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Trump Administration May Take Action against Legal Marijuana States

Trump Administration May Take Action against Legal Marijuana States

Author: Justin Mckibben

It is no secret that President Trump has not been exactly consistent with his views of drugs, specifically legalized marijuana. During the course of the campaign for President he flip-flopped a lot on whether or not he would support or oppose legalization. While a wave of marijuana reforms have continued to blossom in several states, it seems those inconsistencies are again cropping up. Now one can only guess what is going to come of the Trump administration and their strategy on marijuana.

Just this Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer came to speak on behalf of the Trump administration. Here he suggested the federal government may soon crack down on recreational marijuana use across the country. Not just as part of the “law-and-order” stance of the plan for the Trump administration, but even in states that have already legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Timeline on Trump’s Back and Forth

So just to give us an idea of how this back and forth goes, we will set a timeline of notable changes in Trump’s attitude toward marijuana.

  • The 90s

Back in the early 90s Donald Trump actually stated that he believed the United States should legalize all drugs and use the funds from sales to educate people on the dangers of drug use. During an interview he stated:

“We’re losing badly the war on drugs,” he said. “You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars.”

  • 2016

Then, during the campaign of 2016 the attitude began to slip and slide at all sides of the spectrum. In June he stated he was adamantly opposed to legalization of marijuana. He still kind-of-sort-of supported medical marijuana at the time. His comments during the June CPAC Conference:

“I say it’s bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad, and I feel strongly about it,”

These comments come after a period in which he had stated he was a long-time supporter of marijuana for medical purposes.

  • 2016… Again

During the same campaign, Trump was at a rally outside a casino in Reno, Nevada where he stated the government should use Colorado as a “litmus test” to properly assess the dangers of recreational marijuana. So he went from strongly opposing legalized marijuana, to supporting marijuana reforms, pending further review.

  • 2016… Another One

Later, the soon-to-be-President Trump had stated on the campaign trail he would only support marijuana legalization at the state-by-state level, essentially affirming he would allow the states to make up their own mind about how to handle marijuana reform.

  • This Week

Spicer’s comments during this week’s White House press briefing came in response to a question from a local Arkansas reporter. Spicer was asked whether President Donald Trump was OK with Arkansas’ medical marijuana law, which recently approved its regulations by the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission.

Sean Spicer now tells reporters that Trump does approve of medical marijuana use, which could help provide relief to the chronically ill. However, he is now more firmly opposed to recreational use. The notable addition to this stance is when Spicer says,

“There is still a federal law that we need to abide by … when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature,”

It is notable because now not only has President Trump done a more deliberate shift to stand against recreational use, but now the concept of “state-by-state level” seems to be out the window too. Many are outraged, Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell saying:

“On the campaign trail, President Trump clearly and repeatedly pledged that he would leave decisions on cannabis policy to the states.”

Because the federal government still considers marijuana an illegal drug, these comments indicate they plan on enforcing those rules regardless of any state’s decision.

Obama Era on Marijuana

These changes in policy are almost the exact opposite of every move made by the previous administration to combat the negative impacts of the failed War on Drugs.

Back in 2014 U.S. Congress approved legislation preventing the DEA from carrying out any raids, arrest, or prosecutions of patients using medical marijuana. It blocked law enforcement agencies under the Justice Department from consuming federal dollars in efforts to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. Under former President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice did not pursue action against states that legalized recreational marijuana use, including:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon
  • Washington

In fact, the field of politics was shifting back in 2015 when a bipartisan effort was put forth in Congress to block the DEA from using federal funding for aggressively pursuing marijuana in the states where it was legalized.

Trump Administration “Taking Action”

Yet, this week Sean Spicer suggested the Trump administration and the Justice Department will no longer turn a blind eye to those states. In fact, he states it will be “taking action” against these states. Contradicting all the talk of states’ rights and rolling back federal enforcement to attack states who have their own legislations in place.

Even worse, these comments are completely contradicting a stance Sean Spicer announced on a different issue.

Earlier in the briefing, Spicer said federal guidance telling states to allow transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity was a violation of states’ rights. In fact, Spicer had literally just moments before said:

“If a state wants to pass a law or a rule, or if an organization wants to do something in compliance with a state rule, that’s their right,” Spicer said about transgender bathroom use. “But it shouldn’t be the federal government getting in the way of this.”

To recap, the Trump administration is telling us transgender rights should be left up to the states to decide, but those same “states’ rights” do not apply to recreational marijuana use, despite the fact these states have already done their due diligence through democratic process to make these choices.

Opinion

While Sean Spicer and the Trump administration don’t seem to want to compare those two subjects, Spicer is happy to relate it to another; the opiate epidemic. During the briefing the press secretary actually suggested there was some relation between states’ decisions to legalize marijuana to the opioid crisis.

