Legislation to end the federal prohibition of cannabis has been submitted in the U.S. Senate by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). S. 420’s companion proposals, including H.R. 420, were submitted in the House last week by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
“The American people have elected the most pro-cannabis Congress in American history and significant pieces of legislation are being introduced,” said Blumenauer. “The House is doing its work and with the help of Senator Wyden’s leadership in the Senate, we will break through.” “I introduced S.420, my bill to legalize and responsibly regulate and tax marijuana,” Wyden tweeted on February 8. “It’s time to bring our country’s marijuana policies into the 21st century, and my legislation is the way to do it.”
S. 420 was introduced on Friday, February 8 as part of a legislative package consisting of three different proposals being called the Path To Marijuana Reform.
The first one, Small Business Tax Equity Act, proposes that legal cannabis businesses should be allowed to claim tax deductions just like any other small business. Currently, they may not claim tax deductions or credits because cannabis remains a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This amendment was enacted in 1982 after a narcotics dealer claimed expenses associated with the sale of illegal drugs on his taxes. Now that more than half of the states in the nation have legalized cannabis for either medicinal or recreational purposes, those state-legal businesses deserve to be able to operate as such.
The second, Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act, permits states to determine their own cannabis laws, thereby “reducing the gap between federal and state laws.” As long as individuals and businesses are operating under state law, this proposal would remove the risk of federal criminal penalties. It also allows legal cannabis businesses to have access to normal banking services, permits U.S. veterans access to medical marijuana, and protects the rights of Native American tribes to grow and sell marijuana on tribal land.
The third bill in the legislative package is called the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act. This proposal would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively de-scheduling it. It also seeks to tax and regulate cannabis products in the same way that alcohol and tobacco currently are, imposing an excise tax on the sale of cannabis. Federal permits from the Department of Treasury would also be issued to cannabis producers, importers, and wholesalers. “The federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple. Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed,” Wyden said in a press release. “It’s time Congress make the changes Oregonians and Americans across the country are demanding.”
For the first time ever, a major alcohol association has come out in support of ending federal marijuana prohibition so that states can legalize cannabis without interference.
The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) announced “an official policy position in favor of a state’s right to establish a legal, well-regulated, adult-use cannabis marketplace,” in a press release on Thursday.
Today, we became the first and only beverage alcohol association to announce our position in favor of a state's right to establish a legal, well-regulated, adult-use #cannabis marketplace. Read our full statement: https://t.co/0rHHN3aEzU
The announcement represented a significant departure from the association’s past statements on marijuana reform. Just two years ago, WSWA said in a sponsored advertisement that it was “neutral on the issue of legalization,” going on to caution congressional officials about the “dangers associated with the abuse and misuse of marijuana,” including drug-impaired driving.
Now the alcohol trade group is singing a different tune.
“The legal cannabis market continues to expand in the United States, generating $7.2 billion in economic activity in 2016,” Thursday’s press release reads. “WSWA believes that, similar to alcohol, the federal government should give states the power to legalize cannabis, but should ensure they meet an appropriate regulatory threshold.”
“Eight decades ago, Americans acknowledged that the Prohibition of alcohol was a failed policy. The state-based system of regulation, adopted after Prohibition, created a U.S. beverage alcohol market that is the safest, most competitive and best regulated in the world.” — WSWA Acting Executive Vice President for External Affairs Dawson Hobbs
WSWA went on to outline 13 policies it recommended for states that legalize recreational marijuana.
A minimum age of 21 for purchase, possession and use, along with penalties for providing cannabis to minors;
Establishment of Driving Under the Influence impaired driving standards;
Licensing of producers, processors, distributors and retailers; Policies to prevent vertical monopoly/integration;
Hours and days of sale parity with beverage alcohol;
Tax collection and enforcement; Measures to prevent diversion of cannabis to other states;
Restrictions on sale/common carrier delivery;
Labeling requirements that include potency and health requirements;
Testing of formulas to ensure product purity and consistency;
Advertising restrictions designed to discourage underage access and promote responsible consumption;
Restrictions on health claims on packaging;
Establishment of a designated agency overseeing cannabis industry regulation in each state;
Penalties for licensee violations on par with the state’s alcohol regulations;
and Regulations that ensure all products in market can be tracked/traced to source processor/producer.
So what changed from two years ago?
While the group’s sudden embrace of local cannabis legalization efforts might strike some as odd given the intrinsic, competitive dynamic that’s developed between alcohol and marijuana interests, one aspect of the press release reveals how the broader booze industry could stand to profit:
“Legalization should include regulations that set age restrictions on buyers, as well as license and regulate the supply chain of cannabis, including growers, distributors, retailers and testing laboratories.” [Emphasis added.]
