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Must-haves in legalization bills

Some good advice from Shaleen Title, Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commissioner:

Top Ten Equity Must-Haves in Any Legalization Bill

  1. Homegrow. Allow consumers to grow a limited number of their own plants at home (in MA, it’s 6 per adult with max of 12 per residence, see law for details) and gift a limited amount to other adults (in MA, it’s one ounce). This serves as a check on monopolies, delays, and more.
  2. Automatic expungement for cannabis convictions, in the same law at the same time as legalization. Period.
  3. Ensure as a non-negotiable, never-expiring statutory requirement that people from disproportionately harmed communities are represented at the very top of the regulating agency. (Yes, there are plenty who are qualified.)
  4. Ensure that the regulating agency is diverse, independent, subject to full transparency, and appointed by different people. This is something I’m incredibly proud of in MA and I recommend adopting it. Brand new agencies take time/resources to start up, but it’s worth it.
  5. Dedicate tax revenue to be reinvested into disproportionately harmed communities. Give it teeth; do not allow that revenue to be “subject to appropriation” and do not require bureaucratic application processes that only privileged communities will be able to tap into. Sidenote: the Minority Cannabis Business Association model state bill, which I worked on before becoming a commissioner, creates an Office of Justice Reinvestment to fairly distribute such revenue.
  6. Separate from that reinvestment, invest a specific percentage of tax revenue into technical assistance, hiring programs and interest-free loans for disproportionately affected communities with a funding mechanism for initial programming and outreach as soon as the law passes. It is very important that you specify the agency(ies) in charge with specified deadlines and consequences for missing the deadlines. I think every existing equity program thus far, including the one I designed, underestimated the need for IMMEDIATE outreach and education.
  7. Require state regulators and localities to ensure diversity in the industry at ownership and employee levels, and to enforce limits, with goals, measurement, and accountability for the regulators (it may be best for them to design their own goals rather than specifying them).
  8. Institute a statutory requirement that tax revenue only flows to municipalities that have honored these mandates. Leave it up to the municipalities to figure out how to make their local laws and processes inclusive to disproportionately harmed communities BEFORE receiving any local taxes. Sidenote: my recommendation to anyone seeking an equitable cannabis program would be to not compromise an inch on this one. It could easily undermine all the rest. There are good and bad local examples throughout MA and CA.
  9. Require every business to contribute to these goals in addition to (*BUT NOT INSTEAD OF*) the government’s role. One option is to require diversity plans and positive impact plans as requirements for licensure and renewal, as in MA, but there are many ways to accomplish this.
  10. Lastly, require the regulating agency to collect data on each of these items, report the data regularly, and take remedial measures when the data is not satisfactory. Give the regulating agency broad flexibility and authority to accomplish this.

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Finally, figuring out how to convince people to support legalization

Marijuana Use Before Sex Leads To More Satisfying Orgasms, Study Finds

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Drug War Corruption Affects Young Voters

Drug enforcement frauds and scandals have political consequences. In recent years it’s been far more difficult for Democratic or Republican lawmakers to gain political stardom by promoting corrupt and punitive drug policies. Millions have suffered personal damage or died needlessly due to drug laws that were predictably flawed and destructive. And according to researchers at Bocconi University in Milan, corruption indefinitely influences choices made by first-time voters:

8-Nov-2018—Research finds that political corruption has a long-term scarring effect on trust in democratic institutions and on voters’ behavior and that such an effect differs according to one’s age cohort, with first-time voters at the time of corruption revelation still being affected 25 years later.

In particular, Bocconi University’s Arnstein Aassve, Gianmarco Daniele, and Marco Le Moglie focus on the Italian Clean Hands scandal that, between 1992 and 1994, revealed widespread corruption among Italian politicians. […]

The effect is stronger for less educated individuals and for people more exposed to TV news in the areas most affected by the corruption scandal. …the age of the first-time voters … entails an unprecedented exposure to politics and political news. […]

First-time voters at the time of the scandal also report harsher attitudes towards immigrants and refugees in 2018…suggesting…a fascinating spill-over effect, whereby the detrimental effects of corruption might not be limited to trust and voting, but they might extend to policies supported by populist parties.