The question is how is the Trump administration going to take action? Will the DEA raid dispensaries and shut down businesses and imprison business owners who are working in accordance to their state law? Will they be refusing funding to these states or providing some other form of punishment?

The Trump administration is still willing to support medical marijuana, so the people who it helps most may still be OK.

As an advocate for recovery, and as a recovering drug addict, I understand people want to feel the government is doing something to stop the rising rates of addiction. I just think there is a better place to start; education and treatment.

When it comes to the drug problem in America though, we have to address this issue rationally. The legal status of a drug does not make it any less dangerous to those who struggle with addiction. Alcohol and prescription drugs can prove that any day of the week. If we are really focused on trying to fix the problem, how about we start with those industries? The answer to the opiate crisis or general drug problem is probably more education, prevention, treatment and support.

On one hand, one could say it is good that Trump is malleable in his views so he can develop them overtime with more knowledge and reasoning. What do you think? Either way, abusing any substance is a serious issue, whether it is legal or not. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

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Palm Beach County Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana

Palm Beach County Votes to Decriminalize MarijuanaIn case you missed it, Palm Beach Country will now decriminalize marijuana. With a 4 to 1 vote made on Tuesday, Palm Beach is now following in the footsteps of West Palm Beach and Miami Beach in the effort to reduce marijuana arrests.

“We have to understand that we cannot legislate and lock up everybody for everything they do,” Commissioner Priscilla Taylor said at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

The new ordinance states that anyone with possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana will no longer be arrested. Instead, law enforcement will have the option to issue a $100 citation for the possession. Low on funds? Not a problem. Those who cannot pay the citation will have the option of working it off through community service hours.

Let’s Break This Down

Just to put it all into perspective, here is an overview on what the new ordinance means for residents in Palm Beach County:

  • How many grams? According to the ordinance, 20 grams or less of marijuana is eligible for a fine. If someone is found with more, they face harsher penalties.
  • What’s the punishment? If found possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana, officer would issue a $100 fine and a civil citation.
  • When does this go into effect? As soon as the law is filed with Florida Department of State, which estimated to be in about 10 days.
  • What if someone can’t pay? If you are unable to pay, you have the option of doing 10 hours of community service instead.
  • Does this mean marijuana is legal? No, marijuana is still a criminal offense in the state of Florida. Even if you are caught with less than 20 grams of pot in Palm Beach County, the officer has the choice of whether to issue a citation or a criminal arrest.
  • How many citations can I get? A person caught with a small possession of pot is allowed to receive a citation a maximum of two times.
  • Underage? The ordinance only applies to those that are 18 and older.

The Palm Beach ordinance passed with a 4 to 1 vote, and Commissioner Hal Valeche was the only one in opposition of the ordinance. Valeche said he believes marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to harder drugs. He is also worried about discrimination that can occur when it comes to an officer choosing to give a fine over a misdemeanor.

“You’ve gotta have pretty firm and hard guidelines as to how you chose which one to do,” Valeche says. “Otherwise I think you open yourself up to claims that you’re treating different individuals differently.”

Valeche could very well have a point. A 2013 report with the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that on average, black residents are close to four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites, despite the statistics that show marijuana use is equal among both races.

Looking at other states,  New York decriminalized the possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana way back in 1977. The law decriminalized pot provided it was not in “public view,” however this law was largely ignored for the better part of 38 years. Police officers found a loophole and forced suspects to empty their pockets, essentially taking the drugs into “public view.”

However, on Nov. 10, 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called a press conference and announced that the city would stop filing criminal charges for people carrying small amounts of pot. Since 2014, marijuana arrests have gone down significantly, however the city struggles with issues of discrimination in lower class neighborhoods compared to the higher class.

In Florida, those who advocate the ordinance say that younger people deserve a second chance. Between 2010 and 2014, more than more than 7,500 cases in the county involved possession of 20 grams of marijuana or less. In 90 percent of these cases, the person ended up in jail. This law will change that. Although marijuana reform continues to be a hard hitting topic increasing in support, many are concerned about the potential harm.

Addiction is a concern for many and if your substance abuse is becoming unmanageable, you should seek treatment, regardless of whether your drug of choice is legal or not. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Author: Shernide Delva

Colorado Pot Crops Found to Have Dangerous Levels of Pesticides

Colorado Pot Crops Found to Have Dangerous Levels of PesticidesAs green as Colorado is known to be, it looks like their marijuana crops are not as green as one would hope.Recent studies reveal that Colorado’s marijuana crops have “dangerous levels” of pesticides and the news is inciting panic among people and the state’s agricultural agencies.