In other words, marijuana legalization might take a bite out of alcohol sales—as recent studies have shown—but the cannabis industry has diverse roles for various players to fill. Ancillary operators such as distributors now working under the current three-tier model for alcohol could be used in states with legal, regulated marijuana markets.
Hobbs denied that the association was trying to help the alcohol industry cash in on legal cannabis during an interview with Fox Business on Thursday.
“No, what we’re talking about is just creating a pathway for states to have federal recognition of legalization by enacting appropriate regulation that creates a safe and reliable marketplace,” Hobbs argued. He also said that the association wouldn’t be lobbying Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take action on federal marijuana policy, but rather the group’s focus would be on Congress.
Marijuana Moment reached out to WSWA for comment, but a representative was not immediately available.
What remains to be seen is whether other alcohol associations will follow suit. After all, a handful of alcohol interests, including the Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association and the Boston Beer Company donated to campaigns opposing legalization efforts during the 2016 election.
With this latest development from a major alcohol association, it seems the industry is conceding: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Thanksgiving is a holiday for feasting with family and friends while giving thanks for a good harvest, and all the good from the year passed. According to Urban Dictionary, Danksgiving is similar but different because heavy cannabis use is required. With that in mind, here are 5 things to be thankful for this Danksgiving!
1. Vape is the word of the year!
Vape was awarded the title, Word of the Year, by the Oxford English Dictionary. According to Oxford, vape was triumphant because today, “You are thirty times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year.” Whether you are using a Volcano, plug-in vape, or a vape pen, the point is you are vaping.
2. Cannabis Critic is an official job now!
The New York Times confirmed that Denver is home to the first weed critic in the United States. This has been a dream job for many Americans for decades, and its finally real.
3. Three revolutionary grandmothers took bong rips on camera to show the world what it is like to get high for the first time!
Click here to watch the video. If grandmas can do it, anyone (over the age of 21) can!
4. Four legal states (and one district)!
Voters approved laws allowing the recreational use and retail sale of cannabis in Oregon and Alaska. In the District of Columbia, voters legalized recreational use without retail sale. Add in Colorado and Washington, and 8 percent of the United States (and one district) have, officially, legalized marijuana. Ending cannabis prohibition is something worthy of many thanks.
5. J-O-B-S, jobs!
The cannabis industry is creating jobs in states where the plant is legalized, be it for medical or recreational use. WeedHire determined that this budding industry has the highest job availability and growth potential.
A government committee, lead by chairwoman Ruth Forrest, had been investigating medical marijuana use in the state since July so that an accurate report could be presented to parliament. Over the course of three days, twenty-three different testimonies were heard on the matter from current users and field experts. Seventy-seven patient submissions were also received by the committee during this time. The committee concluded that current laws no longer agree with what the people believe. The people want to at least decriminalize the medicinal use of cannabis.
The committee’s recommendation for immediate, compassionate, action was submitted just one week ago. The committee found that marijuana was used widely throughout the island to control epilepsy and other conditions as well as to treat pain and nausea. The report recommends decriminalizing the use of medical marijuana so that those using the plant medicinally do not not add possible prosecution their suffering. The report also recommended establishing legislative action to legalize a personal cultivation and caregiver program for the island state.
The government has decided not to move forward with immediate legislative action as recommended by the committee. Michael Ferguson, the state’s health minister, stated that legislation will not be updated at this time. However, parliament did agree to look into the matter. The investigative committee intends to continue building a case through hearing and recording testimony from patients and medical experts.
Libertarian candidate running for United States Senator in North Carolina, Sean Haugh, has built his campaign on being a normal guy who drinks craft beer in a state where craft beer is king. Now, after an interview with Bills and Brews, he is also known as the normal guy running for Senate who knows, first hand, about the medical benefits of smoking marijuana.
When asked during the interview if he has smoked pot during the campaign, Haugh responded,
“I actually do. This is the first time I’ve ever admitted it to anybody, but this is the first time anybody’s ever asked me directly.”
Just as other members of the libertarian party, Haugh believes all drugs should be legal in the United States. Not because he supports anyone doing them, but because if all drugs were legal, people with addiction problems would be more likely to seek treatment. His point is that the war on drugs has forced drug usage underground where people are not comfortable asking for help because of fear of prosecution.
During the interview he also referred to his decision to run for Senate as being an act of conscience, inspired by the fact that he wants to be able to vote for something other than more war and more debt. He wants to fill that void for other voters who want the same.
Do you want to know more about where Haugh stands on other topics? He has a series of campaign video advertisements, all of which depict him as a normal, every-day, average American man, where during a two to three minute time frame he gives his opinion on a selected topic. In all videos, he is wearing a t-shirt and casually discussing his views while sipping on a beer in his basement.
Watch Haugh’s video, below, where he shares more about his opinion on why the war on drugs has failed.