Saturday, March 17, 2018

Marijuana Legalization And The 2018 Congressional Elections


Goal ThermometerAs you may know, Blue America has been working with the Greenwave PAC to help candidates campaigning on marijuana legalization with ads like the one above-- and the one below. Progressive candidates campaigning on legalization can be found-- and supported-- by clicking on the Blue America Green Wave thermometer on the right. NORML is also working hard for candidates including legalization in their platforms. This week they released an awesome Marijuana Law Reform Candidate Packet. The packet encourages candidates to consider adding the issue to their platforms by providing them with important scientific research and statistics related to the legalization of marijuana for both adult and medicinal use and deals with these 7 points:

●  Sixty-four percent of Americans support legalization; including outright majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans (Gallup, 2017).

●  Seventy-six percent of Americans oppose federal intervention in state-lawful marijuana programs (Survey USA, 2017).

●  Ninety-four percent of Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana (Quinnipiac, 2017).

●  Twenty-two percent of Veterans consume marijuana to alleviate symptoms of a physical or mental ailment (American Legion, 2017).
Sample text for policy platform
The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant's medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. It is time for federal lawmakers to acknowledge this reality. As your voice in Congress, I will support the descheduling of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Once marijuana is federally descheduled similarly to alcohol, states will possess the autonomy to set their own cannabis regulatory policies, free from federal interference.
Suggested stump speech paragraph
A crucial component to reforming our nation’s criminal justice system is the reform of America’s marijuana laws. Over 600,000 Americans are arrested every year for minor marijuana possession offenses. These individuals, overwhelmingly young people and individuals of color, are often saddled with a lifelong criminal record as well as the stigma and lost opportunities associated with it-- such as the loss of student financial aid or employment. We should not be squandering precious law enforcement and judicial resources to target these otherwise law-abiding citizens.

By continuing to criminally prohibit the use, production, and sale of marijuana, we are ceding control to the black market. Doing so denies states’ crucial tax revenue that could fund important social services, and leaves marijuana production and distribution in the control of unregulated dealers who have no incentive to keep it out of the hands of our youth. If our 13-year experiment with alcohol prohibition in this country is deemed a failure, then how else can anyone define the 80-year long prohibition on marijuana? It is time to end this failed and morally bankrupt policy, remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act where it is currently considered on par with dangerous substances such as heroin, and allow states to set their own policies on this issue.

The majority of the American people agree that it is time to legalize and regulate marijuana, and it is time our state and federal laws reflect that reality.
Key points on the benefits of marijuana legalization

●  The legal market for adult and medical use of marijuana accounted for 149,304 jobs in 2017, a 22 percent increase since 2016. Equating to 26,490 new jobs added over a 12 month period.

●  In 2016, Colorado alone generated over $1.4 billion in combined recreational and medical marijuana sales. This accounted for nearly $200 million in tax and fees revenue, which was mostly designated for new school construction projects in the state. The state is expected to exceed $225 million in tax and fees revenue for 2017.
●  Oregon collected a total of $108.6 million in state and local taxes between Jan. 4, 2016, and Aug. 31, 2017. That revenue was divided between multiple agencies and programs: the state school fund receives 40 percent, or $34 million; mental health, alcoholism and drug services receive 20 percent, or $17 million; Oregon State Police receive 15 percent, or $12.75 million, and the Oregon Health Authority receives five percent, or $4.25 million.
●  Nevada generated $3.8 million in tax and fee revenue in just the first month of legal recreational marijuana sales.

●  Legal cannabis markets are estimated to reach sales of $24.5 billion by 2021.

Social and Racial Justice

 ●  Even with a growing number of states reforming their marijuana laws, over 650,000 individuals nationwide were charged for marijuana related offenses in 2016.

 ●  Despite similar use rates to their white counterparts, African Americans are more 
than four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses nationwide.

 ●  After legalization, Colorado experienced nearly a 50 percent decline in the number of traffic searches of black drivers and Washington State experienced a 33 percent decline.
Key points on the benefits of medical marijuana
Marijuana has been part of humanity's medicine cabinet for almost as long as history has been recorded.
Of all the negative consequences of marijuana prohibition, few are as tragic as the denial of medicinal cannabis to the tens of thousands of patients who could benefit from its therapeutic use.
Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia have implemented a medical cannabis program and an additional 16 states have enacted more limited medical cannabis laws for access to CBD to treat qualifying conditions such as intractable epilepsy.

Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief-- particularly of neuropathic pain (pain from nerve damage)-- nausea, spasticity, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically for patients suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia. Emerging research suggests that marijuana's medicinal properties are neuroprotective and may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors.

Changes in the legal status of marijuana at the state level have not negatively impacted workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that the legalization of medical marijuana access is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

Currently, more than sixty U.S. and international health organizations support granting patients immediate legal access to medicinal marijuana under a physician's supervision.
Data dispelling the common myths around cannabis
Despite what opponents of marijuana legalization claim, the legalization and regulation of marijuana for medical or recreational use is NOT associated with an increase in automobile accidents, traffic fatalities, youth use rates, crime, or workplace injuries.

