Is Donald Trump More Sensible Than Hillary Clinton on Marijuana?

As his poll numbers continue to rise in the Republican primary, Donald Trump remains a focus of media attention. Building on his popularity among Republicans, the business magnate multiplies media appearances, giving journalists the opportunity to question him on his political positions on a variety of issues. Most of the discussion around Trump’s platform relates to his views on subjects like the economy and immigration reform, but many of us have been eager to find out where he stands on marijuana policy.

In more ways than one, Donald Trump appears unlikely to support major marijuana reform in the United States. Trump portrays himself as adamantly pro-police and “presented himself Saturday as the ‘law and order’ candidate in the 2016 presidential race, pledging to ‘get rid’ of gangs and give more power to police officers.” Like some early drug warriors, Trump is also known to hold views that some consider racist against immigrants from Mexico, whom he described as “rapists” in his announcement speech. And while he knew in 1990 that legalization is “the only answer” to the failing War on Drugs, he has opted to support prohibition anyway during his presidential bid.

Chris Christie To Legal Marijuana Smokers: Enjoy It While You Can Because He’ll Enforce Federal Ban

NEW JERSEY: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is attracting attention to his struggling presidential campaign by making it clear he doesn’t want to recognize state laws legalizing recreational marijuana.

In town hall meetings in New Hampshire and an appearance on Fox News this week, Christie said that if elected, he intends to overturn state marijuana legalization laws, which have been passed in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Alaska.

“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it until Jan. 17 of 2017,” Christie told an audience in Newport, N.H., on Tuesday, “because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana as president of the United States.”

Markell Signs Delaware Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

DELAWARE: Voting along party lines, Senate lawmakers gave final legislative approval on Thursday to a measure that decriminalizes the possession and private use of up to an ounce of marijuana, and Gov. Jack Markell almost immediately signed the legislation into law.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington, allows Delawareans to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and use the drug privately without facing criminal sanctions.

Criminal penalties for simple possession will be replaced with a civil $100 fine. The law takes effect six months after Markell’s signature.

An amendment discussed in committee on Wednesday, to reduce the amount of marijuana in the legislation to a half ounce, did not make it to the floor for debate. The decriminalization measure, which cleared the House earlier this month, passed despite significant opposition from police groups and from Republicans.

Marijuana Industry Struggles Against Tough Politics

COLORADO:  Colorado’s effort to tax marijuana as a means to help the state budget never materialized, at least financially,  slowing expansion of industries supported by the drug. As attempts to approve marijuana’s use in other states and cities falters, these industries face unexpected road blocks.

Analysis by trade site Cannabis Executive shows how much the efforts to legalize marijuana vary. A number of doctors in Minnesota won’t support the use of medical marijuana by some patients. Medical marijuana is often considered the foot in the door that the industry needs for broader state legalization approval. Medical marijuana advocates in Iowa continue to complain that the state legislature, particularly Republicans, have blocked their progress to gain approval for use. A law to legalize medical marijuana has cleared all legislative hurdles in the state, but state approvals are sometimes not sufficient. Problems with federal opposition to marijuana use have triggered raids of facilities in California. The future of the marijuana  economy may be settled in federal court

 

And, a number of states are far away from approving marijuana use of any kind. These include New Hampshire and, possibly Arizona, where a poll shows public support of legalization of the drug.

 

Lost in the battle for legalization of marijuana is that the industries around it are tiny, especially for businesses which have staked their futures on expansion state by state. In Colorado, income from marijuana taxes has come in well below expectations. Hope that taxes on marijuana might match income for legal gambling or cigarette taxes have proven more than disappointing.

 

 

 

 

A Republican President Could Kill The Cannabis Industry

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The election of a conservative Republican as President could roll back the gains made in the legalization of marijuana. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took a bold stand recently and said if he were elected, he would work to reverse what has happened under President Obama. While its doubtful Christie would be elected President, it isn’t that improbable that a conservation republican could be elected over Hillary Clinton and get tough on pot. While most people in the cannabis industry dismiss such talk, it’s a very real possibility.

Dan Riffle, Director of Federal Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project said, “I’m not worried about the next president rolling back marijuana reform; those days are over. First and foremost, marijuana polls better than any candidate from either party—you’re not going to get elected if part of your campaign involves rolling back marijuana laws more popular than you. The fact that Colorado is a swing state helps here.

Second, the DOJ’s policy of deference toward the states wasn’t just written because it’s the politically popular option, but because, legally, there’s very little the federal government can do. Every lawyer and law student who made it through their first year of law school knows the feds can’t force the states to criminalize marijuana, and the Justice Department just doesn’t have the resources to enforce federal law on its own without the states’ cooperation.” The Federal Government though can make life very difficult for those in the cannabis industry if they get that mandate from the top.

