It was billed as an elite, members-only marijuana social club. But the advertisements for Country Club Cannabis, which popped up on social media feeds and in advertisements across New York City this week, were all part of a deliberately provocative campaign launched by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
As New York lawmakers continue to work on legislation to legalize marijuana for adult use in the state, advocates are ramping up efforts to ensure that social equity and restorative justice are key components of any legal cannabis system that eventually emerges. DPA teamed up with creative agency Virtue to make that point by creating the fake cannabis club.
Country Club Cannabis was supposed to represent the moneyed, exclusive marijuana market that develops when cannabis is legalized without a focus on social equity. Members could pay for special access to different services—spa access for basic membership and access to “legal counsel” for premium members, for example. And joining the club also meant adhering to a dress code that prohibits members from wearing sneakers or having visible tattoos.
“Country Club Cannabis was created with traditional values in mind,” a mission statement on the website reads. “Join us in a celebration of our heritage to ensure an elevated, clean experience. We are founded on the belief that you should have a space where your reputation and influence can be recognized among others who share your values.”
— Country Club Cannabis (@cannabisclubny) March 25, 2019
The ploy even included a fake physical storefront in Manhattan.
— Country Club Cannabis (@cannabisclubny) March 25, 2019
The ad campaign elicited some outrage and some intrigue. But on Thursday, DPA announced that it was all a hoax meant to highlight policy proposals that advocates want included in New York’s legalization plan. That includes automatic expungements for individuals with prior cannabis convictions, an equity programs to support small businesses and using revenue from marijuana sales to reinvest in communities that are disproportionately harmed by the drug war.
Marijuana use is roughly equal among Black people & white people, yet Black people are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. #LegalizeItRight by helping those that will still be incarcerated post-legalization. Sign the petition – link in bio. pic.twitter.com/cGgwEcqNSL
— Drug Policy Alliance (@DrugPolicyOrg) March 28, 2019
“Legalization creates opportunities for places like Country Club Cannabis to exist, but the framework of legalization in New York should not reinforce a culture of exclusion and othering,” Kassandra Frederique, DPA’s New York State director, said in a press release. “A legalization model that creates exclusive spaces like CCC but does not reinvest in communities, does not create space for other people to participate meaningfully in the market, and does not clear records, should not be the legalization framework here in New York.”
“This fight is about more than marijuana and about more than having the privilege to indulge,” she said. “It’s about people and about investing in the dignity and humanity of all New Yorkers.”
A 2013 ACLU report examining marijuana arrests found that in New York State, more than $675 million was devoted to marijuana possession enforcement in 2010. #LegalizeItRight pic.twitter.com/NgvjIVoR4P
— Drug Policy Alliance (@DrugPolicyOrg) March 27, 2019
The pressure is on to get legalization passed sooner rather than later, with an April 1 budget deadline looming just days away. But advocates remain determined to get Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and leading lawmakers in agreement on the details of a legalization plan for 2019. The governor said on Monday that they are still “working to try to get marijuana done,” but that “the devil is in the details.”
“And I don’t know that it is done for the budget, but if it’s not done after the budget, I believe we get it done after the budget,” Cuomo said.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who has cosponsored legislation to end cannabis prohibition, also voiced support for DPA’s #LegalizeItRight campaign in a tweet.
Legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. But it can't end there. We need to invest in communities that have been impacted by the failed War on Drugs & expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions. #LegalizeItRight
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) March 28, 2019
DPA also launched an online petition that people can sign to show their support for social equity in the cannabis industry.
“We, the undersigned, call for an end to the ineffective, racially biased, and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition,” the petition states. “We support the emergence of a new, well-regulated, and inclusive marijuana industry that is rooted in providing safe access to an already widely-used substance that is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco and has been proven to have substantial medicinal uses.”
Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.
NFL Would End Marijuana Suspensions In Deal Circulated By Players Union
National Football League players would no longer face the possibility of being suspended from games just for testing positive for marijuana under a proposed collective bargaining agreement approved by team owners and circulated to players on Thursday.
The new policy being floated for approval by the the NFL Players Association would also reduce the number of players subject to testing for cannabis and narrow the window when tests can be administered from the current four months to just two weeks at the start of training camp.
(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)
Image element courtesy of Marco Verch.
NFL Marijuana Penalties Will Be ‘Dramatically Reduced’ Under Deal Being Weighed By Players Union
The NFL Players Association could soon vote on an agreement with the league that includes sharply reduced penalties for marijuana use by football players and dramatically shortens the annual window during which they may be tested for cannabis and other drugs.
