Category Archives: Politics

The Congressional Cannabis Caucus


 

Pot Presser

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., left, and Dana Rohrabacher, D-Calif., two of the four U.S. congressmen who have launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Photo by Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc

 

With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to promote sensible cannabis policy reform and to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

The official establishment of a Congressional Cannabis Caucus represents yet another step forward toward ultimately reforming cannabis policy at the federal level. The creation of this caucus is yet another manifestation that our political power is growing — even inside the beltway.

Click here to email your Congressional Representative and urge them to join the Cannabis Caucus today.

NORML has been in this fight for over 47 years, representing the position that responsible adults who choose to consume marijuana should not be be persecuted or stigmatized. Throughout the country, our chapters are organizing to advocate for state level reforms. NORML represents a growing community of individuals who are coming together and working toward the mutual goals of building a more just and verdant society. 

The end of marijuana prohibition will not come overnight. In fact, the forces of prohibition remain strong and the misinformation campaign that has spanned from Reefer Madness to D.A.R.E. is deeply entrenched in the psyches of lawmakers and voters alike. But just as we have for decades, we will not be deterred. 

In order for our state and federal laws to be more reflective of the cold truths of reality and science rather than hysteria and racism, we must continue to educate our legislators and neighbors alike. Having a coalition of lawmakers in Washington, DC who will go on the record in support of advocating for cannabis freedom is something we haven’t had before, but it is an event that is long overdue. 

So let’s keep building. 

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Send a message to your member of Congress now and tell them to join the Cannabis Caucus and support sanity in marijuana policy.

NORML and the NORML Foundation: 1100 H Street NW, Suite 830, Washington DC, 20005
Tel: (202) 483-5500 • Fax: (202) 483-0057 • Email: norml@norml.org

 

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Pro-Pot Lawmakers Launch a Congressional Cannabis Caucus

Tom Huddleston, Jr.

12:10 AM Central

Four members of the U.S. congress are banding together to protect the growing marijuana industry.

A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon. Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Don Young (Alaska) joined Democrats Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Jared Polis (Colorado) to launch the new group. They are dedicated to developing policy reforms that can bridge the gap that currently exists between federal laws banning marijuana and the laws in an ever-growing number of states that have legalized it for medical or recreational purposes.

“We’re stepping forward together to say we’ve got to make major changes in our country’s attitude toward cannabis,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at the start of the press conference. “And if we do, many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”

Various polls show that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana in some form, and a strong showing in November’s elections pushed the number of states that have legalized medical cannabis to 28, while another eight have voted for recreational legalization. (Notably, each of the four congressmen forming the Cannabis Caucus represent districts in states that have legalized both medical and recreational pot.)

In recent years, under President Barack Obama, federal law enforcement mostly left individual states alone to enact and enforce their own marijuana legislation. Three years ago, Congress passed a bill that prohibited the Justice Department from using federal funds to target cannabis operations that comply with local laws.

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Jeff Sessions confirmed to be the next attorney general


By Ashley Killough, Tom LoBianco and Ted Barrett, CNN

Updated 10:25 PM ET, Wed February 8, 2017

Washington (CNN)The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama as the next attorney general, surviving a vocal push by Democrats to derail his nomination.

The 52-47 vote was mostly along party lines, though one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, joined the Republicans to back their Alabama colleague.

Who voted for and against Sessions

    The final vote for Sessions — one of Trump’s closest advisers and his earliest supporter in the Senate — came after 30 hours of debate from Democrats and a stunning fight between liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Senate Republicans which ended in her being forced to sit down after she was accused of impugning Sessions.

    Sessions said he would resign from his office 11:59 p.m. Wednesday and the White House is scheduled to swear him in Thursday morning.

    “It was a special night,” Sessions told reporters on Capitol Hill after his confirmation. “I appreciate the friendship from my colleagues — even those who, many of them who didn’t feel able to vote for me. They were cordial, and so we continue to have good relations and will continue to do the best I can.”

    The fight over Sessions nomination spurred some of the most jarring, and at times personal attacks, rooted in allegations that Sessions was a racist — claims the Alabama senator and his supporters have fiercely denied. Even early in the nomination process, one of Sessions’ colleagues, Cory Booker, became the first sitting senator to testify against another sitting senator during his confirmation hearing.

    Shortly before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to sing the praises of Sessions, after Democrats spent hours criticizing him.

    “He’s just a likable guy, one of the most humble and most considerate people you’ll ever meet,” McConnell said. “He’s a true Southern gentleman.”

    While some left-leaning groups issued statements promising to stand up and continue raising awareness about their disagreements with Sessions, Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe questioned how effective they could be in trying to keep up the fight.

    “What are they going to do? He’s the attorney general. Where does the fight start? Where’s the ammunition?” He said to reporters.

    In the debate Tuesday evening, after Republicans already blocked a Senate filibuster, Warren reignited that debate by reading from a 1986 letter Coretta Scott King sent opposing Sessions for a federal judgeship.

