Connect with us

Politics

Cynthia Nixon Steps Up Push For Legal Marijuana In New York

Published

on

New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon is making marijuana legalization a centerpiece of her campaign.

“It’s time for New York to follow the lead of 8 other states & DC and legalize the recreational use of marijuana,” she tweeted on Wednesday. “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.”

The issue has political potency in her primary challenge against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who opposes legalization despite the fact that a majority of the state’s Democratic voters support it.

A Siena College poll in February found that 66% of New York Democrats back ending cannabis prohibition. Only 30% agree with Cuomo that marijuana should remain illegal.

Cuomo, who pressured lawmakers to significantly scale back medical cannabis legislation before he signed it into law in 2014, wants the state to conduct an official study of the implications of broader legalization before joining the nine other states that have already ended prohibition for adults over 21.

But the legislature did not include the governor’s proposed study language in a budget agreement adopted last month.

New York Lawmakers Divided On Marijuana Legalization Study Proposal

Although lawmakers didn’t specifically earmark funds for the legalization study, the state Department of Health said it will proceed with the review anyway.

In response to questioning from reporters on Wednesday, Cuomo rejected the idea that New York is lagging behind other states on marijuana.

“I think we’re actually ahead on it,” he said. “We announced months ago that we were going to study the legalization issue precisely for that reason. You have Massachusetts, you have New Jersey talking about it — that would be a fundamentally different situation for the state of New York. On this issue there are many opinions, there are many cultural opinions, there’s a lot of division in the legislature and what we said is, let’s get the facts and let’s make the decision on the facts. I’m trying to depoliticize the issue. There’s widespread division. It’s not about signing the bill, it’s about passing the bill… To pass it you have to have consensus and I think the best way to forge consensus is on facts rather than on opinions, stereotypes, past experiences.”

Joel Giambra, a former Republican Erie County executive who is mounting an independent bid to challenge Cuomo’s reelection this year, agrees with Nixon that marijuana should immediately be legalized. His campaign commissioned its own report, which concluded that the move would generate $500 million in new annual tax revenue.

“There’s no more need to study this,” he said. “It’s time to be aggressive. It’s time to be proactive.”

In a series of tweets and a YouTube video on Wednesday, Nixon pointed to the racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement as an important reason to legalize the drug.

“80% of New Yorkers arrested for marijuana are black or Latino,” she said. “The reality is that for white people, marijuana has effectively been legal for years. It’s time to legalize it for everyone else.”

The actress also pointed to the economic benefits of ending cannabis prohibition.

Her campaign launched an online petition about the issue through which she can collect email addresses and raise funds to support her bid against Cuomo.

“Governor Cuomo says we need a study on this issue, but I believe that we need action,” Nixon said in an email blast about the petition.

Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

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.

Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

Politics

Hemp Legalization Is Officially Headed to President Trump’s Desk For Signature

Published

on

The 2018 Farm Bill, which would legalize industrial hemp, is officially headed to President Donald Trump’s desk. The House passed the legislation on Wednesday, one day after the Senate approved it.

It’s been decades since the ban on hemp was imposed—a byproduct of the federal government’s war on marijuana and other drugs. The ban, it seems, will be lifted in a matter of days.

The House passed the bill, 369-47.

The votes come after months of debate over other aspects of the wide-ranging agriculture bill. But the hemp legalization provision, shepherded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has received bipartisan support at every step of the legislative process.

Hemp legalization made it through a conference committee where the Senate and House Agriculture Committees reconciled their respective versions of the bill. McConnell marked the occasion this week by signing the conference report with a hemp pen, which he said on Wednesday that the president was free to use to sign the bill into law.

The hemp provision would allow U.S. farmers to grow, process and sell the crop. The Justice Department would no longer have jurisdiction over hemp under the legislation; rather, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would lightly regulate it.

One element of the hemp language created tension between lawmakers and advocates. The original Senate-passed bill prohibited people with felony drug convictions from participating in the hemp industry, but a compromise was reached last week that limited that ban in the final version to 10 years after the last offense.

House Democrats in the Agriculture Committee listed hemp legalization as one of several reasons they were calling for a “yes” vote on the legislation.

According to VoteHemp, if the president signs the bill before the year’s end, it will take effect on January 1, 2019.

Mitch McConnell Says Trump Can Borrow His Hemp Pen To Sign Farm Bill Into Law

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

Politics

Marijuana Industry Border Issues Would Be Solved Under New Congressional Bill

Published

on

Marijuana can really mess up border and immigration issues for people who partake in consumption or participate in the industry, but that would change if a new bill being introduced in Congress this week is enacted.

Under current U.S. laws, people who admit to past cannabis use or who work for or invest in marijuana businesses can be barred from visiting the country under certain circumstances. And marijuana consumption, even if it is legal under state law, can lead to an immigrant being deported.

The new legislation, the Maintaining Appropriate Protections For Legal Entry Act, would provide exceptions for conduct that “was lawful in the State, Indian Tribe, or foreign country in which the conduct occurred” or that was “subsequently made lawful under the law or regulation of such jurisdiction,” according to a draft obtained by Marijuana Moment.

The bill, known as the MAPLE Act for short—surely a nod to the leaf on Canada’s flag—is being filed on Wednesday by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

U.S. border policies on entry by marijuana industry participants were slightly loosened just ahead of the launch of Canada’s legal marijuana market in October to clarify that people working for cannabis businesses are generally admissible to the U.S., with the caveat that “if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

And that’s a key exception. Several Canadians traveling to a cannabis industry conference in Las Vegas last month were detained for hours, with one investor being given a lifetime ban from visiting the U.S.

While there is almost certainly not enough time for Blumenauer’s proposal to be considered and voted on by the end of the year, its language could easily be adopted into new legislation after the 116th Congress is seated in January.

In October, the congressman laid out a plan for a step-by-step approach to federally legalizing marijuana in 2019 in a memo to fellow House Democrats.

Marijuana Moment supporters on Patreon can read the full text of the new MAPLE Act below:

This premium content is available only for Marijuana Moment supporters on Patreon. Please start a monthly pledge to help us continue our cannabis advocacy journalism. (Please contact [email protected] if you are a patron and have trouble logging in.)

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

Politics

Chicago Mayor Wants Legal Marijuana Revenue To Fund Pensions

Published

on

Tax revenue from legal marijuana sales should be earmarked to fund pension programs, the mayor of Chicago said on Wednesday.

“Illinois legislators will be taking a serious look next year at legalizing recreational marijuana,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said in a speech to the City Council. “Should they follow that course, a portion of that revenue could go toward strengthening our pension funds and securing the retirement of the workers who depend on them.”

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

Photo courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil.

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

Stay Up To The Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox