Connect with us

Culture

Border Patrol Reflects On Feds’ Friendlier Historical Approach To Marijuana

Published

on

Canada’s decision to legalize marijuana nationwide has stoked concerns that its citizens traveling across the U.S. border will risk temporary detention or even permanent visitation bans if they fess up having ever consumed cannabis, or even working in the industry.

Enforcement officials have told reporters that there’s no travel policy change in light of Canada’s end of prohibition, emphasizing that it remains illegal to bring cannabis across the border under federal law. Violating the policy “could potentially result in seizure, fines, and apprehension,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a recent statement.

But let’s take you back to a simpler time, courtesy of CBP.

“Did You Know… Marijuana Was Once a Legal Cross-Border Import?”

That’s the title of a 2015 blog post published by the federal agency—which seems to have gone mostly unnoticed until now—recalls how cannabis was historically recognized as a legal import by the government.

“One hundred years ago, the federal government was not overly concerned with marijuana, the common name for the Cannabis sativa L. plant,” the feds’ post reads.

Through the mid-1930s, the plant flew under the government’s radar, despite the fact that “several state governments and other countries had banned the drug.”

“The U.S. government hesitated, in part because therapeutic uses of Cannabis were still being explored and American industry profited from commercial applications of hemp fiber, seeds and oil.”

That all changed in the decades to come—first with the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, which imposed taxes and regulations on cannabis imports, cultivation, distribution and possession, and then with full prohibition under the Nixon administration.

Up until that point, the Customs Agency Service (later rebranded as CBP) didn’t put too much stock in pot. Just before the Marihuana Tax Act passed, the agency described its cannabis policy here:

“Marihuana may be cultivated or grown wild in almost any locality. Inasmuch as this drug is so readily obtained in the United States, it is not believed to be the subject of much organized smuggling from other countries.”

It seems like pretty basic supply and demand, but federal prohibition changed the equation. Suddenly, marijuana wasn’t “so readily obtained” in the country—and even simple possession carried serious criminal penalties—so the legal supply dried up. In the absence of legal access, criminal organizations swooped in to meet the demand for marijuana in the United States.

Ergo…

“Today, however, marijuana trafficking is a major concern of CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration,” CBP wrote. “Well over 3 million pounds of ‘pot’ were confiscated at our borders in 2011, making an impact on this multibillion-dollar illegal enterprise.”

The more you know!

Star GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Here Are The DEA’s Newest Slang Terms for Marijuana: ‘Shoes,’ ‘My Brother’ And More

Photo courtesy of Gerald Nino, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

Culture

Missouri Lawmakers Defeat Amendment To Require They Consume Marijuana Before Voting

Published

on

Missouri lawmakers rejected an amendment to a health care bill on Thursday that would have required House members to consume a “substantial” amount of marijuana before performing their legislative duties.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Andrew McDaniel (R), was defeated in a voice vote—though a reporter in the room said he heard a few “ayes.”

Text of the measure stipulated that “members of the Missouri House shall consume a substantial dose of medicinal marijuana prior to entering the chamber or voting on any legislation.”

McDaniel told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview that, this time of year, lawmakers tend to pile on amendments to bills. The current health care-focused legislation has “a whole bunch of crap” that’s been attached to it, he said, and so he saw an opportunity to “get everyone to chill out and get a little chuckle” with his proposal.

The hope was also that it could “get them all to pay attention” and “quit messing it up,” he said.

The lawmaker said he similarly heard some “aye” votes from the chamber, though he said he wasn’t going to force people to go on the record with a roll call vote.

“It was just for fun—simmer down, bring up a little bit of laughter in such a somber environment of the times we’re in,” McDaniel said.

Erik Alteri, executive director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment that he appreciated the sentiment.

“During these trying times we all could certainly use a laugh which this amendment provided. Though having state legislators imbibe before session might not be the worst thing to encourage cooperation for the public good,” he said. “At the very least perhaps opponents of ending our failed probation on cannabis may finally realize they are ruining hundreds of thousands of lives per year over a plant.”

Another part of the inspiration behind the lawmaker’s amendment was a more serious provision of the overall legislation that provides protections for registered cannabis patients against having their registration in the program reported to the federal government.