    “‘Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,'” Warren read from King’s letter. McConnell accused Warren of impugning Sessions on the Senate floor — a violation of Senate rules — and after a series of procedural votes, she was forced to sit down and stop debating.

    Warren’s censure and subsequent reaction continued to largely overshadow the Sessions fight in the hours before his vote, but the Massachusetts Democrat told CNN’s Manu Raju said Sessions, whom she served with in the chamber, is just the latest example of a poor Cabinet choice.

    “We may not have the votes to stop him,” she said, “but we sure as hell need to make it clear to the Republicans and to the American people exactly who Donald Trump is putting in charge of our government.”

    Sessions was ultimately blocked from a federal judgeship and carried that battle scar into Wednesday’s final confirmation battle.

    Democrats not done yet on nominees

    Democrats are expected to repeat the same 30-hour debate plan for Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price and could easily drag the fight over Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin into the weekend.

    Tuesday, Betsy DeVos was confirmed, 51-50, in a battle that sparked impassioned protests and the flooding of Senate switchboards by angry Democrats and liberal activists.

    The tactics have yet to work in actually defeating any of Trump’s Cabinet picks, but they have fired up a base of Democratic and liberal activists irate over a series of Trump actions, not least of which was picking a Republican mega-donor in DeVos to run the Department of Education.

    “When you get millions of calls and demonstrations and a nominee is exposed for being who they are, it’s going to have a profound and positive effect, even if she gains office. So we’re very happy with the results and we’re going to continue them,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday.

    But Republicans have chafed at what they call “historic obstruction” and have argued that Trump needs his team in place.

    “This is the slowest time for a new Cabinet to be up and running since George Washington. This level of obstruction at the beginning of an administration is really record-setting in a very unfortunate way. It’s really time for our friends on the other side to get over the election, let this administration get up and get running,” McConnell said Tuesday.

    The only nominee who appears to be in any trouble at this point is Labor secretary pick Andrew Puzder, who is embroiled in controversy following news that he hired an undocumented worker to clean his house and was forced to pay back taxes. A series of Republicans on the Senate panel tasked with vetting him declined to say Tuesday whether they still supported Puzder.

    CONTINUE READING…

    Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell Launch ‘Bold and Aggressive’ 200-Day Plan to Implement Trump Agenda


    by Neil W. McCabe28 Jan 2017Philadelphia2,241

    PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania–Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R.-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) told reporters Thursday at the Republicans’ policy retreat here that they are committed to a 200-day program to implement the agenda of President Donald J. Trump.

    “We are actually having a fantastic opportunity right here in Philadelphia,” said Ryan, wearing a striped button down oxford shirt and tan pants combination in keeping with the “retreat” atmosphere of the party’s three-day series of workshops, speeches, and mixers. The Republicans arrived Wednesday morning and stayed until their working breakfast Friday.

    In addition to workshops and discussions, the Republicans were visited by Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Super Bowl champion quarterback Peyton Manning.

    “We are talking about the improvement of people’s lives and getting our country back on track,” he said. “House Republicans and Senate Republicans are working on a plan and bold agenda to get moving and work with our new administration.”

    New administrations have been captive to the “First 100 Days” framing ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt came into office in 1933 with a whirlwind of legislation and administrative actions. But, Ryan said, the Republicans had developed along with the Trump White House a 200-day plan that will wrap up with the August recess.

    At the end of the 200 days, Capitol Hill Republicans expect to have repealed and replaced Obamacare, filled the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, and executed the most dramatic reform of the federal tax code since President Ronald W. Reagan’s flattening of tax rates in 1986.

    Ryan said no one should be shocked by the ambitious agenda.

    “We ran on these issue in 2016, so there’s no surprises here and the president agrees to this agenda,” he said.

    Along the way, the emphasis or focus is going to change, depending on whether the messaging is coming from the White House or Capitol Hill, but Ryan insisted that he and Trump and McConnell are on the same page.

    McConnell said he is working on a daily basis with the president and his staff to map out a bold and aggressive program that both fixes the problems and mistakes left by the last administration and fulfills campaign promises made in 2016.

    “We are on the same page,” the senator said.

    For some items, such as immigration or even building the wall along the Mexican border, there are no legislative fights ahead because the laws were already passed. The wall was authorized by the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and the president is going to merely enforce the immigration laws his predecessor ignored.

    McConnell said a major factor in moving from the traditional 100-day plan to a 200-day plan was the Senate’s confirmation workload. Dozens of appointments require Senate approval, which he said converts the Senate into the White House’s personnel office.

    “The speaker understands the challenges of getting things done in the Senate,” he said. “That’s been true for 240 years, we are aware of those challenges, and we think we can move forward.”

    The Republican majority in the Senate is 52-to-48, which means even with Vice President Michael R. Pence available to break a tie, if three GOP senators defect, the Democrats win.

    This tight margin means that the Senate Republicans do not have the votes to end debate and force a vote, which requires 60 votes.

