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Working to reform marijuana laws
Updated: 11 min 45 sec ago
A new Maryland law depenalizing marijuana possession offenses takes effect this Wednesday.
Senate Bill 364, signed into law this past April, amends statewide penalties for marijuana possession offenses involving ten grams or less from a criminal misdemeanor (presently punishable by arrest, up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, and a criminal record) to a non-arrestable, non-criminal, fine-only offense ($100 fine for first-time offenders, $250 for second-time offenders).
The new law does not reclassify penalties involving the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, which remains a criminal offense.
A 2013 ACLU analysis of state-by-state marijuana arrests data reported that Maryland has the fourth highest rate of marijuana possession arrests in the nation.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the 25th annual Boston Freedom Rally, the two-day celebration of marijuana and protest against marijuana prohibition, held on the Boston Common each September sponsored by MassCann/NORML, the NORML state affiliate in Massachusetts.
I have been attending this event since the mid-1990s, and always look forward to spending time with tens of thousands of like-minded people on the historic Boston Common, enjoying the New England autumn.
The Boston Common is the oldest public park in America, consisting of 50 acres of land in the heart of the city, at the southern foot of Beacon Hill, the site of the Massachusetts Statehouse, and it enjoys a storied past.
Study: CBD Administration Associated With Improved Quality Of Life In Patients With Parkinson’s Disease
The administration of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid, is associated with improved quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s disease, according clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Investigators at the University of São Paulo in Brazil assessed the efficacy of CBD versus placebo in 21 subjects with Parkinson’s. Authors reported that the administration of 300 mg doses of CBD per day was associated with “significantly different mean total scores” in subjects’ well-being and quality of life compared to placebo.
Separate assessments of CBD versus placebo reported that the cannabinoid did not appear to mitigate general symptoms of the disease, nor was it shown to be neuroprotective.
“This study points to a possible effect of CBD in improving measures related to the quality of life of PD patients without psychiatric comorbidities,” investigators concluded. They added, “We found no statistically significant differences concerning the motor symptoms of PD; however, studies involving larger samples and with systematic assessment of specific symptoms of PD are necessary in order to provide stronger conclusions regarding the action of CBD in PD.”
Clinical reports have previously indicated that both CBD and/or whole-plant cannabis may address various symptom’s of Parkinson’s disease, including improvement in motor symptoms, pain reduction, improved sleep, and a reduction in the severity of psychotic episodes.
Survey data of patients with PD indicates that almost half of all subjects who try cannabis report experiencing subjective relief from the plant.
The abstract of the study, “Effects of cannabidiol in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease: An exploratory double-blind trial,” appears online here.
Legalizing the retail production and sale of cannabis in the United States would yield over $3 billion in annual tax revenue, according to an analysis published this week by the personal finance website, NerdWallet.com.
Authors provided a state-by-state economic analysis, taking into account available data estimating marijuana use rates (for those age 25 and older), cannabis market size, and state and local tax rates. Researchers also assumed a flat, 15 percent excise tax on commercial marijuana production. (This excise tax rate is presently imposed in Colorado.)
Based on existing market projections, California would gain the largest amount of annual tax revenue ($519,287,052) were commercial cannabis production and sales to be legalized for adults. Other top tax revenue generating states include: New York ($248,103,676), Florida ($183,408,640), Texas ($166,303,963), and Illinois ($126,107,360).
Washington, which began allowing retail cannabis sales this summer, is estimated to reap some $119,000,000 in annual tax revenue, according to the study’s projections. Colorado, which has allowed retail cannabis sales since January 1, 2014, is estimated to gain some $78,000,000 in annual revenue.
Revenue projections for all 50 states are available online here.
Support NORML and get “Evergreen”, the exciting documentary that tells the story of how Rick Steves and friends helped legalize marijuana in Washington State
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.
Author and TV Host
NORML board member
Willie Nelson is a proud marijuana smoker who stopped using alcohol and tobacco decades ago. Willie, 81, credits his longevity to that decision.
