Texas Lawmakers Will Vote On Marijuana Decriminalization This Week

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘MARIJUANA MOMENT’)

 

Texas Lawmakers Will Vote On Marijuana Decriminalization This Week

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The Texas House is scheduled to vote on a bill on Thursday that would make low-level marijuana possession punishable by a fine with no jail time.

The development comes one month after the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved the decriminalization legislation in a 5-2 vote.

Under the bill, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana would be punishable by a $250 fine for the first two offenses, and it would be considered a class C misdemeanor for subsequent offenses, which is a lower penalty than is the case under current law.

Currently, possession of two ounces or less is a class B misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. That’s in addition to a permanent criminal record, which carries steep, long-term consequences.

“Regardless of political affiliation, Texans are in support of reducing penalties for low-level marijuana possession,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “We want to see our valuable public safety resources used in a better way and we don’t want a simple marijuana charge to keep people from going to school or participating in the workforce.”

Despite the state’s reputation as a conservative stronghold, cannabis reform is advancing in several forms through the Texas legislature. That includes legislation to legalize and regulate industrial hemp and its derivatives, which was approved by the House on Tuesday.

It also includes a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, which unanimously cleared by a House committee last week.

The Texas Republican Party endorsed all three modest reform measures last year, though it stopped short of backing broader adult-use legalization.

Advocates are optimistic that the decriminalization bill will make it all the way to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who has expressed openness to signing legislation to reduce penalties for simple possession.

This story has been updated to note the House’s passage of a hemp bill.

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Ideals For A Third Party Platform Here In The U.S.

Ideals For A Third Party Platform Here In The U.S.

 

1.) The Supreme Court decides the policy on abortion, not a politician.

2.) Guns and/or ammunition can not be outlawed from the public. To me, the only exception should be such things as machineguns. Grenades, C-4 and such weapons should be banned unless you have a specific permit to own them, like with a licensed collector.

3.) Recreational marijuana should be just as legal as alcohol, Federally! This government prohibition is just as ignorant and illegal as the prohibition of alcohol was in the 1930’s.

4.) Flat tax rate of 10% on all things, no write-offs, no exemptions, no loopholes. 6% Federal tax. 2% State tax. 1% each for County and City. I look at taxes this way, the Lord asks us to donate at least 10% toward Him which He requires us to help others with like our communities.

5.) All people running for any office must supply the prior 10 years of tax returns when they officially or unofficially announce they are ‘running’ for an Office.

6.) Mandatory retirement age for any Office of 72 years old. If a person is wanting to be elected to any office if they will turn 72 or older during that 2, 4 or 6 years then you are not allowed to be in that or any such Office. You say that is not legal that it is age discrimination, I say no, I believe you are incorrect. The reason is, you have to be a minimum of 35 to be allowed to be President. If that isn’t discrimination then neither is my idea of being to old.

Just a thought folks on what I would like to see as the Platform of a 3rd political party. so here it is.

Legal Marijuana: This Is Where All 2020 Presidential Politicians Stand On This Issue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

With an ever-growing field of contenders running for president, especially in the Democratic Party, once-fringe measures like marijuana legalization have become a litmus test for the candidates’ commitment to progressive politics.

“It’s very encouraging to see so many presidential candidates taking a position in line with what the American people want. For decades there’s been a disconnect between the positions of the American public and their elected officials,” Matthew Schweich, the deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Newsweek.

National polling shows that the country overwhelmingly supports legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, two in every three Americans support legalizing weed. That figure was backed up by a CBS poll conducted on the eve of 4/20, a date has long been a national holiday for those inclined to celebrate cannabis culture even before the rush of states legalizing marijuana in recent years.

Ten states and Washington D.C. have already legalized marijuana and over 30 states have medical marijuana laws. During the 2018 midterm elections, three states voted in favor of marijuana legalization including Michigan, which was the first Midwest state to do so.

Schweich said that it is “clear that these policies work and that has helped bring presidential candidates to the position of support.” In return, 2020 candidates who support cannabis reform are helping to further normalize the issue.

Here’s where all of the 2020 presidential candidates stand on marijuana:

Cory Booker (D)

Senator Booker has supported cannabis reform efforts in Congress and has been an outspoken critic of the war on drugs.

In February, Booker reintroduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which he first introduced in 2017. The legislation would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Several other 2020 Democratic candidates have co-sponsored the bill, including Harris, Gillibrand, Sanders and Warren.

Pete Buttigieg (D)

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor doesn’t appear to have signed any legislation regarding marijuana reform but he has stated he supports legalization. In an interview with The Boston Globe, Buttigieg said that the “safe, regulated, and legal sale of marijuana is an idea whose time has come for the United States, as evidenced by voters demanding legalization in states across the country.”

Julian Castro (D)

The former Housing secretary does not have a large record on marijuana policy, but he stated his favor for legalization at a CNN town hall earlier this month.

