Pot, Power and Politics: The Week in Weed
I had dinner at the home of my parents last Sunday, to celebrate Father’s Day. My dad is 89 years old and while we were eating and exchanging gifts, he quietly asked me if marijuana could help him sleep better at night.
I blinked in disbelief. This was the same man who would ransack my car and bedroom when I was a teenager, looking for signs of the devil’s weed. If he found any, I would get grounded for a month.
To quote the late Dr. Carl Sagan, the famous American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, TV personality and bestselling author:
“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” I guess these days, even my octogenarian dad would agree.
Let’s examine the latest legal and regulatory developments at the federal and state levels as they pertain to marijuana and what these changes mean for society, the economy and investors.
The Federal Level
A federal judge in California ruled that state police can’t search a car based on probable cause of a federal marijuana offense.
U.S. Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) tweeted: “The war on drugs has been targeting the wrong drug dealers” (see tweet below).
Nebraska Democratic congressional candidate Mark Elworth Jr. left the party to join the Legal Marijuana Now Party, a political third party in the U.S. founded in 1998 to oppose drug prohibition.
Last Friday, at a hearing on drug laws held by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) said: “The man-made discriminatory policies that have destroyed Black lives and Black families in this country were very precise. From the original sin of bondage to redlining to the failed war on drugs.” Pressley’s remarks raise an important issue.
The legalization paradox…
Despite broad public support for legalization, bias against marijuana remains deeply ingrained in some segments of the population. For decades, the establishment waged a relentless propaganda war against marijuana, as epitomized by the infamous movie, Reefer Madness (1936).
Sure, marijuana legalization continues apace, with a growing number of states loosening prohibitions against cannabis. But at the same time, the number of persons arrested in the U.S. for violating marijuana laws has risen.
The marijuana black market has been thriving, due to high prices at dispensaries and looser practices among users even in places where weed remains illegal. Drug law enforcement falls disproportionately on minorities and the poor.
However, in recent weeks, several political leaders across the country have been linking the Black Lives Matter protests with calls for drug policy reform, providing yet another tailwind for the legalization of marijuana and even psychedelics.
The State Level
Iowa’s medical cannabis patient count dropped by a third during the coronavirus pandemic, as patients encountered bureaucratic snags in renewing their registration cards.
Maine tribal populations decried racial disparities in marijuana enforcement in a letter to Gov. Janet Mills (D).
Massachusetts regulators launched an online application for pediatric medical cannabis patients.
Missouri regulators launched a probe into people who fraudulently claimed to be doctors and who doled out 600 invalid medical marijuana recommendations. The increasing prevalence of medical marijuana within the mainstream culture is raising concerns among government officials throughout the country about fraud and quackery.
New Hampshire regulators are extending medical cannabis patients renewal deadlines during the coronavirus pandemic. The Granite State has decriminalized marijuana. There is no prison time nor criminal record for first-time possession of a small amount for personal use. The use of marijuana is treated by law enforcement as a minor traffic violation.
North Carolina Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Jenna Wadsworth tweeted: “Marijuana is legal in at least 33 states plus DC. It’s ridiculous we’re sending people to prison in NC for something that’s legal in a preponderance of states, and then those same prisoners are at a higher risk for COVID contraction. Decriminalize it. Legalize it. Call it a day.”
The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the rejection of a law school graduate’s application to the bar after determining he lied about being fired from a job due to a positive marijuana test.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has received the first round of recommended marijuana pardons. The lieutenant governor tweeted: “No one should have their life harmed by a marijuana conviction. Until there’s a legalization + mass expungement, PA’s expedited pardons process now takes 6 months.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced the state’s first large-scale industrial hemp processing and cannabidiol (CBD) oil extraction facility.
Editor’s Note: As this article makes clear, marijuana is a permanent fixture in the nation’s political dialogue and consumer culture. Pot continues to make headlines.
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John Persinos is the editor-in-chief of Marijuana Investing Daily. You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org