DoH Study Calling For Adult Marijuana Use Legalization

A state-commissioned study released today by the New York Department of Health recommends replacing cannabis criminalization with a policy of adult use legalization.

The 74-page study, entitled “Assessment of the Potential Impact of Regulated Marijuana in New York State,” acknowledges the following:

“Regulating marijuana can reduce opioid use;”

“Regulating marijuana may lead to a reduction in the use of synthetic cannabinoids;”

“Legalizing marijuana will reduce disproportionate criminalization and incarceration of racial and ethnic minority communities;”

“Regulating marijuana will create jobs;”

“Marijuana regulation could generate long-term cost savings.”

The study’s authors conclude: “A regulated marijuana program enjoys broad support and would have significant health, social justice, and economic benefits. … Regulating marijuana enables public health officials to minimize the potential risks of marijuana use through outreach, education, quantity limits at point of sale, quality control, and consumer protection. … The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in NYS outweigh the potential negative impacts.”

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Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act

New York state Senator Liz Krueger plans a new push in favor of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) (Senate Bill S3040B and Assembly Bill A3506B), legislation to legalize the adult possession, use, and sale of marijuana in New York.

“We see our neighboring states legalize, we see the economics escaping us. You just see other states going down this road, and the world didn’t end out in Colorado,” Krueger said.

Over the past twenty years, many New Yorkers have been negatively affected by the harms of prohibition in New York. With people of color accounting for nearly 85% of those arrested annually, the MRTA directs the benefits of taxing and regulating marijuana to these communities. Because structural racism is ingrained in marijuana prohibition, it’s important that the MRTA both ends marijuana prohibition and promotes racial justice.

Significant steps are taken in the amended MRTA to ensure racial justice and a small business-friendly industry, including:

● Creating a micro-licensing structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, which allows small-scale production and sale plus delivery to reduce barriers to entry for people with less access to capital and traditional avenues of financing.
● Establishing the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which will invest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war through job training, economic empowerment, and youth development programming.
● Ensuring diversity in New York’s marijuana industry by removing barriers to access like capital requirements and building inclusivity by allowing licensing to people with prior drug convictions. Only people with business-related convictions (such as fraud or tax evasion) will be explicitly barred from receiving licenses.

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Federal Priorities

 
 

Penalize States That Maintain Criminalization: Support the Marijuana Justice Act

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Barbara Lee have introduced comprehensive marijuana reform legislation, the Marijuana Justice Act to both chambers of Congress.

This marks the first time that companion legislation has been introduced in both chambers of Congress remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The bills, S. 1689 and HR 4815 would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Thirty states, Washington, DC and the US territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis, while an estimated 63 million Americans now reside in jurisdictions where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. Voters overwhelmingly support these policy changes. According to a 2017 Quinnipiac University poll, 59 percent of Americans support full marijuana legalization and 71 percent believe that states, not the federal government, should set marijuana policy.

NOTE: Enter your information and it say "no targets found"? That means your representative has already signed on to be a cosponsor. Send a letter to your lawmakers now to thank them for supporting the Marijuana Justice Act.

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Completely Decriminalize Federally: Support the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation (S. 3174) , the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

The new legislation would:

  • Decriminalize Marijuana: The legislation would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level by descheduling (removing) marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970;

  • Respect States’ Rights: The legislation would maintain federal law enforcement’s authority to prevent marijuana trafficking from states that have legalized marijuana to those that have not;

  • Level The Economic Playing Field: The legislation would establish dedicated funding streams to be administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for women and minority-owned marijuana businesses that would be determinant on a reasonable estimate of the total amount of revenue generated by the marijuana industry;

  • Protect Children: The legislation would maintain the Department of Treasury’s authority to regulate marijuana advertising in the same way it does tobacco advertising to ensure the marijuana businesses aren’t allowed to target children in their advertisements. The bill also allows the agency to impose penalties in the case of violations;

  • Incentivize Record Sealing and Expungement Programs: The legislation authorizes grant programs to encourage state and local governments to administer, adopt, or enhance expungement or sealing programs for marijuana possession convictions. The bill provides $100 million over five years to the DOJ to carry out this purpose.

 

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Join the Caucus: Tell your Congressional Representative to join the recently formed federal Cannabis Caucus

With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation's nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of adults throughout America, 93% of whom support medical marijuana (Quinnipiac, 2017) and 64 percent of whom endorse the outright legalization of recreational cannabis (Gallup, 2017).

The leadership displayed by Representatives Rohrabacher, Blumenauer, Polis, and Young is a testament to this growing public consensus. The official establishment of this Caucus represents our growing, bipartisan support in Congress.

 

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Bipartisanship: The STATES Act To End Federal Enforcement In States That Legalized Medical or Adult-Use

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have introduced bipartisan legislation, The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018, to remove the threat of federal intervention and prosecution in states that regulate marijuana use and sales. A bipartisan House companion bill has been introduced by Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

This marks the first bicameral, bipartisan legislation to end the federal enforcement of prohibition in states that have reformed their marijuana laws.

Specifically, this legislation:
- Creates an exemption to the Controlled Substances Act for US states and territories that have reformed their laws with regard to marijuana policy, effectively restraining undue federal intervention
- Maintains federal legislative provisions (aka “guardrails”) to deter:
   - The interstate trafficking of marijuana into prohibition states from legal states
   - The prevention of those under 18 from working in the cannabis industry
   - The prevention of those under 21 from purchasing marijuana (unless recommended by a state-qualified physician to treat a medical condition)
   - Unsafe production conditions
- Provides greater flexibility for lawmakers in non-legal states to reform their laws in a manner that reflects the will of the of their constituents and regulates cannabis commerce
- Provides the ability for cannabis businesses to obtain basic banking services
- Removes industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act

 

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Veterans: House Bill Introduced to Expand Veterans’ Access to Medical Marijuana

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has reintroduced H.R. 1820, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which expands medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans.

Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of H.R. 1820 lifts this prohibition.

Update: Congressman Blumenauer has filed an amendment (Blumenauer #37) which would allow VA doctors to make recommendations for medical marijuana as long as it is compliant under State law.

Update: The Veteran Affairs Department has reiterated their lack of support for medical marijuana access for veterans in a update on their website. The new language also makes erroneous claims about the legality surrounding their ability to allow VA doctors to recommend medicinal marijuana.

 

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Additional Federal Efforts