Another year is coming to an end—and this was a big one for marijuana reform. Advocates scored a handful of legalization wins at the ballot box, an entire country did away with prohibition and politicians of all stripes became more vocal about the need to change the way we approach cannabis policy.
True to 2018 form, many lawmakers broadcast their views on the issue on Twitter. Here are some of the year’s best marijuana-related tweets from the people who are actually responsible for setting cannabis policy:
1. Remember when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era memo providing guidance on federal marijuana enforcement policy? While the move might have unnerved the legal industry, it also spurred significant pushback and vows to protect states from federal interference.
I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) January 4, 2018
2. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) invited Fox News host Tucker Carlson to visit California to see Disneyland and try the state’s “awesome” cannabis.
Dear @TuckerCarlson: CA has now grown to the 6th largest economy in the world, and we have a budget surplus. The unemployment rate is at a record low. And we have Disneyland. Who doesn't like Disneyland?
Also, our cannabis is awesome. Come visit my district & I will show you. https://t.co/rIMLUXQzbi
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 7, 2018
3. Former New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon (D) made cannabis reform a cornerstone of her platform—calling for full legalization in the Empire State. Could that explain why her opponent, incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), rapidly evolved on the issue, going so far as to endorse legalization this month?
For me, what it comes down to is this: we have to stop putting people of color in prison for something that white people do with impunity.
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) April 11, 2018
4. “No one should go to jail for a joint,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote, promoting a bill that would grant states the autonomy to legalize without federal interference. The legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), received the President Trump’s blessing as well.
No one should go to jail for a joint. But more Americans are arrested for marijuana possession than all violent crimes combined. And black Americans are nearly 4x more likely to be arrested for it than whites. My new bill will help put an end to this two-tiered justice system.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 7, 2018
5. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) got into a Twitter spat with prohibitionist Kevin Sabet, noting racial disparities in marijuana enforcement.
White kids don’t get arrested, go to jail, or go to prison at the same rate for marijuana possession.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 16, 2018
6. Of course, the unofficial cannabis holiday April 20 (4/20) saw a flood of weed tweets from the country’s leading lawmakers. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) delivered a “cannabis state of the union” address, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) used the opportunity to announce decriminalization legislation and Colorado Gov.-elect Jared Polis (D) toured marijuana dispensaries.
This 4/20, my thoughts on the state of cannabis reform in America, and where this growing movement is going next: pic.twitter.com/UR8C4fmWH7
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) April 20, 2018
7. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) complained about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to allow the importation of cannabis products from a Canadian company at the same time the agency is delaying action on applications from more would-be domestic marijuana producers. “What happened to ‘buy American, hire American?'” he tweeted.
Unbelievable…#DEA gives approval to import #cannabis compounds from Canada, while AG Sessions is sitting on 2 dozen+ applications from domestic manufacturers. What happened to “buy American, hire American”?https://t.co/SAiftyoN32
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 19, 2018
8. Big pharma is “pushing back” against efforts to legalize medical marijuana because “in many cases they want to continue to sell addictive drugs and dominate the market for drugs that address chronic pain,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) wrote.
Big pharma keeps pushing back against legalizing medical marijuana because, in many cases, they want to continue to sell addictive drugs and dominate the market for drugs that address chronic pain. That's wrong.
It is time to rework our cannabis laws. https://t.co/g23trjnJcT
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) February 28, 2018
9. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) touted the fact that he was the first Florida gubernatorial candidate to endorse legalizing marijuana during the 2018 primaries. “I did so because it is the right thing to do—I didn’t need a poll to tell me how to lead on such an important criminal justice issue,” he said.
I’m proud to be the first candidate in this race to support legalizing marijuana. I did so because it is the right thing to do – I didn’t need a poll to tell me how to lead on such an important criminal justice issue. pic.twitter.com/3MdLBNlTfB
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) June 8, 2018
10. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted that decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level is a top 10 reason to get out and vote.
Reason #6 why you should vote: to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Too many lives have been ruined because of our regressive policies.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 16, 2018
11. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) challenged his Democratic colleagues to join him in support of a bill that would legalize firearm ownership for people who use marijuana in compliance with state law. The congressman expanded on the legislation, which he plans to introduce in the next Congress, in an interview with Marijuana Moment.
I’ve drafted, but haven’t yet introduced, a bill to remove the marijuana question from ATF form 4473 — the question that requires anyone who uses marijuana (crime) to lie (crime) in order to purchase a gun (crime) from a gun dealer. Any Democrats who would support such a bill? https://t.co/5cAmsTPLoX
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) October 20, 2018
12. “When a white student in a suburban school is caught with marijuana, they will usually get a warning,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted. “If you’re a black or brown student in an urban environment, law enforcement is called and your future could be destroyed for use. Marijuana legalization is a racial justice issue.”
