Archive for the ‘Washington’ category

State Department’s Top Drug Warrior, William Brownfield, Says Federal Government Must Tolerate Making Marijuana Legal

October 16th, 2014

According to Reason, William Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, called for flexibility in interpreting anti-drug treaties.

“How could I, a representative of the government of the United States of America, be intolerant of a government that permits any experimentation with legalization of marijuana if two of the 50 states of the United States of America have chosen to walk down that road?”

When asked about the federal government’s position on the regulation and taxation of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, Brownfield described a clearly prescribed policy:

William Brownfield

“The deputy attorney general’s words were that the federal government will not intervene in the application of the laws of Washington and Colorado on marijuana legalization, but will monitor and hold them responsible for performance in eight specifically designated areas…. We have a national interest to ensure that this does not cause undue harm….”

“The United States of America reserves the right and can at any time it chooses enforce the law against marijuana and cannabis cultivation, production, sale, purchase, and consumption in Washington state and Colorado. The deputy attorney general in a public document has asserted that for now we will not do that unless it crosses the line in eight specifically identified categories in those two states.”

Although there is a long way for the federal government to go in terms of completely eliminating its prohibitionist attitude, those associated have been compelled by the political circumstances in the U.S. to accept that there is value to alternative policies. This is a good sign for countries that have been pressured by the U.S. to mimic and help enforce American prohibition.

New Mexico’s State Licensed Medical Marijuana Producers’ Businesses and Bank Accounts in Jeopardy

October 1st, 2014

According to a Drug Policy Alliance press release, just eight short months after the Federal Justice Department and Treasury Department announced new guidelines permitting banks to work with marijuana businesses, credit unions in New Mexico sent letters to nearly half of the state’s licensed medical marijuana producers stating that they will no longer accept their business and will proceed with closing their bank accounts.

The credit unions attest that they are unable to adhere to federal guidelines for servicing the medical marijuana business accounts. This move forces producers to operate on a cash-only payment system or leaves producers struggling to find another financial institution that is willing to accept their business.

Emily Kaltenbach

“It is disappointing to see that the banking industry in New Mexico is failing to protect medical patients and small businesses in light of the assurances the federal administration has provided and a robust and thriving medical marijuana industry in the state,” said Emily Kaltenbach, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This abrupt move has all of us asking why they are unexpectedly ceasing to do business with the marijuana industry in New Mexico. We would like to know why they are unable to comply with the federal guidelines.”

Ultimately, these legitimate medical marijuana businesses are being denied the same financial services afforded to other industries in every state, despite generating large amounts of tax revenue, particularly in Colorado and Washington. In the meantime, beginning today, all medical marijuana business transactions in New Mexico will be cash-only.

Support NORML and get “Evergreen”, the exciting documentary that tells the story of how Rick Steves and friends helped legalize marijuana in Washington State

September 23rd, 2014

Support NORML and get Evergreen

Dear NORML members and supporters,

As a board member of NORML I am feeling really good. I’m on a drug policy reform high for four reasons:

  • We legalized marijuana in my state (Washington) and in Colorado in 2012. (That gives "the lower 48" a whole new meaning.) And, the Brookings Institution gave it a two-year review and concluded it’s a good thing.
  • We plan to legalize in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia this November. (I’ll be spending six days on a 12 city barn-storming tour in Oregon, like I did in Washington two years ago, to explain to the confused and frightened that ending this crazy prohibition of our age is good citizenship).
  • There’s a great new documentary movie called "Evergreen" which tells the amazing and behind the scenes story of how a committed band of NORML-types waged our successful campaign and did what no one else until then had been able to do: make the responsible adult recreational use of marijuana a civil liberty. In my state and in Colorado now we can smoke pot just because it’s fun…we can invite our friends over and get high legally. Finally: pot is legal, taxed, and regulated. The movie tracks the political battle from start to finish and travels with me as I bring the NORML view to citizens all over the state–from churches to universities and to our capital dome. (Spoiler alert: the "rumble under the rotunda" is pretty messy.)
  • And, you and your friends have a great opportunity to empower NORML to end the war on marijuana in your state too by joining or renewing your NORML membership or even joining up your mother. And, for that $50, we’ll send you a copy of the documentary movie, Evergreen.

This is important. We have momentum. There’s lots more to do. That’s why I’m donating these DVDs to NORML for this campaign. And that’s why I’m packing up and heading to Oregon next month for an intense week of media and lectures. We are a team and you matter. What are you doing? All we’re asking is that you send NORML $50. As a thanks, we’ll send you the exciting Evergreen movie.

I am so proud of what we did in Washington State. I’m proud of what NORML is doing nation-wide. And I’m really excited to offer you this movie on DVD. If you care about legalizing pot, this is something you need to watch. Share it with your friends. It’s an inspiration.

Again, to be among the first in the nation to watch Evergreen, please join NORML for $50 or more to receive your DVD copy of this important documentary capturing a historic change in American politics: When cannabis prohibition first ended.