“I actually support the legalization of marijuana,” he said. “On top of that, we need to go back and expunge the records of people who were imprisoned because of using marijuana.”

John Delaney (D)

The former House representative has suggested support for legalization and said that the federal government should get out of the way.

“There’s such a movement at the state level to legalize marijuana, to decriminalize it, and at a minimum to allow it to be legal for medical purposes,” Delaney said at a town hall event at SXSW. “And I think the federal government should get out of the way and let that movement continue.”

Tulsi Gabbard (D)

The congresswoman from Hawaii supports the legalization of marijuana. During her time in Washington D.C. she’s co-sponsored various marijuana-related bills. She was also the prime sponsor of a proposal to force the federal government to study the impact of legalizing cannabis.

In her campaign speech, Gabbard slammed the criminal justice system for putting “people in prison for smoking marijuana while allowing corporations like Purdue Pharma, who are responsible for the opioid-related deaths of thousands of people, to walk away scot-free with their coffers full.”

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

The New York Democrat is now one of the most vocal lawmakers in Congress for cannabis reform, despite not co-sponsoring any pro-marijuana bills during her time in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009.

On her 2020 campaign website, Gillibrand highlights her support for marijuana legalization, writing: “We have a mass incarceration crisis, and institutional racism pervades the way we enforce laws. To rectify this, we should legalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge past records; reform our sentencing laws so that judges can have more flexibility when dealing with low-level, nonviolent drug offenses.”

Kamala Harris (D)

Harris’s thoughts on marijuana reform have evolved. In 2010, when she was the attorney general of California, she opposed an initiative to legalize marijuana. But in 2018, Harris added her name to Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act​ to make marijuana legal at the federal level​.

In a recent radio interview, Harris said that she has smoked marijuana before: “I have. And I inhaled, I did inhale. It was a long time ago, but yes.”

John Hickenlooper (D)

Hickenlooper oversaw Colorado’s marijuana reform effort in 2012, though he deemed the decision to legalize the drug “reckless.” Since then, he’s signed a number of various marijuana-related bills into law.

During a CNN town hall event in March, Hickenlooper said that he “would not ask the federal government to legalize it for everyone, but I think where states do legalize marijuana, with the voters or through the general assembly, the federal government should get out of the way.”

Jay Inslee (D)

Inslee, the governor of Washington, oversaw the state’s legalization efforts. He also launched a program designed to expedite the expungements of misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions going back to 1998.

Before launching a 2020 bid, Inslee said that he expects recreational use of marijuana to eventually be legalized in all states.

Jay Inslee

@JayInslee

Proud to get the top grade on cannabis policy from @NORML. It’s time to legalize marijuana nationally. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2019/01/16/legal-marijuana-advocates-rank-the-best-and-worst-governors-on-cannabis/#4789a3ed78b3 

Legal Marijuana Advocates Rank The Best And Worst Governors On Cannabis

NORML gave each of the nation’s 50 state governors a grade on cannabis policy. More got A grades than ever before, reflecting how marijuana is now mainstream in American politics.

forbes.com

207 people are talking about this

Amy Klobuchar (D)

The Minnesota senator said that she is in support of legalizing marijuana. “I support the legalization of marijuana and believe that states should have the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their borders,” she said in February.

Klobuchar is a co-sponsor of the STATES Act, which would protect states’ rights to enact their own marijuana policies. She has also signed onto measures to expand marijuana research and to remove CBD from the federal law’s definition of marijuana.

2020, candidates, legal, marijuana, legalization, weedAdvocates for the legalization of marijuana gather in front of the White House during a demonstration by dozens who were protesting current laws April 2, 2016 in Washington, D.C. MIKE THEILER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Wayne Messam (D)

The 44-year-old mayor of Miramar, Florida, said he believes states should have the right to legalize marijuana without threats from the federal government.

“As long as those states that choose to do so continue to enforce DUI laws, spread economic benefits throughout all communities, and expunge records for those arrested for selling marijuana, they would have my full support as President,” his campaign website reads.

Beto O’Rourke (D)

The Texas Democrat is in favor of ending federal prohibition of marijuana and creating a regulated, legal marijuana market. He also supports expunging the criminal records of people who were arrested for non-violent marijuana crimes. While in Congress he cosponsored a number of drug reform bills.

In March, just before launching his presidential campaign, O’Rourke sent an email to supporters in which he again backed the repeal of the federal criminalization of marijuana.

Bernie Sanders (D)

The Vermont senator was the first major presidential candidate to endorse marijuana legalization during his first presidential bid. He was a more vocal supporter of cannabis reform than his primary rival Hillary Clinton.

In 2015, Sanders filed the first-ever Senate bill to end federal cannabis prohibition. In March, Sanders said that “too many lives are being destroyed” federal laws banning marijuana use.

Eric Swalwell (D)

The California lawmaker supports marijuana legalization. He backed the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow legal marijuana businesses to access banking services. He’s also a co-sponsor for the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019.