    To make an end run around lacking the votes for cloture, Republicans are forced to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act through the budget reconciliation process. In this process, the budget bills are privileged, so they must come to a vote after 50 hours of debate. The drawback to this process is that bills can only deal with budget-related issues, and whatever is passed expires in 10 years. When Congress voted to repeal Obamacare in the week before Trump was sworn in, it was really a partial repeal that gutted the fees, taxes, and fines associated with President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform but left the rules and regulations in place.

    Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D.-N.Y.) has vowed to block and delay the Republicans at every turn, when it comes to Obamacare.

    McConnell said, “If Hillary Clinton were president and Chuck Schumer were the majority leader, we would be revisiting Obamacare. The status quo is clearly unacceptable. If Hillary Clinton were president and Chuck Schumer were majority leader, we’d be moving toward a single-payer system.” A single-payer system is one in which all healthcare expenses are paid by the government.

    Another development at the retreat was the resolve among GOP senators to fill the vacancy left by the Feb. 13, 2016 death of Justice Antonin G. Scalia.

    Again the problem is the GOP’s lack of 60 votes.

    Before then-majority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) invoked the “nuclear option” in 2013, all confirmations were part of the two-step process of ending debate with 60 votes and then confirming the nominee with a simple majority. Reid executed a challenge to the rule for nominees in order to break the logjam of Obama appointments–blocked by the Republican minority. With this maneuver, Reid was able to fill vacancies on federal benches, at the Federal Communications Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — all of which led a torrent of new regulations as well as favorable rulings from newly appointed judges.

    With respect to presidential appointments, Reid shattered a long-standing Senate protocol, which says that unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate works its will either through consensus or exhaustion.

    But he left one piece of the protocol in place: the Supreme Court. One of the main reasons Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, Judge Merrick Garland, languished was that the 60-vote threshold was insurmountable going into the 2016 elections. Now, that same reason gives Schumer and Senate Democrats a veto over anyone Trump nominates for the high court.

    It is now clear from conversations with Republican senators and staff that if ending debate on Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court is blocked by Schumer, the GOP is ready to strike down the last vestige of the filibuster for presidential appointees.

    The only answer a Republican senator gives for the record on the matter is: “The seat will be filled.” It is the same answer every time from everyone.

    The last big item is the overhaul of the federal tax code. Of all of the GOP plans, this is the one most hidden from public view.

    In the past, the grand bargain of Republican tax reform proposals was to return to the ideals of the 1986 legislation, which eliminated deductions in exchange for lowering rates. Flattening the tax code, or even going to a flat tax with one rate with very few deductions,was the ultimate goal.

    Trump-era tax reform is something else entirely. This is full-on industrial policy and a shifting of the tax burden back onto imports and off of exports. This is not a new idea and, given the man’s popularity on Broadway, it is only fitting that America returns to the essence of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s 1791 “Report on Subject Manufactures.” This was the country’s economic DNA until the post-World War II shift towards America sacrificing its interests for the rest of the world.

    Hamilton called on Congress to protect “infant industries” with tariffs on imported goods, which until 1916 and the birth of the income tax provided the vast majority of federal revenues.

    Today, the United States runs a trade deficit of $30-to-$40 billion per month, and Republicans are ready to tap or monetize that trade gap to the tune of $1 trillion per year. How they are going to do it is beyond the scope of this course. Suffice to say, they intend to not only raise this revenue to pay for massive tax cuts, but also to remove the economic incentive for American companies to move manufacturing overseas and then ship their finished products into the United States.

    Of course, the ox gored in this reform is retailers and companies which rely on imported materials but do not export. Those folks are completely aware of what is going on, and of all the fights coming to Capitol Hill in the next 200 days, the tax overhaul will be the most vicious and the most likely to break up friendships.

    In the end, though Trump is the man making all of this possible, and it is Trump who will be responsible for holding things together.

    It is almost surreal to hear Ryan or McConnell speak of the president with respect and affection after a campaign cycle in which neither man dared stand up for him publicly amid crisis after crisis.

    Yet the Republican Party is now Trump’s party, with the exception of Sen. John S. McCain III (R.-Ariz.) and his sidekick Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R.-S.C.). But two rebels does not become a problem until they find a third senator. Otherwise, the Capitol Hill Republicans are on board and on duty for the president.

    It is also fair to say that Trump is also on board and on duty for his congressional party. More than once in his young presidency, he has signaled that he will fight alongside his congressmen and senators and give them political cover — a luxury never enjoyed by Democrats serving under Obama.

    Read More Stories About:

    Big Government, Alexander Hamilton, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, House Republicans, Judge Merrick Garland, Justice Antonin G. Scalia, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Donald J. Trump, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secure Fence Act of 2006, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D.-N.Y.), Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.), Sen. John S. McCain III (R.-Ariz.), Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R.-S.C.), Senate Republicans, Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R.-Wis.), Supreme Court, Vice-President Michael R. Pence

    Comment count on this article reflects comments made on Breitbart.com and Facebook. Visit Breitbart’s Facebook Page.

