Senators Harris, Nadler Introduce Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Legislation

MJLegal

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, one of the most comprehensive marijuana reform bills ever introduced in the U.S. Congress.

“Times have changed — marijuana should not be a crime,” said Sen. Harris. “We need to start regulating marijuana, and expunge marijuana convictions from the records of millions of Americans so they can get on with their lives. As marijuana becomes legal across the country, we must make sure everyone — especially communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs — has a real opportunity to participate in this growing industry. I am thrilled to work with Chairman Nadler on this timely and important step toward racial and economic justice.”

“Despite the legalization of marijuana in states across the country, those with criminal convictions for marijuana still face second class citizenship. Their vote, access to education, employment, and housing are all negatively impacted,” said Chairman Nadler. “Racially motivated enforcement of marijuana laws has disproportionally impacted communities of color. It’s past time to right this wrong nationwide and work to view marijuana use as an issue of personal choice and public health, not criminal behavior. I’m proud to sponsor the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, remove the needless burden of marijuana convictions on so many Americans, and invest in communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs.”

“I am encouraged by Senator Harris’ Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act,” said Wanda James, CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary, Denver, CO, and the first African American woman to own a marijuana dispensary in Colorado. “Her focus and dedication to ending the generational damage done by mass incarceration due to federal cannabis prohibition is what is needed from our leadership. I am also excited about her emphasis in providing a path to ownership and wealth creation in communities that have been the most affected by this failed and racist drug war. It is time to change this history.”

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act aims to correct the historical injustices of failed drug policies that have disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income communities by requiring resentencing and expungement of prior convictions. This will create new opportunities for individuals as they work to advance their careers, education, and overall quality of life. Immigrants will also benefit from the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, as they will no longer be subject to deportation or citizenship denial based on even a minor marijuana offense. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act also ensures that all benefits in the law are available to juvenile offenders.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act:

  • Decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level by removing the substance from the Controlled Substances Act. This applies retroactively to prior and pending convictions, and enables states to set their own policy.
  • Requires federal courts to expunge prior convictions, allows prior offenders to request expungement, and requires courts, on motion, to conduct re-sentencing hearings for those still under supervision.
  • Authorizes the assessment of a 5% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products to create an Opportunity Trust Fund, which includes three grant programs:
    • The Community Reinvestment Grant Program: Provides services to the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, including job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation, mentoring, and substance use treatment.
    • The Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program: Provides funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
    • The Equitable Licensing Grant Program: Provides funds for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
  • Opens up Small Business Administration funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.
  • Provides non-discrimination protections for marijuana use or possession, and for prior convictions for a marijuana offense:
    • Prohibits the denial of any federal public benefit (including housing) based on the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense.
    • Provides that the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense, will have no adverse impact under the immigration laws.
  • Requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure people of color and those who are economically disadvantaged are participating in the industry.

Along with Harris and Nadler, co-sponsors of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act include U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR); and U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Hakeem S. Jeffries (D-NY), Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Steve Cohen (D-TN), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Theodore E. Deutch (D-FL), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Debra A. Haaland (D-NM), Ro Khanna (D-CA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act has the support of a broad coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, drug policy, and immigration groups, including: the Drug Policy Alliance, Center for American Progress, 4thMVMT, ACLU, California Minority Alliance, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Human Rights Watch, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Sentencing Project, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, UndocuBlack Network, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

“The disproportionate rates of marijuana arrests and incarceration faced by low-income communities and communities of color only scratch the surface of the devastation that prohibition has caused,” said Queen Adesuyi, policy coordinator for Drug Policy Alliance. “Marijuana convictions have disrupted people’s lives — from one’s ability to secure or maintain employment, housing, funds for education, a valid driver’s license to the ability to keep one’s kids or remain in this country for noncitizens. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act ends prohibition in a way that centers communities most impacted by criminalization with reform that is as comprehensive as the decades of harm inflicted.”