Elizabeth Warren (D)

Warren is a sponsor of the STATES Act, which she filed alongside Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. She said that, while she would prefer to legalize the drug completely, she is willing to work with Republicans to support state-lead legalizations efforts.

At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, a reporter asked the senator how she currently felt about cannabis reform. Warren replied that she “voted in favor of legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts” and that “we should legalize it nationally.”

Marianne Williamson (D)

Williamson is in support of legalizing marijuana. During a campaign stop in New Hampshire this week, she said that in her “opinion is we are so beyond worrying about marijuana. We are onto something so much bigger than marijuana”—like the problems people face with drugs like heroin and fentanyl.

Andrew Yang (D)

The 44-year-old technology executive states on his campaign website that he in support of full-scale legalization of marijuana.

“We need to resolve the ambiguity and legalize marijuana at the federal level. This would improve safety, social equity, and generate tens of billions of dollars in new revenue based on legal cannabis businesses,” the website reads.

Bill Weld (R)

Despite being a longtime Republican, Weld has supported marijuana legalization since serving as the governor of Massachusetts in the early 1990s. In 2018, Weld joined the board of a cannabis company with former House Speaker John Boehner, who had once famously said in that he was “unalterably opposed” to decriminalizing the drug.

He has also endorsed the STATES Act, calling the bill his “favorite piece of legislation that is on the Hill right now.”

Donald Trump (R)

During the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump said that he supported medical marijuana but that any other policies should be left up to the states to decide. Then in June 2017, just a few months after being sworn in, Trump said that he would probably “end up supporting” the bipartisan STATES Act.

All National Polls Show That Marijuana legalization is very popular In The U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘VOX’ NEWS)

 

Marijuana legalization is very popular

In the three major national surveys, support for legalization is at an all-time high.

Support for marijuana legalization is growing.
 Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The three major national polls in America are increasingly converging on one point: Marijuana legalization is very popular in the US.

The latest finding, from the recently released General Social Survey by NORC at the University of Chicago, shows that 61 percent of people supported marijuana legalization in 2018. That’s up from 57 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000 — a rapid shift in public opinion in less than two decades.

The other two big national surveys on the topic have found similar results. Gallup put support for marijuana legalization at 66 percent in 2018, up from from 60 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000. Pew put it at 62 percent in 2018, up from 57 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000.

This is far more popular than a lot of politicians who oppose legalization. For reference, President Donald Trump currently holds a 45 percent approval rating in Gallup’s tracker — an unusually high number for him, but also roughly in line with where Barack Obama’s approval numbers were around this point in his presidency. It’s also more than either Trump or Obama got in elections, with Trump getting 46 percent of the vote in 2016 — losing to Hillary Clinton in popular vote but not the Electoral College — and Obama getting 53 percent in 2008.

It’s also fairly high relative to other issues. Before same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide by the US Supreme Court in 2015, it had 56 percent support in the General Social Survey, 60 percent in Gallup’s survey, and 57 percent in Pew’s. The rapid shift in public opinion for marriage equality is one reason the Supreme Court likely felt comfortable legalizing it. Yet it was lower than support for marijuana legalization today.

One caveat: Support for legalization seems to be lower if you specify recreational marijuana. A recent survey from YouGov, for example, found that just 50 percent of Americans back recreational marijuana legalization, versus 31 percent opposition. That could be an outlier, but it could suggest that some of the support picked up by the General Social Survey, Gallup, and Pew reflects support for medical marijuana, not full legalization.

Still, the dramatic turnaround in public opinion helps explain why the great majority of expected and announced Democratic presidential candidates support marijuana legalization. And it explains why more states — now 10 states and Washington, DC — have legalized pot to varying degrees through a ballot initiative or legislature.

Supporters of legalization argue that it eliminates the harms of marijuana prohibition: the hundreds of thousands of arrests around the US, the racial disparities behind those arrests, and the billions of dollars that flow from the black market for illicit marijuana to drug cartels that then use the money for violent operations around the world. All of this, legalization advocates say, will outweigh any of the potential downsides — such as increased cannabis use — that might come with legalization.

Opponents, meanwhile, claim that legalization will enable a huge marijuana industry that will market the drug irresponsibly. They point to America’s experiences with the alcohol and tobacco industries, which have built their financial empires in large part on some of the heaviest consumers of their products. This could result in far more people using pot, even if it leads to negative health consequences.

Based on the latest polling, supporters of legalization increasingly outnumber opponents.

For more on marijuana legalization, read Vox’s explainer.

Why Pro-Legalization Cory Booker Isn’t Cosponsoring The New Marijuana Bill

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MARIJUANA MOMENT)

 

POLITICS

Why Pro-Legalization Cory Booker Isn’t Cosponsoring The New Marijuana Bill

Published

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is in presidential campaign mode, and he’s made marijuana reform a critical tenet of his platform. So why isn’t he cosponsoring new bipartisan legislation to shield legal cannabis states from federal intervention that was introduced in Congress last week?