    The provision would "provide protection against disclosures to the public or other government entities," essentially sealing accusations against lawmakers.


    House Republicans gut their own oversight

    ‘Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress,’ Nancy Pelosi says.

    By Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan

    01/02/17 07:56 PM EST

    Updated 01/02/17 10:50 PM EST

    In one of their first moves of the new Congress, House Republicans have voted to gut their own independent ethics watchdog — a huge blow to cheerleaders of congressional oversight and one that dismantles major reforms adopted after the Jack Abramoff scandal.

    Monday’s effort was led, in part, by lawmakers who have come under investigation in recent years.

    Despite a warning from Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Republicans adopted a proposal by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to put the Office of Congressional Ethics under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee.

    The office currently has free rein, enabling investigators to pursue allegations and then recommend further action to the House Ethics Committee as they see fit.

    Now, the office would be under the thumb of lawmakers themselves. The proposal also appears to limit the scope of the office’s work by barring them from considering anonymous tips against lawmakers. And it would stop the office from disclosing the findings of some of their investigations, as they currently do after the recommendations go to House Ethics.

    President-elect Donald Trump ran on a platform of draining the swamp of an often all-too-cozy Washington D.C.

    Monday night’s moves go in the opposite direction, severely loosening oversight of lawmakers’ potential conflicts of interest, use of campaign money and other ethical matters.

    “Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions,” snarked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement after news of the secret-ballot vote. “Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”

    The vote to declaw the OCE was orchestrated by several members who felt they had been wrongfully accused of unethical behavior by the OCE, according to several sources in the room. The sources said several members currently or formerly under the OCE’s microscope stood up to support the pitch, which was eventually adopted by a vote of 119 to 74.

    One of those was Rep. Blake Farenthold, the Texas Republican who was accused by a former staffer of sexual harassment. The OCE recommended in September 2015 that the Ethics panel drop a probe of the matter, but Farenthold did not like the way the case was handled. A court later threw out the staffers’ lawsuit as well.

    Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) also spoke in support of the measure. The Ethics Committee, at the behest of OCE, had probed whether Roskam accepted an impermissible gift when he and his wife traveled to Taiwan in October 2011. The Ethics Committee approved the Roskams’ trip beforehand as permissible under federal law, but OCE believed the Taiwanese government and not the Chinese Culture University — the official sponsor — “was conducting and organizing his trip.”

    The Roskams’ daughter was also staying in Taiwan at that time, and OCE noted that the Roskams sought to include her as part of their itinerary for the $24,000-plus trip. Roskam strongly denied any improper or unethical behavior, and the Ethics Committee eventually dropped the case.

    Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) also vocally supported the amendment. They or their staff had come under OCE’s microscope.

    Democrats created the Office of Congressional Ethics in March 2008 after the Abramoff scandal, in which the well-connected GOP lobbyist plead guilty to conspiring to bribe public officials. Abramoff and his clients had used campaign donations and favors to sway members, including former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who served 30 months in prison, and a number of staffers.

    Their idea was that an outside agency of sorts could take up a more robust oversight of members. Republicans, however, have claimed the group has been too aggressive in making referrals.

    Under the Goodlatte proposal, the OCE would be renamed the “Office of Congressional Complaint Review,” according to a summary of the House rules amendment obtained by POLITICO. It “places the office under the oversight of the Committee on Ethics.”

    The provision would “provide protection against disclosures to the public or other government entities,” essentially sealing accusations against lawmakers. Currently those investigations are made public several months after the OCE refers the matter to the Ethics panel.

    Goodlatte defended his proposal in a statement: “The amendment … improves upon due process rights for individuals under investigation, as well as witnesses called to testify. The OCE has a serious and important role in the House, and this amendment does nothing to impede their work.”

    Watchdog groups were already blasting the move.

    “Undermining the independence of the House’s Office of Congressional Ethics would create a serious risk to members of Congress,” said the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in a statement issued later Monday.

    “If the 115th Congress begins with rules amendments undermining OCE, it is setting itself up to be dogged by scandals and ethics issues for years and is returning the House to dark days when ethics violations were rampant and far too often tolerated.”

    The organization Common Cause tweeted: “If @HouseGOP wants to strip ethics office’s power late in the night then we must call them late in night to help stop it.”

    The proposed change will be included in a package of new House Rules governing the 115th Congress, which will be voted on Tuesday afternoon.

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    Senator Perry Clark has pre-filed a bill for the 2017 legislative season that pertains to legalizing marijuana in the state …


     

    Marijuana Legalization laws hit the books in Kentucky in 2017.

     

    Almost one year after filing the Cannabis Freedom Act, Kentucky State Senator Perry Clark has pre-filed a bill for the 2017 legislative season that pertains to legalizing marijuana in the state.

    Filed on December 6 for the January, 2017, legislative season, the new bill is called the Cannabis Compassion Act and is filed as BR 409. Nevertheless, little has changed between the wording of the proposed laws of 2015, 2016, and the new 2017 Cannabis Freedom Act.