“America’s black and brown communities have paid the heaviest price for this country’s drug war. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act marks an unprecedented step toward repairing this harm and represents the responsible way to move forward on marijuana policy,” said Ed Chung, Vice President of Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress. “We look forward to working with Congress to swiftly pass this bill.”

“At a point in time when simultaneously one person could have their life ruined in New York for the exact same action that makes someone in California a millionaire, now more than ever we must end the federal prohibition of marijuana,” said Justin StrekalPolitical Director for NORML. “The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act embodies the need to legalize cannabis and restore the rights of those who have suffered under the cruel and failed policy of criminalization.”

“Marijuana legalization is imperative if we are to move closer to true criminal justice reform, racial equality, and economic justice,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, Deputy Director of the Washington Legislative Office at the ACLU. “Too many communities of color have been disproportionately targeted and over-policed as a result of the war on drugs. We support this comprehensive bicameral legislation that aims to not only chart a more equitable path forward, but also repair some of the harm caused by the punitive marijuana laws of the past.

“We thank Senator Harris and Chairman Nadler for introducing the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “To successfully mitigate the damage of a biased criminal justice system, we need legislation that directly addresses the racial and economic disparities caused by marijuana criminalization. As an anti-poverty organization, we applaud the bill’s promotion of equal access to economic opportunities in the marijuana industry, support for community reinvestment strategies, and provisions ensuring that people with marijuana convictions no longer face the collateral consequences of a criminal record. By doing all this, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act would be an important first step to repairing the harm to communities of color and low-income communities from decades of discriminatory drug law enforcement and mass incarceration policies.”

For bill text, click here. 

 

Booker, Lee, Khanna Introduce Landmark Marijuana Justice Bill

Social justice bill would end the federal prohibition on marijuana, expunge records, and reinvest in communities most impacted by War on Drugs

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), today reintroduced their landmark bill to end the federal prohibition on marijuana.

In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

“The War on Drugs has not been a war on drugs, it’s been a war on people, and disproportionately people of color and low-income individuals,” said Booker. “The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to reverse decades of this unfair, unjust, and failed policy by removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances and making it legal at the federal level.”

“But it’s not enough to simply decriminalize marijuana. We must also repair the damage caused by reinvesting in those communities that have been most harmed by the War on Drugs. And we must expunge the records of those who have served their time. The end we seek is not just legalization, it’s justice.”

“The War on Drugs has destroyed lives, and no one continues to be hurt more than people of color and low-income communities,” said Wyden. “There is a desperate need not only to correct course by ending the failed federal prohibition of marijuana, but to right these wrongs and ensure equal justice for those who have been disproportionately impacted.”

“Millions of Americans’ lives have been devastated because of our broken marijuana policies, especially in communities of color and low-income communities,” said Gillibrand. “Currently, just one minor possession conviction can take away a lifetime of opportunities for jobs, education, and housing, tear families apart, and make people more vulnerable to serving time in jail down the road. It is shameful that my son would likely be treated very differently from one of his Black or Latino peers if he was caught with marijuana, and legalizing marijuana is an issue of morality and social justice. I’m proud to work with Senator Booker on this legislation to help fix decades of injustice caused by our nation’s failed drug policies.”

“As I said during my 2016 campaign, hundreds of thousands of people are arrested for possession of marijuana every single year,” said Sanders. “Many of those people, disproportionately people of color, have seen their lives negatively impacted because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That has got to change. We must end the absurd situation of marijuana being listed as a Schedule 1 drug alongside heroin. It is time to decriminalize marijuana, expunge past marijuana convictions and end the failed war on drugs.”

“Marijuana laws in this country have not been applied equally, and as a result we have criminalized marijuana use in a way that has led to the disproportionate incarceration of young men of color. It’s time to change that,” said Harris. “Legalizing marijuana is the smart thing to do and the right thing to do in order to advance justice and equality for every American.”

