both measures, but ResponsibleOhio has disputed his claims. Ultimately the decision will be up to a court, but ResponsibleOhio is not getting itself all wrapped up in that particular piece of red tape just yet.

For the rest of the country, one way or the other this could be an indication of the future of marijuana reform. The topic has many wondering what impact legal marijuana stands to make on the opiate epidemic, and whether or not addiction will see an increase with more people using drugs. Some still speculate it would have the opposite effect, but it seems only time will tell.

While marijuana reform is beginning to seem like it’s shaping the world, those who have suffered a serious addiction should always remember that just because it is legal does not mean you are any less of an addict. Luckily, with drug reform there are also new possibilities to provide better treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135   

Free and Legal Marijuana Making it to the Streets

Free and Legal Marijuana Making it to the Streets

Author: Justin Mckibben

The state of Oregon last night was ignited, and it was a little more than enthusiasm in the air at midnight as crowds gathered and counted down minutes before lighting up joints in the streets to celebrate today, July 1st, as the first official day marijuana is legal in the state.

This is all part of a growing movement that has sprouted and spread across the west coast of the United States and even popped up in the Midwest and various other areas of the nation.

At midnight hundreds of citizens in Portland, Oregon gathered on the Burnside Bridge in the downtown area and smoked up in honor of the voter approved law passed back in November.

Recreational Cannabis in Oregon

The language presented in the legislation allows for recreational use and for individuals to grow their own plants, although so far shops will not be permitted to sell marijuana. This is expected to change though by next year, despite some lawmakers saying they still seek to block retail distributors.

Regulators will start accepting business license applications in January, with stores slated for next fall. So what many growers have actually done is passed out free samples throughout the area, promoting both the reform and their product, while doing what is necessary to respect the law of the land.

According to the state Liquor Control Commission, residents are permitted to:

  • Smoke privately at aged 21 and older
  • Grow up to 4 plants
  • Possess up to 8 ounces (227 grams) at home
  • Possess 1 ounce outside home

Driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal, and public smoking is also illegal. Strangely there have been no immediate reports of any arrests last night at the Burnside Bridge, despite the very public celebration.

Still, it appears some lawmakers are trying to hold onto what little conservative restrictions they can by combating the approval or cannabis outlet stores.

Regardless it seems like the change has been welcomed with open arms by a lot of the public. Time will tell what kind of impact this revolution has on the community.

Mercy for Marijuana in Miami

Another change came on the other coast, with Florida’s largest county now deeming it unnecessary to jail small time marijuana offenders.

People now caught in Miami-Dade County in possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer be prosecuted with jail time, but instead will receive civil citations.

A proposal was approved just Tuesday, June 30th allowing police to issue $100 civil citations for someone found to be in possession of anything less than 20 grams of marijuana. Sally Heyman, the County Commissioner insists that her measure is aimed at sparing residents caught with these minor quantities of cannabis from receiving a criminal record, and at the same time reducing the economic burden put on the criminal justice system by imprisoning these low-level drug offenders.

Now this isn’t a guaranteed get-out-of-jail-for-pot-free card. The choice to make an arrest of a citation is still at the individual officers discretion, and police officials are still in the process of developing policies to better outline the circumstances that warrant an arrest.

Laws similar to this have apparently been enacted already in 14 other states, and Florida may soon be on the list for adjusting their drug law. While the state may not be up for such radical reforms as Oregon and others just yet, it appears lawmakers are at least willing to consider the positive impact decriminalization could have on their justice system and their communities.

That being said, what about the vast recovery community in South Florida? Is it possible that legalized marijuana in any of these areas will have an impact on those trying to recover from drug or alcohol addiction? Surely every action creates a reaction, but most recovering addicts and alcoholics will tell you a program of action keeps them from temptation, whether the substance is legal or illicit.

Despite the fact that marijuana is becoming legal in many states, it doesn’t take away from the dangers of any level or drug use, especially for an alcoholic or drug addict. Understanding that no matter what way you ingest it, the effect it has on someone with addiction doesn’t change. But you don’t have to be a victim, there is help for those who still suffer. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Is There Cannabis in Your Coffee?

