Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Nebraska and Oklahoma’s lawsuit challenging Colorado’s marijuana regulation laws.
The decision is available here.
The attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma filed the lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court in December 2014, arguing that the state’s decision to regulate the cultivation and distribution of marijuana was “placing stress on their criminal justice systems.” The Colorado and U.S. governments both filed briefs urging the court to dismiss the suit. Oklahoma Republicans also urged their attorney general to drop the suit.
Associated Press reports:
For now, the many states considering pot laws this year won’t have immediate guidance from the nation’s high court about whether they’re free to flout federal drug law by regulating the drug.
Instead, the 26 states and Washington, D.C., that allow marijuana for medical or recreational purposes don’t have any immediate roadblocks on their marijuana laws.
Marijuana legalization advocates immediately seized on the Supreme Court’s announcement as a signal that states are free to legalize marijuana if they wish.
“States have every right to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana, just as Nebraska and Oklahoma have the right to maintain their failed prohibition policies,” said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.
“Colorado has done more to control marijuana than just about any other state in the nation. It will continue to set an example for other states that are considering similar laws in legislatures and at the ballot box.”
U.S. News reports:
Statistics provided to U.S. News by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service show that marijuana package intercepts declined again in fiscal year 2015, the first annual period that wholly encompasses state-regulated recreational marijuana sales in Colorado and Washington state.
Inspectors seized 7,783 marijuana-containing parcels during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a 2.6 percent drop. The collective weight of the contraband was 34,305 pounds, down 12.7 percent from the previous year.
It’s a second year in a row of such declines. In fiscal year 2014, which featured nine months of Colorado sales and three months of Washington retail operations, intercepted packages fell by 12.2 percent and their collective weight dropped by 12.7 percent.
As the numbers trend downward, pro-legalization policy advocates sense validation for their claims that black-market illegality can be crushed and drug cartels put out of business by treating the drug like alcohol.
"It's clear the system is working as intended," says Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert, a leader of Colorado's 2012 legalization campaign. "What we're seeing is adults are purchasing marijuana, but there haven't been significant efforts to get it to other states through the mail, as some feared. People want to follow the law."
On Tuesday, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a federal law enforcement organization that has continuously opposed making marijuana legal, released a report claiming that regulating marijuana like alcohol in Colorado is having severe negative consequences and losing support among residents. Supporters of marijuana policy reform quickly and correctly criticized the report as biased and unscientific. MPP's Mason Tvert said, "Yeah, it's joke[.] It would receive an F in any high school class, let alone any college class."
The most complete refutation of this report comes from Jacob Sullum in Forbes:
In 2012 Coloradans approved Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use, by a vote of 55 percent to 45 percent. Last February a Quinnipiac University poll found that 58 percent of Colorado voters supported that decision, while 38 percent opposed it and the rest weren’t sure.
For prohibitionists determined to portray marijuana legalization in Colorado as a disaster, those poll results are inconvenient, since they indicate that public support for Amendment 64 was higher after more than a year of legal recreational sales and more than two years of legal possession and home cultivation than it was in 2012. Honest drug warriors would acknowledge the Quinnipiac numbers and perhaps try to balance them with other poll results. Dishonest drug warriors would do what the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) does in its new report on marijuana legalization: change the numbers.
The RMHIDTA, a federally supported task force dedicated to suppressing marijuana and other illegal drugs, claims only 50 percent of Colorado voters supported legalization in that Quinnipiac survey—eight points lower than the actual result. It also understates the 2012 vote for Amendment 64 by a point, but the comparison still supports the story that the task force wants to tell: The consequences of legalization in Colorado have been so bad that public support for the policy already has fallen.
Even assuming that the RMHIDTA’s misrepresentation of the Quinnipiac survey was a mistake, the direction of the error is not random. You can be sure that if the report had overstated support for legalization by eight points, someone would have caught it before the text was finalized. Which underlines a point that should be obvious by now: Despite its pose as a dispassionate collector of facts, the RMHIDTA, which issued similar reports in 2013 and 2014, is committed to the position that legalization was a huge mistake, and every piece of information it presents is aimed at supporting that predetermined conclusion. So even when the task force does not simply make stuff up, it filters and slants the evidence to play up the purported costs of legalization while ignoring the benefits. Here are some examples of what I mean.
The Denver Campaign for Limited Social Use submitted more than 10,000 signatures Monday in support of a city initiative that would allow the limited social use — but not sale — of marijuana at commercial establishments in areas restricted to adults 21 and older.
4,726 valid signatures of registered city voters are needed to qualify for the November 2015 ballot. The city clerk has 25 days to certify the petition.
Under the proposed measure, businesses that have a license to sell alcohol for onsite consumption would be able to decide whether to allow cannabis consumption on the premises. Businesses that choose to allow only cannabis consumption (without licensed alcohol consumption) would be subject to regulation by the city, including restrictions on location and hours of operation. All commercial establishments that allow adults to use marijuana would be required to comply with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which means (1) only non-smokable forms of marijuana would be allowed indoors, and (2) smoking marijuana would only be allowed in existing designated smoking areas that are not viewable to the public.
A strong majority (56%) of likely 2015 voters in Denver support the proposed initiative, according to a survey conducted in June by Public Policy Polling. Just 40% are opposed. The full results are available here.
A study just released by the American Psychological Association shows no direct link between teen marijuana use, even chronic use, and health problems later in life. The study looked at more than 400 individuals as they matured and found no evidence that marijuana use caused or contributed to any mental or physical health issues over time, including cancer and psychosis.
The Daily Caller reports:
Chronic marijuana use as an adolescent has no link to mental or physical health problems later in life, according to a new study conducted over the past 20 years.