“Marijuana should be legalized, and we should wipe clean the records of those unjustly jailed for minor marijuana crimes. By outlawing marijuana, the federal government puts communities of color, small businesses, public health and safety at risk.” said Warren.

“This long-overdue change will help bring our marijuana laws into the 21st century. It’s past time we bring fairness and relief to communities that our criminal justice system has too often left behind.” said Bennet.

“Communities of color and low-income communities have been devastated by the War on Drugs,” said Lee. “As Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I’m proud to sponsor legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, address the disproportionate impact of prohibition on people of color by expunging criminal convictions, and promote equitable participation in the legal marijuana industry by investing in the communities hardest hit by the failed War on Drugs.”

“Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by misguided marijuana policy for far too long,” said Khanna. “Rep. Lee, Sen. Booker, and I are proud to introduce this important legislation and deliver justice for so many Americans.”

The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to reverse decades of failed drug policy that has disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color. Beyond removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances – making it legal at the federal level – the bill would also automatically expunge the convictions of those who have served federal time for marijuana use and possession offenses, and it would reinvest in the communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs through a community fund. This community reinvestment fund could be used for projects such as job training programs, re-entry services, and community centers.

The bill would also incentivize states through the use of federal funds to change their marijuana laws if those laws were shown to have a disproportionate effect on low-income individuals and/or people of color.

By going further than simply rescheduling marijuana with expungement and community reinvestment, Booker, Lee, and Khanna’s bill is the most far-reaching marijuana legislation ever to be introduced in Congress.

The bill is retroactive and would apply to those already serving time behind bars for marijuana-related offenses, providing for a judge’s review of marijuana sentences.

Full text of the bill is here.

Background on Booker’s leadership on issues of marijuana and criminal justice:

Booker has seen the effects of our broken marijuana laws first-hand, dating back to his time as a tenant lawyer, City Council member, and Mayor of Newark, where he created the city’s first office of prisoner re-entry to help formerly incarcerated individuals re-integrate into their communities.

In the Senate, Booker was an outspoken critic of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ effort to revive the failed War on Drugs. Most recently, he pressed Trump’s newest pick for Attorney General, William Barr, on his stance on marijuana legalization and the Cole memo, winning a commitment from Barr to leave alone states that have already legalized marijuana.

In addition to the Marijuana Justice Act, Booker is the co-author of the bipartisan CARERS Act, which would allow patients to access medical marijuana in states where it’s legal without fear of federal prosecution, and the bipartisan REDEEM Act, which would allow nonviolent drug offenders to petition a court to seal and expunge their drug offenses, while automatically sealing, and in some cases expunging, the nonviolent records of juveniles. These reforms would reduce a major barrier that formerly incarcerated individuals face when attempting to rejoin society. He is also a cosponsor of the Fair Chance Act, which prohibits the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment. Earlier this month, the Fair Chance Act passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Roger Tilton’s Clarion Call To New Hampshire: “Let’s Be Tenth!”

By Roger Tilton

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Four years ago, I ran for state senate in the “First in the Nation Primary” state of New Hampshire on the theme: “Let’s be ‘Third in the Nation’ to legalize adult-use cannabis.” I lost. And so did New Hampshire. Since that election, every jurisdiction neighboring New Hampshire (save the Atlantic Ocean) has legalized adult-use cannabis: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Canada.

My slogan as I seek election again this cycle: “Let’s be tenth!” Not really. New Hampshire’s legislative branch, called the General Court, consists of a 400-member House of Representatives and 24 Senators. All 424 of them get paid $200 per biennium, or a hundred bucks a year. Who can afford to run for office in New Hampshire? Certainly not the working class: maybe, retired people? Wealthy people? People who control their own schedule? And what do those three groups have in common? (Other than they’re from the Greatest Generation, the oldest demographic group still alive, and those who still vehemently, and overwhelmingly, have missed the truth about cannabis.)