    Now, voters will get another chance to see if this Kentucky marijuana legalization bill will fizzle out or get accepted into law.

    Alternatively, the fact that recent elections have replaced some candidates could mean the newcomers are more receptive to marijuana legalization than their predecessors.

    Before the elections, Norml gave most of Kentucky’s congressional members a poor rating for their lack of support for any type of marijuana legalization. The exceptions are Republican pro-marijuana legalization advocates Senator Rand Paul and Representative Thomas Massie.

    In particular, it was noted that many Republican Kentuckians in the House of Representatives voted against the 2016 Veterans Equal Access Amendment.

    While these elected officials in the U.S. House of Representatives might not be voting for federal legalization of medical marijuana or cannabis, there is still hope that the Kentucky State Senate will have new members that decide to vote for marijuana legalization.

    Ballotpedia points out that the Kentucky State Senate had “19 of 38 total seats… up for election in 2016.” The outcome of this election did have some surprises, such as a large number of state senators running for re-election while also being unopposed.

    Another interesting note in history is that the current bipartisan makeup of 11 Democrats and 27 Republicans in the Kentucky State Senate has remained the same before and after the election.

    This meant that there was no shift in the number of Democrats or Republicans at the Kentucky State Senate before or after the November 8 elections, but there will be a few newly elected officials voting on the Cannabis Compassion Act in 2017.

    On the other hand, Kentucky might need to worry about Republicans voting against marijuana legalization because many members of the GOP are not as anti-marijuana legalization as they were in the recent past.

    For example, Atlantic quoted Bill Bennett, former Education Secretary under George W. Bush, at a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference, titled “Rocky Mountain High: Does Legalized Pot Mean Society’s Going Up In Smoke?” During the panel discussion in 2014, Bill Bennett said there “used to be a strong conservative coalition opposed to drugs.”

    However, in 2014, it was clear to Bill Bennett and other GOP members that the conservative anti-marijuana legalization viewpoint was dissipating in the face of mounting public support for legalization. Bennett concluded with the sentiment that Republicans are “fighting against the tide” on the legal marijuana issue.

    In the past, the issues with marijuana legalization in Kentucky in 2016 centered on behind-closed-doors meetings about the proposed law.

    Two Kentucky state senators that were commonly quoted as being unsure about passing a marijuana legalization law in the state were John Schickel and Jimmy Higdon. Both of these senators are still in elected positions, and this means they will have another chance to vote on marijuana legalization in January, 2017.

    For example, the last update about the 2016 marijuana legalization law in Kentucky was around September, according to WFPL. At that time, it was determined that the 2016 Cannabis Freedom Act was “assigned to a committee but never received a hearing.”

    Kentucky state senator Jimmy Higdon was quoted at that time saying that he was not sure how the bill would manifest, and also said marijuana legalization might only be implemented for “end-of-life situations.”

    Although Senator Jimmy Higdon’s remarks stand out, an attempt to push the 2017 Cannabis Compassion Act may not be futile despite it being denied in the past. For instance, it appears the Kentucky State Senate was expecting there to be another marijuana legalization bill to vote on in 2017.

    In July, North Kentucky Tribune spoke with Kentucky state senator John Schickel, and he was paraphrased as saying that while the Cannabis Freedom Act “never made it to the Senate floor for a vote,” the issue is still considered relevant and “legislators want to further research the issue prior to the start of next year’s session in January [2017].”

    As previously reported by the Inquisitr, other pre-filed bills for Kentucky to vote on in 2017 include increasing penalties related to narcotics.

    CONTINUE READING…

    Obama says marijuana should be treated like ‘cigarettes or alcohol’


    By Christopher Ingraham November 30 at 12:33 PM

     

    In an “exit interview” with Rolling Stone magazine, President Obama said that marijuana use should be treated as a public-health issue similar to tobacco or alcohol and called the current patchwork of state and federal laws regarding the drug “untenable.”

    “Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse,” Obama said. “And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.”

    Obama has made comments to this effect before. In a 2014 interview with the New Yorker magazine he said that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” More recently, he told TV host Bill Maher, “I think we’re going to have to have a more serious conversation about how we are treating marijuana and our drug laws generally.”

    In the Rolling Stone interview published this week, Obama also reiterated his long-standing position that changing federal marijuana laws is not something the president can do unilaterally. “Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict,” he said, “but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”

    The Drug Enforcement Administration recently turned down a petition to lessen federal restrictions on marijuana, citing the drug’s lack of “accepted medical use” and its “high potential for abuse.” Congress could resolve the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws by amending the federal Controlled Substances Act, but it has declined to do so.

    Marijuana legalization advocates have been frustrated at what they see as Obama’s unwillingness to use his bully pulpit to advocate for their cause. “It would have been very helpful if he had taken more concrete positive action on this issue before it was almost time to vacate the Oval Office,” Tom Angell of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority said in a statement. “That this president didn’t apply pressure on the DEA to reschedule marijuana this year will likely go down as one of the biggest disappointments of the Obama era.”

