Legalization Updates

Election Update for November – and Beyond!

Excellent article about the upcoming elections regarding the legalization of marijuana – as well as next-States on the ballot, and more!

Thanks to our friends at Fusion for the fine work (and maps!)

Endorsements Galore!

It’s hard to even keep up with the number of major newspapers FINALLY coming around to support the legalization of marijuana. Here’s a brief list. Don’t blink…or you’ll miss (yet) another….

The Oregonian Endorsement
The Seattle Times Endorsement
The New York Times EndorsementNYTIMES continues to blow minds…

(Odd) Oregon News: Top Addiction Expert Kicks off YES Ad Campaign

The “Yes for Legalization” Campaign in Oregon State got a boost from a seemingly unusual supporter: Richard Harris. As the former director of Addictions and Mental Health Services for the state of Oregon, Harris held the highest position for directing drug treatment and addiction programs in the entire state.

Marijuana’s Moment Has Arrived

When we find people more articulate than ourselves, we feature them. I mean, why wouldn’t we? The following essay by Princeton University historian Julian Zilizer breaks down the reason legalization is inevitable. We couldn’t have said it better….

GrassIsNotGreener Is a Downer, Man

At HigherGround, our responsibility is to show you all sides of the debate in and around the legalization of marijuana (aka Prohibition), and let you decide where you stand. The following is an ad from a coalition who opposed the recent editorial decision at the New Times Editorial Board which endorsed the legalization movement. Have a read, and we’ll be following up with additional thoughts and perspectives.

(From the Washington Post)
A coalition of groups is running a full-page advertisement in the New York Times this weekend, advocating against the maturing movement to legalize marijuana.

The ad comes in response to a New York Times editorial series launched last weekend arguing for an end to marijuana prohibition. In it, the newspaper’s editorial board advocated for an end to the federal ban on the drug. The ad, pictured below, features a businessman with the pasted-on head of a hippie, a visual metaphor for what the groups warn is the disconnected perception and reality when it comes to legalization.

“The legalization of marijuana means ushering in an entirely new group of corporations whose primary source of revenue is a highly habit-forming product,” the ad reads. “Sounds a lot like another industry we just put in its place. Many facts are being ignored by this and other news organizations. Go to to see why so many major medical associations oppose marijuana legalization.”

The website, which contains resources about the dangers of marijuana, is affiliated with Project SAM, which stands for Smart Approaches to Marijuana. The nonprofit was co-founded by former congressman and former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Patrick Kennedy and former Obama administration drug policy adviser professor Kevin Sabet. It advocates against legalization, but in favor of dropping mandatory minimum sentences and removing criminal penalties while expunging records for low-level users of the drug, and pushes for better access to treatment, education and prevention. The group contends that legalization risks the creation of a predatory industry

“In the marijuana business, the values of the flower children have been quickly replaced by the values of Wall St. power brokers,” Sabet said in a statement. “We’re on the brink of creating the next Big Tobacco. We feel like this is an important message most Americans have not considered.”

The implementation of legalization by Colorado officials–some of them at least initially opposed to it–has been described as a success, though it’s too early to assess the public health impact of the law itself. In Washington, the only other state to also legalize pot, the drug went on sale this month. Legalization is on the November ballot in Oregon and Alaska.

The coalition behind the new website includes:

The American Society of Addiction Medicine, a group that boasts more than 3,000 addiction physician and professional members
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals, a nonprofit whose members include judges, attorneys and clinical specialists
National Families in Action, a group dedicated to getting state laws passed to prevent marketing of drugs and drug use to children.
Parents Opposed to Pot.

(Thanks to Niraj Chokshi for this story. Niraj also reports for GovBeat, The Post’s state and local policy blog.)

New York Times Endorses Legalization

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.
The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.
We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.
There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.
We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.
But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.
The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.
There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.
There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.
Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime.
In coming days, we will publish articles by members of the Editorial Board and supplementary material that will examine these questions. We invite readers to offer their ideas, and we will report back on their responses, pro and con.
We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.

Oregon Legalization on the November Ballot

Second time may be a charm for cannabis is Oregon. The initiative has gathered enough signatures for another vote on legalizing marijuana.

If it passes this November, Oregon will become the latest in a string of U.S. states to liberalize marijuana laws, either for recreational or medical use. Alaska will also vote this year, then California in 2015, and the tide will have turned….

READ MORE at Reuters

Never Fear, The Pot Will Appear: Everything You Need to Know About Washington’s Recreational Roll-Out

The moment in history has arrived – enabling citizens to walk into a store and LEGALLY buy a bag of marijuana! But hold on a sec…

If there’s any way you can wait a few days to buy your legal weed from a recreational store in Washington State, you should. Seattle’s first retail pot shop, Cannabis City, is going to be a mob-scene when the doors open at (high) noon – and then they’re gonna run out of marijuana. The same will be true with the other 23 stores given retail licenses by the state today. 

Though Washington State made weed legal a year and a half ago with the passage of Initiative 502, it’s taken some time to fine-tune the details. State agencies have had to vet growers, deal with inspections (now there’s a fun job!), quarantine herb before it could be shipped, and grant licenses to retailers who then had to install security cameras, tinted windows, pot-tracking software(!) and hopefully a Slurpee machine! (Imagine if they ran these kinds of background checks for folks trying to buy firearms!) 