Published by the American Physiological Association, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Rutgers University divided participants into four groups from their teenage years onward.
One group almost never smoked marijuana, one used it mostly in their teenage years, another started using in adulthood and the final group of subjects started using marijuana early and continued into their adult years.
The study found that “chronic marijuana users were not more likely than late increasing users, adolescence-limited users, or low/nonusers to experience several physical or mental health problems in their mid-30s.”
In fact, there were no significant differences between marijuana trajectory groups in terms of adult health outcomes, even when models were run without controlling for potential confounds. The researchers found no link between teen marijuana use and lifetime depression, anxiety, allergies, headaches or high blood pressure.“Everyone wants to prevent teen marijuana use, but we don’t need to exaggerate its harms and arrest responsible adults in order to do it,” Mason Tvert, communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Hopefully, this study will lead to a reevaluation of the tactics that are being used to discourage teens from trying marijuana,” he added.
In recent months, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly said that he does not agree with marijuana legalization and would most likely end the current policy which allows states to determine their own marijuana laws provided they meet certain criteria, earning him a grade of "F" on MPP's Presidential Report Card.
On Tuesday, Gov. Christie reaffirmed this position, saying that state laws making marijuana legal are numbered if he is elected president. The Huffington Post reports:
“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie said Tuesday during a Newport, New Hampshire, town-hall meeting, Bloomberg reports. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”
Christie, one of 16 Republicans campaigning for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, has made no secret of his long-held opposition to cannabis. As governor of New Jersey, he has opposed even his own state's limited medical marijuana program and has called similar laws in 22 other states a "front" for full recreational legalization. He has described taxes generated from the sale of marijuana as "blood money." And earlier this year in no uncertain terms, he said that, as president, he would "crack down and not permit" recreational cannabis in states that have legalized it.
Even Christie's fellow Republicans don't seem to favor such a hard-line stance. According to a recent Pew survey, while most GOP voters do not support legalization, they do support states' rights when it comes to marijuana -- with 54 percent saying that the federal government should not interfere with states that have already legalized cannabis. Among millennial Republicans, support for legalizing marijuana is significant -- with 63 percent in favor.
"Gov. Christie is either totally clueless or utterly careless," Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Huffington Post. "If Gov. Christie is trying to distinguish himself from the other Republican candidates, he’s doing a good job. He clearly has the least respect for states’ rights and the most desire to maintain our federal government’s failed program of marijuana prohibition."
Interestingly, Gov. Christie's dedication to enforcing federal law does not extend to sports gambling in his state, which is currently illegal under a 1992 federal ban.
Check out this encounter MPP's Matt Simon had with Gov. Christie in New Hampshire this morning:
Last Friday, MPP released the 2016 Presidential Candidates Report Card, which grades the various major candidates based on their support for marijuana policy reform or the willingness to allow it to move forward. Since then, a wide variety of news outlets have written about it, including The New York Times, Huffington Post, Washington Times, and others. In particular, there was quite a bit of interest in Republican Sen. Rand Paul receiving the highest grade of any candidate: A-.
The Washington Times reports:
Mr. Paul, received a grade of “A-” from the Marijuana Policy Project. The group said his grade was based largely on his sponsorship of a medical marijuana bill, support for reducing marijuana-related penalties and support for allowing states to regulate marijuana for adult use.
Mr. Christie and Mr. Santorum, meanwhile, two other GOP contenders, both received a grade of “F” “because they oppose reform efforts and they are the most vocal supporters of enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal,” the group said.
“Some of these guys who tout states’ rights, fiscal responsibility, and getting the government out of people’s private lives want to use federal tax dollars to punish adults for using marijuana in states that have made it legal,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the group. “They say using marijuana is immoral or just too dangerous to allow, but serve alcohol, a more dangerous substance, at their fundraisers. The hypocrisy is astonishing.”
Not surprisingly, Sen. Paul has gotten a lot of attention this week by being the first presidential candidate to actively court the marijuana industry for campaign donations.
After fighting against the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and publicly questioning the wisdom of voters in the years since his state made marijuana legal for adults, it appears the Gov. John Hickenlooper is finally realizing that regulating marijuana was a good idea.
The Denver Post reports:
And now this headline — “Colorado Gov.: Pot is ‘not as vexing as we thought it was going to be’ (video)” — tied to “Opening Bell” host Maria Bartiromo’s interview with Hickenlooper at the Milken Institute Global Conference, which runs through today.
“It’s all those young people coming, and they look at marijuana and say, ‘Hey we can drink whiskey, why can’t we have a legalized system with marijuana?’ If you look back it’s turned out to not be as vexing as some of the people like myself — I opposed the original vote, didn’t think it was a good idea. Now the voters spoke so we’re trying to make it work, and I think we are.["]
Colorado-rooted legalization advocate Mason Tvert said he welcomes the governor’s new turn.
“It’s great to see the governor recognizes that regulating marijuana is working in Colorado and that it has many benefits,” said Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Polls show more voters support the law now than did when it was approved, and it appears he might be part of that late majority.
“Just about everyone who takes an objective look at what is happening in Colorado agrees that things are going quite well.”
You can watch the video at Fox Business News.
Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com
Supporters of marijuana regulation in Colorado are calling for the resignation of the six Colorado sheriffs who filed a federal lawsuit Thursday intended to force Colorado marijuana production and sales back into the underground market.
According to news reports, the sheriffs claim they are experiencing a “crisis of conscience” because they believe federal marijuana laws prohibit them from enforcing state marijuana laws. However, the U.S. Controlled Substances Act includes a provision that clearly states is not intended to preempt state laws, and it specifically authorizes states to pursue their own marijuana laws.
MPP's Mason Tvert explains on "CBS This Morning":