Roger Tilton at MJBA

I’ll let you ponder that question for a moment. And combine your answer with the silliest political gambit I’ve come across: a “pledge.” A pledge that started just after the midpoint of the last century; a pledge to not propose, support or vote for any additional taxes. This silly pledge dates back to the Eisenhower Administration, according to NHPR, and according to figures from usgovernmentspending.com, the New Hampshire state budget reached $169 million in fiscal year 1957. Today the NH state budget is nearly $6 billion a year. Progress and time necessitate new ways to collect revenue and provide services. Period.

Now, back to the pledge: guess what it leads to? We know, we’ve seen it now for decades: bad government, and the passing of responsibility for funding government to local jurisdictions in hundreds of small New Hampshire towns—like the one where I live. Property taxes have doubled in just the past few years. New Hampshire now trails only New Jersey in highest property taxes in the country. What hasn’t doubled in New Hampshire recently? Income. Some employers still get away with paying workers—and I use the term loosely, more like indentured servants—$7.25 an hour! Because that’s the federal minimum, and you know, in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, we don’t have laws requiring a minimum wage. And that means if you’re making $7.25 an hour, your employer would pay you less—if he or she could. Think about that: if employers in New Hampshire could pay you what the state pays its legislators, they would.

So local property taxes go up and services get gutted, while new revenue sources aren’t considered. What kind of government ‘Of the people, By the people, For the people’ is that? Screwed. I take some solace that the state of New Hampshire is not just out-of-touch on cannabis, the state of New Hampshire is out-of-touch on so much more. Which makes the motto seem more like ‘Live Free Of State Government Or Die (or Just Go Away)’.

For work, I act as an agent for legal cannabis companies seeking investor dollars. In that role, I’ve talked with 646 (and counting) legal cannabis companies and personally visited 94 of those in five different states. None of these companies is in New Hampshire, because our elderly, too-well-off legislature is stuck in Reefer Madness.

Last month I attended the National Cannabis Industry Association Business Summit and Expo in San Jose, which attracted +7,000 people and featured exhibits from nearly 500 legal cannabis companies. Now I’ve heard of the so-called Northeast or New England snobbery, but c’mon: Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts have seen the future, and it is legal cannabis.

Four years ago, I told voters in New Hampshire that we could take a leadership position in the legal cannabis industry. Yet our Governors, then Democrats, pooh-poohed the idea. Why? Heads in the sand and the inability to reason, to see trends, to read, to educate themselves. It’s too easy, as one candidate for County Prosecutor said, “It’s a (federal) schedule one narcotic.” Oh yeah? Well, that’s as antiquated an argument as is “Reefer Madness,” or the faux ‘War on Drugs.’

As I walked the exhibition floor in San Jose and talked with more than a hundred of those exhibitors, I felt sad for New Hampshire: so old and out of touch. Yet hopeful too, that a youngster like me (at 58!) can lead with passion on this issue and others—and convince New Hampshire voters to take part: Vote! Vote and you can have liberal policies that actually work and help people, and don’t tax those who can least afford it. In this divisive political climate, I urge you to stand with me! From the rooftops shout: liberal policies work! Liberal politics work! Legalized cannabis works! And on that last point, check out the success stories in Washington and Colorado: two states with five full years of adult-use cannabis legalization. Look at Massachusetts, retail adult-use stores slowly, and legally, coming on line. Look at California, where I was last month with 7,500 other business people making connections, signing contracts, and growing the industry.

I’m running this year to make New Hampshire tenth, or with the goings on in the legislatures in Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland, and with voters in Michigan: maybe fourteenth. I’m also running to implore voters born after Nixon resigned to get involved, learn the issues in your area, and vote both smart, and responsibly. Vote! (Oh, and please: send a few bucks, help me win: www.secure.actblue.com/donate/tilton2018)


Roger Tilton worked for major Wall Street wirehouses and a boutique broker-dealer for 28 years; then on 4/20 2016, he founded Seattle-based Access Worldgroup LLC., where he has confidentially combined investors with investments in the legal cannabis industry. Check him out at www.acwg.co or www.accessRoger.com

Murphy Administration Seeking Up To Six New Dispensaries To Expand Access To Medicinal Marijuana

NEW JERSEY: The Murphy Administration today announced it is seeking up to six new applicants to operate medicinal marijuana dispensaries — two each in the northern, central and southern regions of New Jersey.