Politically corrupt drug enforcement plays a pivotal role in deliberately misleading the public about drugs and consumers. Its corruption increases drug ODs and the diseases transmitted by opiate addictions. It turns drug enforcement into a weapon that inflicts racist policies, culls rebellious teenagers, eliminates the poor, or boosts nationalist, cultural or religious hegemonies.

As public scrutiny of drug policies increases, Republican and Democratic party leaders still have several options left. A solution to the drug war crisis can be achieved either of two ways. End the drug war and the corruption ends. Or what may be easier and more expedient, end the lies and corruption and the drug war will likewise fade away.

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How times have changed

Remember when Bill Clinton admitted to having tried marijuana, but had to modify it by claiming he hadn’t inhaled? And even then, he had to be a big drug warrior in order to counter the “druggie” image.

In contrast, the 2020 candidates seem to be (finally) proudly admitting how much they enjoyed it.

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Forecast: continued periods of darkness

U.S. Prosecutors Sue To Stop Nation’s First Supervised Injection Site For Opioids

After months of threats, federal prosecutors in Philadelphia launched a legal challenge on Wednesday against the nonprofit Safehouse, which is hoping to open what could be the nation’s first site where people with opioid addiction can use drugs under medical supervision.

According to a noted physician who had traveled back in time, “What is this? The Dark Ages?” – Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy

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How Do You Fix Fear?

Drug war fear and loathing in Mexico provided University of Colorado Denver researchers with some critical new evidence on how fear does severe harm to a nation:

…Previous research on risk preferences has relied on data gathered only after a violent event, and found insecure environments made residents either more risk tolerant or had no effect at all.

But this new study, Impact of Violent Crime on Risk Aversion: Evidence from the Mexican Drug War, published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, found the opposite is true. By also using data collected before the rise in crime, it found that fear had a profound effect on the residents, leading them to express more cautious attitudes toward risk. This change has the potential to have a widespread and long-lasting impact on the economy, as risk tolerance is associated with opening a business, investing in education and migrating to greater opportunities. […]

[Ryan] Brown and his team [Verónica Montalva, Duncan Thomas and Andrea Velásquez] found … an increase of one homicide per 10,000 people increased the likelihood of being in the longitudinal study’s most risk-averse category by 5 percent. Uniquely, the researchers provided evidence that this relationship was predominately caused by an increase in feelings of fear. […]

“We understood why being in an insecure environment would change your risk preferences, but until now, we didn’t know the mechanisms behind it,” said Brown. “This study allows us to rule out the policy mechanism; that improving access to health care, the economic environment or mental health will make a difference.”

Instead, we’re left with a much more difficult question: How do you fix fear?”

Donald Trump believes he can fix fear by constructing a wall on the US southern border—giving rise to fears a wall might actually get built.

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Anslinger lives on

Kansas lawmaker makes racist comments about African Americans, marijuana

Republican Rep. Steve Alford of Ulysses:

“What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas (and) across the United States, what was the reason they did that?” Alford said at the event. “One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, the African-Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off those drugs just because (of) their character makeup, their genetics, and that.”

Alford later said: “I’m about as far from being a racist as I can get.”

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A fossil shows up on the pages of the New York Times

We haven’t had many of these in a while — but they used to be pretty common fare, until the public stopped falling for them.

In the New York Times: What Advocates of Legalizing Pot Don’t Want You to Know by Alex Berenson

Federal surveys also show that rates of serious mental illness are rising nationally, with the sharpest increase among people 18 to 25, who are also the most likely to use cannabis. The surveys and hospital data cannot prove that marijuana has caused a population-wide increase in psychosis, but they do offer intriguing evidence. […]

Many people are arrested for marijuana possession, but very few end up imprisoned. […] But advocacy groups don’t view decriminalization as an acceptable compromise. […]

Worse — because marijuana can cause paranoia and psychosis, and those conditions are closely linked to violence — it appears to lead to an increase in violent crime. Before recreational legalization began in 2014, advocates promised that it would reduce violent crime. But the first four states to legalize — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — have seen sharp increases in murders and aggravated assaults since 2014, according to reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Police reports and news articles show a clear link to cannabis in many cases. […]

As Americans consider making marijuana a legal drug, it would be wise to remember the choices that fueled the devastating opioid epidemic. Decades ago, many of the same people pressing for marijuana legalization argued that the risks of opioid addiction could be easily managed.

