Lawmakers in Illinois are dead serious about ensuring the legalization of marijuana for adult use. With only five weeks remaining in the legislative session, the majority-Democrat group of pro-pot politicos hopes to release their full 300-page draft legislation within the week.
This time, however, the highly-anticipated law would go a great distance in terms of enshrining social justice aspects of marijuana legalization that often go by the wayside in other locales where cannabis prohibition has ended.
The legislation, drafted by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans, was written in a way “that centers equity and inclusion in the industry, that centers restoration of records and social justice components and restoration of communities,” Cassidy told the Chicago Sun-Times. The proposed law already has the support of Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
A 2018 report by the Drug Policy Alliance found that, even in states where marijuana had been legalized, people of color still faced a far greater rate of arrests on charges of marijuana possession than did their white counterparts.
The proposed law would ensure that all misdemeanor pot convictions would be expunged from criminal records, while those with cannabis convictions would be allowed to work in the industry while firms in the industry would be expected to achieve diversity hiring goals.
The legislation would also grant support to minority-owned businesses by offering technical assistance and access to loans, capital, and protection from fees that are often used to place barriers to entry to smaller businesses. Cannabis licensing categories would also protect “craft” grow operations and those companies that process and transport the plant.
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“I’ve said for a long time that other states that have tried this have tended to try with a solution, but that presumes there’s a singular barrier to minority engagement in the industry … And that’s simply not the case. These conversations have been about the best way to set up sort of a buffet of responses to the array of problems.”
In 1996, California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use, and over than 30 states have since done the same. Ten states along with Washington, D.C. have freed the herb almost entirely, allowing adults over 21 to partake in the recreational use of cannabis. However, cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal law.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center also found that 62 percent of U.S. residents, including 74 percent of millennials, favor an end to the prohibition of cannabis.
The law faces opposition from a range of special interests groups, including the Catholic Conference of Illinois, the Illinois Chiefs of Police Association, and the Illinois Drug Enforcement Officers Association. The Illinois Chapter of the NAACP has also tagged along with anti-legalization force to chip away at support for the law in the state’s legislative black caucus.
Last month, Vermont-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s, marked April 20—a day traditionally celebrated by cannabis users—with a call for lawmakers to expunge “everybody’s cannabis convictions.”
The company took aim at the disparity between the large number of white people who are making money from the legal marijuana industry versus the significant numbers of black people who continue to face arrest for the possession and usage of the pant.
In a video posted to Twitter, the company said:
“It’s hard to celebrate 4/20 when so many people of color are still being arrested for pot.”
If successfully passed, the Illinois law will hopefully become a model of anti-prohibitionist legislation for other states to follow.
Thanks to: https://themindunleashed.com
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For the second time so far this year, marijuana legislation in Congress has been officially designated with the bill number 420. It seems to be an obvious nod to the increasingly mainstream cannabis culture from lawmakers on Capitol Hill Photo by Tom SydowPhoto by Tom Sydow Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) proposal, S.420, would deschedule marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), establish a federal excise tax on legal sales and create a system of permits for businesses to engage in cannabis commerce. Marijuana enthusiasts, of course, celebrate their favorite plant on April 20, also known as 4/20. “S. 420 may get some laughs, but what matters most is that it will get people talking about the serious need to end failed prohibition," Wyden said in an emailed statement.
The new Senate bill, filed on Thursday, is far from the first time that the number 420 has officially been attached to cannabis legislation. Just last month, another federal lawmaker from Oregon, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), filed a congressional bill to regulate marijuana like alcohol, numbered H.R. 420. Also last month, Minnesota state lawmakers introduced a marijuana legalization bill designated as HF 420.
