Alaska? YES! Oregon? YES! Washington DC? YES! Guam? YES? Higher Ground? YES!
And while the referendum in Florida did not pass, let us give you some good news from the Sunshine State (where 58% of the voters supported medical marijuana initiative!). The issue brought out young voters, and they supported the measure big-time. Politicians from BOTH parties must now pay serious attention to States where marijuana is on the ballot, as young citizens will flood to the polls, and paying attention to geriatric politicians and other progressive causes as they vote on various important issues.
November brought a significant set of votes and victories. And once California joins the recreational realm in November of 2016 (after pioneering the medical dispensary vote in 1996), the catnip will be out of the bag. It’s a long ride, and looking up for the legalization movement.
For further analysis on the elections, votes on decriminalization, and future of legalization, here are the 5 fab articles on the subject.
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By Michael A. Stusser — 3 years ago
The legalization battle arrives at our nation’s capital.
Every single day there’s breaking news in the marijuana movement. Alaska officially legalized weed on February 24, making it the fourth state in the Union to toss aside the chains of prohibition, and the next day, at the stroke of midnight, our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., followed suit. #CommanderInSpleef!
But if ya think the “Just Say No” Nancy Reagan types are gently stepping aside, and the taxation and regulation of cannabis are going along swimmingly, you’ve been smoking too much of the recently legalized chronic.
In the District of Columbia, an hour before the city officially made recreational ganja legal, Republicans in the House of Representatives tossed a little fear-mongering into the mix.
“You can go to prison for this,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told The Washington Post—and the citizens of D.C. who overwhelmingly approved the initiative. ”We’re not playing a little game here.”
Reps. Chaffetz and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) sent a memorandum to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, threatening that if the city chose to move forward with pot in the District, “you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law.” The right-wing reps were trying to nullify legalization—and the will of the people—through riders they’d previously attached to the unrelated trillion-dollar Congressional spending bill.
The letter went on to demand that Bowser create a list of all D.C. employees who participated in the enactment of the ballot measure, fork over their timecards, and share their salaries, apparently in an effort to create a sort of Green List. Joe McCarthy would be so proud.
Bowser’s no pushover (hell, in D.C., mayors often smoke crack just to deal with the toughness of their constituents); she let the world know she would do what more than 70 percent of her residents made clear they wanted when they passed the measure last summer. “My Administration is committed to upholding the will of DC voters,” she tweeted. “We will implement Initiative 71 in a thoughtful, responsible way.”
Police Chief Cathy Lanier is also on board, telling the American News Women’s Club, ”All those [marijuana]arrests do is make people hate us.” She added, “Marijuana smokers are not going to attack and kill a cop. They just want to get a bag of chips and relax. Alcohol is a much bigger problem.”
D.C.’s decriminalization law is a particularly big deal because of the massive racial biases behind marijuana arrests in the city. According to the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, nine out of 10 people arrested for drug offenses in D.C. between 2009 and 2012 were black. And while blacks make up slightly more than half of the city’s population, surveys show they’re no more likely than whites to use marijuana. The craziest fact of all, according to The Washington Post: White folks are more likely than any other race to be selling drugs. Let’s just say it loud and clear: The War on Drugs is a war on black Americans.
Beyond that, the new D.C. law is largely symbolic, as sales of any kind are not allowed (which also means they won’t be collecting any of those sweet tax dollars). Individuals are allowed to possess and cultivate up to six plants, but only three can be budding in the government’s backyard at a time. District residents can’t fire up on federal land (yes, that means the Lincoln Memorial), in bars or restaurants, or in public housing. Medical marijuana is allowed (it was passed in D.C. in 2010), and if you’re feeling particularly generous, you can “gift” an ounce to friends, family, and fellow residents, so long as they’re over 21. (“Mr. Speaker, I hereby offer this peace-doobie to break the gridlock . . . ”)
The road to national legalization will be paved with setbacks, scare tactics, and a social conversation about what it means to be high. As with moonshine, civil rights, and same-sex marriage, we’ll have to tinker a bit to get it right. Nebraska and Oklahoma are taking Colorado to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming legalization is causing massive drug-enforcement problems, with too many pickups full of Denver ganja entering their backyards. Last week all nine former DEA heads joined the brief. It points to red state/blue state differences, and serves as yet another reminder that, yes, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.
But in a sign that we can all get along, a man walked into the Sixth District police station in D.C. last Monday and asked for his previously seized weed back. (He’d been arrested for a charge unrelated to drugs, and, along with a belt and a wallet, had his stash taken during processing.) As possession of two ounces or less is fully legal, an officer gave him his baggie of marijuana. Progress, apparently, comes in small doses.
This article first appeared in The Seattle Weekly.
By Zoe — 4 years ago
Let’s face it: someone is gonna hit it big in the legalized marijuana business. The question is who, when, and will you be along for the ride. We here at Higher Ground in no way suggest you put your hard-earned money into Marijuana stocks. (In fact, the Stock Market in general seems quite the crap-shoot). But that doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention….