According to last week’s CNN report, at least one legal over-the-counter pot product tested positive for illegally high levels of the neurotoxin imidacloprid. The news of the pesticides led to a recall of 2,362 pot products.

Unfortunately, this is not the first study to find toxins in marijuana products. Just last September, a study from the Denver Post found that the marijuana products they tested contained six times the legal amount of pesticides in consumable products.

To put it in perspective, if the same amount of pesticides were found on a food product like avocados, they would be immediately pulled off the shelves. However, since Colorado only recently legalized marijuana, they are still figuring out how to deal with these types of issues.

Since marijuana remains illegal on a federal level, there is no FDA regulation to step in and correct the issue leaving pesticide legislation up to the states. This lack of government oversight leads to confusion on the quantities of pesticides that should be allowed in marijuana products.

The Ever-Changing Cannabis Laws

The marijuana businesses in Colorado are not required to test products for pesticides before they sell them. They also do not have to test products before making them available for sale. Instead, consumers and businesses must exercise extreme caution before selling and consuming unregulated products. Various state agencies are hoping to remedy this problem.

As for now, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper just issued an executive order earlier this month allowing state agencies the authority to pull products off the shelves and destroy them if they contain higher than the approved levels of pesticides.

“When a pesticide is applied to a crop in a manner that is inconsistent with the pesticide’s label, and the crop is contaminated by that pesticide, it constitutes a threat to the public safety,” the order said.

The Denver Post reported that Colorado is also working to pass a legislation preventing illegal pesticides from being used in the first place. Legislator is working to pass rules that would limit the amount of pesticides used in marijuana that are approved for consumption. The goal is that eventually marijuana will be used safely in greenhouses and will be safer for human consumption. Until then, Colorado cannabis lover must remember to proceed with caution.

With the news of pesticides in marijuana products, it is important to know the environmental impacts of marijuana farms. We have discussed in detail how marijuana farms are causing serious damage to the environment in areas like California. In California, run-off from marijuana farms get into the water and causes damage to the ecosystem. Also, since marijuana requires high amount of water to grow successfully, California is facing a major water shortage and marijuana farms are part of the problem.

The fact that marijuana is only legal on a state by state basis makes the process of establishing clear procedures difficult since regulations are not able to be considered on a federal level. In states where marijuana is legal, businesses have to rely on cash-only transactions as they are unable to use federal banking systems.

Overall, the issue of marijuana reform is an increasingly complex issue and in the future, solutions to the problems of legalization will be addressed. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

-Author: Shernide Delva

Bernie Sanders Proposes Bill to End Federal Ban on Marijuana

Bernie Sanders Proposes Bill to End Federal Ban on Marijuana

Author: Shernide Delva

Marijuana reform continues to be a major topic in the presidential campaign and this week, Bernie Sanders went farther than any presidential candidate in supporting marijuana and the fight to end the War on Drugs.  Bernie Sanders became the first presidential candidate to propose a lift on the federal ban of marijuana. If passed, the bill would give states the right to legalize marijuana without having to go through the federal government.

The bill was introduced on Wednesday and is modeled after a previous bill proposed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in 2013. It was reintroduced this year as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. The bill would remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list as a Schedule 1 drug.

Drugs like heroin, Ecstasy and LSD are considered schedule 1 drugs and are considered to be the “most dangerous drugs.” Bernie Sanders said during his speech at George Mason University in Virginia that he believed considering a drug like marijuana to be as dangerous as heroin is “absurd.” Bernie Sanders believes that states should be allowed to regulate the sale of marijuana the same way drugs like tobacco and alcohol are regulated and should be able to do so “without the fear of prosecution.”

Legal Marijuana: A Cash-Only Industry

As of right now, states that profit from the legal marijuana industry are not able to use the nation’s banks to do business. Nearly all the banks refuse to take money from marijuana sales or refuse to offer basic checking or credit card services in fear that they’ll be shut down by the federal government. National banks will not do business with marijuana growers, retail shops, medical dispensaries, processors and even employees out of fear of prosecution. If this bill is passed, then this will no longer be a concern.

Until then, the legal marijuana industry is forced to deal with the risks of being a cash only business.  Because marijuana remains a federal Schedule I drug, it makes it illegal for financial institutions that depend on the Federal Reserve System’s money transfer to take any proceeds from marijuana sales.

If Bernie Sander’s bill passes, retailers will have less fears about being robbed and businesses will no longer have to show up at the Washington State Department of Revenue with “boxes and suitcases” stuffed with bills to pay their taxes.