While the proposed changes haven’t been publicly released, the collective bargaining agreement that’s circulating among officials would reportedly make it so players would only be subject to a two-week testing period, instead of the current four-month window that now begins on the unofficial marijuana holiday April 20 (4/20) and ends in August.
Additionally, severe penalties for cannabis offenses would reportedly be lifted. The agreement “would include dramatically reduced penalties, with suspensions happening only in the event of extreme and repeated disregard of the policy or significant violations of applicable law regarding the possession and use of marijuana,” NBC Sports’s ProFootballTalk reported.
The players union has been holding conference calls in recent weeks as representatives decide whether to proceed with the agreement, but if they don’t act soon, it could mean another year of strict cannabis policies within the NFL. Two-thirds of the group must agree to the proposal prior to the start of the new league year on March 18 if they want the policies to take effect for the 2020-2021 season.
If the new collective bargaining agreement isn’t ratified by that time, players would undergo another season where testing positive for marijuana can result in fines, suspension and rehabilitation.
It’s not clear when the revised testing period would begin under the agreement, but it’d generally be more beneficial for players to schedule that window during the offseason.
While the NFL has been slow to back reform, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said in December that they see the writing on the wall and predicted that cannabis policy changes were imminent.
“I think you should expect and will expect an adjustment of the contemporary way or the present way that marijuana is being thought about,” Jones said.
Cannabis policy changes have already been integrated by the Major League Baseball, which announced in December that it was removing marijuana from its list of banned substances. That also followed negotiations between the MLB and its players union.
Meanwhile, a panel created by the NFL and the union said last month that players should be wary of CBD, with members arguing that more research is needed to determine whether the non-intoxicating marijuana compound is safe and effective.
Image element courtesy of Marco Verch.
Netflix Blocks Marijuana Shows And Films In Response To Government Demands
Film and television, for many of us, were the first places we saw cannabis users humanized.
In a society where we were raised to “Just Say No,” who can forget the positive impact when we saw the joyous, peaceful festivities depicted in Woodstock? Who didn’t laugh at rather than scorn classic pot-smoking teenage comedies like Dazed and Confused or Superbad? Who didn’t abandon their own ‘Reefer Madness’ stereotypes after getting schooled on medical cannabis by Sanjay Gupta’s Weed?
But across the Pacific, one country is working to make sure its citizens see no marijuana in moving pictures. According to a new report released by digital streaming giant Netflix, the company complied with several demands from Singapore’s government that they remove content from their service. That includes three pieces of cannabis-themed programming: Cooking on High, The Legend of 420 and Disjointed.
The other two films were Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ and Brazilian comedy The Last Hangover, which also includes overt drug-use and partying themes. Overall, the company disclosed it has received nine take-down requests worldwide since 2015. As first reported on Friday by Axios, Netflix promised that it will continue making these requests public on an annual basis. The content removed only applies to the country that requested the ban, and it can still be accessed in other markets.
Singapore is notorious for having some of the harshest drug control laws in the world. Possession of small amounts of drugs is punished severely with up to ten years in prison, a $20,000 fine or both. Trafficking, which differs by quantity based on the substance, is punishable by execution. You can be put to death for having less than a pound of marijuana, for example.
Singapore’s government doesn’t seem to be interested in global trends towards decriminalization and legalization of cannabis or other drugs. “Examples of other countries have clearly shown that a permissive attitude towards the use of cannabis exacts a high cost on society,” says the national Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). “Therefore, we have strict laws against the trafficking, possession, consumption, and import or export of illicit drugs, including cannabis and cannabis products.”
Officials have argued that harsh policies coincide with reductions in rates of drug use and substance use disorder. By the CNB’s estimates, “the number of drug abusers arrested each year has declined by two-thirds, from over 6,000 in the early 1990s to about 2,000 last year .” But as to the agency’s claim that marijuana use causes damage to society, available research on the effect of medical cannabis legalization in the U.S. suggests that it does not lead to increased youth use and has a negligible if any effect on people engaging in more risky behaviors such as consuming alcohol or tobacco.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s northern neighbor Malaysia has considered decriminalizing small amounts of all drugs in an attempt to treat substance use disorder as a public health rather than criminal issue. Farther north, Thailand has made progress by legalizing medical marijuana last year.
Read Netflix’s full Environmental Social Governance report below:
Photo courtesy of freestocks.org.