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    There is little disagreement on either side of the legalization debate that personal marijuana use should be treated primarily as a public-health issue. Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the nation’s leading anti-legalization group, says that it “seeks to establish a rational policy” for marijuana use and possession that “no longer relies only on the criminal justice system to address people whose only crime is smoking or possessing a small amount of marijuana.”

    But there is vehement disagreement over what such a “rational policy” would look like. SAM advocates for a policy of decriminalization of marijuana use, but not full-scale commercial legalization. Groups like the Marijuana Policy Project, on the other hand, are pushing for the creation of Colorado-style commercial marketplaces where it is completely legal to buy, sell and consume marijuana.

    Obama has been hesitant throughout his second term to push for one approach or the other. His Justice Department has created a policy explicitly allowing states to legalize marijuana as they see fit, but he has made no effort to alter the strict federal prohibition on marijuana that complicates any effort to create a legal nationwide marijuana industry.

    Pro-legalization advocates are worried that the current Justice Department policy of noninterference on marijuana legalization could be reversed by an incoming Trump administration stocked with harsh critics of such legalization. Trump himself has said that the matter should be left up to the states.

    In the Rolling Stone interview, Obama hinted that he may be more vocal on the issue once he leaves office. “I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go” on marijuana, he said.

    CONTINUE READING…

    Clinton Gave Thumbs Down to Legal Marijuana, Leak Shows


    By Tom Angell on October 10th, 2016

     

    Image result for marijuana and hillary clinton

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spoke out against legalizing marijuana in a paid speech, hacked emails from her campaign show.

    During an on-stage Q & A session with Xerox’s chairman and CEO in March 2014, Clinton used Wall Street terminology to express her opposition to ending cannabis prohibition “in all senses of the word”:

    URSULA BURNS: So long means thumbs up, short means thumbs down; or long means I support, short means I don’t. I’m going to start with — I’m going to give you about ten long-shorts.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Even if you could make money on a short, you can’t answer short.

    URSULA BURNS: You can answer short, but you got to be careful about letting anybody else know that. They will bet against you. So legalization of pot?

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Short in all senses of the word.

    The excerpt comes from an internal Clinton campaign memo highlighting potentially problematic passages from her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, General Electric, Deutsche Bank and other major corporations.

    Other excerpts from the 80-page document, published by Wikileaks after a hack on Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account, show the former U.S. secretary of state admitting she is “far removed” from the struggles of the middle class, arguing that politicians need to have separate positions on issues in public and in private and supporting “open trade and open borders.”

    Over the course of the past year, the Clinton campaign forcefully refused calls to release the speech transcripts from her Democratic primary opponent, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who supports legalization and has introduced legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition.

    That the campaign flagged the candidate’s opposition to legalization as a potential problem demonstrates a growing understanding by political operatives that marijuana law reform is now a mainstream issue, one which is supported by a majority of Americans and a supermajority of Democratic primary voters.

    While Clinton has made no secret in public appearances that she isn’t ready to endorse full legalization, she has usually framed her position as taking a wait-and-see approach, wanting to give laws like those in Colorado and other states a chance to work before she makes up her mind about ending prohibition.

    The leaked Xerox excerpt, in contrast, positions her as strongly opposed to legalization.

    But the remarks were made two-and-a-half years ago, just two months after legal marijuana sales began in Colorado, so it is possible that Clinton’s personal view of legalization has legitimately softened in the interim.

    During the course of her presidential campaign, Clinton has highlighted support for letting states set their own cannabis policies without federal interference and has pledged to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act if elected.

    But advocates have pushed the candidate to go even further by offering a personal endorsement for the policy of legalization, arguing that doing so could help Clinton win back support from wayward millennial voters who are supporting Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson or Jill Stein of the Green Party, both of whom have made support for ending cannabis prohibition centerpieces of their campaigns.

    The newly-leaked documents showing Clinton’s strong opposition to legalization in a private appearance, combined with comments from the candidate’s daughter Chelsea last month implying that marijuana use can lead to death, could present an added sense of urgency for Clinton to evolve on the question of ending prohibition prior to Election Day.

    To see what else Hillary Clinton has said about cannabis law reform, check out Marijuana.com’s comprehensive guide to the candidates.

    CONTINUE READING…

    I was a pot smoking, dread locked, skirt wearing, deadhead white freak driving a Arizona licensed Ford panel van


     

     

    Galen P Dively III

    Yesterday at 2:01am ·

    Open Letter to Randy Brock, Republican Candidate for Lieutenant Governor, in response to his open letter to David Zuckerman, Democratic Candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

    Dear Randy,

    Combating racism and bigotry requires the guts to call it out in the open. Leadership and Maturity? That’s debatable. In a legislative body, yes, but change comes in many colors and never always through an orderly process. When I was young and immature we had Rock Against Racism concerts. They were filled with loud music and generally had more pot smoking than cash bars. This did not diminish the awareness and education these events brought to the people, including myself, attending and dancing.