“We look forward to the opening of six new dispensaries so we can ensure that all qualifying patients who want access to medicinal marijuana can have it,’’ said Governor Phil Murphy. “Due to the steps that Commissioner Elnahal and I have taken since January, we have seen the addition of 10,000 new patients. Accordingly, we have to expand the number of businesses who are growing product and serving patients.”

Screenshot 2018-07-16 09.45.16Currently, more than 26,000 patients, 1,000 caregivers and 700 physicians are participating in the program.

“As we strive to make the program more responsive to the needs of patients, caregivers and Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs), we recognize the need to grow the industry and create more options for patients,” said Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal, M.D.

A Request for Applications (RFA), which was noticed in today’s New Jersey Register and published on the Department’s website, notes that applicants would have to operate a dispensary and facilities that do cultivating and manufacturing and provide evidence of site control and verification of the approval of the governing body in the municipality where they intend to locate. The business can be either nonprofit or for profit and is also required to submit a business plan including a budget detailing revenues and expenses over a five-year period. The RFA is available here.

Applicants can submit applications for more than one region of the state but must submit a separate application for each region. The fee for applying is $20,000, although $18,000 of that fee will be returned to unsuccessful applicants.

A mandatory pre-application conference is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Department of Health headquarters in Trenton. The purpose of the conference is to give potential applicants a chance to have questions answered about the process. The Department will electronically accept questions until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7 from all potential applicants via email at mmpquestions@doh.nj.gov. Applications are due Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. Applicants chosen to proceed in the permitting process will be announced Nov. 1, 2018.

The six currently operating ATCs are not eligible to participate in this application process. Existing ATCs already have the opportunity to add additional sites for cultivating, manufacturing and dispensing. Additional opportunities to apply to build cultivating, manufacturing and dispensing sites will be available in the future.

The Commissioner is also working to expand physician participation in the program. Last week, he conducted two grand rounds lectures with 300 physicians at teaching hospitals to dispel myths and reduce stigma in the medical community. Although more than 100 new doctors have signed up since the expansion began, only 700 of the 28,000 licensed physicians in New Jersey are currently registered to participate in the Department of Health’s Medicinal Marijuana program.

Canada’s Provinces Lining Up To Sell Pot

CANADA: Following its announcement that the Province of Ontario is planning to add 150 new governments, the Province of New Brunswick has announced a multi-million dollar deal with cannabis producers.

The easterly Province of New Brunswick has announced that it has developed a new Crown corporation for the supervision of cannabis sales for the government’s anticipated legalization of recreational cannabis July 2018.

As with the announcement from Ontario’s government earlier, producers and all cannabis companies see this move as further demand for requirements to produce, test and deliver cannabis products both medicinal and recreational.

Positive reaction by investors helped companies whose positions will be impacted by additional, new distribution and support services.

Justin Trudeau And The Cannabis Factory

CANADA: At a former Hershey’s chocolate factory just outside Ottawa a company called Tweed now produces a rather different confection: marijuana for Canada’s tightly regulated medical market. Under the gaze of surveillance cameras, scientists in lab coats concoct new cannabis-based blends in near-sterile conditions. A repurposed candy mixer does the blending. Only in the growing rooms does the spirit of Cheech and Chong, a stoned comedy duo, seem to preside: the plants have names like Black Widow, Deep Purple, Chem Dawg and Bubba Kush.

