CEI Leads Coalition Letter Supporting MORE Act Provision To De-Schedule Cannabis

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, Leader McCarthy, and Whip Scalise:

On behalf of the many of Americans whose views and values our organizations represent, we respectfully urge you to support efforts to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. While we oppose many aspects of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, we support its provision to de-schedule cannabis, which would restore the right to decide how to regulate the substance to the people and their state representatives. The undersigned organizations agree that this action is an important step toward undoing the harms caused by the misguided drug war and protecting our nation’s principle of federalism.

In the past election, voters in five states authorized medical cannabis use, recreational use, or both. In fact, every cannabis-legalization ballot measure throughout the country was approved by voters, bringing the total number of states that have legalized medical cannabis to 35 plus the District of Columbia and the number of states that have legalized recreational cannabis use for adults to 15, along with the District. In fact, all but two states have legalized or decriminalized cannabis in some form, properly adapting state policies to reflect the needs and opinions of their constituents. Yet, such responsive governance is hampered by the fact cannabis remains federally prohibited.

Congress has recognized the need to resolve this conflict for many years. Amendments to prevent federal interference in state cannabis regulation enjoy a long history of support among both House Republicans and Democrats. These measures can give states some flexibility to set policies in accordance with the will of their people. But the dual legal status of cannabis has created confusion and put the welfare of many citizens and businesses in jeopardy.

The federal prohibition has excluded small cannabis businesses from many of the financial and legal services or benefits afforded to other industries. The conflict also creates hazards for consumers of legal cannabis products, extending to issues of employment, housing, property rights, firearms purchasing, and civil asset forfeiture, among others. For example, patients who wish to participate in their state’s legal medical marijuana program must choose between their medicine and owning a gun, because the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits anyone who uses controlled substances from possessing guns or ammunition. Only Congress can resolve this conflict and there is strong, bipartisan public support for such action.

According to a November 2020 Gallup poll, 68 percent of all Americans believe the use of marijuana should be made legal, including 52 percent of Republican voters. There is even greater support for allowing states to make the decision without federal interference. A 2017 CBS News Poll found that 64 percent of Republican voters, 76 percent of Democrats, and 72 percent of independents opposed federal attempts to stop states from legalizing cannabis.

The undersigned organizations vary in our opinions on the specifics of cannabis legalization, but we are in strong accord when it comes to whether the federal or state governments should have the power to make such decisions. Our Constitution limits federal power and leaves most issues of law enforcement to the individual states for good reason. We are a nation of diverse backgrounds, opinions, and values. State authorities are best placed to understand the needs of their populace and must be free to decide how best to protect public health and safety and direct limited resources toward those priorities. What works for California may not be appropriate for Utah and vice versa. The federal government need not endorse one approach or another nor condone cannabis use; it needs only to respect the states’ authority to choose how best to regulate cannabis.

As a coalition of groups and individuals supporting free market solutions and the protection of essential constitutional principles, we strongly urge you to respect our nation’s federalist structure and support the MORE Act’s provision to de-schedule cannabis.

Sincerely,

Michelle Minton
Senior Fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Andrew Langer
President, Institute for Liberty

David Williams
President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Arthur Rizer
Director of Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties Policy
R Street Institute

Pritzker Administration Announces Fourth Month Sales Totals For Illinois Adult Use Cannabis

State’s new adult-use cannabis industry generated more than $37 million in sales in April

ILLINOIS: The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has announced preliminary numbers show statewide adult-use cannabis sales in April totaled $37,260,497.89. Dispensaries across the state sold 818,954 items over the 30-day period. Sales to Illinois residents totaled $29,735,650.41, while sales to out-of-state residents totaled $7,524,847.47. These figures do not include taxes collected. A portion of every cannabis sale will be reinvested in communities harmed most by the failed war on drugs.

Medical and adult use cannabis dispensaries remain open as part of the essential businesses and operations named in Governor Pritzker’s executive order signed on March 20, 2020. Both sides of the cannabis industry were included to ensure the cannabis supplier industry protects medical cannabis patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the revenue generated by adultuse cannabis sales funds the important social justice and equity goals at the core of Illinois’ adult-use law.

“Our top priority is to ensure consumers are safe when they go to a dispensary to purchase cannabis,” said Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control to Gov. Pritzker. “The steps we’ve taken to increase social distancing at dispensaries are accomplishing that, while also enabling this new industry to continue to grow. As such, curbside pickup will remain an option for medical cannabis users to obtain the product they need through May 30.”

Dispensaries are permitted to sell medical cannabis outside of their limited access area on their property or on a public walkway or curb adjacent to the dispensary. Medical cannabis patients will be able to continue to utilize their designated caregiver to purchase medicine for them. However, dispensaries may not deliver medical cannabis to a patient or caregiver’s home. These rules do not apply to adult-use cannabis sales; those must still take place inside the limited access area. A complete list of the rules extended may be found here.