The bill, SB 580, states that “no state agency, including employees therein, shall disclose to the federal government, any federal government employee, or any unauthorized third party, the statewide list or any individual information of persons who have applied for or obtained a medical marijuana card.”

McDaniel said that he supports both medical and adult-use cannabis legalization, though constituents in his district haven’t gotten on board with broader reform and so he doesn’t have immediate plans to introduce actionable legislation to that end. The legislator described himself as having a libertarian perspective on the issue.

He did sponsor a bill in 2018 that would have made a constitutional amendment establishing a limited medical cannabis program in the state. That came before voters approved more a far-reaching medical marijuana legalization measure during the November election that year.

Last month, a campaign to legalize marijuana in Missouri officially ended its bid to qualify for this year’s general election ballot due to signature gathering difficulties caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Montana Marijuana Activists Will Begin Signature Gathering For Legalization Measure With New Safety Protocols

Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.

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.
Continue Reading

Culture

Marijuana Bumper Stickers? No Thanks, Drivers Say In National Survey

Published

on

Even as a growing number of states are enacting legalization laws, stigma around marijuana is alive and well in the United States—at least according to a recent survey about the kinds of bumper stickers America’s drivers are willing to put on their vehicles.

Drivers said they would be less open to displaying a cannabis-related decal than ones featuring messages surrounding other controversial topics, such as politics, religion, gun ownership or even President Trump.

Of those who wouldn’t sport a cannabis bumper sticker on their cars, most said they worried it would affect how police would perceive them.

The survey of 1,195 people asked whether drivers would be willing to display various bumper-sticker messages, including their “support for/opposition to marijuana.” Of all the topics asked about, cannabis was the least popular, with only 34 percent of respondents saying they’d consider such a decal.

By comparison, 53 percent said they would be willing to advertise their views on gun ownership, 44 percent said they would display their religious identity and 42 percent said they would share their stance on President Trump.

Do marijuana bumper stickers make you more likely to get pulled over?

Courtesy of SafeHome.org

The survey was conducted by SafeHome.org, a website that publishes consumer information about home and personal safety. The company acknowledges that the data “rely on self-reporting,” which doesn’t always provide the most reliable conclusions. “There are many issues with self-reported data,” the site points out. “These issues include, but are not limited to, selective memory, telescoping, attribution and exaggeration.”

The poll nevertheless provides a glimpse into what at least some Americans are thinking when they weigh what views to broadcast on the road.

When drivers who said they wouldn’t display marijuana messages were asked what made them hesitate, 59 percent said they believed it would “affect how police perceive me.” Nearly half (45 percent) said they thought “it looks tacky”—more than any other topic but Trump.

Roughly a third of drivers who said they wouldn’t sport a cannabis bumper sticker said the topic was too personal (35 percent), it would affect how other drivers would perceive them (32 percent) or that they simply didn’t care enough about it (31 percent).

The survey also asked respondents about whether they believed their existing bumper stickers had indeed attracted unwanted attention, either from police or fellow drivers. Marijuana, however, was not included in that section of the survey. Among issues people believed they were pulled over unfairly for, “endorsement of racial identity/equality” ranked highest. When it came to aggression from other drivers, “support of/opposition to President Trump” was the top response.

Whether or not a weed bumper sticker makes someone more likely to be pulled over, it’s easy to see why drivers may have that fear. In many states, law enforcement organizations remain among the most stubborn opponents to legalization, and among their most common arguments is that legalization will make America’s roads more dangerous. Available data, however, are less clear on that subject.

Some research has found that traffic fatalities went down after legalization while overall accidents went up, a result that could be the result of drivers drinking less alcohol. The effects also seem to vary from state to state. A 2019 congressional report acknowledged the lack of a clear consensus on marijuana’s impact on driver safety. “Although laboratory studies have shown that marijuana consumption can affect a person’s response times and motor performance,” the Congressional Research Service wrote, “studies of the impact of marijuana consumption on a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash have produced conflicting results, with some studies finding little or no increased risk of a crash from marijuana usage.”

Cannabis, of course, is also the only item in the new bumper sticker survey that is directly attributable to motor impairment. That, combined with the fact that marijuana remains illegal in much of the country, is likely to make drivers think twice about slapping a weed-friendly bumper sticker on the back of their car.