The senator signed on to an earlier version of the bill that was filed last year. And he’s repeatedly said that states should be granted the autonomy to set their own marijuana policies. That would be accomplished under the proposed bill, yet he declined to add his name as an original cosponsor of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.

The reasoning behind his decision was unclear until Tuesday, when Booker told VICE’s Matt Laslo that he’s withholding his support because the bill doesn’t go far enough in terms of repairing the racially disproportionate harms of prohibition.

“At this point it’s too obvious and urgent and unfair that we’re moving something on marijuana on the federal level and it doesn’t do something on restorative justice,” he told VICE. “I want that bill to have some acknowledgement of the savage injustices that the marijuana prohibition has done to communities.”

“I get very angry when people talk about legalizing marijuana and then give no light to how marijuana law enforcement was done in ways that fed upon poor communities—black and brown communities. This is a war on drugs that has not been a war on drugs—it’s been a war on people, and disproportionately poor people and disproportionately black and brown people.”

Listening to the 2020 Democratic candidate talk about his drug reform philosophy of late reveals something of a shift—one that places greater weight on social equity—and Booker seems to be indicating that the STATES Act doesn’t meet his standard for reform.

“We fundamentally have laws in this country that have treated people differently,” Booker said in separate comments last month. “I’m hoping all of us when we talk about marijuana legalization or marijuana decriminalization, in the same breath we’ve got to talk about expunging the records of everyone who is still suffering.”

Under the senator’s own Marijuana Justice Act, federal courts would have to expunge the records of individuals with convictions for possessing or consuming cannabis. It would go further too, by federally descheduling cannabis and penalizing states that enforce marijuana laws in a racially or socioeconomically disproportionate way by withholding certain federal funds. And that saved money would go toward community reinvestment efforts such as job training programs.

“Senator Booker is right that for any marijuana legalization bill to pass Congress, it must have robust racial justice provisions,” Michael Collins, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment. “We need to take steps to right the wrongs of the war on drugs, and we hope that more members of Congress will embrace Booker’s position.”

It’s already apparent that Booker is working to distinguish himself from the current crowd of pro-legalization Democratic presidential hopefuls. For example, he seemed to make a veiled critique of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) after she made a lighthearted admission that she used marijuana during college.

“We have presidential candidates and congresspeople and senators that now talk about their marijuana use almost as if it’s funny,” he said last month. “But meanwhile, in 2017, we had more arrests for marijuana possession in this country than all the violent crime arrests combined.”

During that same campaign stop, Booker also said “do not talk to me about legalizing marijuana unless in the same breath you talk to me about expunging the records of the millions of people that are suffering with not being able to find a job,” touting his legislation.

Booker’s criticisms of what he sees as the inadequacies of the STATES Act, which was filed by competing presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), could provide another way for the senator to separate himself from the pack in the race—though Warren and Harris, along with other contenders, have also signed on as cosponsors of his Marijuana Justice Act.

The STATES Act is a relatively non-controversial, bipartisan bill, as far as cannabis reform in Congress goes. It has a states’ rights focus that has appealed to even some historically anti-marijuana lawmakers like Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), who endorsed the legislation in a letter to the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

“[I]t sounds like I need to talk to Cory Booker about fixing a federal-state conflict,” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), the chief Republican cosponsor of the Senate version of the STATES Act, told VICE. “This is about fixing a conflict in federal and state law that needs to be done, and it’s pretty simple. So I think he would be hard pressed to vote against it.”

To be clear, while Booker is withholding his name as a cosponsor of the bill, he hasn’t said he would vote against it—a prospect that would almost certainly sink its chances of clearing the Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member, if brought up for consideration there.

In the 116th Congress, the STATES Act also seems to have revealed additional political schisms in marijuana policy within the Democratic party. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) removed her name from the original cosponsors list after supporting the last version, for instance, but advocates suspect that that decision reflects what they see as the senator’s disingenuous prior support, which came in the midst of a re-election battle with progressive challenger, state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D).

https://www.marijuanamoment.net/sen-dianne-feinstein-signs-onto-marijuana-bill-after-decades-of-drug-war-advocacy/embed/#?secret=bZEm4WU4qn

Photo courtesy of Senate Democrats.

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1 Big Reason Why U.S. Marijuana Legalization Might Actually Happen This Year

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE MOTLEY FOOL’)

 

1 Big Reason Why U.S. Marijuana Legalization Might Actually Happen This Year

The prospects for U.S. marijuana legalization appear to be better than ever.

Apr 9, 2019 at 6:00AM
Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 U.S. states. Recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states. All forms of marijuana, however, remain illegal at the federal level in the U.S. But that could change.

A bipartisan group of senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress recently introduced the STATES (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States) Act. The bill would prevent the federal government from intervening in states that have legalized marijuana. It would effectively make marijuana legal at the federal level in much of the U.S.