A half-million deaths later, we have learned how wrong they were.

Marijuana’s risks are different from opioids’, but they are no less real. Let’s remember that hard truth as we listen to promises that allowing the use of this drug will do no harm.

Wow.

Am I getting out of touch? I don’t remember hearing about this guy, and yet apparently he’s writing a book: “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.”

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Hemp is legal in the United States

Congress just passed an $867 billion farm bill. Here’s what’s in it.

Wow, that took a long time.

This article in Forbes explains it all for the completely oblivious masses that haven’t been aware (like we have) that the prohibition of hemp was one of the stupidest things imaginable.

How Hemp And The Farm Bill May Change Life As You Know It

I tip my hat to those who have worked so hard on this for so many years.

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Big Pharma Suppresses Rebellion

Drug wars perpetuate destabilizing authoritarian political policies. One such US drug war policy relies on the pharmaceutical industry doping children to forestall rebellious behavior proven absolutely essential for preserving self-government.

Authoritarians rely on their ignorance and the ignorance of others for their own economic and political survival. Where ignorance fails, failed propaganda and failed social policies are deployed. According to author and clinical psychologist Bruce E. Levine, the disinformation schemes can prove disruptive, or even fatal, for individual citizens:

The United States is home to a drug culture in which both authoritarians and anti-authoritarians participate. Some authoritarians seek drugs that can turn large profits and that maintain the status quo by facilitating compliance. Some anti-authoritarians, especially early in life, prize a drug that makes them less compliant to authority and that blissfully connects them with the universe. Some people swear by Prozac or Zoloft, while others swear by marijuana or LSD. […]

…when we have experienced enormous pain from an illegitimate authority, we may be drawn toward any other authority that validates our pain, and it can become difficult to think critically about that validating authority, especially if we are stressed and vulnerable.

Malcolm X’s attraction to the Nation of Islam was similar to people whom I’ve known who have been assaulted by psychiatry and become attracted to the Church of Scientology, and then become embarrassed when they realize they’ve joined an authoritarian organization…. The greatness of Malcolm X lay not simply in his courage to challenge and resist illegitimate authority but in his courage to reassess his views.

As traumatizing as Malcolm X’s young life was, he was lucky in one sense. Nowadays, a teenager with a history of stealing would get a psychiatric diagnosis of “conduct disorder,” a severe “disruptive disorder,” and such kids are increasingly prescribed psychiatric drugs. After the breakup of his family, Malcolm lived in foster homes, and foster kids today in the United States are even more likely to be medicated on antipsychotic drugs than other children. And so it is quite likely that in today’s world, the young Malcolm would have been prescribed antipsychotic drugs, and the arc of his life would have been a very different one. […]

Bruce E. Levine, Resisting Illegitimate Authority: A Thinking Person’s Guide to Being an Anti-Authoritarian—Strategies, Tools, and Models (Kindle Locations 3280-3283, 950-963). AK Press Kindle Edition (2018)

Malcolm X’s confrontations with authorities and the story of the Nation of Islam church members who assassinated him are as informative as any of the religious, juridical or political entities who shortened the life of Peter McWilliams, author of Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do, the title taken from the classic song by Billie Holiday, herself a victim of 1930s Bureau of Narcotics chief Harry Anslinger.

Prohibition-biased politicians serve as lightning rods for prohibition. The legislator’s role emerges as a distraction concocted by a corporate media and aimed at gullible people. Separated from the therapeutic state, prohibitionists have no defense. They can’t rely on science and its vast amount of research that delegitimizes current drug war engagements. By definition, they won’t rely on cannabinoids or psychedelics for self-medication.

Given its pharmaceutical advertising revenue, the major news media is less likely to show up for the rescue. Meanwhile, Big Pharma exhibits no insistence for placing warning labels on its products alerting teenage consumers of threats to their freedom and that of the nation posed by legions of anti-democracy pills. Drug consumers shouldn’t lose hope and feel the need to relinquish their freedom, or die, to help a company’s stock go up, as some have done with opioids.

Provided with the correct information, and maybe some cannabis or magic mushrooms, patients and parents alike will be armed with options that set them and their teenage rebels free.

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