The New York Times Editorial Board has come out in favor of legalizing marijuana. In its Sunday editorial that launched a weeklong series of editorials in favor of legalization, the Times wrote, “It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.” The editorial, entitled “Repeal Prohibition, Again” explains, “There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization.” Reaction to the editorials has reverberated throughout national media, with most responses in support of the Times’ decision to support legalization.
The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, is focusing on one of the more pernicious aspects of the drug war – drug courts. The story notes that “those charged with marijuana possession are the single largest group of offenders sent to drug-court treatment programs.” John Roman, a senior analyst at the Urban Institute, says, “The problem is very few people who have those serious problems get into one of these drug courts. Instead, we take all kinds of people into drug court who don’t have serious problems.” The story mentions marijuana possessors who once may have gotten off with a small fine who are now enrolled into drug courts and treatments for months which they must pay for. Harold Pollack, a professor at University of Chicago, explains, “People want these programs to be successful,” and that a major reason the drug courts can boast such success is because they avoid tackling the hard cases.
A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania has proposed a bill to remove high-CBD/low-THC marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. The Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014 would legalize not just the famous Charlotte’s Web strain popularized in the Dr. Sanjay Gupta documentary “Weed”, but any cannabis strain containing less than 0.3% THC. “No one should face a choice of having their child suffer or moving to Colorado and splitting up their family,” said Rep. Scott Perry, the bill’s sponsor. “We live in America, and if there’s something that would make my child better, and they can’t get it because of the government, that’s not right.” In this year alone, eleven US states have legalized the use of the non-psychoactive form of medical cannabis with near unanimous support in their state legislatures.
The senators from Washington and Colorado are urging the Obama Administration to give clear guidance to their states as legalization rolls on. Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall of Colorado and Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington wrote a letter to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and Attorney General Eric Holder to call for “a clear, consistent and uniform interpretation and application” of federal drug laws in relation to their home states. “We believe the federal government should support Colorado and Washington state’s effort to establish a successful regulatory framework in a way that achieves greater certainty for local officials, citizens, and business owners” in the cannabis industry, the senators wrote in the letter dated Monday. The senators said that uncertainty regarding the implementation of federal laws restricting possession and distribution of marijuana “may undermine our states’ ability to regulate the industry adequately.”
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows already huge support for medical marijuana is growing. As was found in their May poll, 88% of Florida voters support medical marijuana, with seniors’ support sitting at 83% and Republicans at 80%. Question 2, the proposed medical marijuana amendment in Florida, needs 60% of the vote to pass. When it passes, 71% of Floridians would be comfortable with a dispensary in their neighborhood, with 57% of seniors and 58% of Republicans in support. When it comes to recreational legalization, 55% are in support, up from 48% last November. Women trail men by 15 points, with 61% of men for legalization but only 49% of women.
The sluggish roll-out of Washington State’s legal marijuana market is putting a damper on marijuana tourism. According to Alison Holcomb, who drafted Initiative 502 that legalized marijuana, just eighty of over 2,600 growers who applied to the state have been issued grower’s licenses, with only 30% of land allotted to marijuana grows currently licensed. “Currently, the system is a disaster,” says John Davis of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics, who explains, “There’s not enough [marijuana] to sell.” Compounding the issue is Washington’s requirement to separate growers, processors, and sellers, unlike Colorado where a business must consolidate all aspects of the marijuana trade. Licensed growers have taken advantage of the artificial scarcity by inflating prices and neglecting quality, causing one retailer, Ramsey Hamide of Vancouver’s Main Street Marijuana, to temporarily close his doors in protest over price gouging and product littered with stems and leaves.
Legal marijuana in Alaska will be a $251 million industry that will generate $20 million in new tax revenues annually. That’s the message from a new report by the Alaska Cannabis Institute that estimates roughly 95,000 Alaska adults will be legal marijuana consumers in the first year of legalization. Alaska and Oregon will both be voting on adult recreational marijuana legalization this November.