Drugged Driving

●  Fatal traffic accident rates in legal marijuana states are no different than those in states where cannabis remains illegal.

●  "We (the state of Colorado) have not experienced any significant issue as a 
result of legalization. ... We have actually seen an overall decrease in DUI's since legalization. So, the short answer is: There has been no increase since the legalization of marijuana here."

Youth Use

●  "For adults and adolescents [in Colorado], past-month marijuana use has not 
changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the 
frequency of use among users. Based on the most comprehensive data 
available, past month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly 
identical to the national average."


 ●  "There is evidence in this table that the legalization of recreational cannabis enacted in Washington caused a decrease in crime rates. The point estimates for rape, assault, robbery, burglary and theft are all negative. This conclusion is reinforced by the statistical significance of the drop in rapes and thefts. ... Our estimates reveal that the legalization decreased... both ordinary alcohol and binge alcohol... These effects on consumption suggest that one of the mechanisms underlying the reduction in crime may be a substitution away from other drugs ... such as alcohol, which makes consumers more aggressive than if consuming cannabis."

●  "[T]he introduction of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) leads to a decrease in violent crime in states that border Mexico. The reduction in crime is strongest for counties close to the border (less than 350 kilometres) and for crimes that relate to drug trafficking. In addition, we find that MMLs in inland states lead to a reduction in crime in the nearest border state. Our results are consistent with the theory that decriminalization of the production and distribution of marijuana leads to a reduction in violent crime in markets that are traditionally controlled by Mexican drug trafficking organizations."

Impact on the Workplace

●  "There is no or insufficient evidence to support ... a statistical association between cannabis use and ... occupational accidents or injuries."
●  Employees who test positive for marijuana in workplace drug tests are no more likely to be involved in occupational accidents as compared to those who test negative. "This study fell short of finding an association between marijuana use and involvement of workplace accidents... This study cannot be taken as 
definitive evidence of absence of an association between marijuana and work 
related accidents but the findings are compelling."

●  "Utilizing the Current Population Survey, the study identifies that absences due to sickness decline following the legalization of medical marijuana... The results of this paper therefore suggest that medical marijuana legalization would decrease costs for employers as it has reduced self-reported absence from work due to illness/medical issues."
●  The enactment of medical marijuana laws is associated with a "9.4 percent increase in the probability of employment and a 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent increase in hours worked per week" among those over the age of 50. "Medical marijuana law implementation leads to increases in labor supply among older 
adult men and women."
●  Marijuana decriminalization is associated with increased probability of employment, particularly for young males, and an average increase of 4.5 percent in weekly earnings. African American males experienced the greatest average wage increase. "This data provides suggestive evidence that marijuana decriminalization laws improve extrinsic labor market outcomes... This result is consistent with existing literature that suggests black adults, especially men, stand to benefit the most from removing these penalties."
How marijuana can be used to combat the opioid crisis
With our nation in the midst of a serious opioid crisis, recent research has revealed that access to marijuana is one proven strategy for helping curb the harms caused by opioid abuse.

Cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid- related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, opioid-related drug treatment admissions, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

Below are excerpts of important medical research highlighting these effects:
● “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

● “We used an interrupted time-series design (2000-2015) to compare changes in level and slope of monthly opioid-related deaths before and after Colorado stores began selling recreational cannabis. ... Colorado's legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado."

● Compared to non-users, medical cannabis enrollees "were more likely either to reduce daily opioid prescription dosages between the beginning and end of the sample period (83.8 percent versus 44.8 percent) or to cease filling opioid prescriptions altogether (40.5 percent versus 3.4 percent)." Enrollees were also more likely to report an improved quality of life. "The clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life warrants further investigations on cannabis as a potential alternative to prescription opioids for treating chronic pain."

● "Medical marijuana policies were significantly associated with reduced opioid pain reliever-related hospitalizations but had no associations with marijuana-related hospitalizations. ... Medical marijuana legalization was associated with 23% (p=0.008) and 13% (p=0.025) reductions in hospitalizations related to opioid dependence or abuse and OPR overdose, respectively; lagged effects were observed after policy implementation."

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At 11:02 AM, Blogger Thomas Ten Bears said...

Oregon's experience: you want the highest voter participation ever, put marijuana on the ballot. It's that simple.

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TTB, but that's Oregon (also WA, CA, CO..).

MJ may be a minor issue in red states. But as the Rs and their Nazi electorate always prove, they are manipulated by limbic issues over any and all altruism issues.

If it looks like pot might make an election closer, the Nazis always trot out abortion, guns, gays and god. That gets their idiots back into line every single time.

DWT would have us believe the nonsense that pot can make a red election purple. It's almost never the case. The only reason things are tilting blue is the anti-red influence of the trump stink.


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