There has been plenty of skepticism about whether the STATES Act has a shot at passage. But there’s one big reason why U.S. marijuana legalization might actually happen this year: politics.

"Legal marijuana" signs.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Holding the Senate

One of the sponsors of the STATES Act is Sen. Cory Gardner, R.-Colo. Sen. Gardner’s home state of Colorado has a thriving marijuana industry that’s expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2022, including both medical and recreational pot sales.

Gardner has been a vocal supporter of getting the federal government out of the way of states that have chosen to legalize marijuana. Last year, he even held up President Trump’s judicial nominees after Jeff Sessions, then Secretary of the U.S. Department of Justice, overturned Obama administration policies about not intervening in states that had legalized marijuana. Gardner’s effort ultimately led to a deal with President Trump to keep the DOJ from taking any actions against Colorado or other states that allowed legal marijuana.

The GOP maintained control of the U.S. Senate in the 2018 elections and even picked up a couple of seats. However, the map will look much different in 2020. There will be 22 Republican seats up for election compared to only 12 Democratic seats. Holding on to every current Republican seat will be very important to the GOP.

One of those seats that Republicans want to retain in next year’s elections is held by — you probably guessed it — Sen. Cory Gardner. If Gardner can campaign on success in keeping Colorado’s marijuana industry safe from federal intervention, it could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

There are three hurdles for the STATES Act in the Senate. First, the bill must be brought before the Judiciary Committee for review. Second, assuming the STATES Act clears the Judiciary Committee, it must be advanced to the full Senate for a vote. The third hurdle is actually passing the Senate. Gardner is confident that the Senate would vote in favor of the STATES Act. He stated recently to Roll Call, “If we get it on the floor of the Senate, it passes.”

The bad news is that Sen. Lindsay Graham, R.-S.C., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has stated that he isn’t “very excited” about the legislation. It’s possible that Graham could stop the STATES Act dead in its tracks.

However, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., makes the decision on which bills are brought up for votes before the full Senate. He also can exert pressure on committee chairmen like Graham as to which bills are reviewed. McConnell no doubt knows that Gardner would be less vulnerable if the STATES Act is at least brought up for a vote. There’s a reasonable chance that he will work behind the scenes to help Gardner.

What about the House?

The dynamics are much different in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats control the House by 36 seats. The STATES Act is virtually assured of sailing through committee review and is likely to win a solid majority vote in the full House.

Passage of the bill in the House also could increase the chances that it isn’t blocked in the Senate. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D.-Ore., is one of the sponsors of the House legislation. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Blumenauer said, “If this gets moving, I think you will see the Senate get on board. I think Mitch McConnell is not going to want to have his members be vulnerable.”

Blumenauer is probably right. Republican senators like Cory Gardner would be especially vulnerable if the STATES Act doesn’t come up for a vote in the Senate. Again, Mitch McConnell knows this.

One final hurdle

There is one final hurdle if the STATES Act passes both the House and the Senate: President Trump must sign the bill into law. However, Sen. Gardner doesn’t think that will be a problem. Gardner stated to Roll Call, “The president has been very clear to me that he supports our legislation.”

This is consistent with the deal made between Gardner and President Trump last year. At that time, Gardner said that President Trump committed to support “a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”

Better prospects than ever

It’s still possible, of course, that something could happen to derail the STATES Act. Sen. Graham could choose to dig in his heels and refuse to bring the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Maybe there won’t be enough votes in the Senate for passage.

Look for the share prices of marijuana stocks to serve as a gauge for the chances of passage of the STATES Act. U.S.-based marijuana stocks like Origin House (NASDAQOTH:ORHOF) would almost certainly rise as the prospects for the bill increase. So would the share prices of leading Canadian marijuana growers such as Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), which would be able to enter the U.S. marijuana market if the STATES Act becomes law.

One thing is for sure: The prospects for U.S. marijuana legalization appear to be better than ever. And the GOP’s desire to retain control of the Senate could be what tips the scales even more toward legalization.

Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Origin House. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

A record 61% of Americans now want weed to be legalized across the US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘BUSINESS INSIDER’)

 

A record 61% of Americans now want weed to be legalized across the US, with support rising in every age group

Elon Musk (smoking pot)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk with a joint on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast in September.
 The Joe Rogan Experience/YouTube
  • A record 61% of Americans say weed should be legalized, according to the respected General Social Survey.
  • Support has grown across all age groups, US regions, and political affiliations.
  • Growing support has seen all 2020 presidential candidates backing legalization efforts.

A record 61% of Americans say pot should be legalized, according to the respected General Social Survey.

The poll, which has tracked support for legal marijuana since 1973, found that approval reached an all-time high across all age groups, US regions, and political affiliations in 2018.