Willie was purposely out of the “marijuana closet” before that became fashionable, or even politically correct. His openness came across as charmingly naive, as if he did not know cannabis was illegal, and could not figure out why others were sometimes upset.
Willie was — and still is — making a political statement that there is nothing wrong with smoking marijuana.
Two issues have always been the focus of Willie’s political attention: helping family farmers remain on the land and legalizing marijuana.
Willie and I have frequently talked over the years about the natural crossover between those two issues. If marijuana were legal for American farmers to cultivate and sell, tens of thousands of family farmers could grow marijuana and financially thrive and remain on the land, continuing the great rural tradition dating back to the founding of our country.
Among those voters age 18 to 40, 47 percent ranked alcohol as the most harmful substance to society, well ahead of both tobacco (27 percent) and cannabis (13 percent). (Thirteen percent of respondents were undecided.) Respondents among all age and ethnic groups were consistent in ranking marijuana as the least harmful of the three substances, as were self-identified Democrats and Independents. (Republicans rated tobacco to be the most harmful of the three products.)
“[These] numbers suggest younger Americans are upending societal conventions, which have long seen alcohol as an acceptable drug while condemning marijuana,” stated Rare.us in an accompanying press release.
The results are somewhat similar to those of a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released in March which reported that most Americans believe tobacco to be most harmful to health (49 percent), followed by alcohol (24 percent), sugar (15 percent), and marijuana (8 percent).
Under federal law, marijuana is classified as a schedule I controlled substance, meaning that its alleged harms are equal to those of heroin. Both tobacco and alcohol are unscheduled under federal law.
According to a study published in 2004 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the leading causes of death in the United States ware tobacco (435,000 deaths; 18.1 percent of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (365,000 deaths; 15.2 percent), and alcohol consumption (85,000 deaths; 3.5 percent).
A NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll of DC voters released today revealed strong support for Initiative 71, which would legalize adult possession and limited cultivation of marijuana in the District.
The survey showed 65% support for the initiative amongst likely voters, only 33% were opposed and 2% undecided.
The polling data also showed NORML PAC endorsed DC Attorney General candidate Paul Zukerberg leading the field of five with double the support of his closest competitor.
If these figures hold, the nation’s capital will be getting a whole lot greener come November, with legalized adult possession and an Attorney General committed to pursuing marijuana law reform.
You can learn more about and donate to Initiative 71 at the campaign webpage here.
You can learn more about Paul Zukerberg and how to contribute or volunteer for his campaign here.
If you want to help NORML in DC voter turnout efforts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Smoke the Vote.”
You can read the full poll results here.
Adding to his ever-growing series of pro-cannabis law reform song parody videos, as well as in support of his home state’s current efforts to pass a medical cannabis initiative, comedian and Miami Beach political gadfly Steve Berke has just released a new pro-pot parody based on the famous movie of the 1970s ‘Grease‘.
Upping the ante in Berke’s video productions, his talented crew drove from Florida to Texas, in search of the original amusement park backdrop used for the 1978 movie production of ‘Grease’.
“You’re The Law That I Want!”
A more heartfelt and satirical political advertisement in support of passing the voter ballot initiative question in Florida this fall, Amendment 2, is hard to envisage.
For more information about Steve Berke’s 4TT production company and make donations to run 30 second version of the Grease parody on Florida TV stations check out press release below.
PRESS CONTACT: Lee Molloy
September 15, 2014
For Immediate Release
Miami Beach politician drives 1,400 miles to Texas to shoot “Grease” parody video supporting the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida
Founded by former Miami Beach mayoral candidate Steve Berke, The After Party PAC is a political organization fighting to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Advocating for a ‘Yes’ vote on Amendment 2, The After Party recently commissioned a shot-for-shot parody video of the song “You’re the One that I Want” from the movie “Grease.”
Called “You’re the Law that I Want (Yes on 2)” the musical parody faithfully recreates the carnival scene made famous by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John – with Berke taking on the role of Travolta.
The original Fun House used as a location in the ’70s movie classic was in service at a county fair in Texas this summer. So, Berke and the production crew traveled the 1,400 miles from Miami Beach to Decatur (in an RV) especially for the two-day shoot.