Recreational Use Of Marijuana Becomes Legal In D.C.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Recreational use of marijuana becomes legal in the nation’s capital Thursday.

In November, District of Columbia voters approved Initiative 71, which legalized recreational pot use. The District joins Alaska, Colorado and Washington state in making the drug legal.

As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, people 21 and older can:

• Possess 2 ounces or less of marijuana;

• Share 1 ounce or less with another person at least 21 years old, as long as no money, goods or services change hands;

• Cultivate up to six marijuana plants, but have no more than three mature plants, in their primary home; and

• Use marijuana on private property.

District Of Columbia Sees Loophole In Congress’s Move To Halt Marijuana Law

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Last fall, voters in the District of Columbia chose to join a handful of states in legalizing the growth and possession of small amounts of marijuana. But unlike in the states, the free will of district voters — no matter how overwhelmingly expressed — is never the end of the story.

Congressional Republicans believe they have successfully nullified the law. But officials here, seizing on a single word in the congressional legislation designed to scuttle the policy, beg to differ, setting up one of the most closely watched collisions between the two Washingtons in years.

A few weeks after the marijuana ballot initiative passed, House Republicans inserted a last-minute provision into a large federal spending bill prohibiting the city, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, from spending tax dollars to enact that initiative.

Usually that is the last word. But district officials believe they have identified a loophole in the provision’s language. The marijuana law, lawyers here argue, had already been enacted and certified by the Board of Elections before Congress passed the spending bill, so there was no “enacting” for the House to prevent.

Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Shot Down By Panel

VIRGINIA:  The Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Wednesday killed a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The committee voted 9-5 to “pass by indefinitely,” meaning Senate Bill 686, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, is dead for this legislative session. All of the Republicans on the panel voted in favor of that motion; all of the Democrats voted against it (the motion to pass the bill by, not the bill itself).

The vote came after 12 people spoke in support of the bill and eight spoke against it. The committee chairman, Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, limited each side to five minutes.

Opponents included Kevin Carroll of the Fraternal Order of Police, Thomas Bradshaw of the Virginia State Police and Richard L. Brehm of the Germanna Community College Police Department. They cited problems caused by the decriminalization of marijuana in states like Colorado and Maryland and in Washington, D.C.

How Will Congress Respond To Marijuana Legalization In D.C.?

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Of the three jurisdictions where voters approved marijuana legalization last week, Washington, D.C., is the smallest but the most symbolically potent. The prospect of legal marijuana in the nation’s capital dramatically signals the ongoing collapse of the 77-year-old ban on a much-maligned plant.

The passage of Initiative 71, which voters backed by a margin of more than 2 to 1, presents a challenge to the Republicans who will soon control both houses of Congress. Will they respect democracy and local control, or will they insist that Washingtonians toe a prohibitionist line that is steadily disappearing?

Initiative 71 allows adults 21 or older to possess two ounces or less of marijuana, grow up to six plants at home, and transfer up to an ounce at a time to other adults “without remuneration.” It does not authorize commercial production and distribution, but the D.C. Council is considering legislation that would. “I see no reason why we wouldn’t follow a regime similar to how we regulate and tax alcohol,” incoming Mayor Muriel Bowser said last week.

The initiative does not take effect until after D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson submits it to Congress for review. Congress then has either 30 or 60 days (a matter of dispute) to pass a joint resolution overriding the initiative; if it fails to do so, the initiative becomes law.

 

Ed FitzGerald Endorses Medical Marijuana in Naked, Last-Ditch Ploy for Ohio Votes

OHIO:  Yesterday, Ed FitzGerald gave a phone interview to the Cincinnati Enquirer in which he came out in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio. Of course, this news comes just days after one poll showed that Fitz — current Cuyahoga County Executive, Democratic candidate for Governor, and noted fan of parking lots — was trailing Governor John Kasich by 19 points or so, and a long streak of campaign blunders and negative media attention.

“There are people that are suffering from conditions that medical marijuana can alleviate, especially those chronic pain types of conditions,” FitzGerald told the paper. “I just think it would show a real lack of compassion if we would continue to deny them that access.”

John Kasich, along with plenty of Republicans and just about every other elected official in Ohio, is on the other side, saying the science doesn’t support a decision to do what 20 other states plus the District of Columbia have done. (Kasich, DeWine and others should see this, for what it’s worth, not to mention concerns from scientists that the only reason more substantive research hasn’t been done is federal roadblocks for money and permission thanks to marijuana’s classification as Schedule 1 drug.) Nevertheless, some 87% of Ohioans support legalizing medical marijuana, according to a Quinnipiac poll.

As the Ohio Rights Group eyes getting an amendment before the voters in the November 2015 elections, it seems that medical marijuana proponents deserve better than FitzGerald’s hail mary. Publicly, they’ll say it’s nice to have people on their side, as Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance told the Enquirer…