The numbers reflect how attitudes toward the drug are shifting across the nation. While the majority of Americans want the legalization of cannabis now, only 16% did in 1987 and 1990, the years with the joint-lowest support.

states where marijuana legal mapSkye Gould/Business Insider

Consumption has also become more accepted across the US. Ten states, including California, Colorado, Michigan, have legalized the use of recreational marijuana, and 33 states allow its medical use.

Read moreThis map shows every US state where pot is legal

Though support grew across all age brackets, it remains the highest among 18- to 34-year-olds, the survey found. More than 70% of young Americans say they want pot to be legal, while only 42% of interviewees over 65 say the same.

Survey takers in the Midwest are most in favor, at 68%. While support was lowest in the South, more than half of respondents there still said marijuana should be legalized.

On the political spectrum, Democrats (69%) and independents (66%) were largely in favor of legalizing weed. Only 42% of Republicans agreed, but support among them has been growing steadily over the years. In 2012, only a third of Republican voters wanted cannabis to be legal.

weed dispensary
A weed dispensary in Michigan, the 10th state to legalize recreational weed.
 (Carlos Osorio/AP)

The federal government began banning the sale, cultivation, and use of the cannabis plant about 80 years ago. Although some states have legalized it, marijuana remains illegal on a federal level.

People who oppose marijuana argue that it can be easily misused. But campaigners say that legalization is the only way to cut off revenue from criminal organizations that profit from selling a relatively safe plant.

Now growing public support has all 2020 presidential candidates backing different efforts to legalize marijuana — whether they are Democrats or Republicans.

Sen. Corey Booker has made legalization a centerpiece of his campaign, Elizabeth Warren is pushing to protect the pot industry, and President Donald Trump has said states should have the right to legalize pot if they want.

Read moreWhere the 2020 presidential candidates stand on marijuana legalization

John Lapp, a Democratic national campaign strategist, told The Boston Globe that the political evolution has been remarkable.

“Marijuana legalization, if you look back, was really something for fringe candidates. It’s just not very controversial at all now,” he said.

SEE ALSO: 10 things that can happen after a state legalizes marijuana

7 Year Old Jazmine Murder Solved? Police Have Arrested Two

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

A 20-year-old man in Texas was arrested Saturday and charged in the death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was shot and killed while riding in a car with her family in Houston. Another man is being held in connection with the shooting but has not yet been charged, a lawyer for the girl’s family said.

Eric Black Jr., 20, was charged with capital murder and appeared in court early Sunday morning, wearing handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit. He was ordered held without bail. A prosecutor said Black admitted to driving the car when his passenger opened fire.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Barnes family, told CBS News another suspect had also been arrested.

The shooting occured in Houston on Dec. 30 when a car pulled alongside the vehicle carrying Barnes and her family at a stoplight and a gunman opened fire. Jazmine died of a gunshot wound to the head, and her mother was hit in the arm.

LaPorsha Washington, Jazmine’s mother, said in the days following the shooting that she believed it was racially motivated. Her 15-year-old daughter, who was also in the car, initially said the shooter was a white man in a red truck, and police released an artist’s sketch Thursday showing a thin, white man with a 5 o’clock shadow. Black, the alleged driver, is African American. The full name of the alleged gunman is not yet known, but Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Sunday the individual is also African American.

In a press conference Sunday afternoon, Gonzalez said there was indeed a red truck at the stoplight when shots rang out, but said investigators now believe the person or people in the truck were nothing more than witnesses. He urged the unidentified driver of the truck to come forward.

Gonzalez said investigators don’t believe “in any way” that family members were involved in anything “nefarious.” He added that investigators believe two people were involved in the shooting, but would not comment further since Black is the only individual who has been charged.

“We feel that they were truthful. This just went down very quickly when the gunfire erupted,” Gonzalez said. “You’re talking about small children — they witnessed something very traumatic. And it is possible that the last thing they did see was indeed that red truck and that driver that was in that truck, and that’s what they remembered last.”

jazmine-ssvo-frame-0.jpg
Jazmine Barnes.HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Earlier Sunday, a prosecutor presented details of the case against Black at a hearing at Probable Cause Court in downtown Houston. Appearing by video conference, the prosecutor said Gonzalez had received an anonymous tip passed along by journalist and activist Shaun King. The source implicated two men identified as “LW” and “EB” in the shooting after authorities asked the public for help identifying the assailants.

The source for the tip said the suspects thought the vehicle carrying Jazmine was another vehicle they had seen earlier in the day, the prosecutor said, and didn’t realize they had hit the wrong vehicle until seeing the news later that day.

The source provided the sheriff with the name of an Instagram account used by one of the suspects, which investigators determined belonged to Black, the prosecutor said.