    Today, I read your open letter to David Zuckerman berating him for his immaturity. Sir, your gripes regarding tweets and personal attacks seem perfectly arguable, and, your proclamation against negative campaigning reads great. While I do not question your right to gain political points in an election year with clever wordsmith, I am very concerned in doing so you may be omitting some serious history lessons about racism and our drug laws. You do this while seemingly perpetuating your own “false and thoroughly offensive narrative” against long haired hippies and other, some might say less colorful, users of marijuana.

    Cannabis/Hemp would never have been prohibited federally through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 without blatant racist arguments and outright lies made before the U.S. Congress. These racist arguments and lies started well before 1937. Local and State drug laws were used to control minority(some cases majority) populations of Chinese laborers, Mexican farmhands, Black folks, and other current undesirables of the times since 1875. Their effects are being felt well after Hippie and Black Panther hating President Nixon’s first utterance of the words, ‘War on Drugs’ in 1971. (The year of my VW Bus was born.)

    At this point I would like to point out that I am not endorsing David Zuckerman; though after your letter I may just have to vote for him. I am on the Marijuana Party ticket running for State Senate. I lean Libertarian but I am speaking for ALL people, directly and indirectly, harmed by pot laws over the last 100 years. Pretty much everybody. Some more acutely than others. Why even in today’s “tolerance” filled environment, marijuana offenders are denied Pell Grants for college while others have lost voting rights. People still can go to prison for pot offenses in all States, even Vermont. Potheads are raped in prison. Your letter trivialize these facts and the very real role racism played and still plays in creating this mess.

    A little true story about myself…

    I was a pot smoking, dread locked, skirt wearing, deadhead white freak driving a Arizona licensed Ford panel van all over our great country during the depths of Nancy Reagan’s chapter of the War on Drugs. Five of those years I was even on parole. I have lived with a felony record since 1983 for a crime against property. I was eighteen. One day in 1989 I cut off my dread-locks and put pants on. A weird thing happened.

    Strangers of all skin colors started smiling and talking to me again in public places. Who knows if any of them were racists, but, they were definitely prejudiced. Is this not a good thing?

    What I mean is, is not, me being of low melanin content and with genes which traveled out of Africa thousands of years before yours were stolen from Africa; is it not a good thing I know and experienced this prejudice first hand when trying to understand your own struggles with racism and the legacy of slavery? I know there are differences. White privilege is wrong and is paid for with hate. I totally understand I have a choice to cut my hair and put on nice clothes and that this simple act will allow me to almost fully experience my white privileges. (Almost? Remember, I am a felon.)

    When you were a police officer, with what I just described of myself, would you not of given me a second look? Let’s be honest and make fighting racism, prejudice, hate, fear, and bigotry in ALL forms our legacy. This civil war needs to end, and ,make no mistake, sir, the drug war is a civil and racist war. The erosion of respect and attendant violence you’re seeing today is the logical result of decades of demonizing on both sides of this war. At stake is nothing less than our freedom.

    Galen Dively III, Marijuana Party
    Second Choice for State Senate

    9 States to Vote Soon on Expanding Legal Access to Marijuana


    SAN FRANCISCO — Sep 28, 2016, 2:35 AM ET

    Marijuana National Vote

    From California, with its counterculture heritage, to the fishing ports and mill towns of Maine, millions of Americans in nine states have a chance to vote Nov. 8 on expanding legal access to marijuana. Collectively, the ballot measures amount to the closest the U.S. has come to a national referendum on the drug.

    Five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — will consider legalizing the recreational use of pot. Three others — Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota — will decide whether to permit marijuana for medical purposes. Montana will weigh whether to ease restrictions on an existing medical marijuana law.

    As the most populous state, with a reputation for trend-setting, California is attracting the most attention — and money — in an intensifying debate over Proposition 64.

    Silicon Valley tycoons and deep-pocketed donors with connections to the legal medical marijuana industry are among the top financial backers of a pro-pot campaign that has raised almost $17 million. Opponents have raised slightly more than $2 million, including a $1.4 million contribution from retired Pennsylvania art professor Julie Schauer.

    Advocates on both sides say passage in California would likely ignite legalization movements in other states, especially when the tax dollars start adding up. California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated the state could collect up to $1 billion a year in marijuana taxes.

    "As California goes, so goes the nation," said University of California, Berkeley political science professor Alan Ross.

    If "yes" votes prevail across the country, about 75 million people accounting for more than 23 percent of the U.S. population would live in states where recreational pot is legal. The jurisdictions where that’s already the case — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and the District of Columbia — have about 18 million residents, or 5.6 percent of the population. Twenty-five states allow medical marijuana.

    According to national polls, a solid majority of Americans support legalization. Gallup’s latest survey gauged support at 58 percent, up from 12 percent from when the question was first posed in 1969. Gallup says 13 percent of U.S. adults report using marijuana at present, nearly double the percentage who reported using pot in 2013.