I am contributing the cost of these DVDs to NORML as my personal challenge to you. I hope you’ll kindly join NORML, view Evergreen with friends and family, share with neighbors, co-workers and locally elected policymakers. I sincerely hope you too find the same inspiration we developed in Washington to get the job of ending marijuana prohibition done, once and for all.

Thanks in advance for your support of marijuana law reform in America and NORML’s long-standing public advocacy work.

Warm regards,

Rick Steves
Author and TV Host
NORML board member
Edmonds, WA

Marijuana Policy Project Launches ‘Consume Responsibly’ Campaign, Battling Industry Stereotypes

September 17th, 2014

As reported by The Washington Post, the Marijuana Policy Project, in partnership with marijuana industry leader Medbox, Inc., is now launching a $75,000 public education campaign to counter what communications director, Mason Tvert, describes as decades of “exaggeration, fear mongering, and condescension.” The campaign will launch at noon in Denver, Colorado in front of a billboard aimed at tourists.

The outdoor ad reads, “Don’t let a candy bar ruin your vacation. With edibles, start low and go slow.”

Consume Responsibly Ad
Consume Responsibly Ad

The ad is an allusion to the case of Maureen Dowd, a New York Times columnist who got sick from eating a marijuana edible on a visit to Denver to cover the topic of marijuana.

Ensuring the safe use of edible marijuana products has proven troublesome in Colorado since legal sales began in January. Many people have more experience smoking marijuana than consuming it in edible form, and because the effects have a slower onset with edibles, it is harder for inexperienced users to self-regulate. The headlines ridiculing legal pot advocates, as well as Dowd’s experience, have been enough for the industry to promote moderation with edible pot forms.

“So far, every campaign designed to educate the public about marijuana has relied on fear mongering and insulting marijuana users. Like most Americans, Ms. Dowd has probably seen countless silly anti-marijuana ads on TV, but she has never seen one that highlights the need to ‘start low and go slow’ when choosing to consume marijuana edibles,” Tvert stated.

The campaign will begin in Colorado, featuring print ads, online ads, and literature to be distributed at retail locations urging responsible consumption and directing people to ConsumeResponsibly.org, which is patterned after the alcohol industry’s “Drink Responsibly” campaign. It will present information about products, laws, and the effects of marijuana. The campaign will eventually expand to Washington, where marijuana is also legally taxed and regulated.

Marijuana Policy Project Launches ‘Consume Responsibly’ Campaign

September 17th, 2014

As reported by The Washington Post, the Marijuana Policy Project, in partnership with marijuana industry leader Medbox, Inc., is now launching a $75,000 public education campaign to counter what communications director, Mason Tvert, describes as decades of “exaggeration, fear mongering, and condescension.” The campaign will launch at noon in Denver, Colorado in front of a billboard aimed at tourists.

The outdoor ad reads, “Don’t let a candy bar ruin your vacation. With edibles, start low and go slow.”

Consume Responsibly Ad
Consume Responsibly Ad

The ad is an allusion to the case of Maureen Dowd, a New York Times columnist who got sick from eating a marijuana edible on a visit to Denver to cover the topic of marijuana.

Ensuring the safe use of edible marijuana products has proven troublesome in Colorado since legal sales began in January. Many people have more experience smoking marijuana than consuming it in edible form, and because the effects have a slower onset with edibles, it is harder for inexperienced users to self-regulate. The headlines ridiculing legal pot advocates, as well as Dowd’s experience, have been enough for the industry to promote moderation with edible pot forms.

“So far, every campaign designed to educate the public about marijuana has relied on fear mongering and insulting marijuana users. Like most Americans, Ms. Dowd has probably seen countless silly anti-marijuana ads on TV, but she has never seen one that highlights the need to ‘start low and go slow’ when choosing to consume marijuana edibles,” Tvert stated.

The campaign will begin in Colorado, featuring print ads, online ads, and literature to be distributed at retail locations urging responsible consumption and directing people to ConsumeResponsibly.org, which is patterned after the alcohol industry’s “Drink Responsibly” campaign. It will present information about products, laws, and the effects of marijuana. The campaign will eventually expand to Washington, where marijuana is also legally taxed and regulated.

Madison Police Chief Urges End To Marijuana Prohibition

September 15th, 2014
Mike Koval
Chief Mike Koval

In an interview last week, Madison, Wisconsin Police Chief Mike Koval called marijuana prohibition a failure and advocated regulating and taxing the substance in order to pay for treatment programs that focus on more dangerous drugs.

The comments came during an interview with the State Journal Wednesday about data showing African Americans in Madison were arrested or cited for marijuana offenses at about 12 times the rate of whites in the city.

Koval called efforts to enforce laws against marijuana an “abject failure” and said the same about the broader war on drugs. “We’ve done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement, that it’s time to reorder and triage the necessities of what’s more important now,” Koval said.

Referring to the states of Washington and Colorado, which have legalized the drug for recreational use and sale at state-regulated stores, he said it was time for Wisconsin to consider doing the same.