On Saturday, police stopped Black in a grey Kia for failing to signal when changing lanes, and held him for suspected marijuana possession after a deputy said he saw a plastic bag with what appeared to be marijuana in his glove box when Black opened it to find his insurance card. The officer searched Black’s car, found more marijuana and detained him, the prosecutor said.

eric-black-jr1.png
Eric Black Jr. appears in court for a probable cause hearing on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019.ONSCENE.TV

Homicide detectives interviewed Black on Saturday, and the prosecutor said Black admitted to driving the vehicle involved in the shooting. Black told investigators “LW” — identified in court only as “Larry” — was seated in the front passenger seat of a rental car and fired at the vehicle carrying Jazmine. Black returned that rental car after the shooting and picked up the car he was driving when he was pulled over Saturday.

The prosecutor said in Sunday’s hearing that Black then agreed to a search of his residence, where police found a 9 mm pistol consistent with shell casings found at the site of the shooting.

Gonzales, the sheriff, said Sunday that police had received more than 1,000 tips in the case. A reward of $100,000 had been offered for information leading to an arrest. At a rally in Houston on Saturday, more than 500 people honored Jazmine and helped raise money for the family.

Zachary Hudak contributed reporting.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo just made marijuana legalization a top priority

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘VOX’ NEWS)

 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo just made marijuana legalization a top priority

Cuomo named marijuana legalization as one of his priorities in the first 100 days of 2019.

Andrew Cuomo speaks during election night in 2010.
 Michael Nagle/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday explicitly said for the first time that he supports marijuana legalization in his state — and will make it a legislative priority in 2019.

“Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana, once and for all,” Cuomo said in a speech outlining his administration’s priorities for the first 100 days of 2019.

The governor did not reveal any specific details of what his legalization bill will entail, but one person working on the legislation told me that it may be introduced as soon as January.

This isn’t the first time Cuomo has suggested he will legalize marijuana. In August, Cuomo set up a working group to write a legalization bill that implements recommendations from the state Department of Health to legalize and regulate cannabis.

The Department of Health’s report concluded that marijuana criminalization “has not curbed marijuana use despite the commitment of significant law enforcement resources.” The report noted that marijuana-related arrests and prosecutions over the past two decades “have disproportionately affected low-income communities of color,” even though these communities aren’t significantly more likely to use pot. And it found that legalization would let the state “better control licensing, ensure quality control and consumer protection, and set age and quantity restrictions,” as well as provide hundreds of millions in tax revenue to the state every year.

But the speech on Monday is the first time Cuomo has explicitly said he supports marijuana legalization.

It’s a big shift for the governor. As Tom Angell reported for Marijuana Majority, “As recently as a year ago he called marijuana a ‘gateway drug.’ But 2018 has seen Cuomo’s position on the issue change dramatically, beginning amid an unexpectedly strong primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, a progressive candidate who ran on a legalization platform.” Cuomo is also rumored to be considering a 2020 presidential bid, although he said in November that he’s ruled out a run.

One reason Cuomo may feel comfortable pushing legalization now: Democrats will controlboth houses of the New York state legislature for the first time since he became governor in 2011. Democrats are generally more supportive of legalization than Republicans.

If New York fully legalizes marijuana, it will become the 11th state — and the second most populous, after California — to do so. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state.

For more on marijuana legalization, read Vox’s explainer.

Legal Marijuana Will Create 5 New Professions And 250,000 More New Jobs By 2020

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Six years ago recreational marijuana use was illegal in all 50 states — and had been for nearly a century. Following the 2018 midterm elections, anyone over 21 will soon be allowed to legally consume marijuana in 10 states plus the District of Columbia. Overall, 33 states in the past 22 years have passed some form of marijuana legalization, from medical to recreational use.

Despite the ever-present federal threat — the Drug Enforcement Administration still considers marijuana a banned substance, and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened a crackdown — the $8.5 billion U.S. marijuana industry seems poised to grow as rapidly as the law will allow it. And it’s generating jobs just as quickly.

By 2020 the industry is expected to create 250,000 new jobs, according to New Frontier Data, an industry research firm. In 2017 the number of job posts for openings in the marijuana industry increased by 445 percent, outpacing tech (254 percent) and health care (70 percent), according to ZipRecruiter.

The industry is in search of workers across the spectrum, from accounting to compliance, customer service, sales, technology and more. As the industry grows, so too do the opportunities. California, Colorado and Washington currently have the greatest demand for workers, but that could shift as legalization spreads.

Though the total number of marijuana jobs are still far smaller than those other, much older industries, they include several positions that didn’t exist prior to legalization, offering enterprising workers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an entirely new career.

Because legalization has come state by state, there is no single association or governing body offering licenses, training or certifications. Workers looking to enter the industry will need to do a bit of research to find out their specific state requirements.

But newcomers don’t necessarily need an encyclopedic nature of weed culture to succeed in the industry. In fact, Karson Humiston, CEO and founder of recruiting firm Vangst, said she decided to start her firm, which specializes in the cannabis industry, after discovering the breadth of talent required by entrepreneurs attending a 2015 industry convention.

“When I asked people what positions they were hiring for, it was everything from a botanist to a chemical engineer to a Ph.D. to a retail store manager to a marketing manager to a human resource manager to a CFO,” she said. “You name it, and these companies were hiring for it.”