“Our crew drove half way across the country because we wanted to make this parody as authentic as possible,” Berke said. “We felt compelled to really go to bat for the 1.1 million Floridians who signed the petition to get medical marijuana on the ballot this November.”
Berke is a former professional tennis player who found marijuana after herniating two discs in his lower back. The injury permanently ended his tennis career and Berke, an athlete and Yale graduate, realized that marijuana wasn’t just for stoners when his doctor in California recommended trying medical marijuana to manage his pain as an alternative to dangerous prescription drugs.
“Ultimately, all we are asking for is that people in Florida have the same opportunity that I had to get the medicine they need,” Berke said. “And, our video gets that message across in a way that is fun, informative and memorable.”
“DC’s unfair drug policies ruined lives, burdening thousands of young people with criminal records, and kept law enforcement from focusing their time and resources on violent crimes,” Zukerberg stated, “We’re proud to have NORML’s support in the effort to make DC’s drug policies fair for all District citizens”
“Paul Zukerberg has long been a passionate and effective advocate for ending our nation’s failed war on marijuana,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “The District would be greatly served by having him as the first elected Attorney General to guide the city towards a common sense marijuana policy.”
Paul Zukerberg has practiced law in the District of Columbia for over 30 years and is a lifetime member of the NORML Legal Committee.
Legalization Initiatives on the 2014 Ballot
As we approach the midterm elections this November 4th, it is important that everyone understand the right to vote is both a privilege and a responsibility of citizenship that should not be overlooked. Not only do we have federal, state and local candidates on the ballot, but even more important for marijuana smokers, we will have full legalization proposals on the ballot in Alaska and Oregon; a more complete version of decriminalization on the ballot in the District of Columbia; a medical use proposal on the ballot in Florida (the first southern state to vote on medical use); and a number of municipal proposals on the ballot in several cities in Michigan and Maine.
This is a wonderful opportunity to move legalization forward, to continue to build our political momentum, and to win back a measure of personal freedom in our lives. If you smoke marijuana, but do not vote, then don’t complain down the road when you are busted, lose your job or otherwise become a victim of marijuana prohibition.
To Read the Balance of this column, please go to Marijuana.com.
Retail marijuana purchasers in July outspent medical cannabis buyers for the first time since the launch of Colorado’s adult-use market 9 months ago.
The state’s Department of Revenue recently reported that customers bought $29.7 million worth of legal marijuana last month ($5 million more than June), surpassing medical marijuana purchases which totaled $28.9 million in sales. Interestingly, this is despite the fact that medical dispensaries outnumber retail stores by a margin of 4 to 1.
According to Colorado Public Radio (CPR), there has been a 112% increase since sales first started, with more than 100 stores across the state having sold close to $145 million in pot. CPR further notes that, “Taken together, the medical and recreational marijuana industry have sold about $350 million worth of pot since January, contributing $37.5 million in taxes and fees to government coffers,” a portion of which is guaranteed to go to school construction.
With the exception of May, each month has set a new record in marijuana sales, so far showing that a legal marijuana regime not only works, but is proving to be valuable and growing source of revenue for the state – and its residents agree. A new NBC/Marist Poll found that Colorado’s retail cannabis market remains popular among Colorado residents, 55% of whom continue to support the passage and implementation of Amendment 64, the initiative that was passed in 2012 to tax and regulate sales to adults, aged 21 and over.
City mayor Michael Nutter announced today that he will sign municipal legislation into law decriminalizing marijuana possession penalties.
Under the measure, penalties pertaining to the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis would be reduced from a criminal misdemeanor to a non-summary civil offense, punishable by a $25 fine – no arrest and no criminal record.
Members of the City Council in June voted 13 to 3 to reduce municipal marijuana penalties. A slightly amended version of this proposal is anticipated to be before the mayor by the end of this month. The revised language is expected to take effect on October 20.
Anyone cited under the pending ordinance would be required to make an appearance before a Municipal Court judge, but would not face criminal charges or a criminal record. Those caught smoking marijuana in public would face a $100 fine, which could be waived if the defendant agreed to perform several hours of public service.