By Michael A. Stusser — 3 years ago
Passing the dutchie to the right this time.
The idea of Higher Ground is to “elevate the dialogue,” and thus it’s important to remain open-minded to individuals and organizations on all sides of the marijuana-legalization conversation. With that in mind, let’s light the peace pipe and reach the roach across the aisle.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DOO-BIE? Strongly opposing marijuana legislation are activists Alan Gordon and Anne Armstrong, who made headlines by bum-rushing a press conference supporting a new state legalization bill in Rhode Island. The duo aren’t against the notion of legal weed, but instead believe that taxing the plant is against the teachings of the Bible, and Satanic for putting money over patients’ rights. They take issue with the language of the law, claiming medical use of cannabis (which they believe is the Biblical plant called “kaneh-bos”) outweighs any laws, restrictions, or taxes.
“ ‘Marihuana’ is a slang term popularized by William Randolph Hearst in his ‘yellow journalism’ Reefer Madness-type propaganda,” Armstrong told Marijuana.com. “To pass laws about ‘cannabis,’ the plant specified in the Bible as essential to the Holy Anointing Oil, as ‘marijuana’ is as offensive to me as would be a law referring to ‘Equal Pay for Bimbos.’ ”
Gordon and Armstrong will be planting fields of the sacred herb in National Parks this summer, and dedicating them to religious freedom.
CHRONIC KILLS New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is claiming that ganja is responsible for the murders, mayhem, and overall rise in crime in the Big Apple for the first three months of this year.
“In this city, people are killing each other over marijuana more so than anything we had to deal with in the ’80s and ’90s with heroin and cocaine,” Bratton stated. While murders in NYC have increased 17 percent from last year, whether pot is to blame is somewhat questionable. The overall crime rate in New York City is actually down: felony assaults have decreased 18 percent, robberies 22 percent, and crime on subways more than 25 percent.
Compare that to the largest cities that have legalized weed: In Denver, homicides are down 24 percent, but in Seattle they’ve soared—from 23 to 26. And the biggest fact-check of all: In 1990 there were 2,245 murders in New York. Last year? 383. While I’m attempting to be objective, it seems as though the marijuana plant’s not killing anyone.
SHERIFFS SUE While the Evergreen State skates, for some reason Colorado’s getting picked on, and has already been sued by neighboring states Nebraska and Oklahoma for its dope-smokin’ ways. Now a group of sheriffs from Kansas and Nebraska, and even inside Colorado, are piling on, and also filing suit.
“When these Colorado Sheriffs encounter marijuana while performing their duties,” the new lawsuit states, “each is placed in the position of having to choose between violating his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and violating his oath to uphold the Colorado Constitution.”
The reason sheriffs from Kansas and Nebraska submitted the initial lawsuit had to do with the porous borders their states share with Colorado. Apparently, it’s too damn easy for Okies to mosey over to Colorado, pick up that-there marihuana, and cruise back home with the wacky weed to share with friends and family at the annual Toothless BBQ. (Sorry, I’m really trying here, I swear.) In addition to violating federal law, officers state, legalization in Colorado jeopardizes the U.S.’s compliance with international anti-drug treaties.
As the sheriffs put it, departments are “suffering a direct and significant detrimental impact, namely the diversion of limited manpower and resources to arrest and process suspected and convicted felons involved in the increased illegal marijuana trafficking or transportation in their jurisdictions.” Maybe they should consider legalizing it.
Funded by the Florida-based Drug Free America Foundation, the suit goes on to play the Kid Card! “As a result of Amendment 64-related interdiction efforts,” it mopes, “departments have been forced to scale back on drug education and awareness programs in schools.” That hurts. (A related aside: Marijuana sales in Colorado since Jan. 1, 2014 have brought in $15.6 million in excise taxes specifically earmarked and voter-approved solely for public schools, according to the director of the office of capital construction for the state’s Education Department . . . just sayin’.)
LEGALIZE LETTUCE Finally, a pro-life, pro-gun, Tea-Partying Texas Republican has a unique and simple take on the legalization matter: Take every law that prohibits weed off the books. Representative David Simpson of Longview said his bill would increase individual liberties and decrease government control, bedrock values of the conservative movement’s libertarian wing.
“I think we’re at a tipping point,” Simpson said. “I think it’s clear the war on drugs has failed, that the war mentality has eroded individual rights, the sanctity of one’s home, the ability to travel freely with dignity. And at the root of all this is prohibition.”
The bill is as no-nonsense as the man behind it. Rather than add flowery language about taxation and registration, House Bill 2165 simply regulates marijuana . . . as a plant.
“I’m hopeful that if this bill were to pass, we could see hemp cultivated and used as ropes,” noted Simpson. “We can see the marijuana with differing levels of THC used medicinally. I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s the conservative thing to do.”
The bill allows folks to farm it and use it, like tomatoes, coffee, and corn. Untaxed. Deregulated. Done and get ’er done.
This article first appeared in the Seattle Weekly