NEW ACLU REPORT: Despite Marijuana Legalization Black People Still Almost Four Times More Likely To Get Arrested

A TALE OF TWO COUNTRIES: RACIALLY TARGETED ARRESTS IN THE ERA OF MARIJUANA REFORM DETAILS MILLIONS OF RACIALLY TARGETED MARIJUANA ARRESTS MADE BETWEEN 2010-2018

NEW YORK: The American Civil Liberties Union today released a new report showing that Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession despite comparable marijuana usage rates. Additionally, although the total number of people arrested for marijuana possession has decreased in the past decade, law enforcement still made 6.1 million such arrests over that period, and the racial disparities in arrest rates remain in every state.

The reportA Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reformdetails marijuana possession arrests from 2010 to 2018, and updates our unprecedented national report published in 2013, The War on Marijuana in Black and White. The disturbing findings of this new research show that despite several states having reformed marijuana policy over the last decade, far too much has remained unchanged when it comes to racial disparities in arrests.

Key findings include:

  • Law enforcement made more than 6.1 million marijuana-related arrests form 2010-2018. In 2018 alone, there were almost 700,000 marijuana arrests, which accounted for more than 43 percent of all drug arrests. In 2018, law enforcement made more marijuana arrests than for all violent crimes combined.
  • Despite legalization in a number of states, it is not clear that marijuana arrests are trending downward nationally. Arrest rates have actually risen in the past few years, with almost 100,000 more arrests in 2018 than 2015.
  • In every state, and in over 96 percent of the counties examined, Black people were much more likely to be arrested than white people for marijuana possession. Overall, these disparities have not improved. On average, a Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates. In 10 states, Blacks were more than five times more likely to be arrested.
  • In states that legalized marijuana, arrest rates decreased after legalization, however racial disparities still remained.

A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform comes at a time when the criminal legal system is overwhelmed by the public health crisis presented by COVID-19 that demands expedited decarcercal action to safeguard the lives of those incarcerated in and employed by jails and prisons. The reforms recommended in this report provide a roadmap for reducing marijuana arrests and criminalization as governors, prosecutors, judges, and other stakeholders across the country grapple with the harms presented by the public health crisis and take steps to release people from jails and prisons.

“Many state and local governments across the country continue to aggressively enforce marijuana laws, disproportionately targeting Black communities,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU and one of the primary authors of the report. “Criminalizing people who use marijuana needlessly entangles hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal legal system every year at a tremendous individual and societal cost. As a matter of racial justice and sound public health policy, every state in the country must legalize marijuana with racial equity at the foundation of such reform.”

To combat the racial disparities rampant in marijuana-related arrests, the ACLU is calling not only for an end to racialized policing, but also for full legalization of marijuana use and possession and specific measures to ensure legalization efforts are grounded in racial justice. This includes pressing for passage of the MORE Act, which  aims to correct historical injustices of the failed War on Drugs that has terrorized Black communities by decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, reassessing marijuana convictions, and investment in economically disadvantaged communities.

The full report is available here.

 

DEA Report: Uptick In Marijuana Seizures In 2016

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops reported by the US Drug Enforcement Administration rose in 2016, according to annual data compiled by the agency.

According to the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, law enforcement confiscated more than 5.3 million marijuana plants nationwide in 2016. The total is a 20 percent increase over the agency’s reported 2015 seizure totals and is the most plants seized by the DEA and cooperating agencies since 2011, when agents confiscated more than 6.7 million plants.

As in past years, the DEA’s eradication efforts primarily targeted California. Of the total number of plants confiscated nationwide by the DEA and cooperating agencies in 2016, 71 percent (3.78 million) were seized in California. Law enforcement seized an estimated 552,000 plants in Kentucky, 333,000 in Texas, 128,000 in Tennessee, and 124,000 in West Virginia.

Only seven percent of all marijuana seized by law enforcement came from indoor grows.

The agency reported 5,657 arrests in conjunction with these cannabis eradication efforts – a ten percent decline from 2015.

The DEA also reported seizures of some $52 million in assets during their confiscation operations – nearly twice as much as the agency reported the prior year.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

Wyoming’s Marijuana Laws To Be Enforced During Great America Solar Eclipse

WYOMING: Visitors from across the globe expected to travel to Wyoming for the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21 are being advised by law enforcement officials that the state’s marijuana laws will be strictly enforced.

“Traffic laws will be strictly enforced and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be tolerated on Wyoming’s roadways,” Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police (WASCOP). He added that, while other nearby states including Colorado have legalized marijuana, the drug is illegal in Wyoming.

“Medical marijuana is not legal in Wyoming, and even if you have a card from another state it is still illegal to possess marijuana in Wyoming,” he explained. “If you are caught with any controlled substance you will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony drug offense depending upon how much of that substance you have in your possession.”

It is estimated that 250,000 visitors will travel to Wyoming to experience the eclipse, according to Oedekoven. Under the leadership of Governor Matt Mead, federal, state, and local agencies are working together to safely accommodate visitors to the state.

