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Cannabis Legalization

New York and New Jersey Push for Pot Legalization

Jordan Webber

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Cannabis Legalization

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he is endorsing the weed decriminalization in the state. Cuomo said he wants to sign a bill legalizing recreational weed in the state within the first few months of his third term. Some analysts estimated that marijuana could generate around $1.7 billion in revenue.

Cuomo also ordered the New York State Department of Health to analyze the benefits and risks of recreational marijuana. The study will include marijuana legalization’s effects on health, criminal justice, and the economy of the state.

Cuomo’s announcement follows a recent recommendation by law enforcement agencies in New York City to legalize low-level cannabis offenses which have affected minorities.

As for New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy, he was eager to sign the legislation for legalizing weed in the state in 2018. But state lawmakers have been debating on the bill, especially on specific concerns such as safety of motorists. States that have decriminalized weed have seen a spike in traffic accidents. While state legislators offer to train police officers to spot weed-intoxicated drivers, they are unsure if increasing the number of these experts would translate to safer roads after legalization.

Washington Plans to Pardon Weed Convicts

Meanwhile, on the West coast, Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently announced he plans on pardoning thousands of people convicted of small-time possession of marijuana. Inslee’s plan comes more than six years after Washington state legalized cannabis use for adults.

The governor announced during his speech at a cannabis industry conference in SeaTac, near Seattle, that he is thinking about expediting the process allowing about 3,500 people to apply for a pardon without the need of hiring lawyers or going to court.

Applicants as far back as 1998, can fill out a form for the pardon of marijuana sentences on the Inslee’s website.

Other states allow expunging marijuana convictions, but this legal proceeding has been tedious. The process requires a lawyer or court appearances. Some cities have simplified the method of clearing convictions following Washington’s and Colorado’s lead in decriminalizing recreational weed use since 2012. City governments of Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco are clearing old cannabis convictions all at once. Meanwhile, new legislation in California orders prosecutors to erase or reduce around 220,000 weed convictions.

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Cannabis Legalization

Joe Biden Withdraws Previous Stance on Marijuana Being a “Gateway Drug”

Daniel King

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Biden Withdraws Previous Stance on Marijuana Being a “Gateway Drug”

Days after Joe Biden expressed his opposition to legalizing marijuana and calling the substance as a “gateway drug,” the 2020 presidential candidate has retracted his assertions, insisting even that he had never made such a claim.

In a press conference call with reporters, the former Vice President rolled back his stance, saying he had never said that marijuana is a “gateway drug” in the first place.

“I don’t think it is a gateway drug. There’s no evidence I’ve seen to suggest that,” Biden told Nevada Independent reporter Megan Messerly.

“I didn’t [say that it was],” he added. “I said some say it’s a gateway drug.”

Joe Biden and his Stand on Marijuana

According to the 2020 front runner, he believes that marijuana should be decriminalized and that anyone who has been previously convicted for marijuana use should have his or her record wiped clean.

“With regard to the total legalization of it, there are some in the medical community who say it needs to be made a Schedule II drug so there can be more studies as not whether it is a gateway drug but whether when used in other combinations may have a negative effect on people overcoming other problems, including in fact on young people in terms of brain development, a whole range of things that are beyond my expertise,” Biden explained.

Earlier this month, Biden caught fire from other Democratic contenders following his controversial reasoning to not legalize marijuana on a federal level.

“The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired whether or not it is a gateway drug,” Biden said at a town hall in Las Vegas on Saturday. “It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”

This is not the first time that Biden expressed his strong opposition against the legalization of marijuana on the federal level. In 2010, the former Vice President told ABC News he thinks marijuana use leads to other addictions.

“I still believe it’s a gateway drug. I’ve spent a lot of my life as chairman of the [Senate] Judiciary Committee dealing with this. I think it would be a mistake to legalize,” he asserted at the time. “The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake.”

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Cannabis Legalization

Brazil OKs Medical Cannabis, Rejects Cultivation

Jordan Webber

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Brazil Approves Medical Marijuana

Brazil’s pharmaceutical regulator Anvisa recently expressed its approval of the proposed regulations for medical cannabis use in the country. This covers the use of cannabis-based products for medicinal and pharmaceutical purposes. However, a separate vote turns down the proposal to allow cultivation of marijuana.