In California, the first move to establish statewide medical cannabis regulations was through 2003 legislation numbered SB 420. In 2017, a Rhode Island senator introduced bill to legalize marijuana that was designated as S 420. And back on Capitol Hill, the first House vote on an amendment to prevent the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical cannabis laws was via 2003's Roll Call 420. “The federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple. Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed,” Wyden said in a press release. “It’s time Congress make the changes Oregonians and Americans across the country are demanding.” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal called the new bill "a thoughtful and thorough approach to how the federal government could ultimately end prohibition." “Hailing from the first state to decriminalize marijuana back in 1973, Senator Wyden has a unique and much-needed perspective that his colleagues in the nation’s upper chamber would be wise to follow,” he said. Aside from S.420, which would also authorize regulations on packaging and labeling of cannabis products and apply alcohol advertising guidelines to the product, Wyden introduced two separate pieces of marijuana legislation in the Senate this week. One of the bills, S.421, seeks to "reduce the gap between Federal and State marijuana policy." It proposes a number of changes such as exempting state-legal marijuana activity from the CSA, allowing banking access for cannabis companies, eliminating advertising prohibitions, expunging criminal records, shielding immigrants from deportation over marijuana and allowing Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations. The other piece of legislation, S.422, would exempt state-legal cannabis businesses from the federal provision known as 280(E), which prevents them from taking normal business tax deductions that are available to operators in other industries. This third bill is the only one of Wyden's new proposals that comes with initial cosponsors. Also signing on to the legislation are Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Patty Murray (D-WA). Wyden filed previous versions of all three bills during the last Congress, but none were brought to a vote. The new cannabis legislation comes at a time when legalization advocates are more hopeful than ever before about the prospects for federal marijuana reform. Next week, the new House Democratic majority will hold a hearing on marijuana businesses' lack of access to banks, part of a plan Blumenauer proposed in a memo to party leaders that entails moving a number of incremental reform bills leading up to the eventual federal legalization of marijuana in 2019. “Oregon has been and continues to be a leader in commonsense marijuana policies and the federal government must catch up,” Blumenauer in a press release. “The American people have elected the most pro-cannabis Congress in American history and significant pieces of legislation are being introduced. The House is doing its work and with the help of Senator Wyden’s leadership in the Senate, we will break through.” A number of bills with differing approaches to end federal marijuana prohibition have been filed in Congress in recent years, and it remains to be seen which formation House leaders will choose to advance, if any, and whether the Republican-controlled Senate would go along. President Trump, for his part, has signaled support for moves to end federal marijuana prohibition. In the meantime, activists are reacting to the increasing interest in marijuana reform on Capitol Hill and lawmakers' nods to cannabis culture with a mixture of lighthearted optimism. “With 420 legislation pending in both chambers of Congress, the next logical step is for lawmakers to sit in a circle and finally hash out their differences,” NORML's Strekal joked. Tom Angell publishes Marijuana Moment. Follow him on Twitter for breaking news, subscribe to his daily newsletter and support cannabis journalism on Patreon.
Thanks to: https://www.forbes.com
Eagle, CO — Fourth-grader Quintin Lovato suffers from epilepsy and Tourette’s syndrome, and for most of his life, these conditions have made living a normal life nearly impossible for him. Quintin had trouble with basic functions, and could barely walk until his family discovered the healing power of cannabis oil. Luckily, Quintin lives in Colorado, where cannabis is legal and considered medicine, and he has been able to treat his debilitating conditions with the herb legally. Quintin has seen radical improvements in his condition thanks to cannabis, and it has helped him to start living a normal life. Quintin has even been able to take his medicine to school this year so that he can be in his best shape for class “It’s the first day of school where Quintin gets to take his cannabis to school,” his mother Hannah Lovato told KDVR. “I honestly think if he wasn’t taking cannabis for his seizures and Tourette’s he probably… I don’t know if he’d be going to public school to be honest with you,” Hannah added. Quintin’s reading teacher Terry Plain is now a believer, after seeing the results in her student for herself. “Q was so sluggish all the time. He would come to school not ready to learn at all,” Plain said. However, now that he is on the cannabis oil, Plain says that the results are “miraculous.” “He lit up. He was wide-eyed. He was noticing things. He was engaged in learning,” Plain said. Unfortunately, some of the state’s regulations are putting Quintin and his family in a bit of an awkward situation. Quintin needs his medication a few times a day so it can remain active, but due to state regulations, his mother has to be the one to give him the medication. Hannah needs to take her son out of class on a regular basis to give him his medicine, but this type of constant parental involvement has led to teasing and bullying. “A lot of bullying. Why can’t you go through the school day without your mommy?” Hannah said. The teasing has gotten so bad that the family has decided to skip their mid-day dose, even though it has a noticeable effect on his class performance. “It prevented me from having friends,” he said. The Lovato family has now taken their fight to Colorado state lawmakers, in hopes of changing the laws to allow children to take this medication at school without their parents. They received support from Rep. Dylan Roberts, who put forward a bill that amended the existing law to allow school nurses to administer cannabis as they do with any other medication. “It’s going to be life-changing. Nobody is even going to know he’s gone for five seconds to take his medicine,” Hannah Lovato said. Quintin says that he is no longer treated like the “weird kid” or a “mommas boy” and is now able to make friends without that added stigma that he carried before. Individual schools will have the ability to decide whether they want to adopt this policy or not. Delivered by The Daily SheepleWe encourage you to share and republish our reports, analyses, breaking news and videos (Click for details).
