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What Cannabis Legalization Opponents Have Right

What Cannabis Legalization Opponents Have Right
Photo by Dan Curtis for Cannabis Now

Joint Opinions

What Cannabis Legalization Opponents Have Right

Amid the distortions and tired lies, legalization foes are speaking one truth: commercial cannabis isn’t working as promised.

After a years long, near-unopposed and near-perfect victory parade through the West and the Northeast, cannabis legalization is now on a losing streak.

And now that the movement-turned-industry is staring at obstacles apparently isn’t prepared to solve, anti-legalization prohibitionists are capitalizing. For once, they have an honest point that commercial cannabis can’t honestly counter: legalization hasn’t really been all that good for the people it promised to help the most.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign promise to legalize recreational marijuana in his first 100 days in office is now more than 365 days overdue. After state lawmakers abandoned this year’s proposed legalization scheme earlier this spring, legalizing in 730 days is no guarantee.

Next door, in New York State, an industry-friendly legalization proposal floated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as part of his annual budget proposal was also ditched after a revolt in the New York State Assembly. Lawmakers of color watched other states legalize on promises of “righting the wrongs of the drug war” only to watch cannabis become a well-capitalized white man’s game — and decided that they had had enough of empty promises and wanted a guarantee.

“They thought we were going to trust that at the end of the day, these communities would be invested in,” said Assembly Leader Cheryl Peoples-Stokes in a March New York Times interview. “But that’s not something I want to trust.”

Now Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is hoping he has the secret sauce. Like his counterpart in New Jersey, Illinois’s first-term governor, sworn in this year, also promised to legalize marijuana on the campaign trail. Earlier this month, Pritzker’s allies in the state legislature unveiled a proposal that would legalize possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis for anyone 21 or over, expunge low-level cannabis convictions, and also set up a low-interest loan program for people of color interested in joining the cannabis industry.

But as the Chicago Tribune reported, like his counterparts in New York and New Jersey, Pritzker — a hereditary billionaire whose also-wealthy relatives, scions to the Hilton hotels family fortune, helped fund Prop. 64 in California, one of the successful legalization ballot initiatives — is also having a tough time winning over lawmakers of color, who are also wary of legalization’s overpromises.

Never one to waste a crisis, familiar faces like Smart Approaches to Marijuana, arguably the nation’s most prominent anti-legalization group, have arrived on the scene. SAM is known for its willingness to lie or dial up outrage — last fall, Kevin Sabet, SAM’s founder and director, told a Kentucky state legislature committee the old “fentanyl in cannabis” fib — but for once they’re right on.

As per the Tribune:

Abu Edwards, national director for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said the proposal benefits “white men in suits who work on Wall Street.”

This is about creating a big business that African-Americans are not going to have the capital to get into,” said Edwards, who is African-American. “It’s not about a person smoking a joint, this about big corporate greed coming into our communities and benefiting off of addiction in our communities.”

Well — and he’s mostly right! Cannabis isn’t very addictive and certainly is not very addictive compared to other drugs. Nationwide, only 138,000 people sought help for cannabis use in 2015, according to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse; compare that to the estimated 2.5 million Americans who have an opiate-use problem.

But it’s hard to argue the “big corporate greed” point. Consolidation and corporatization is absolutely happening. Former House Speaker John Boehner, who hated weed until he realized he could make money off of it, is selling cannabis stock tips and taking huge fees to lobby Congress. The point is particularly hard to argue in Illinois, where several existing big-time medical-marijuana companies have been lobbying Prtizker to get first and only dibs in the recreational market.

Pritzker appears to get it. His proposal has the automatic expunging of past offenses, which is a step up from states like California, where jurisdictions like San Francisco had to hire coders to write algorithms to do the expunging. And some kind of equity program for entrepreneurs baked into the bill is also an improvement. Will it work? Remains to be seen, but in the meantime, the cannabis industry has absolutely given its opponents an opening. It’s not just and it’s not equitable, and it needs to address this in a hurry if it wants to be taken seriously — and resume its once inevitable-looking winning ways.