From Jackson to Torrington, more than a dozen cities in Wyoming are in the “path of totality,” the narrow path across the earth’s surface where viewers will experience the total eclipse of the sun when the moon passes in front of its surface. Because of the state’s wide-open spaces, clear skies, and spectacular scenery, it is one of the top destinations in the world for people seeking the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the eclipse.

Through its Traffic Safety Project (TSP) WASCOP is working with the Wyoming Office of Highway Safety and the Governor’s Commission on Impaired Driving to identify strategies to address traffic and other safety issues.

“We hope people will come to Wyoming to experience the incredible beauty and quality of life in our state,” said Oedekoven. “On behalf of the women and men of WASCOP dedicated to serving and protecting residents and visitors in our state, we promise to do everything possible to ensure you will have a safe and enjoyable visit.”

PatientsNotCriminals Press Conference In Utah 1/14/16

Published on Jan 14, 2016 via Libertas Institute

UTAH:  Libertas Institute joins forces with a mass of patients for a #PatientsNotCriminals press conference to stress the need for the legalization of medical marijuana in Utah. Senator Mark Madsen’s cannabis proposal will be introduced in this coming legislative session.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2lle2ege1E&w=560&h=315]

Marijuana Is Literally The Least Of The Nation’s Drug Worries, The Police Have Announced

America’s cops overwhelmingly do not see marijuana as a major threat to their communities, according to results of a survey released this week as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s “2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary.”

The DEA asked a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 law enforcement agencies what they saw as their biggest drug threats. Marijuana came in at the bottom of the list, named by only 6 percent of survey respondents. The share of law enforcement agencies naming pot has been declining steadily since the mid-2000s, even as states have moved to legalize medical and recreational marijuana during that time period.

By contrast, nearly three quarters of police departments named heroin and meth as their top drug threats this year. The perceived threat of heroin has more than quadrupled since 2007, according to the survey. And after rising sharply from 2007 to 2013, the threat posed by prescription painkillers has subsided considerably in the past two years.

Las Vegas Police Face Civil Rights Lawsuit Over Medical Marijuana Arrests

NEVADA: A former Las Vegas woman claims she and a guest were falsely imprisoned in 2013 after police searched her home and illegally confiscated her supply of medical marijuana.

Courtney Rogalski, a medical marijuana patient who now lives in Canada, and California resident Westley McNeal filed a civil rights lawsuit in August against the Metropolitan Police Department and several officers. In September, the defendants transferred the case from Clark County District Court to U.S. District Court.

Attorney Craig Anderson, who is representing Metro in the litigation, could not be reached for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Las Vegas police detectives searched Rogalski’s home on Aug. 30, 2013, with a warrant signed by Justice of the Peace Cynthia Cruz.

The detectives found 382 grams of marijuana, or about 13 ounces, and 32 marijuana plants. Rogalski was arrested and charged with two felonies: possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.

“Ms. Rogalski, at the time of her arrest, held a valid medical marijuana card and had a valid medical marijuana waiver which allowed her to have in her possession, custody and control 15 ounces of usable marijuana and 49 marijuana plants,” according to her lawsuit.

 

Chris Christie’s Claim That He ‘Supported And Implemented’ New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Laws

NEW JERSEY:  In New Jersey, we have medical marijuana laws, which I supported and implemented. … I’m not against medical marijuana. We do it in New Jersey. But I’m against the recreational use of marijuana.”

— New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), the second GOP debate, Sept. 16, 2015

Several claims from the second Republican presidential debate stood out to our readers as fishy, such as this one. We fact-checked 18 other claims, including some by Christie, right after that debate, with a deeper looks at statements by Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina. How accurate is this claim?

The Facts

Christie’s predecessor, Democrat Jon Corzine, signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act into law Jan. 10, 2010 — his last day as governor. That left Christie with the responsibility of carrying out the law, which was expected to take effect over six months.

The law made it legal for patients with certain debilitating medical conditions (including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and any terminal illness where the patient was not expected to live more than a year). It gave the state health department authority to write regulations for the medical marijuana program.

When campaigning for governor, Christie said he supported medical marijuana in a limited scope for certain patients. But he criticized the law for not being tough enough, and said he wanted to see it “tightened up a little bit.”

Do Alaska Cannabis Regulations Allow For Chefs To Get In The Game?

ALASKA:  Shawn, a chef (and expert punster), wonders whether Alaska cannabis regulators have considered his industry as they’re setting the initial boundaries of the legal market.

“I would like to know how they plan to address edibles and establishments that sell them. Are they going to allow a restaurant or dinner club that is an adult atmosphere like a bar, 21 and over, to serve cannabis-infused foods? I’m a chef and I think that we should have opportunity to stake our claim in this ‘budding’ marijuana industry.”

The regulation process is ongoing and regulators are still seeking public input on the draft rules issued so far, so things are a bit fluid at the moment. But it appears that no, Alaska’s current draft regulations don’t take into account the range of likely scenarios involving chefs and the things they might use cannabis for. But that’s not unusual among legalized states. Restaurants haven’t yet been able to go for broke without risk or gray area anywhere in the US.