The market, though growing fast, is still tiny: just 30,000 registered patients buy their supplies from licensed firms like Tweed (short for therapeutic weed). Its parent company had sales of C$4.2m ($3.1m) in the six months that ended on September 30th. But the promise by Justin Trudeau, Canada’s new prime minister, to legalize marijuana could widen the customer base to well beyond the 3m Canadians thought to consume it now. The government’s first “speech from the throne” on December 4th named legalization as one of its priorities.

The existence of companies like Tweed, which obtained a stock market listing in 2014—long before Mr Trudeau, a tattooed former snowboarding instructor, looked likely to become prime minister—suggests that Canada’s transition from remedial to recreational pot will be smooth. It probably won’t be. “It’s going to be a lot harder to implement than you think,” said Lewis Koski, until recently the director of marijuana enforcement in Colorado, to a Canadian news agency.

Colombia To Legalize Commercial Sale Of Medical Marijuana

COLOMBIA: Colombia’s government plans to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes, officials said Thursday in a surprise shift by the longtime U.S. ally in the war on drugs.

The change is coming in an executive decree that President Juan Manuel Santos will soon sign into law. It will regulate regulating everything from licensing for growers to the eventual export of products made from marijuana, Justice Minister Yesid Reyes said.

With the new policy, Colombia joins countries from Mexico to Chile that have experimented with legalization or decriminalization as part of a wave of changing attitudes toward drug use and policies to combat it in Latin America. But unlike many of its neighbors, Colombia has long been identified with U.S.-backed policies to eradicate drug production and a sharp decline in levels of violence over the past 15 years is largely attributed to the no-tolerance policing.

International Drug Laws: Iran Takes Steps Towards legalizing cannabis

IRAN: After Uruguay courageously legalized the use of cannabis under a new drug policy, could Iran be the next country to make it legal? From the outside, the image of Iran as retrograde and inherently conservative hardly fits with the reality of a more dynamic domestic political debate within. But drug policy is one of the areas of debate in which the Islamic Republic has produced some interesting, yet paradoxical, policies.

Iran has a conspicuous drug addiction problem – which officially accounts for more than 2m addicts (though unofficial figures put this as high as 5-6m). Drug traffickers risk harsh punishments that include the death penalty.

Yet Iran also has very progressive policies towards drug addiction, which include distribution of clean needles to injecting drug users, methadone substitution programs (also in prisons) and a vast system of addiction treatment.

Investors Get High On Marijuana

NEW YORK: The business of legal weed is entering a new stage, as a broad infrastructure of related services, particularly financial, develops.

Last year former videogame entrepreneur Dooma Wendschuh began soliciting investors for what he viewed as a big idea: distilled marijuana extracts, developed by scientists, that could be used for “edibles,” such as brownies, and vaporizers. Rather than hawking flavors or strains of pot, his company, Ebbu, would aim to deliver consistent feelings, such as “chill” and “giggles.”

Raising funds wasn’t easy, to put it mildly. Wendschuh approached seven investing groups, by his estimate, made hundreds of presentations, and asked more than 450 individuals to put up cash. Four months of grueling effort yielded him $2 million. So far business has been good. Ebbu’s first line of extracts has been flying off the shelves in four Colorado dispensaries since it launched in April. The profit margins are huge: Ebbu makes its extracts for $2 and sells them for $35. “You can make a lot of money in marijuana,” Wendschuh says. “If you make it, it will sell. It’s unreal.”

Kamala Harris: War On Drugs Failed, Legalize Medical Marijuana

CALIFORNIA: California’s top cop and candidate for Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat, Kamala Harris, issued one of her strongest statements of support for medical cannabis this week.

Speaking at the annual convention of California democrats, Harris said she would stand up for people, and challenge the policy of mass incarceration by recognizing the “war on drugs was a failure”.

“Now is the time to end the federal ban on medical marijuana,” she said. “It is,” she said, then laughed.

Attorney General Harris’ new statement aligns her with Sen. Boxer who co-sponsored a bill this year to end the federal war on medical marijuana. Some 80 percent of Americans also support legal medical cannabis.