Under current Wisconsin law, possession of any amount of marijuana can earn you six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A subsequent offense is a felony punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and three and a half years in prison.

Chief Koval is just one example of a growing movement of law enforcement professionals who are breaking rank with many of their colleagues and calling for an end to the war on marijuana users.

Rhode Island Primary Is Two Weeks Away – Where Do The Candidates Stand?

August 29th, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, is Primary Election Day in Rhode Island. With an open race for the top slot in the state, all eyes are on the gubernatorial primary races. Next year, the legislature will continue discussing whether Rhode Island should replace marijuana prohibition with sensible regulations, so it is important to know how the candidates for governor view the issue.

Democratic primary gubernatorial candidatesWhen asked in March, all three major candidates — Gina Raimondo, Angel Taveras, and Clay Pell — indicated that they are monitoring the effects of regulation and taxation in Colorado and Washington. However, all indications are that Taveras is the least open to marijuana regulation — he stated that he is “not currently supportive of legalization.” This is not too surprising considering Taveras has received public support from prominent marijuana prohibitionist and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

Republican primary gubernatorial candidates: On the Republican side of the coin, Ken Block has said he will withhold judgment until he can “see the results in Colorado and Washington.” His opponent, Allan Fung, not only opposes “the legalization of marijuana for recreational use,” but also makes no mention of even being interested in results from Colorado and Washington.  

If you are a Rhode Island resident, please get out and vote on Tuesday, September 9, and pass this message on to other Rhode Island voters who support humane and fiscally sound marijuana policies. The New York Times agrees that regulation — not prohibition — is the more sensible approach to marijuana policy; we hope the next governor of Rhode Island does, too.

 

Prominent Think Tank Praises Washington’s Legal Marijuana System

August 27th, 2014

On Monday, respected policy think tank The Brookings Institutionbrookings published a paper analyzing Washington’s implementation of the law passed in 2012 to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. The results: the state is doing well and is actively trying to learn from the process. The results could have far-reaching implications for marijuana policy reform in other states.

Brookings’ Philip Wallach interviewed advocates, researchers, and government policymakers in Washington to learn about the state’s novel approach.  In this report, he highlights several noteworthy features:

  • Building a funding source for research directly into the law: a portion of the excise tax revenues from marijuana sales will fund research on the reform’s effects and on how its social costs can be effectively mitigated.
  • Bringing to bear many perspectives on legalization by coordinating research efforts across multiple state agencies, including the Department of Social and Health Services, the Department of Health, and the Liquor Control Board.
  • Mandating a cost-benefit analysis by the state’s in-house think tank, which will be nearly unprecedented in its scope and duration.

Wallach makes a number of suggestions to ensure that Washington’s knowledge experiment can be made to work, including:

  • Ensure political independence for researchers, both by pressuring politicians to allow them to do their work and by encouraging the researchers themselves to refrain from making political recommendations
  • Gather and translate research into forms usable by policymakers
  • Counter misinformation with claims of confident uncertainty
  • Have realistic expectations about the timeline for empirical learning, which means cultivating patience over the next few years
  • Specify which reliable metrics would indicate success or failure of legalization

The full report can be found here.

Washington: Retail Marijuana Sales Total Nearly $4 Million In First Month

August 12th, 2014

Washington state-licensed marijuana retailers sold an estimated $3.8 million in cannabis products in July, the first month during which such sales were allowed under state law. The sales are estimated to have already generated more than $1 million in tax revenue.

To date, the state’s Liquor Control Board has issued marijuana retail licenses to some 40 facilities. However, only 16 of those stores reported sales in the month of July, according to the Associated Press. Under state regulations, the Board may issue a total of 334 licenses to retail facilities statewide.

Similar state-licensed stores have been operating in Colorado since January 1. For the month of June, Colorado retailers sold a record $24.7 million worth of cannabis goods.

Voters in both states in 2012 approved ballot measures regulating the commercial production, retail sale, and adult use of cannabis.

Voters in Alaska and Oregon will vote on similar measures this November.

District Of Columbia’s Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance Goes Into Effect Tonight

July 16th, 2014

A new District ordinance reducing marijuana possession penalties to a $25.00 fine-only violation goes into effect at midnight tonight.

Washington, DC City Council members overwhelmingly approved the legislation, entitled “The Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act,” this past spring. The measure amends District law involving the possession or transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by up to 6 months incarceration and a maximum fine of $1,000) to a civil violation (punishable by a $25.00 fine, no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record).

Offenses involving the public consumption of cannabis remain classified as a criminal misdemeanor under DC law, punishable by up to six-months in jail and a $500 fine. The possession of cannabis-related paraphernalia will be re-classified as a violation, not a criminal offense.

An analysis published by the American Civil Liberties Union reported that the District possesses the highest percentage of marijuana possession arrests per capita in the nation.

Weeks ago, Congressman Andrew Harris (R-MD) introduced a language to undermine the implementation of this act. However, that provision remains pending and is strongly opposed by the White House.

The District’s $25.00 fine-only measure is similar to existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.

Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense.

Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana.