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The public really, really, really opposes current federal marijuana law

A new poll — from an anti-marijuana group — shows US politicians lag far behind the public’s views on marijuana.

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The overwhelming majority of Americans are opposed to current federal marijuana law.

That’s the big takeaway from a new poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy and released by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the country’s most prominent anti-legalization group.

The poll took a unique approach to a legalization survey. Instead of asking people if they support legalization and giving them a binary yes-or-no choice, it asked 1,000 registered voters about several options for federal marijuana policy: keeping current policy (which prohibits possessing and using cannabis for any purpose), legalizing “physician-supervised medical use,” decriminalizing pot by removing criminal penalties for use and allowing medical use but prohibiting sales, and legalizing the commercial production, use, and sale of marijuana for recreational use.

Only 16 percent of Americans favored keeping the current policy. About 29 percent backed only medical legalization, 5 percent backed decriminalization, and 49 percent backed full legalization. The remaining 1 percent were not sure.

Even among Republicans, who tend to be more conservative on drug policy issues, current federal marijuana law fared poorly: Only 25 percent of Republican voters supported keeping the policy as is, 36 percent backed medical marijuana, 2 percent backed decriminalization, and 36 percent backed full legalization. The majority of Republican voters were for some form of legalization — medical or recreational.

SAM said in a statement that the poll shows the country is evenly split on legalization. The group has often argued that other legalization polls, by posing the issue in a binary yes-or-no style, miss some of the potential nuances in marijuana policy and public opinion.

It’s true that this more nuanced poll finds lower levels of support of legalization than, for example, Gallup or the Pew Research Center, whose most recent surveys found 64 percent and 61 percent support for full legalization, respectively.

 

Read the full article HERE

Is this the year state legislatures lead the charge to pass recreational marijuana laws?

By Omar Sacirbey

While not likely to be as historic as the legalization wave of 2016, this is expected to be a watershed year for the cannabis industry.

For the first time, from all indications, state legislatures are poised to pass recreational marijuana legalization laws, with the East Coast being the most fertile ground for such efforts.

Vermont appears to be leading the charge after state lawmakers Wednesday approved legislation permitting citizens to possess and home grow marijuana. Republican Gov. Phil Scott said he will sign the legislation.

So far, the recreational cannabis laws that exist in eight states and Washington DC have been enacted by voters.

But some state legislatures are poised to lead the way, apparently brushing off the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rip up Obama-era protections for states with legal marijuana industries.

If those efforts are successful, it could provide the impetus for other states to follow.

“This would be a major development for the cannabis industry,” said Michael Bronstein, a marijuana industry advocate who’s involved in efforts to legalize recreational MJ in New Jersey, one of several states where lawmakers are working on adult-use bills.

“It would show lawmakers across the country that they can pass adult-use laws and the sky won’t fall,” he added.

“In fact, it would show that they are in lockstep with public sentiment, which overwhelmingly favors adult-use legalization.”

 

Read the full article HERE.

Shrinking Supply For Growing Demand: Philly Down To 3 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia has lost one of its medical marijuana dispensaries and three others that were supposed to be operating by now have postponed their openings. Medical marijuana won’t be available in the city until at least March.

Terra Vida had obtained a permit for a location in Mt. Airy, but founder Chris Visco says, after a zoning fight with city council members, she’s relocating to Chester County.

“We searched throughout the entire city, everywhere we could think of looking,” Visco said. “There was a location on City Line Avenue that we thought would be great, but there was no way to have any private access to our space for delivery of product.”

Visco says between the state rule that deliveries have to be made out of public view, and a city ordinance restricting locations near day care providers, there’s nowhere left in the city to put a dispensary.

Terra Vida’s departure leaves three providers. One is being sued so its future is up in the air. The other two, Integrative Wellness on Frankford Avenue and Holistic Pharma on Krewstown Road, got extensions for opening, as did the other 52 dispensaries statewide. Holistic founder Keith Morgan says growers are only now getting started.

Read the full article HERE

Trump administration to end policies that let legal marijuana flourish

by Sam Wood & Justine McDaniel

The Trump Administration is rescinding the Obama-era policy that had paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will instead let federal prosecutors decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana law in states where it is legal, according to a memo obtained Thursday by Politico.

The move adds to the confusion about whether it’s OK to grow, buy, or use marijuana in states where pot is legal since the long-standing federal law prohibits it.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), described the action as “unjust, backwards” and “wrong.”

“Jeff Sessions’ determination to revive the failed War on Drugs knows no bounds.” Booker said. “History has shown that our deeply broken drug laws disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color and cost us billions annually in enforcement, incarceration, and wasted human potential, without making us any safer. This unjust, backwards decision is wrong for America, and will prove to be on the wrong side of history.”