Despite the controversy, however, most Americans support legalization at rates of between 60 percent and 70 percent, according to recent national polls. And a recent YouGov survey found that 55 percent of respondents said that legalization was either a complete success or “more of a success than a failure.”

Constitutionally speaking, Americans have a First Amendment right to political speech, and courts have ruled that bumper stickers generally fall under that protection. And political statements, even those supporting marijuana or its legalization in areas where it’s still illegal, aren’t themselves evidence that a person has violated any laws.

In practice, however, it’s still possible for law enforcement to target individuals for mundane reasons like bumper stickers only to later cite a different, more valid reason to justify a traffic stop. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems the best way to avoid attention when driving is to keep your car au naturel: Vehicles with at least one controversial decal on them, the SafeHome.org survey found, were almost three times more likely to be pulled over during the past year.

Congressional Report Raises Questions About Whether Marijuana Impairs Driving

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.
Continue Reading

Culture

Police Departments In Legal And Illegal Marijuana States Play Into 4/20 With Jokes And Puns

Published

on

In legal marijuana states and those that maintain prohibition alike, police departments evidently wanted to get some giggles on the marijuana holiday 4/20.

On Monday, social media accounts for the Fort Collins Police Department in Colorado, the Bath Township Police Department in Michigan and the Wyoming Police Department in Minnesota shared posts in recognition of the annual occasion.

Cannabis is legal for recreational use in Colorado and Michigan but not Minnesota—which makes at least one of the posts a bit awkward given the criminal justice implications of ongoing prohibition for most adults.

In Fort Collins, the department shared a Tiger King-themed infographic explaining state regulations, riffing off the popular Netflix documentary series about a rivalry between two competing exotic animal companies. The visual explains rules around age requirements, personal cultivation and allowable consumption practices.

For those 21 and older, the department asked how the person reading the infographic plans to obtain cannabis.

“From that lady… Carole Baskin. I hear she’s nice,” one option reads. That response leads to a blurb stating, “File in the ‘Bad Ideas’ folder next to petting tigers.”

“We’ll be blunt – if you’re ganja partake in 4/20 activities, weed preefer if you consume responsibly,” the department said on Twitter. “Don’t get your mota running – driving while impaired is illegal. Know your limits & follow the law (helpful chart below). Share this info with your buds. Dank you & be safe!”

Another law enforcement agency that really got into marijuana puns on 4/20 is the Bath Township Police Department, which posted a notice about social distancing on the holiday rife with cannabis terminology.

“Weed not be doing our jobs if we didn’t remind you all that social distancing is still important. It’s a joint effort between all of us, from Herb to Mary Jane,” a Facebook post states. “Doobie cautious and avoid social gatherings such as pot lucks. If you’re out blazing some fall leaves or chatting with neighbors make sure to stay on your side of the grass.”

“Hash out issues with your family peacefully even if they’re acting like a little roach. Today is 4/20 which means we’re closer to being able to hang out with our buds again which will be pretty dope,” it continues. “So reefer to the guidelines until then and stay safe. “And we’re aware of the difficulties faced by everyone as they cannot get together today to celebrate Carmen Electra’s birthday.”

The Wyoming Police Department in Minnesota, where medical cannabis is legal, also played off the coronavirus pandemic for its 4/20 post. In a short segment, two officers explain that they have two tasks—getting rid of confiscated marijuana in evidence and testing face masks to prevent the spread of the virus—and they decide to tackle them at the same time.

You see where this is going…

After heading back to the evidence room, the officers return and one goes straight for the pantry and pulls out cereal and Mountain Dew. Get it? His mask didn’t work and he accidentally got high from the fumes of incinerating marijuana the department seized as part of a statewide policy of criminalizing the plant and consumers.

It’s supposed to be funny—until you think about the fact that Minnesota ranks in the top 10 states with the greatest racial disparities in cannabis enforcement, as ACLU documented in a report released on Monday.

Outside of police departments, dozens of lawmakers, brands, organizations and celebrities also participated in 4/20 with their own set of social media posts and promotions.

California Announces $30 Million Grant Program To Promote Marijuana Industry Social Equity

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.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!