July 8th, 2016 marked the one-year anniversary of retail cannabis sales in the state of Washington, and while the implementation of I 502 has been a success on many levels, a recent change in cannabis laws regarding medical marijuana enacted during the last legislative session have mandated many radical and unpopular changes to the nation’s second oldest medical marijuana program … for an update on cannabis in Washington state CPM’s Brian Bahouth spoke with Michael Stusser, Seattle Weekly columnist and host of Higher Ground TV … listen to this mix of words and music …
About the AuthorMichael is a journalist and filmmaker. His award-winning documentary, Sleeping with Siri is playing film festivals across the country. Stusser runs TechTimeout campaigns in high schools across the country, asking teenagers to give up their digital devices (for a little while) in order to find balance, and perhaps even make eye-contact with their parents.
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By Zoe — 4 years ago
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.
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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.”
By Michael A. Stusser — 4 years ago
Look – fair is fair. Even if you’re on parole. Washington State has legalized marijuana, and that means recent parolees can fire up as soon as they hit the streets. Is that a good idea? Probably not.
By Michael A. Stusser — 4 years ago
Jamaica’s government on Thursday announced a major rethinking of its marijuana laws, including plans to partially decriminalize small amounts of pot and to allow possession for religious, scientific and medical purposes.
Justice Minister Mark Golding said the Cabinet is backing a proposal to make possession of no more than 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana, or “ganja” as it’s known locally, a petty offense that would result in a fine but not a criminal arrest.
“I wish to stress that the proposed changes to the law are not intended to promote or give a stamp of approval to the use of ganja for recreational purposes,” Golding said. “The objective is to provide a more enlightened approach to dealing with possession of small quantities.”
Golding also announced that marijuana will be decriminalized for religious purposes — a major victory for Jamaica’s homegrown Rastafari spiritual movement. Many Rastafarians smoke marijuana as a sacrament which they say brings them closer to the divine but they have always faced the possibility of prosecution for doing so.
Government plans call for decriminalization for medicinal and scientific purposes as Jamaica hopes to cash in on the burgeoning cannabis industry. “It is not only wrong but also foolhardy to continue with a law that makes it illegal to possess ganja and its derivatives for medicinal purposes,” Golding said.
Legislation will also be drafted to provide a path for people to get criminal records expunged if they have been convicted under the current law for smoking small amounts of marijuana.
Debate has raged for decades around loosening marijuana laws in Jamaica, an island that is nearly as famous for its weed as it is for its scenic beaches and unique culture. The drug has been pervasive but outlawed for a century on the island where about 300 young men receive criminal records each week for possessing a little marijuana.
Previous efforts in Jamaica to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana have been scuttled because officials feared they would violate international treaties and bring sanctions from Washington.
But as the pot decriminalization movement gains unprecedented traction across the globe, particularly in U.S. states, there’s been a growing push to lift restrictions on a cash-strapped island where political leaders have been emboldened by changes in the U.S.
“I think it highly unlikely this will get a negative reaction from the Obama administration,” said Ethan Nadelmann, director of the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-legalization group based in New York.
Ruling party lawmaker Raymond Pryce, who introduced a motion to relax drug laws in the House last year, said he’s confident that the administration of Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller “will continue to take all appropriate and necessary steps to completely achieve a legitimate ganja sector fully reflective of the religious, cultural and medicinal opportunities which can now be pursued.”
Golding stressed that the current law prohibiting pot remains in effect until legislation to amend that law has been authorized by lawmakers. With Simpson-Miller’s party having a 2-to-1 majority in Parliament and many opposition legislators supporting relaxing the drug laws, the measures are almost certain to be authorized.