Bernie Sanders believes the bill will be a huge step forward in the movement to grow the economy and restore fairness to the justice system. The bill comes a week after Sanders first proposed reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous substance. He argued that marijuana reform is essential to reform America’s criminal justice system

“In the United States we have 2.2 million people in jail today, more than any other country. And we’re spending about $80 billion a year to lock people up. We need major changes in our criminal justice system – including changes in drug laws,” Sanders said “Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That’s wrong. That has got to change.”

A Gallup poll released last month revealed that 58 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalizing marijuana use. Four states have legalized recreational marijuana: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Under the Sanders plan, people in these four states would no longer be subject to federal prosecution for using marijuana if the bill is passed.

Marijuana Reform: The Overall Consensus

Changes to states laws regarding marijuana reform have garnered a controversial reaction. It remains a heavily debated topic of discussion. Presidential candidates have varied opinions on the matter and some are unable to make solid choices in regards to their plan of action. Just last week, Donald Trump changed his view on marijuana reform again after going back and forth on his views several times. Hilary Clinton has stated that she is only in support of marijuana for medical purposes.

Marijuana has been shown to have a variety of health benefits. For example, a recent study showed that marijuana can help treat addiction to stimulants. In addition, many health studies have shown that marijuana is effective in helping patients suffering from cancer and other illnesses.

Still, marijuana is not proven to be 100 percent safe. It can have detrimental effects on developing brains of adolescents and some studies show it can negatively impacts memory.  Additionally, just like any other drug, marijuana can be abused and some people even develop a psychological addiction to the substance.

Ultimately, it is up to voters in states that are considering reform to make the final decision. States like Florida and Ohio have come close. Now, Nevada is in midst of voting marijuana reform. Knowing the reasons for reform can make the choice much easier.

Marijuana reform has positive and negative outcomes, but it is ultimately up to voters in states that are considering reform to make the final decision. It is important to know both sides to the argument before deciding how you personally feel. Remember, any substance, legal or not, can be addictive and if you find yourself abusing a substance like marijuana, it is very important that you seek treatmentIf you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Oregon Will Now Expunge Past Marijuana Records

Oregon Will Now Expunge Past Marijuana Records

Author: Shernide Delva

Oregon is one of the first states to address the concerns of marijuana legalization answering the debated question: what do you do with someone with a record for something that used to be a crime but now isn’t? With this new policy, anyone with any low-level felony or misdemeanor on their record that’s at least ten years old can wipe their record clean (as long as they have not re-offended).  As many as 50,000 people will benefit from this law passed in Oregon.

Oregon is known for its progressive marijuana legislation that spans over the past few decades. Back in 1973, Oregon was the first state in the country to decriminalize low-scale marijuana possession. Now legal experts and marijuana business people are saying that the state is leading the way in creating new laws that would allow people with past marijuana offenses to wipe their slates clean.

In 2016, Oregon will allow more serious felony pot convictions, like growing, to be eligible for record sealing. The law is not restricted to drug offenses. A second law will allow expungement for people who were under 21 at the time of a past conviction.

Citations for marijuana possessions can haunt a person for years preventing them from career opportunities, renting an apartment, loans, and grants. Oregon is one of three states in the United States that allow marijuana use on a recreational level and now this law will give those who were prosecuted for the now legal crime to be able to move on with their lives.

So far, no state has gone further than Oregon on this issue.  Even in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, the idea of expunging past records still remain controversial. In states like Colorado, Alaska, Washington and the District of Colombia where recreational marijuana is legalized, similar laws are available yet are still unclear. Oregon’s law will be one of the first structured policy following marijuana reform.

Expungement for pot conviction is gaining attention since the legalization of marijuana has raised questions for those convicted in the past. Years after the arrests, citizens are left with a record that will haunt them for the rest of their life, for getting caught doing something that is legal in many states today.

The expunge center in Oregon elaborated on how significant this law is for those who need it most:

“It really doesn’t matter if you had been arrested on a petty charge. The stigma of having an arrest or conviction record against your name can make it difficult for you to find housing, seek employment opportunities and obtain grants for school…. Regardless of how much you have changed or how many dreams you might have, one single mistake of your past can affect your chances of having a good future.”

Even for those with more serious marijuana crimes who are unable to qualify for expungement or reduce their impact may be qualified to reduce the impact of past criminal convictions. They may be able to reduce the severity of their charges so they are granted access to certain rights.

The law comes very soon after Oregon legalized marijuana recreationally. Time will tell if other states will follow Oregon in also expunging records now the drug is continuously decriminalized and marijuana reform continues to stir debate around the country.

Whether or not you agree with marijuana reform, the fact of the matter is more and more states are legalizing the drug either recreationally, medically or both. The next logical step would be deciding best policy when it comes to addressing those who were criminalized for something legal today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588  

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