When a white student in a suburban school is caught with marijuana, they will usually get a warning. If you're a black or brown student in an urban environment, law enforcement is called and your future could be destroyed for use. Marijuana legalization is a racial justice issue.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) May 20, 2018
13. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) ended his longstanding opposition to marijuana legalization, calling the existing federal cannabis policy “badly broken” and “failing to benefit those the drug may help and protect those the drug may harm.”
Our federal policy on marijuana is badly broken — failing to benefit those the drug may help and protect those the drug may harm. It's time to legalize and regulate at the federal level.https://t.co/9QknhLLFYv
— Joe Kennedy (@joekennedy) November 20, 2018
14. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) celebrated the inclusion of his hemp legalization provision in the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill by signing the official conference report with his very own hemp pen. President subsequently signed the bill into law.
Making it official with my hemp pen!🖋️ Proud to have served as conferee on #FarmBill & to fight for #Kentucky priorities. With today's signature, my provision to legalize industrial #hemp is 1 step closer to reality. Looking forward to voting YES on this bill & sending to @POTUS pic.twitter.com/8ypwBebXy7
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) December 10, 2018
15. The passage of a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill earlier this month was a good first step, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said. But the next step for Congress should be to federally decriminalize marijuana.
Thanks to @RepDougCollins @RepRichmond, the administration and a strong left-right coalition (the unusual suspects), historic criminal justice reform legislation is now law. Next step, Congress should DECRIMINALIZE MARIJUANA #FirstStepAct #EndMassIncarceration pic.twitter.com/PpJ1uku53C
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) December 21, 2018
Marijuana Activists Protest John Boehner’s SXSW Speech
Advocates for social equity in the increasingly legal marijuana economy are protesting keynote speeches by former Republican House Speaker John Boehner and MedMen CEO Adam Bierman at South by Southwest (SXSW).
The Equity First Alliance, a group that promotes racial and social justice in the cannabis industry, said that Boehner and Bierman’s scheduled Friday appearances at the festival are a reflection of an ongoing trend where mostly white men are profiting off a market while people of color continue to disproportionately face criminalization for marijuana offenses.
Boehner has been the subject of ongoing criticism from marijuana advocates, who point out that he failed to act on cannabis reform, and opposed certain criminal justice reform legislation, during his 24 years in Congress. While he never introduced, cosponsored or voted in favor of marijuana bills in that time, he joined one of the largest cannabis firms, Acreage Holdings, as a board member last year.
Bierman has been accused in a lawsuit filed by a former employee of making racist and homophobic remarks. His company, which was valued at $1.6 billion last year, was also a member of a New York-based medical marijuana industry association that advocated against allowing home cultivation in a memo submitted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (The company told Marijuana Moment that it supports the right to home cultivation, but did not answer questions about its involvement in drafting the document. It was later asked to leave the group over Bierman’s alleged remarks.) Acreage remains a member of the same association.
“Our protest at SXSW sends a bold message in support of cannabis equity, justice, and repair,” the Equity First Alliance’s Felicia Carbajal said in a press release. “We stand together, recognizing that by defending the most marginalized among us, we defend all of us. We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities, and we call on all defenders of human rights to join us.”
Activists held protest signs over a nearby highway and at a hotel where Boehner’s speech—which covers “the likely paths to national legalization and the challenges and opportunities America’s fastest growing industry face today”—will take place on Friday. The signs condemn “big marijuana” and call for social equity policies such as community reinvestment.
— Ministry of Hemp (@MinistryofHemp) March 15, 2019
“It’s clear this market is going to expand,” Boehner told CNBC in an interview ahead of the event. “And as it does, lawmakers in Washington have to look up and realize that the federal government is way out of step. It’s time for the federal government to get out of the way.”
In the press release, Equity First Alliance listed additional reasons they’re protesting as well as policies they support.
“In protest of:
—Those profiting off of cannabis without an intentional plan to repair and make whole individuals, families, and communities that have been devastated by the War on Drugs;
—Those profiting off of cannabis who once participated in prohibition;
—And those who would profit before freeing all cannabis prisoners and vacating all cannabis convictions
And calling for:
—10% of companies’ annual revenue to be reinvested in communities disproportionately harmed by the
War on Drugs;
—A new paradigm of social responsibility in the cannabis industry;
—And public policies that create an equitable, just, and reparative industry.”
“It’s hypocritical for an Austin based company like SXSW, a company imbedded in a city that preaches diversity and inclusion, to neglect the work of committing to create an inclusive space, and instead give a keynote platform to John Boehner,” Chas Moore, executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition, said. “This is disgusting.”