Right off the bat, there will be extremely limited supplies for ganja, as only 79 growers got the permits (from over 7000 applications!), and most those harvests won’t come in until late this month. So if you were looking forward to the PowerPurpleKushBerryCrunch that won the Cannabis Cup, yer gonna be waiting a bit longer. But hey – all good things are worth waiting for – besides, that SuperChronicHydroponic stuff will put you on the couch for days on end. Moderation, man! Prices will start high (up to $400 an ounce – ouch), but like Teslas, Furby dolls and the Galaxy S5, come down over time. Besides, would you rather pay $25 for a legal gram, or go black-market style, potentially rooming in the tank with Big Bubba while funding Mexican cartels and an over-crowded and money-sucking prison system?

Oh – and those Reefer’s Peanut Butter cup brownies you were so excited to try – that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon either. No edibles have so far been given the green light in Washington, as the process for licensing kitchens has been painfully slow. (Part of the debate has been a good one, with lawmakers wishing to make sure THC-laden edibles and sodas are not targeted to kids and that labels are clear enough even for Maureen Dowd to understand.) While I like the idea of child-resistant packaging, it’s hard enough for non-stoned adults to open a damn aspirin bottle, so I do hope they don’t make things too difficult

Within a month or so, things will be running as smooth as the cool-kids have it goin’ on in Colorado, with varied and plentiful products, and more tax dollars than ever to blow on items like roads, infrastructure, and, hopefully, drug education and teacher’s salaries. Unlike Colorado, a major hurdle in Washington that has never been addressed is the way medical marijuana dispensaries will be treated. As of now, the myriad of retail regs are not being applied to these long-standing dispensaries, causing hell and havoc for many card-carrying marijuana patients who are truly in need and benefit greatly from the medicinal uses of weed.

The good news for those who do have marijuana cards – the strange gray-area they currently reside in allows them to purchase edibles of all-kinds – including licorice chews, gourmet chocolates and marijuana-infused hard candies. Not that I’ve tried any

When it comes to the marijuana movement, it’s important to keep the mellow in mind, and visualize the Big Picture. As of this very moment: two States have legalized weed, and 20 more are scheduled to vote on the issue in the next two years. Like marriage equality, it’s going to happen – we just need the naysayers, Bible-thumpers and right-wing fundamentalists to come to their senses or, more likely, succumb to the will of the people – and the democratic process.  


Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin have all recently gone to pot. And that’s just the beginning….



With the general election five months away, more Outside cash is making its way into the Alaska campaign to legalize marijuana.

The Marijuana Policy Project injected $140,000 into the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska at the end of May, according to filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. It marks the second largest donation the campaign has received this election season and pushes the contribution total for the campaign just over the half-million dollar mark.

Western Alaska leaders fret over marijuana legalization in rural communities

Supporters issue challenge to opposition in fight to legalize marijuana in Alaska

In comparison, the group opposing the measure, Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2, has raised a mere $31,000 since organizing in April. Most of that money came from a single donation from the Chenega Corp., an Alaska Native village corporation based in Anchorage, which gave $25,000 to the campaign last month.

At stake is Ballot Measure 2, an initiative that would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Alaska. If approved, the initiative would regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana to adults 21 years of age and older and tax its commercial sale. Alaska would become the third state to legalize marijuana, behind Washington and Colorado. The initiative’s language is largely based on Colorado’s law.

Proponents say the measure is long in coming and that the “prohibition” on marijuana isn’t working. Opponents argue that it’s too much, too soon, and that Alaska doesn’t need to be the testing ground for marijuana legalization. Polls conducted earlier in the year put support for the initiative at around 50 percent.

The $140,000 doesn’t mark the biggest donation from the Marijuana Policy Project, a national group that works to advocate for marijuana legalization across the U.S. In March, the organization contributed $210,000 in cash to the Alaska campaign. It also sent one staff member, Chris Rempert, to serve as campaign director.

Pro-legalization campaign spokesman Taylor Bickford said the donation will be used to “continue educating Alaskans” about the benefits of legalizing marijuana here. He said it was not intended to serve as a response to the large donation from Chenega.

“We have our own strategy and our own plan that we will be executing between now and November,” he said.

Deborah Williams, spokeswoman with the Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2 campaign, was not surprised to hear about the large donation Thursday, nor was she concerned, she said.

“We always anticipated we would be grossly outspent,” Williams said.

The anti-legalization campaign has focused on maintaining a grassroots presence, working more to start conversations and participate in forums that “get the truth of this initiative out” Williams said.

Williams noted that other Alaska political battles have proved that Alaskans don’t take well to Outside groups pushing agendas in Alaska.

“No matter how much money the Marijuana Policy Project and other Lower 48 entities put into this battle, they can’t eliminate those truths,” Williams said.

Bickford rejected the idea that the Marijuana Policy Project was pushing any sort of agenda. He said the group has been working to reform marijuana policy in Alaska for 20 years, and in that time has built meaningful connections in the state.

“Alaskans are going to focus on the issues. They’re not going to focus on distractions and fundraising,” he said.

What the campaign will look like from here remains to be seen. Bickford noted that with the U.S. Senate race dominating traditional advertising media right now, most campaigns are in the process of figuring out “how to deal with that.”

“All the campaigns are struggling with the limited air space due to the influx of money in the senate race,” Bickford said. “We plan on running a comprehensive campaign that connects with voters in various ways.”

(THANKS TO REPORTER SUZANNA CALDWELL and the Alaska Dispatch for this report.)