Tag Archives: recreational marijuana

How a Federal Crackdown on Marijuana Could Affect Mexican Cartels

President Donald Trump campaigned on making the United States “great again,” but if his administration follows through on a threat to crack down on legal marijuana, it’s Mexican drug cartels that could be restored to their former glory.

TOM ANGELL – MARIJUANA.COM

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that states with legal recreational marijuana will likely “see greater enforcement” of federal laws, which prohibit all use of cannabis. Spicer’s statements echo what Attorney General Jeff Sessions said during his confirmation hearings: “It is not so much the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce. We should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able.”

The Department of Justice declined to comment.

Eight states and the District of Columbia currently allow the retail sale of marijuana for recreational use, all thanks to voter referendums.

In Colorado, where in 2012 voters were the first in the nation to back retail sales, the marijuana industry generated over $1.3 billion in revenue last year, adding about $200 million in taxes to the state’s coffers. In California, the first state to legalize the medical use of cannabis, marijuana has become the state’s leading agricultural commodity, according to the Orange County Register, which estimated its value at $23.3 billion — even before voters legalized recreational sales last November.

Most people think that’s a good thing. A poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University found a majority of the U.S. public now supports marijuana legalization, and 71 percent oppose a federal crack down on states that have legalized it already.

The rise of the homegrown weed industry has come at a cost, though: In 2016, U.S. Border Patrol reported that “marijuana seizures along the southwest border tumbled to their lowest level in at least a decade,” The Washington Post reported. Between 2011 and 2015, seizures dropped 39 percent, according to Fortune.

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What today’s Supreme Court decision means for the future of legal weed

March 21 at 1:50 PM

The Supreme Court’s decision today to toss out a lawsuit that could have brought Colorado’s legal marijuana boom to a screeching halt hasn’t deterred opponents of the national legalization effort.

Already, the plaintiffs and their supporters are looking to regroup. “The Court’s decision does not bar additional challenges to Colorado’s scheme in federal district court,” said Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson in a statement.

Oklahoma and Nebraska asked the Supreme Court to hear a challenge to Colorado’s marijuana legalization framework, saying that the state’s legalization regime was causing marijuana to flow across the borders into their own states, creating law enforcement headaches.

But by a 6-2 majority, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, without comment.

In a statement, Peterson’s office said it would work with Oklahoma and other states “to determine the best next steps toward vindicating the rule of law.”

Other opponents are remaining optimistic, as well. “It’s obviously a disappointment,” said Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana in an email. “But we think legalization will be defeated on its own policy merits,” he added.

They’re facing an increasingly steep uphill battle.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued that since marijuana is illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), it can’t be regulated at the state level. But numerous legal experts have pointed out that assumption is incorrect.

“Congress has no power to compel states to prohibit the cultivation, possession and transfer of marijuana,” according to Randy Barnett, an attorney who litigated a Supreme Court case exploring the limits of the CSA. “In the absence of such state prohibition, all such activities are completely legal under state law, notwithstanding that they are illegal under federal law,” he wrote last year.

In short, Congress can say that marijuana is illegal at the federal level. But if a state doesn’t want to enforce that prohibition itself, it doesn’t have to do so. And if it wants to go one step further and set up a market to regulate the trade in the drug, it’s free to do that as well.

“This is the result that most of us were expecting,” legal professor Sam Kamin, who was part of the task force implementing Colorado’s marijuana laws, said in an email. “This never seemed like the right case to test the power of the states to tax and regulate marijuana (everyone seems to agree that they have the right to legalize marijuana).”

The U.S. Justice Department filed a brief last December urging the Supreme Court to throw the lawsuit out. “With the federal government uninterested in bringing such a suit at the moment, this seems to take things out of the courts and into the political process for the near term,” Kamen said.

Legalization advocates say that while the decision likely won’t have any big practical effects in the near-term, it does send a signal to other states mulling their own marijuana policy in the coming years. “The Supreme Court’s rejection of this misguided effort to undo cautious and effective state-level regulation of marijuana is excellent news for the many other states looking to adopt similar reforms in 2016 and beyond,” said Tamar Todd, director of the office of legal affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement.

Observers on both sides of the issue point out that the court’s majority did not issue any explanation of their dismissal, which is standard practice in cases like this. The justices may have objected to the lawsuit on its merits, or they may have simply felt that it wasn’t proper for them to take up the case at this time, preferring instead to let the state-level legalization experiments play out.

“Of course, everything may change with a new administration in 2017,” law professor Sam Kamin said in an email. “But with marijuana on the ballot in another big handful of states this fall, the genie may be out of the bottle by the time the next president is sworn into office.”

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Full Article Sourced From – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/03/21/what-todays-supreme-court-decision-means-for-the-future-of-legal-weed/

Massachusetts Senate Panel on Legal Pot to Visit Colorado

  • By BOB SALSBERG, ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOSTON — Jan 8, 2016, 5:04 PM ET

Members of a Massachusetts Senate panel plan to visit Colorado next week to learn more about that state’s experience with the legalized use of recreational marijuana.

The Senate Special Committee on Marijuana was created last year in response to a likely 2016 ballot question that — if approved by voters — would allow pot to be used recreationally in Massachusetts.

A draft itinerary for the four-day trip starting Monday includes meetings and discussions with Colorado state regulators, legislators and law enforcement officials.

“We have recognized all along that the best way to really learn about the impact of legalizing marijuana is to spend time on the ground in the state that has the most experience with it, and that is Colorado,” said Sen. Jason Lewis, a Winchester Democrat who chairs the committee of 10 senators, eight of whom plan to be on the trip.

The visit is being paid for by Milbank Memorial Fund, a nonprofit foundation that specializes in health policy, Lewis said Friday.

Three other states — Washington, Alaska and Oregon — have legalized recreational pot.

A group called The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol collected more than enough signatures last year to advance the proposed ballot question, which would allow Massachusetts residents 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. It would also create a 3.75 percent state excise tax on retail marijuana sales that would be assessed on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

Massachusetts voters approved two earlier ballot questions that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and authorized patients with certain medical conditions to use the drug.

“We don’t want to repeat the mistakes and the challenges we had in implementing the medical marijuana question,” said Lewis, referring to regulatory delays that kept the first dispensaries from opening until last year.

Regulating recreational marijuana would be even more complex, he said, with issues that include public safety, licensing, taxes and compliance with federal law.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and state Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, are among those lined up against the proposed ballot question, with Baker saying he is “unalterably opposed” to legalizing marijuana.

Read Full Article  – http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/massachusetts-senate-panel-legal-pot-visit-colorado-36170306