— AcreageHoldings (@AcreageCannabis) March 15, 2019
Marijuana Moment reached out to Acreage for comment, but a representative did not respond by the time of publication.
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.
Marijuana Tourism From China To Amsterdam: Study Sheds Light On Motivations
Marijuana use in China is strictly forbidden. In fact, when Canada legalized cannabis last year, the Chinese government sternly reminded its citizens living in or visiting the country to “please avoid contact or using marijuana.”
Yet, despite their nation’s strict views on marijuana, research shows that significant numbers of Chinese tourists are heading to Amsterdam to take part in its prolific cannabis culture. A new study published in the journal Current Issues in Tourism sheds light on some of the motivations for the cross-continental cannatourism.
The punishment for drug use of any kind in China, including marijuana, is up to 15 days in detention and mandatory rehabilitation, the study’s authors write. But the Chinese government has been known to enforce harsher sentences for other cannabis-related charges. For example, Jaycee Chan, the son of actor Jackie Chan, spent six months in a Beijing jail after police discovered more than 100 grams in his apartment.
Because Chinese citizens are “widely educated to stay away from any kind of drugs,” the study states, researchers were curious to know more about who these tourists heading to the Netherlands for cannabis really were. Between February 2014 and October 2016, they randomly approached Chinese tourists in or exiting Amsterdam coffee shops where marijuana is sold over the counter and invited them to complete a confidential questionnaire. A total of 654 surveys were collected and analyzed.
About 80 percent of respondents said they’d never tried marijuana prior to their trip to Amsterdam.
Participants were divided into three segments based on their responses: cannabis enthusiasts, diversionists/recreationists (people who were seeking pleasure or a diversion from their daily lives) and people who were simply curious about cannabis culture.
Survey responses from the first and third groups “demonstrate that Chinese drug tourists desire to ‘experience all’ and seek authenticity out of their normal daily life and society during the overseas travel,” the study authors wrote.
The largest number of tourists surveyed (almost 44 percent) fell into the category of diversionist/recreationist. In other words, they used cannabis as a way to enjoy their vacation—not unlike tourists from other countries.
“They travelled and consumed cannabis mostly for the sake of experiencing/experimenting with the local cannabis culture in Amsterdam as well as relaxation, pleasure, and to escape from stressful social environments,” the authors write.
Cannabis enthusiasts were the smallest segment of the sample. In terms of demographics, almost half of the survey respondents were women. Overall, a majority of participants reported being college-educated, under 35 years old and not married.
In a recent interview, lead study author Jun Wen discussed why Chinese tourists are especially attracted to the Netherlands.
“You can do a lot of things there that are illegal in China – gambling, paying for sexual services, and buying cannabis for recreational use,” he said. “So Chinese tourists want to go there to find a different way to relax that’s not traditional.”
Congressman Talks Cannabis With ‘Captain America’
Actor Chis Evans of “Capitan America” fame met with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on Friday, and the two discussed marijuana reform, among other issues.
The congressman, who is a long-standing champion of loosening federal cannabis laws and outlined a blueprint to federal legalization last year, said he enjoyed the conversation and that he could “do this all day” in a tweet.
Enjoyed speaking with Captain America, @ChrisEvans, about marijuana reform, voting rights, and bipartisanship in times of division in the nation's capital.
I can do this all day! pic.twitter.com/eNy03QUvSB
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) March 8, 2019
The chat was “part of a project Chris is working on with several members of Congress,” a spokesperson for Blumenauer told Marijuana Moment in an email. “Earl spoke about issues that he cares about, and marijuana reform was one of them.”
“Chris asked for the basics on why it’s important, explaining the reasoning behind scheduling and what pros and cons of legalization were,” he said.
The details of Evans’s “project” are unclear. He’s met with several members of Congress in recent weeks, according to a number of tweets, but he’s declined to get into specifics when pressed. There’s speculation that he’s launching a political media organization, however.
— Zach C. Cohen (@Zachary_Cohen) February 5, 2019
— Rachel S. Cohen (@rachelkaras) February 6, 2019
In response to Blumenauer’s tweet, NORML asked: “How disappointed was the Captain to be unfrozen in modern times and see we are still locking up over 600,000 Americans for marijuana?”
How disappointed was the Captain to be unfrozen in modern times and see we are still locking up over 600,000 Americans for marijuana? #NotMyFuture
— NORML (@NORML) March 8, 2019
Evans is the nephew of former Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA), who lost his bid for re-election in last year’s midterm election.
Blumenauer filed a bill in January, appropriately numbered H.R. 420, which would regulate marijuana like alcohol.
Photo courtesy of Twitter/Rep. Early Blumenauer.