Philadelphia NORML had long lobbied in support of a change in the city’s criminal classification of marijuana possession offenses. A 2013 review of marijuana arrest data by the organization reported that African Americans are arrested in Philadelphia for minor marijuana violations at five times the rate of whites despite both races consuming the substance at nearly equal rates.
“This will go a long way toward a much more saner and a much better policy for people in Philadelphia,” said Chris Goldstein, PhillyNORML co-chair. “This is something that should have happened earlier in the summer. It would have alleviated almost 1,000 people getting arrested.”
It remains to be seen to what extent local police will enforce the new ordinance, once enacted. In past statements, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey had publicly pledged to ignore the ordinance, stating, “State law trumps city ordinances.”
[UPDATE! It is now being reported that Chief Ramsey is on board with the amended ordinance.]
NORML is pleased to announce the newest member of the NORML Business Network; Julie’s Baked Goods. The Denver-based edibles company produces of some of the highest quality, all-natural cannabis snacks in the state, and is also a prime example of responsible labeling among infused food companies. Formerly known as Julie & Kate’s Baked Goods, the inspiration behind starting the business came when both women were dealing with a serious illness and agreed that marijuana could be beneficial to managing their symptoms. What started as a friendly trial, with a bag of weed in a domestic kitchen in 2008, has turned into one of the leading marijuana edible companies in Colorado.
The product line for Julie’s Baked Goods is geared toward “foodies” and health conscious consumers. Items have turned out to be especially popular in Boulder, and among the senior crowd. Each creation starts with clarified butter or coconut oil that is infused with specific strain of organically grown marijuana and is slowly heated to carefully extract every last bit of activated cannabinoids. They use only premium, all-natural ingredients for their gluten-free THC infused edibles. The founders built product testing into the budget of their business plan before they even opened – unlike most of the other marijuana companies around at that time. The company has nearly a half-dozen products, including a fresh granola snack, a roasted Seed Mix (which took 1 year to develop), the Nutty Bite (37 recipes), the Groovy Granola Bar and clarified cannabutter.
“Consume ¼ of the package, wait 60 minutes, eat more if necessary. Try eating with yogurt, milk or other healthy food. Fat facilitates THC digestion and intensifies psychoactive effects. If you over ingest: drink water or tea, avoid eating fatty foods. Onset: 45-60 minutes after ingestion. Effect Duration: 4-10 hours. First Euphoric Peak: 2 hours. Second Euphoric Peak: 3-4 hours. Please Plan Accordingly.” - Text from the label of a Julie’s Baked Goods product
Most notably, Julie’s Baked Goods has been on the forefront of responsible edible education for consumers from the beginning. Since their first sale in 2010, the company has been a model of proper labeling (prior to the implementation of labeling laws), dedicated to making sure that the consumer is prepared for the experience. Products include information about the recommended amount, the onset of the high, how long it might last, certain foods that can intensify the feeling and how to mitigate the negative effects of over ingestion. When Colorado implemented new edible labeling laws a few months ago, they didn’t have to change a thing.
Julie’s Baked Goods is a wonderful example of how the industry can be proactive about incorporating responsible business practices and self-regulation into such their burgeoning market. The products are sold in over 125 different cannabis stores around the state, including locations such as Preferred Organic Therapy in Denver, and The Farm in Boulder.
Throughout every facet of their business, Julie’s Baked Goods has gone above and beyond the letter of the law, setting a standard that embodies the ideals of corporate social responsibility, and the principles of the NORML Business Network. This is how an edibles company does it right.
**Julie’s Baked Goods is a licensed and regulated marijuana business whose products can only be purchased in the state of Colorado, either by medical marijuana patients or retail customers who are 21 and older.**
For more information about joining the NORML Business Network go to www.norml.org/business
As we approach the annual Boston Freedom Rally in mid-September, held on the historic Boston Common, I thought it might be a good time for me to share with the readers the details of a bust I experienced, along with High Times associate publisher Rick Cusick, for sharing a joint at the combined NORML/High Times booth at the 2007 Freedom Rally.