Session’s memo comes days after pot shops opened in California, launching what is expected to become the world’s largest market for legal recreational marijuana and, as polls show, a solid majority of Americans believe the drug should be legal.

New Jersey and Delaware have had medical marijuana programs for several years. Pennsylvania is set to make medicinal cannabis available in the coming months for patients suffering from any one of 17 serious health conditions. It was unclear Thursday morning how Session’s move will impact the state programs.

While Sessions has been carrying out an agenda that follows Trump’s top priorities on such issues as immigration and opioids, the changes to pot policy reflect his own concerns. Trump previously has stated decisions about marijuana should be left to the states, but the president is known to change his mind on a whim.

Reaction in the Philadelphia region to the Sessions announcement was swift.

“Will Sessions single-handedly crush a $7.2 billion industry spanning 30 states, generating millions in taxes, and providing tens of thousands of jobs?” said Steve Schain, an attorney with the Hoban Law Group, a national firm with dozens of marijuana business clients.

Lindy Snider, a cannabis-industry investor who is prominent in Libertarian circles, said rescinding the Obama-era policy “makes absolutely no sense.”

“I’m so angry about it,” Snider said. “The government is supposed to operate at the will of the governed. That’s just part of the American Constitution. This should not be about Jeff Session’s opinions. Over 50 percent of Americans say legalize this. He better have a damn good plan.”

Read the full article HERE

Pot-smoking on the rise among U.S. pregnant women

How legal marijuana in N.J. will disrupt Pa.’s medical program: A Q&A with Duane Morris lawyers

by Sam Wood, Staff Writer  @samwoodiii  samwood@phillynews.com

New Jersey is almost certain to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use within a year, and that’s sure to have major repercussions on Pennsylvania’s nascent medical cannabis industry.

 Gov.-elect Phil Murphy ran on a platform calling for full legalization of all forms of marijuana for anyone over 21. Industry analysts say the Garden State cannabis market could be worth $1 billion a year and generate an annual $300 million for the state’s tax coffers.

“It could be massive,” said Chris Walsh, editor of Marijuana Business Daily, addressing the MJBizCon cannabis convention, which drew 18,000 people this month in Las Vegas.

 Bills are pending in both houses of the Legislature, and though a few lawmakers have expressed reservations, State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D; Gloucester) also considers legalization “a priority.”

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, set to launch in the first quarter of 2018 and offering only oil-based products, may find itself outmaneuvered. Already, some entrepreneurs envision the equivalent of “Total Weed” shops just across the bridges. If Jersey marijuana is less expensive, legal for all adults, and sold in forms not available in Pennsylvania (buds and edibles, primarily), expected profits for the Keystone State’s growers and dispensers could take a serious hit, especially in the southeastern part of the state. That could prompt legislators in Harrisburg to consider full legalization sooner than later.

The Inquirer spoke with two Duane Morris LLP lawyers who represent marijuana clients on both sides of the river. Seth A. Goldberg, based in Philadelphia, heads the firm’s cannabis practice. Paul P. Josephson, based in Cherry Hill, served as counsel to Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign and is an adviser to the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association. The questions and answers have been edited for concision.

How soon will we see New Jersey move to legalize cannabis for all adults?

Josephson:  It’s likely we’ll see legislative action by June. In the interim, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another call for license applications and the governor or Legislature looks to broaden the number of qualifying medical conditions.

What will it look like if New Jersey approves full recreational use?

Josephson: I would expect that Gov.-elect Murphy will appoint a commission or panel to provide guidance. The legislation that is out there right now doesn’t define the number of licenses. It creates a new Division of Marijuana Enforcement inside the Attorney General’s Office, similar to the Division of Gaming Enforcement. The legislation leaves it to the director and AG to determine the number of licenses on a town-by-town basis.

Will towns be able to opt out and declare themselves “dry”?

Josephson: Yes. Currently, they would have one year to opt out of the system. Every five years they could reconsider whether they want to allow cannabis-related operations.

What will legalized recreational use in Jersey do to the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program?

Goldberg: It’s not unreasonable to imagine people going to New Jersey to buy cannabis and, as a result, the Pennsylvania program would not be as profitable as originally anticipated. The assumption seems to be that Pennsylvania is not likely to become a recreational-use state anytime soon. If and when New Jersey goes rec, the loss of revenue to New Jersey would seem to be a reason for the Pennsylvania legislature to consider going recreational.

Josephson: To the extent New Jersey is projecting that 10 percent of marijuana revenues might come from Pennsylvanians, I think it’s obvious the N.J. program could have a negative impact on Pennsylvania revenues.

Goldberg: Delaware is also considering going recreational. … Given that there appears to be only one dispensary that will open in Philadelphia, it seems reasonable to expect people will consider going to South Jersey and Delaware for recreational cannabis.

 

Read the full article HERE.