Though some may hesitate to join an industry selling a drug that’s still banned by federal law, everyday workers have little to fear, said Morgan Fox, media relations director for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “We haven’t seen any U.S. attorneys make an effort to crack down on businesses that are compliant with state law, even though the former attorney general gave them carte blanche to do so,” he said, referring to Sessions. “If someone is just an employee of a company, I would think there’s pretty much no risk.”

Here are five fast-growing new careers driven by marijuana legalization. Salary data is gleaned from the 2018 Vangst Salary Guide. In most cases the salary ranges are unusually broad due to the industry’s youth and rapid expansion.

Director of cultivation
marijuana cultivation
Garden Remedies operates a cultivation facility in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
Garden Remedies

They call it a weed, but growing crops of strong, healthy marijuana is both an art and a science. All grow operations, no matter how small, need a director of cultivation — also known as a master grower — to oversee planting, cloning, feeding, watering and pest management. At larger operations, cultivation directors have management responsibility for a team of growers, and the position typically requires frequent interaction with law enforcement to ensure compliance.

A background in horticulture or agriculture is a must for this job, and advanced degrees in either are sometimes required. Familiarity with cannabis is preferred, but plenty of employers are happy to hire someone with experience managing a large-scale greenhouse operation.

Average national salary range for qualified professionals: $88,000 to $250,500

Budtender
AP: container of marijuana buds for a customer at Utopia Gardens, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Detroit. Michigan
In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, photo, a clerk reaches for a container of marijuana buds for a customer at Utopia Gardens, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Detroit.

Equal parts pharmacist, bartender, confidant and hall monitor, the budtender is where the marijuana industry meets the consumer. From behind the dispensary counter, budtenders check IDs and prescription cards, track all cannabis sales and — most important — help customers understand the products and how to use them.

Though budtenders are expected to have extensive knowledge of the goods, previous marijuana experience is not necessarily required. “Budtending is a great way to familiarize yourself with the industry and the peculiarities and particulars of it,” said Fox. Many dispensaries will offer on-the-job training, and budtenders are well positioned to advance in the industry.

Average national salary range for qualified professionals: $13.25 per hour to $16 per hour.

Dispensary manager
medical marijuana dispensary
Garden Remedies opened its first medical marijuana dispensary in Newton, Massachusetts in 2016.
Garden Remedies

In some ways, managing a marijuana dispensary is a lot like managing any other retail store: manage the staff, track inventory, and cultivate a clean, professional atmosphere. But the highly regulated nature of the product makes it a bit more complicated. It’s the manager’s job to make sure all employees are compliant with state laws, that everyone entering the store is 21 or older or, if it’s not a recreational store, that all customers have proper medical credentials.

Slip up and your dispensary could be shut down by the state. Dispensary managers often have experience running a high-end retail operation, like an apparel or jewelry shop.

Average national salary range for qualified professionals: $56,000 to $98,000

Director of extraction
Reusable CNBC: Vireo Health lab medical marijuana
A lab technician at Vireo Health in Johnstown, NY.
Jodi Gralnick | CNBC

Legal marijuana is sold in a dizzying variety of forms, including gummies, vaping oils, candies, lotions, teas, pills, perfumes — even tampons. The director of extraction oversees the production of the oils and concentrates within the plants needed to manufacture such products. That means running — or possibly building — a laboratory, managing a staff and maintaining strict scientific protocols.

Not surprisingly, this is a job that requires some skills. “Typically, we see a lot of Ph.Ds, chemists and people coming out of pharmaceutical labs going for these jobs,” said Humiston of Vangst. Fortunately, these positions tend to be well compensated, with salaries topping $250,000 in some states.

Average national salary range for qualified professionals: $72,000 to $191,000

Trimmer
GP: Inside The Delta 9 Cannabis Inc. Facility As Canada Set To Legalize Marijuana
A worker inspects cannabis plants growing inside a shipping container grow pod at the Delta 9 Cannabis Inc. facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Trevor Hagan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

This entry-level, hands-on job represents the marijuana industry’s intersection with the gig economy. Trimmers are called in at harvest time to remove buds from stems and trim leaves in preparation for sale. And while some large indoor grow operations employ trimmers year-round, most smaller businesses will hire trimmers either on a part-time or per-day basis. In fact, digital job boards, like Mary’s List and Vangst GIGS, are popping up to connect growers with freelancers. Though trimmers require no special education, they are usually required to be at least 21 years old and to obtain a special state permit.

A word of warning: Trimmers are the first marijuana workers to face possible displacement by technology. “There’s starting to be a little competition here between humans and machines, which can produce three to four times as much product as a human trimmer,” said Fox. But many marijuana purists insist on a hand-trimmed product, which they believe carries greater potency.

Score one for the humans.

Average national salary range for qualified professionals: $12.25 per hour to $14 per hour.

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