With last week’s changes to marijuana legislation in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington DC, it’s fair to say that legalization is in the front of many minds. Aljazeera has broken it down for us with their recent infographic showing where it’s legal, how much pot you can posses in newly legal states, and where it might be legalized next. The graphs show that marijuana support has risen from just 12% back in 1969 to 52% today. This distinctive change in the tides will certainly fuel more policy reform in the coming 2016 election year.
Last month WeedHire, a website that connects the cannabis industry with jobseekers, published their quarterly report on industry job growth. With the full legalization of 2 more states and the District of Colombia since that report, there will undoubtably be another bump in industry job offerings through the end of the year. WeedHire’s report says that they expect the job market to grow nearly 700% over the next five years.
It’s not just budtenders, trimmers, and growers that are expanding job growth in the sector either. WeedHire has job listings like state employed research scientists, tax technicians, and attorneys. Most commonly, jobs range in the 30k to 50k annual salary range, but the website says that they’ve seen several job postings with starting salaries above six digits.
Still, administrative and sales functions like budtending make up more than half of WeedHire’s job listing this last quarter with most of the listings coming from California, Colorado, Washington, and Washington. No doubt that Oregon will be amongst the top job offerers in the coming months.
With the marijuana industry expected to reach $10.2 Billion over the next five years, there is not a hint of doubt that the sector will continue to offer job growth for Americans. Keep an eye out in early January another promising quarter of job growth from the marijuana industry.
Who knew college athletes smoke marijuana? In a report recently released by the NCAA on the substance use habits of collegiate athletes, marijuana was by far the most prevalently used. The report is not the most appealing thing to read, so we visualized the most interesting stats related to marijuana below.
Sadly, the War on Drugs in the United States has produced severely unequal outcomes among racial groups, with the bulk of marijuana related arrests being driven by racial discrimination from law enforcement and it’s guiding bureaucratic agenda.
The American Civil Liberties Union pointed this out in June 2013 when The War On Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests was published. This report analyzes the number of marijuana arrests per state, by race, from 2001 to 2010. It also takes a look at how much money is wasted enforcing marijuana prohibition laws in each state and across the nation.
Marijuana use reported by whites and blacks has been nearly equal from 2001 to 2010 with white people between the ages of 18 and 25 reporting more usage than black people of the same age range. If marijuana is used equally between both races, how is it possible that black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested on marijuana charges?
The info-graphic below expresses many other facts pointed out by the ACLU report, including which four counties in the United States rank highest for racially biased arrests.
This figure, 3.7, is an average number representing all fifty states. This means that some states have a shockingly higher rate of difference. For example, in the state of Iowa, a black person is 8.3 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than a white person. Minnesota and Illinois follow closely behind with 7.8 and 7.6. Whereas, New Mexico and Maine are on the much lower end with 1.9 and 2.1. Hawaii is the only state that shows zero racial disparity for marijuana arrests, but black people only make up 2.3% of the population.
Law enforcement agencies operate under policies that praise officers for the quantity of arrests, rather than the quality. The number of people arrested for marijuana in 2010 surpassed the total number of people arrested for ALL violent crimes combined. Marijuana charges now account for half of all total drug arrests, and 88% of those are for just possessing marijuana. It is much easier for officers to target people on the streets in minority communities, and be viewed as successful, than it is to work long hours investigating a violent crime.
In 2010, the United States as a whole spent over $3 billion to enforce marijuana laws. This means that the U.S. has wasted an obscene amount of money ruining the lives of many, over a plant that is now legal for retail sales in two states. The Director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, Ezekiel Edwards, described this tragedy best, in a 2013 press release,
“The aggressive policing of marijuana is time-consuming, costly, racially biased, and doesn’t work. These arrests have a significant detrimental impact on people’s lives, as well as on the communities in which they live. When people are arrested for possessing even tiny amounts of marijuana, they can be disqualified from public housing or student financial aid, lose or find it more difficult to obtain employment, lose custody of their child, or be deported.”
The ACLU and many people of the United States are calling for marijuana to be legalized, regulated and taxed, or at the very least decriminalized.
Legalization and taxation would solve the problems of unjust, racially biased arrests as well as wasting tax payer dollars. In recent months, the District of Columbia and Philadelphia have realized this, and decriminalized marijuana possession as a result. In states that will not alter marijuana laws, the ACLU suggests that law enforcement agencies move marijuana possession arrests to the bottom of the list of priorities, and focus on real crimes instead.
The November 2014 election will be a look into the future of marijuana policy reform in the United States, with voters in both Oregon and Alaska having the opportunity to stand up against these racially biased arrests by ending the war on marijuana in those states. The decision of voters in these two states next month, will set a precedence for the remaining states to join the movement in the 2016 primary election.
Election day, November 4, 2014 may prove to be the biggest day in history, thus far, for marijuana policy reform in America. Therefore, both proponents and opponents of this issue are hitting the streets in a scramble attempt to educate and sway voters. This info-graphic identifies those who scale highest on the list of threats to marijuana policy reform in America.
Michele Leonhart, DEA Administrator, was seeded at the highest threat level. She has consistently refused to license the potential marijuana growers who’s product would supply federally approved marijuana research. Research about the medical and therapeutic uses of marijuana at that level would make a huge difference on the education of American voters on the subject, and it could already be underway if it was not for Leonhart. Also, she publicly agrees that marijuana should stay listed as a Schedule I drug, which is classified as having zero medical uses, in the company of crack and heroin.
One of the most vocal opponents to marijuana legalization who ranks at a high threat level, Kevin Sabet, is staging his attack in Oregon this week. He is scheduled to speak against marijuana legalization in 7 different cities throughout the state. Sabet usually speaks on a platform of fear that the marijuana industry will be the next Big Tobacco out to make everyone an addict. The Oregonian pointed out that originally, Sabet’s “marijuana education” tour consisted of thirteen stops, and was partially funded with federal grant dollars. Once questions were raised at what this federal grant money was funding, Sabet was no longer invited to speak at many of the scheduled seminars. Most of the organizations running these marijuana education seminars chose to invite different speakers over Sabet because they want the seminar to be just that, educational. The purpose of these events is to provide an non-biased learning space, not to have voters be swayed by political influence.
Gil Kerlikowske, former Drug Czar, may no longer hold the position responsible for directing drug control policy, but he and his predecessors have been behind marijuana prohibition from the start. Harry J Anslinger was the first to hold the position, and he was the first major player in the war against marijuana. Harry was responsible for the Reefer Madness campaign, and each person that has held that office since, has blindly supported Anslinger’s war even though there is no supporting evidence.
There is one threat to this historical leap in the fight to end marijuana prohibition, of which many potential voters may not be aware. They are quickly running out of time to register to vote. Voter registration ends in as few as 3 days. Those who want a voice in marijuana policy reform are being urged to register before it is too late.
Two states, Alaska and Oregon, have the opportunity to legalize marijuana for adults twenty-one years of age and older. Alaskan’s will vote on Measure 2, which legalizes the possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana and 6 plants for of-age adults. Oregon will vote on Measure 91, which would legalize the possession of up to 8 ounces of marijuana and 4 plants for of-age adults. In both Alaska and Oregon, if these measures pass, marijuana will be regulated similarly to alcohol. Florida voters will vote on Amendment 2, which legalizes the use of medical marijuana. Washington D.C.’s voters have the opportunity to vote on Initiative 71, which, for adults aged twenty-one years or older, would legalize possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana and 6 plants for personal use.
If you are a resident of Alaska, Oregon, Florida or Washington D.C. who wants your voice to be heard, no matter which voice that is, register to vote today, before it is too late.