Is There Cannabis in Your Coffee?

Author: Justin Mckibben

Edible marijuana is one of the popular subjects in the battle for reform; with some saying it is the future of medical marijuana administration, and others saying it is a devious and deadly method of disguising the dangers of the drug. Well now for all coffee lovers there is another recipe that can be tempting your taste-buds with the drug, and for those in recovery from drug addiction who frequent 12 step meetings with a mug full of Joe this may seem like some kind of sick joke.

We are now living in a world where legal weed is making some serious headway in politics, medicine, commercial business and even fights over religious rights. Marijuana is one of the hot topics sure to be on the ticket for the 2016 presidential election, and while this may be good for some, recovering addicts may find it harder to deal.

Still it’s no surprise that in a few states that have already legalized it there would be a few coffee lovers who came up with a way to put some pot in that morning pot of roasted bean goodness.

  • Catapult Coffee

Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop is a Seattle-based head-shop for users in an area with legalized marijuana, and the shop now sells pods of premium Catapult coffee. Each pod works in standard, single-serve coffee makers and contain 10 mg of THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, for anyone who likes a bit of buzz with their morning wake up cup. The pods sell for a pricey $10 a pop, or $37-$42 per 6 servings, apparently depending on the blend.

Previously sold by loose grounds infused with marijuana, the shop stated that now the pods are quickly becoming big sellers. Fairwinds Manufacturing, the company out of Vancouver that actually makes the pods for Uncle Ike’s, reported that the pods now account for 60% of company sales, but Fairwinds isn’t the only company making cannabis-infused coffee.

  • House of Jane

California is home to another pot-shop making a move for cannabis coffee. House of Jane is another hot spot for pot that has four types of cannabis K-cups:

  • Medium roast
  • Dark roast
  • Decaf
  • Mocha café

But House of Jane didn’t stop there, marketing marijuana infused coffees, teas and creamers—one of which recently won a best-edible award at one of the world’s largest medical marijuana trade shows HempCon. Also House of Jane has it’s sights aimed at creating a cannabis-infused “Frappuccino.” But don’t count on catching this one at a Starbucks.

  • Ed Rosenthal’s Select Coffee & Tea

Ed Rosenthal, whose brand is named after its maker, is a marijuana growing celebrity, with growing guides and other information and pot related products. He has his own line and is advocating it as a new frontier.

What Does This Mean?

This new format of marijuana products has been evaluated by a few experts who find that it will in fact be a new way to spread the popularity of legalization. Emily Paxhia, co-founder of Poseidon Asset Management, a asset manager focusing on marijuana-related investments in California, believes that this new cannabis-infused coffee will attribute to a wider appeal for edibles, and probably push the progression of reform. Paxhia said,

“The more that cannabis can be consumed in forms that are familiar to broader populations, the more interesting it’s going to become to a mass market,”

So what does it all mean? Well for the general population it means that they will have another option to consider whether or not they are going to support or reject marijuana use. It may also mean having to worry about young people finding an easier way to consume the drug without being noticed, which could mean a potential for more issues with substance abuse.

For the recovering community, it may be one more adversity to overcome in the near future. As if the temptation wasn’t already pretty real, the further development of these products may cause some internal conflict for the addict who is still uncertain of their condition. Cannabis coffee is no safer to an addict than vodka in your espresso, which is also legal.

Still, at the end of the day for those of us in active recovery who are aware of our addiction and work a solid program of some kind, it just means being more aware of the world around us. As long as we are consistent with our recovery, this isn’t really threatening to us because we know it is not something we can safely consume regardless of the brew or blend. So far Starbucks is still safe, so you don’t have to worry about your barista drugging your coffee.

Despite the fact that marijuana is becoming legal in many states, it doesn’t take away from the dangers of any level or drug use, especially for an alcoholic or drug addict. Understanding that no matter what way you ingest it, the effect it has on someone with addiction doesn’t change. But you don’t have to be a victim, there is help for those who still suffer. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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