The reality is that marijuana smokers remain the target of aggressive and misguided law enforcement activities in most states today. They read about the newly-won freedoms in a handful of states, and dream of the day when their state laws will become more tolerant; but they are still being busted in large numbers and have to worry that next knock on the door may be the police with a search warrant, about to destroy their homes and wreck their lives, looking for a little weed.
In fact, 749,825 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges in 2012 (the latest arrest figures that are available), and approximately 87% of those arrests (658,231) were for simple possession for personal use; they were just marijuana smokers, not traffickers. Another marijuana smoker is arrested every 48 seconds in this country!
And for each of these unfortunate souls unfairly caught-up in the criminal justice system, the experience is personally frightening and alienating, even if they manage to avoid a jail sentence (and far too many still go to jail).
But my story is a little different; a story of two old men arrested for sharing a joint at the Freedom Rally, with the court subsequently trying to dismiss the charges, but the defendants demanding to go to trial.
Nearly 60 percent of Americans support regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol, according to an analysis of over 450,000 online responses collected by the online polling data company CivicScience over a nearly two-year period.
Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that they would support “a law in [their] state that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana like alcohol?” Thirty-five percent of respondents said that they would oppose such a change in law.
An analysis of responses provided within the past three months found even stronger support for legalization, with 61 percent of those polled endorsing marijuana law reform.
Democrats, men, and those respondents between the ages of 25 to 34 were most likely to support regulating cannabis.
Though the CivicScience survey is not a scientific poll, its findings are similar to those previously reported by Gallup in 2013. In that poll, 58 percent of respondents similarly backed legalizing marijuana. More recently, in April, national polling data published by the Pew Research Center reported that 54 percent of Americans support legalizing the plant.
Poll: Sixty-Four Percent Of Florida Voters Back Constitutional Amendment To Legalize Medical Marijuana
More than 60 percent of Florida voters say that they support Amendment 2, a proposed constitutional amendment to permit cannabis therapy to qualified patients, according to a recently released Gravis Marketing poll.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said that they would vote in favor of the amendment, up from 50 percent in late June. Twenty-six percent of respondents said that they opposed the measure.
Because Amendment 2 seeks to amend the state constitution, 60 percent of voters must decide in favor of it before it can be enacted.
Although previous statewide polls have reported greater support among Floridians in regard to the concept of legalizing medical marijuana, the Gravis survey specifically polled voters on whether or not they endorse Amendment 2.
Among those polled, 90 percent said that they were either “very likely” or “likely” to vote in the 2014 general election.
The Gravis Marketing poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
When one looks at many other important public policy debates in this country, at some point the courts can and must step in to render a decision that changes the entire debate, and corrects an injustice with the stroke of a pen. In our system of government, the courts have co-equal standing with the legislative and the executive branch, and can overrule an offensive or unfair policy based on Constitutional principles.
Perhaps the most important example of these modern decisions was Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954, in which a unanimous Supreme Court overruled the separate-but-equal policy of racial segregation in public schools, finding “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and declared the policy as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, paving the way for integration. Next came Griswald v. Connecticut, in 1965, when the Supreme Court first identified a Constitutional right to privacy, overturning laws making the use of birth control a crime . Although the Bill of Rights does not explicitly mention “privacy”, Justice William O. Douglas wrote for the majority that the right was to be found in the “penumbras” and “emanations” of other constitutional protections.
Similarly, in 1967 the Supreme Court struck down state laws known as miscegenation laws, that made it a crime for interracial couple to marry, finding those laws a violation of both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. And in 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the court, based on the right to privacy found in the Fourteenth Amendment, ended the ban on abortions, permitting a women to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy.
For the rest of this column, please jump to Marijuana.com.
The new law takes effect in January.
Illinois joins more than a dozen states — including Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah earlier this year — that have enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and authorizing state-sponsored research and/or cultivation of the crop.
Our friends at High Times (and former NORML director Dr. Jon Gettman) are running an online poll asking for consumers’ choice regarding the preferred marijuana distribution that emerges post-prohibition.
Legal Marijuana: Which Market Do You Prefer?