    California voters rejected an attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in 2010 after campaign leaders struggled to raise money and support for a four-page ballot measure hastily written by the owner of a small medicinal marijuana store.

    This time, the 62-page ballot measure was crafted by political professionals and has the backing of many elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running for governor in 2018. Current Gov. Jerry Brown says he’s close to announcing his position.

    The measure would allow people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce of weed and grow six marijuana plants at home. Pot sales would be subject to various tax rates that would be deposited into the state’s Marijuana Tax Fund. Most of that money would be spent on substance-abuse education and treatment. Some would be used to repair environmental damage caused by illegal growers.

    Opponents argue that the measure will do more harm than good by opening a marijuana market dominated by small farmers to corporate interests and encouraging children to use the drug through pot-laced sweets like gummy bears, cookies and brownies.

    The proposal "favors the interests of wealthy corporations over the good of the everyday consumer, adopting policies that work against public health," said Kevin Sabet, co-founder of the California-based advocacy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

    Napster founder and early Facebook investor Sean Parker has contributed more than $3 million to the legalization effort, which has also attracted sizable contributions from an organization backed by billionaire George Soros and another backed by Weedmaps, which rates pot stores throughout the state.

    "It’s a huge deal and it’s long overdue," said Steven DeAngelo, owner of one of the nation’s largest medicinal marijuana dispensaries and a Proposition 64 supporter.

    In most of the states with marijuana ballot measures, polls have shown the "yes" side leading. Sabet believes opponents of legalization would attract more support if they could narrow a large fundraising gap and spread their cautionary messages. He does not buy the other side’s argument that nationwide legalization will come sooner or later.

    "Repeating that this is inevitable, and repeating they are so excited, is part of their narrative to makes folks like us feel helpless," he said.

    Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project, a leading pro-legalization group, said his side has a chance to win in most of the nine states, but some losses will not derail the movement.

    "Even if a measure doesn’t pass, support will grow," he said, citing failed ballot measures in Oregon and Colorado that preceded the victories for legalization.

    "Most people believe marijuana should be legal. It’s a question of whether opponents do a good job of scaring them out of doing it now," Tvert added. "We might see people opt to wait a couple more years."

    All five states voting on recreational marijuana have seen intense debate over the effect of legalization in the states that have already taken that step.

    Opponents of the ballot measures make an array of claims, contending, for example, that Colorado’s legalization of pot has coincided with an increase in crime in Denver and fueled a jump in the number of traffic fatalities linked to marijuana use.

    However, an analysis by three academic experts, published this month by the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, asserted that the impact of legalization has been minimal.

    "The data so far provide little support for the strong claims about legalization made by either opponents or supporters," the analysis said.

    Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron, one of the co-authors of the study, predicted Californians would approve Proposition 64, but he was less certain of the outcome in his home state of Massachusetts, where the Republican governor, Charlie Baker, and the Democratic mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, have teamed up to oppose legalization.

    Miron said it’s difficult to predict when legalization might get support in Congress or surge to approval in a majority of states.

    "I’m not sure if this November will get us to the tipping point. It may be two or four more years," he said. "Certain things seem impossible, until all of a sudden they are possible, and they happen fast."

    ———

    Crary reported from New York.

    CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO!

    Cannabis at the Capitol: Marijuana industry leaders lobby Congress


    FILE- In this Dec. 27, 2013 file photo, different strains of pot are displayed for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Denver. The state of Colorado released a report Monday, April 18, 2016 detailing changes in everything from pot arrests to tax collections to calls to Poison Control. The most striking statistic wasn't a change at all, but the fact that surveys indicate marijuana use by people under 18 didn't rise significantly in the years after the 2012 vote to legalize recreational pot sales. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

    By Jennifer Harper – The Washington Times – Thursday, May 12, 2016

    Three Democratic lawmakers will herald the start of a two-day lobbying effort by marijuana entrepreneurs on Capitol Hill.

    Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Ed Perlmutter of Colorado plus Denny Heck of Washington joined the National Cannabis Industry Association for a press conference Thursday just outside the U.S. House to talk up policy and “advocate for fair treatment of the legal cannabis industry,” according to the organization. They will spend the next two days explaining their situation to as many elected officials as possible.

    The trade group is troubled that “legitimate cannabis businesses” often can’t access basic financial services. They take issue with cannabis business who must pay “double or triple the effective federal tax rates of any other industry.” They want marijuana “de-scheduled” from the Controlled Substances Act.

    The cannabis entrepreneurs also appear to be intent on changing the image of the emerging industry.

    The association itself has a formal code of conduct for its membership and officers them this message: “Lobby Days provide the best opportunity to show our nation’s decision-makers what a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry looks like.”

    The group plans a major national expo and business summit in Oakland, California next month. Currently, 19 states the the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana. Four states, as well as the District of Columbia, allow marijuana for both recreational and medical use. Sales nationwide of legal weed are expected to top $4.5 billion this year.

    CONTINUE READING…