TELL US, do you think the cannabis industry can ever be fair?

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. YearofAction

    May 22, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    The necessary and proper alternative to full out legalization of marijuana is to first carefully deschedule the plant Cannabis sativa L. When cannabis is carefully descheduled, then the medical value of cannabis can be researched by by NIDA and augmented with the experience of medical marijuana users. This separate consideration of the adulterated medical value that marijuana itself derives from cannabis can be used to determine whether to remove marijuana from Schedule 1, or from the Schedules entirely.

    By reconstructing the definition to carefully deschedule cannabis, the persistent misconstruction that “marihuana = cannabis” will be legislatively overridden, the States will be restrained from maliciously misconstruing federal marijuana law, the Well Regulated Militia Clause of the 2nd Amendment will be positively reinforced, corporations will be obligated to outsource cannabis from citizens competing in the supply-side of the cannabis marketplace, and corporations will be continue to be precluded from enticing children to “smoke marijuana”.

    Carefully descheduling the versatile and valuable cannabis plant will conditionally return the plant to the people by restoring and protecting the exclusive privileges and immunities of citizens to grow cannabis, which was established way back in 1868 by Section 1 of the 14th Amendment. It wasn’t until 1937 that the Marihuana Tax Act surreptitiously prohibited cannabis by literally misconstruing the meaning of the malformed federal definition of “marihuana”.

    The definition of “marihuana” is malformed because it does not clearly describe how marijuana is actually derived from cannabis. Simply reconstructing the text of the existing malformed definition of “marihuana” to do that, will restore and protect the exclusive privileges and immunities of citizens to grow carefully descheduled cannabis plants, as well as the 9th and 10th Amendment rights to use cannabis. Congress can replace the existing definition with this reconstructed definition of marijuana by invoking Section 5 of the 14th Amendment, but We the People have to tell them to do it:

    The Reconstructed definition:
    The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L. which is, as are the viable seeds of such plant, prohibited to be grown by or sold by any publicly traded corporation or subsidiary company, and such smoke is prohibited to be inhaled by any child or by any person bearing any firearm, as is the intake of any part or any product of such plant containing more than 0.3% THC by weight unless prescribed to such child by an authorized medical practitioner.

    Compare this reconstructed definition with the persistently malformed definitions of prohibited “marihuana”:

    The Original malformed definition:
    (1937): MARIHUANA: (b) The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds, or resin- but shall not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

    The Scheduled malformed definition:
    (1970): (16) The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

    The Exempted malformed definition:
    (2018): (16)(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), the term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.
    (B) The term “marihuana” does not include (i) hemp, as defined in section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946; or (ii) the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

    The new federal definition of “hemp” is also unnecessary and improper because it literally conflicts with the new federal definition of “marihuana”. Curiously, “marihuana” is characterized as a drug although it has never included THC in its definition, while “hemp” is not characterized as a drug, but it does include THC in its definition. There is no difference between the THC in “marihuana” and the THC in “hemp”, so “hemp” and its THC required the unwarranted federal privilege of being specifically exempted from the Schedules.

    (2018): 202(c) SCHEDULE I, subsection (c)(17): Tetrahydrocannabinols, except for tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp (as defined under section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946).

    (2018): Sec. 297A: (1) HEMP. The term “hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

    The prohibition of “marihuana” and THC, followed by the exemption of “hemp” and its THC, mimics how tax law is implemented (e.g. increase property taxes, but exempt corporations from paying property taxes). It should not be how our rights are implemented.

    In this election season, let’s contact our members of Congress about simply reconstructing the malformed federal definition of “marihuana” to restore our rights to cannabis.

  2. AlienWired

    May 21, 2019 at 4:19 am

    So, you get the monopoly on deciding what is working or not with marijuana legalization??

    Really???

    Who the hell died and left you the decider?

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