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By Carey Wedler
(CW) — On Thursday, the U.S. Senate approved a bill to legalize hemp, an industrial crop that has been banned for decades.
In April, Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) submitted a separate bill to legalize hemp, and those provisions were then incorporated into the broader farm bill. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry approved that version before the upper house of Congress voted to approve it this week by a margin of 86-11. The bill would legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp.
“Consumers across America buy hundreds of millions in retail products every year that contain hemp,” McConnell said Thursday. “But due to outdated federal regulations that do not sufficiently distinguish this industrial crop from its illicit cousin, American farmers have been mostly unable to meet that demand themselves. It’s left consumers with little choice but to buy imported hemp products from foreign-produced hemp.”
According to Wyden:
Legalizing hemp nationwide ends decades of bad policymaking and opens up untold economic opportunity for farmers in Oregon and across the country.
Hemp is a versatile crop that can be used in everything from construction material to clothing, and it has long been a staple in the United States and around the world. In fact, in the 17th century, the government encouraged people to grow it.
Though hemp was eventually banned amid the widespread attack on cannabis in the 1930s, ironically, it then had to be imported to sustain the war effort during World War II.
Farmers across the country have expressed relief and excitement that hemp has come this close to legalization. “It’s super big,” Dani Billings, who owns LoCo farms in Longmont Colorado, said, as reported by an NBC affiliate station in Colorado . “We have people who understand agriculture, that understand this is for farming and it’s not to get people high.”
Bruce Perlowin, CEO of NC-based Hemp Inc., which worked with veterans, said in a press release:
With Veteran Village Kins Community B-Corporations set up in 8 states so far, the legalization of industrial hemp will now allow these future veteran villages to be built and to flourish – creating more support for our veterans than anyone can possibly imagine.
The bill still must be approved by the House, which has expressed opposition to hemp legalization, though McConnell is expected to campaign heavily in favor of the bill in the lower house of Congress. A list of concerns about the bill handed down from the White House reportedly did not include any objections to hemp legalization, meaning that if the bill makes it through the House, it’s likely President Trump will sign it into law.
Some states have passed legislation in recent years legalizing hemp, but the latest legislation would make it national policy.
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By Carey Wedler / Republished with permission / Steemit / Report a typo
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These 5 Organizations Are The Reason Cannabis is Still a Crime It’s often half-jokingly said that if there was one thing that could bring Americans together, it would be cannabis. That might seem a little farfetched at first, but once you discover how many people want cannabis legalized, it will make sense. As of 2018, nine states allow recreation use in some form, while 30 allow medicinal use and 16 allow only CBD, an active component of the cannabis plant which aids in pain relief and sleep. According to a poll from the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, 52% of American adults have tried marijuana at some point in their lives, while 44% of those adults who have tried it are also current users. To bring it all together, a Gallup poll from 2016 sums up the situation by showing that roughly 60% of Americans support legal use of marijuana. However, these numbers are likely to only rise as people better understand the safety and medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant. So, if for years most people have agreed on legal cannabis, why does it remain a federal crime? As you may have guessed, several powerful interests are playing gatekeeper over our rights as citizens to use cannabis. Here are the top five offenders.
