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.
77% of voters in the college town eliminated fines and court costs for possessing or growing up to 200 grams of marijuana.
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.
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.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Californians expecting to get their marijuana delivered via drone should not hold their breath. A new set of regulations will make it harder for California businesses who try to deliver pot in unique ways.
The legalization of marijuana has raised a host of controversy. For one, the question of who has the right to distribute pot is already a complex issue. However, now there is the question of how these products get delivered.
Pot Drones? Should they be allowed?
California legislators are hoping to get these questions answered before issuing dispensary licenses next year. They came together this month to lay down the rules. Ultimately, it was decided that marijuana could NOT be delivered by drones.
The decision was part of the Commercial Cannabis Business Licensing Program Regulations released by the state.
“Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles,” the regulations read, according to Ars Technica.
While deliveries will be allowed, they must adhere to the following guidelines:
“Deliveries may be made only in person by enclosed motor vehicle. Cannabis goods may not be visible to the public during deliveries. Cannabis goods may not be left in an unattended motor vehicle unless the vehicle has an active alarm system. Vehicles used for delivery must have a dedicated, active GPS device that enables the dispensary to identify the geographic location of the vehicle during delivery.”
The news will be a major disappointment to the handful of businesses in California who already promised future pot deliveries by drone. One company, MDelivers, said the opportunity to deliver marijuana via drone was “unmistakable.”
Nevertheless, the company CEO did not count on lawmakers forbidding drone deliveries:
“After navigating the complexities of medical marijuana permitting, the state and FAA licensing process was actually pretty simple. Nobody can jump in at the 11th hour and rewrite the laws of aerodynamics,” Chris Boudreau, CEO and founder of MDelivers said in a blog post before the regulations were announced.
With the new policies in place, there is no telling how entrepreneurs will get marijuana to their customers. Even if drones are off the table, there are a variety of other new, interesting methods being considered.
“We may see a vending machine attached to a self-driving car before we see a drone,” Marshall Hayner, CEO of Trees Delivery, told Mashable.
As California prepares to expand its cannabis market, there continues to be challenges among those against marijuana legalization, especially when it comes to the products crossing state lines illegally. This has already been a major concern for states where port had been legal for recreational use such as Colorado and Oregon.
Surrounding states are trying to address the marijuana diversion issue by requiring pot businesses to track their product from “seed to store.” Time will tell how these sorts of issues will be regulated.
Furthermore, there remains to be conflicting ideologies on whether or not marijuana use is beneficials. While there has been proven benefits of marijuana use, there are also negative effects of marijuana use. Like any drug, marijuana has the potential to be abused.
As more and more states legalize marijuana, logistical challenges remain such as how the products can be delivered. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, where it’s still classified as a controlled substance. This results in a variety of challenges in states like Colorado where recreational marijuana is legal.
The federal government requires that Colorado and any state that legalizes marijuana work together to prevent:
- Distribution of marijuana to minors.
- Transporting marijuana from states where it’s legal to other states.
- Growing marijuana on public lands.
- Marijuana possession or use on federal property.
- Other criminal activity or violence associated with the sale of marijuana.
It is important to remember that like any drug, marijuana has the potential to be abused. Do not feel shame for feeling out of control of your marijuana use. Stigma should not prevent you from seeking treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please reach out today. Do not wait. Call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
In 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
As 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