As we approach the new inevitability of legalized cannabis, three models have been proposed for a national marijuana market.
By Jon Gettman
In the past, the goal of marijuana legalization was simple: to bring about the end of federal prohibition and allow adults to use the plant without threat of prosecution and imprisonment. But now that legalization is getting serious attention, it’s time to examine how a legal marijuana market should operate in the United States.
Below are descriptions of the three kinds of legal markets that have emerged from various discussions on the subject. We would like to know which one you prefer.
First, though, let’s touch on a few characteristics that all of these proposals share. In each one, the market has a minimum age for legal use, likely the same as the current age limits for alcohol and tobacco. In each of these legal markets, there will be penalties for driving while intoxicated, just as with alcohol use. You can also assume that there will be guaranteed legal access to marijuana for medical use by anyone, regardless of age, with a physician’s authorization. The last characteristic shared by all three mar- kets is that there will be no criminal penalties for the adult possession and use of marijuana.
Under this approach, there would be no commercial marijuana market allowed. Marijuana would be grown and processed for sale under government contracts, supervised and/or managed by a large, government-chartered nonprofit organization. Marijuana would be sold in state-run retail outlets (similar to the state-run stores that have a monopoly on liquor sales in places like Mississippi, Montana and Vermont, among others), where the sales personnel will be trained to provide accurate information about cannabis and its effects. Products like edibles and marijuana-infused liquids with fruity flavors would be banned out of a concern that they can encourage minors to try the drug. There would be no advertising or marketing allowed, and no corporate or business prof- its. Instead, the revenue earned from sales would pay for production costs and the operation of the state control organization; the rest of the profits would go to government-run treatment, prevention, education and enforcement programs. Regulations would be enforced by criminal sanctions and traditional law enforcement (local, state and federal police). No personal marijuana cultivation would be allowed. The price of marijuana would remain at or near current levels in order to discourage underage use.
Limited Commercial Market
Under this approach, the cultivation, processing and retail sale of marijuana would be conducted by private companies operating under a limited number of licenses issued by the federal government. Advertising and marketing would be allowed, but they would be regulated similar to the provisions governing alcohol and tobacco promotion. Taxation would be used to keep prices at or near current levels in order to discourage underage use. Corporate profits would be allowed, and tax revenues would be used to fund treatment, prevention, education and enforcement programs. Regulations would be enforced by criminal sanctions and traditional law enforcement (local, state and federal police). No personal marijuana cultivation would be allowed.
Regulated Free Market
Under this approach, entrepreneurs would have open access to any part of the marijuana market. Cultivation, processing and retail operations could be legally undertaken by anyone willing to bear the risks of investment and competition. Advertising and marketing would be allowed, but they would be regulated similar to the provisions governing alcohol and tobacco promotion. Prices would be determined by supply and demand, with taxation set at modest levels similar to current taxes on alcohol, tobacco and gambling. (These vary widely from state to state, but assume that under this model, the price of marijuana would be substantially lower than it is in the current market.)
Also, home cultivation would be allowed. Licenses may be required for any sort of cultivation, but these would be for registration purposes only and subject to nominal fees based on the number of plants involved. Individuals and corporations would be allowed to make whatever profits they can through competition. Tax revenues would fund treatment, prevention, education and enforcement programs. Competition and market forces would structure the market rather than licenses or government edicts, and regulatory agencies rather than law enforcement would supervise market activity.
A Different Approach
There are two key issues when it comes to deciding among these proposals. First, should the price of marijuana be kept high through government intervention in order to discourage underage use as well as abuse? Second, does commercialization translate into corporate money being spent to convince teenagers to use marijuana? Many of the proposals for how a legal market should operate are based on assumptions about these two issues, which leads to recommendations that the government must, one way or another, direct and control the marijuana market.
Obviously, the first two proposals outlined above reflect those very concerns. The third takes a different approach, in which marijuana is treated like similar psychoactive commodities, and the public relies on education, prevention and age limits to discourage underage use as well as abuse.
We want to know what type of legal marijuana market you prefer. Please take part in our poll on the HIGH TIMES website.