As it turns out, alcohol companies are deadly afraid of competition from cannabis, which is a much safer and therapeutic drug than alcohol. From the National Beer Wholesalers Association to the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, these organizations have spent more money on political candidates as the demand for legal cannabis goes up. So far in 2018, the Beer, Wine & Liquor industry spent a total of roughly $7.7 million on lobbying efforts and super PAC’s, with the biggest offenders being Anheuser-Busch InBev and Distilled Spirits Council. Ironically, that number is down greatly from a peak of over $30 million in 2017.
In order to meet the proper quotas, police need to arrest a certain number of people each week. Without proving their necessity with these numbers, police departments don’t have the same ability to gain funding than they otherwise would. Because a significant number of arrests come from cannabis, this makes them afraid of legalization. In 2012, the National Fraternal Order of Police spent a peak $110.2k on lobbying and super PAC spending, while the National Association of Police Organizations have spent a consistent $160k from 2008-2017. When you take into account statistics from the ACLU such as the fact that 52% of all 2010 drug arrests were from cannabis while making a pot bust every 37 seconds on average, the situation looks more like a government subjugation of the people than “protect and serve”.
As prisons gain prisoners, they also gain profit and the prison-industrial complex is no stranger to this controversy. These are the corporations and state facilities which are most likely to lobby for stricter enforcement, longer sentences, and overall greater criminalization of innocuous activities such as smoking cannabis because it means higher profits for them. Although cannabis is not proven to be heavily addictive and much of the violent drug-related crime problem in America is due to prohibition, prisons still lobby for the criminalization of cannabis under false pretenses of addiction and violence. Not to mention the fact the illegality of marijuana has created a massive black market and has never been proven to reduce its use. In the face of all this, organization such as the GEO Group (a “Florida-based company specializing in privatized corrections, detention, and mental health treatment,”) the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, and the Association of Administrative Law Judges have all spent large sums lobbying for greater criminalization.
Perhaps the most unsurprising is Big Pharma. Due to a growing awareness of the medicinal benefits of cannabis oils and cannabis-derived CBD, pharmaceutical companies are having a frenzy trying to suppress its use. For the full fiscal year of 2017, Pharmaceutical Health Product companies spent a combined $280 million on annual lobbying. More specifically in the realm of pharmaceuticals, Pfitzer Inc spent $10.5 million, Eli Lilly & Co spent $7.4 million, Express Scripts spent $2.8 million, Merck & Co spent $6.3 million, and AstraZeneca PLC spent $2.8 million.
Last but not least comes big government. According to the Economist, prohibition has essentially become a $20 billion federal jobs project. In 2010, Jeffrey Miron, a senior lecturer at Harvard University studies the impact that drug legalization would have on the American economy. What he found was that roughly $8.7 billion could be saved on law enforcement spending, while another $8.7 billion would be obtained through taxes on cannabis alone. After inflation, that number would add up to more than $20 million today. However, the current bloated government does not take this situation lightly. As government overreach is often fueled by drug war policies, government bureaucrats are spending a lot of money to keep cannabis illegal. These include the American Federation of Government Employees who in 2016 spent $1.6 million on lobbying and the National Active & Retired Federal Employees Association who spent $1.2 million.
Cannabis Liberty Could Bring America Back Together
As both big government and big business are behind the trampling of a right which most people agree we should have, if the answer to America’s division problem lies in any one issue, it is most likely cannabis. This article (These 5 Organizations are the Reason Cannabis is Still a Crime) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Phillip Schneider and WakingTimes.com. Thanks to: https://themindunleashed.com
Alex Pietrowski, Staff Writer
The race is on to own cannabis, and companies like Bayer, Monsanto and Scotts Miracle-Gro are working feverishly to devise ways of patenting this natural medicinal plant. If they succeed, the landscape of legal weed will change forever in favor of corporate monopolies and quality control empires which will crush diversity in this thriving cash crop.