In an announcement, Anvisa said that the new rules can be read in Brazil’s official gazette in the next few days. The approved proposal will take effect as law 90 days after.

To ensure that the industry will be well-regulated, the Anvisa released a specific set of rules of manufacturing, importing, selling, packaging, marketing and quality control of cannabis products. An Anvisa spokesman said that Brazilian companies that want to enter the nation’s marijuana market will need to import inputs from other nations.

Medical Cannabis in Brazil

The approval of medical marijuana rules is seen as a positive development in the country’s situation related to drugs. It is important to note that Brazil has been suffering from drug-related violence. Anvisa’s decision is believed to be a sign that the country is now shifting its perception of the plant with related top drug policies.

This decision is part of the global shift in the perception of cannabis. This development is focused on the medicinal and therapeutic value of the plant. The current Brazilian leader, far-right- President Jair Bolsonaro, has previously expressed support of the application of marijuana for medicinal purposes so long as there are no “loopholes in the law.”

Marijuana Cultivation

However,  the refusal to allow domestic plantations shows that the country is not yet ready to make the move that its Latin American peers including Colombia and Uruguay made.

Uruguay is the very first country in the world to make marijuana fully legal. Both countries are now at the forefront of a growing multibillion-dollar market not only in the region but around the world.

Meanwhile, Colombia, which had suffered from a deadly drug war in the past, has also made cannabis legal. Mexico has expedited the process of making the plant legal. According to some reports,  Mexico’s supreme court has “ordered the country’s health ministry to speed up its issuance of medical marijuana regulations.” Recreational cannabis is also on the table.

With regards to Brazil’s development, Anvisa clarified that only licensed pharmacies will be able to carry medical products infused with cannabis. Moreover, patients who are looking to access such medical treatments can only do so with a prescription.

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Cannabis Legalization

MORE Act Bill Passes Congress in a 24-10 Vote

Jordan Webber

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MORE Act Bill of 2019 Passes Congress

In a historic 24 to 10 vote by the House Judiciary Committee last  November 20, 2019, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement or known as MORE Act of 2019 has passed the Congress. The committee approval moves marijuana use and consumption legal on a federal level.

The bill’s approval is considered a monumental time in American history, particularly as this is the first time the congress saw the passing of a marijuana legalization bill.  The bill was spearheaded by Jerrold Nadler, House Judiciary Committee Chairman.

More about MORE Act Bill

The MORE Act of 2019 is also known as the House Resolution (H.R.) 3884. Under the legislation, marijuana will finally be removed from the Schedule 1 list of the Controlled Substances Act.

Moreover, the regulation provides states access to implement their own cannabis legalization policies. H.R. 3884 also extends the right to thrown out criminal records for individuals charged with low-level marijuana offenses prior to passing the bill.

With the aim to boost the economic sector and the cannabis industry, the bill will also levy 5 percent tax on cannabis products. Taxes imposed on these products will be reportedly allocated towards additional job training and legal assistance

Should the ruling pass its final stage, cannabis industries and businesses may obtain loans and financial support. The ruling is also slated to give physicians within the Veterans Affairs system to give medical cannabis prescriptions to patients.

The bill was expected to pass the hearing following the overwhelming number of Democratic representatives in the voting chamber. In total, 234 seats were taken by the party.

Only two Republican representatives voted to pass the bill, namely Matt Gaetz from the state of Florida and Tom McClintock from the state of California.

What Lies Ahead

However, the news site anticipates more challenges as the legislation advances to the Senate, given that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from the Republican partylist goes against the legalization of the marijuana.

Even Republican representatives think so, with Colorado rep Ken Buck saying, “I don’t think a majority of the Republicans will support this bill. It is even less likely that the Senate would take it up. Therefore, I would just suggest that we deal with other bills that we can get a much larger bipartisan support from.”

Despite the surprising turn of events, numerous supports and legislators think this is only the first step. To date, there are currently over 50 co-sponsors, making it a strong contender to enter the Senate.

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