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‘Good people don’t smoke marijuana’


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Posted 19 November 2016 - 09:35 AM

What the future of marijuana legalization could look like under President Trump
 
Beau Kilmer, a drug policy expert at the nonprofit Rand Corp., said it's unlikely that any sort of changes to marijuana law will be a priority for incoming Trump administration officials. “In the grand scheme of top issues the new administration is going to be dealing with, marijuana is not going to be a top priority,” Kilmer said in an interview.
 
With 65 million people living in states that have given the green light to marijuana legalization, any federal crackdown “could have significant political costs associated with it,” Kilmer said. And the burgeoning marijuana industry is likely to step up its lobbying efforts at the state and local levels.
 
Hudak agrees that any effort to stop state-level legalization will depend on lawmakers' appetite for dealing with the potential political fallout from the move.
 
“This is a Congress that is about to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Hudak said. “I think a Congress and an administration that are willing to do that are not going to worry about the optics of quashing the marijuana industry.”
 
 
Trump’s pick for attorney general: 
 
President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to be attorney general of the United States, The Washington Post and other news outlets reported Friday. Sessions is a vocal opponent of marijuana legalization whose elevation to attorney general could deal a blow to state-level marijuana legalization efforts across the country.
 
Under Obama, the Justice Department explicitly adopted a hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized the drug, allowing those laws to proceed without interference provided that a number of enforcement priorities, including keeping pot out of the hands of minors, were met. The announcement of that stance in 2013 played a key role in allowing Colorado and Washington to move forward with their marijuana markets.
 
“A lot of people forget that [recreational marijuana markets in] Colorado and Washington were pretty much on hold until the governors there received guidance from the Department of Justice,” John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said this month.
 
Even simply reversing that guidance could have a chilling effect in states like Maine and Massachusetts that recently approved legalization. Without a tacit green light from the federal government, governors in those states may be hesitant to move forward with legalization policies that remain at odds with federal laws on the books for more than 40 years.
 
“I’m still hopeful the new administration will realize that any crackdown against broadly popular laws in a growing number of states would create huge political problems they don’t need and will use lots of political capital they’d be better off spending on issues the new president cares a lot more about,” said Tom Angell of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority.
 
 
 

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Posted 19 November 2016 - 10:45 AM

The Oncoming corporate influence of Marijuana Policies...
 
A study by the RAND Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center describes marijuana buyers as a “Wal-Mart, not a Whole Foods” market, generally preferring the less expensive Mexican strains to higher-quality bud from Northern California. However, the market for domestic marijuana has expanded in recent years. As NPR reported in 2011, commercial prices for marijuana in areas like California have been falling for years, down to as low as $2,500 per pound, as a crop of new suppliers has sprouted up.
 
This brings up the issue of whether marijuana will be allowed to move legally through international trade channels, just as alcohol is today. If marijuana is approved for importation, this could certainly drive down its price in the United States, just as Mexican imports already do. But Mexico isn’t the only player in the game: this fall Uruguay boldly announced that it would begin to allow the use and sale of legal, regulated marijuana nationwide, at the astonishingly low price of $1 per gram (compared to $15 or more per gram here). Tariffs and added costs for packaging, shipping, and distribution would certainly bring the costs up on its way to the United States, but if other countries follow Uruguay’s example, U.S. producers may have to lower prices to compete.
 
Growth Market
 
Although it has been illegal to grow marijuana in the United States for nearly a century, renegade grow-ops have persisted in the face of draconian crackdowns by local law enforcement and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In 2012 alone, the DEA eradicated just under four million plants (down from 6.7 million in 2011), over 92% of which came from outdoor grow operations. Nevertheless, ineffective enforcement policies and crafty concealment techniques have allowed farmers to continually move their product through back-channel distributors across the country.
 
In order to flourish in the outdoors, the cannabis plant requires fertile soil that is slightly acidic, daytime temperatures between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and at least twelve hours of sunlight per day. There are numerous strains, which can be grown in somewhat different climates, and for the most part marijuana can be grown on a large scale throughout most of the United States during the summer months.
 
While property values, local water quality, and the timeline of legalization in each state will ultimately determine which states are able to take advantage of this new cash crop, we may already have an idea of who will be the biggest contender in the fight to be to marijuana what Georgia is to peanuts.
 
In 2006, Jon Gettman, a former head of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML) and an adjunct professor of public administration at Shepard University in West Virginia, published a paper estimating the scale of American marijuana production. Through an analysis of government eradication efforts over the prior three years, Gettman found that marijuana would be one of the largest cash crops in the United States if it were legal, and was already “the top cash crop in twelve states, one of the top three cash crops in 30 states, and one of the top five cash crops in 39 states.”
 
In addition, “five states (California, Tennessee, Kentucky, Hawaii and Washington) had marijuana crops worth over $1 billion,” with the national pot crop worth more than our national soybean and wheat crops combined.
 
Not all of the money to be made will come from selling marijuana to consumers as a drug. While only the female buds of the plant cannabis sativa contain adequate levels of the chemical THC (tetra-9-hydrocannibol) to cause a “high,” the rest of the plant has a variety of applications that may pique the interest of small and big business alike.
 
Hemp—as the non-intoxicating parts of the cannabis plant are called—is used in over 25,000 products worldwide, according to a 2013 report from the Congressional Research Service, and is used frequently in products sold by companies like The Body Shop and Whole Foods, which are forced to import their hemp products due to U.S. laws prohibiting the cultivation of any kind of cannabis. The same report estimated the current size of the U.S. hemp market at about $500 million, with a large potential to grow should its products be more widely available for sale (both inside and outside of the United States).
 
 

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