For lawn, garden and agrochemical companies to want in on the growing cannabis market is no surprise, for it’s the fastest growing trend this industry has ever seen, as even noted by the CEO of Scotts.
“Jim Hagedorn, CEO of Scotts Miracle-Gro, has even said that he plans to “invest, like, half a billion in [taking over] the pot business… It is the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in lawn and garden.”
He has also invested in companies such as Leaf, which grows cannabis in an electronically regulated indoor terrarium accessible via smartphone.” [Source]
The cannabis industry is already enormously profitable for government in states like Colorado where 2017 sales have already topped $1 billion by the month of October and are expected to rise dramatically through the holidays. And this is just one state out of a potential 50 U.S. markets.
We know there is big, big money involved here, which certainly accounts for such big-corporate interest in cannabis, but there is another reason that pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to get their hands in this honey pot.
Medical and scientific studies are frequently coming out and showing that medical marijuana is drastically changing the landscape of dependency on pharmaceutical pills and products. Not only is there a ton of money to be made in legal cannabis, but there is also a ton of money and market share to be lost in medical cannabis, and this fact has the pharmaceutical giants scrambling for an angle to take back this power.
For example, a major study recently found that over half of all people who try cannabidiol (CBD) medicines stop taking traditional medicines, like prescription painkillers, over-the-counter pain relievers and sleeping aids.
“The most common reasons people used CBD were to treat insomnia, depression, anxiety and joint pain, according to Dr. Perry Solomon, the Chief Medical Officer of HelloMD. Forty-two percent of the CBD users said they had stopped using traditional medications like Tylenol pain relievers or prescription drugs like Vicodin and had switched to using cannabis instead. Eighty percent said that they found the products to be “very or extremely effective.” Only 3% or less found the product to be either ineffectual or only slightly effective.” [Source]
Another report issued earlier this year quantified the potential losses to the pharmaceutical industry should they be unable to capitalize and seize a significant portion of market share of medical cannabis.
“It seems the pharmaceutical trade has more than enough reasons to fear the legalization of marijuana, as an analysis conducted by the folks at New Frontier Data predicts the legal use of cannabis products for ailments ranging from chronic pain to seizures could cost marketers of modern medicine somewhere around $4 billion per year.” [Source]
Patents related to cannabis and cannabis products are increasingly being filed with the U.S. Patent Office, both both large companies and smaller ventures. In a recent article on this topic, Forbes magazine answered the question of whether or not cannabis can be patented:
“Yes, this is presently a small area of activity, but may also represent opportunity. Plants can be patented in two ways, by way of “utility patents” (like 95% of all patents) or by way of a separate “plant patent” category. Utility patents are much stronger; plant patents are narrowly focused on a single “parent” plant and its direct descendants. By my count, there are currently only 5 US plant patent cases (4 pending applications, 1 issued patent), and 11 utility plant-directed patent cases (8 pending applications, 3 issued patents). Two companies are currently the main players in plants: the plant-focused Biotechnology Institute (Los Angeles CA) has 3 issued patents as well as 2 pending applications, and GW Pharmaceuticals (UK) has two plant-focused applications. GW is notable for having the largest cannabis-directed portfolio (80+ US cases) of all companies in the space, and is particularly focused on methods of treating diseases.” [Source]
Pharmaceutical drugs kill more people each year than do illegal drugs. The big corporations know this and work to avoid liability for their harm, even in the face of such an overwhelming crisis like the opioid epidemic.
The main thing to note here is that this goes far beyond economic terms. It is a matter of personal freedom and a very effective means of protesting and bypassing the medical-pharmaceutical corporate cartels which now have the world hooked on dangerous chemical drugs.
If a person such as Tommy Chong can cure his own cancer by growing plants on his rooftop then having a friend process these plants into consumable, natural oils to save his life, we have effectively found a way to overcome the dominance of big pharma.
Thanks to: http://www.wakingtimes.com
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