USA: BIG WEED ROUNDUP!

We have been blessed to be able to share our message in the pages of newspapers and media outlets all across the country this year.
In New York, we have covered made our case loud and clear in numerous papers throughout the states:


In The Buffalo News,  we pointed out that the rush to legalize marijuana in New York is not going to benefit the state or be a “win” for social justice, it will only serve to enrich the Wall Street investors, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma:
“ Since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo flip-flopped on recreational marijuana the issue of legalization has gained an unfortunate air of inevitability. This perception has spurred Wall Street investors to dive in and brought cheers from pro-pot advocates who claim legal weed is a major step for social justice…
In the Daily Newswe addressed how New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was making a dangerous mistake by putting the interests of the marijuana industry over public health and safety:
“ Just last year, Gov. Cuomo stood on the side of public health when he stated he was against legalizing marijuana because “marijuana leads to other drugs and there’s a lot of proof that that’s true.” Now, in a sudden about-face, he is ignoring the state medical society and has officially called for the state legislature to legalize the drug. Given the high potency rates of today’s marijuana, Cuomo’s new position is dangerous for our state.


In LoHud,  we challenged Governor Cuomo’s assumption that legalization would be a windfall for the state in terms of tax revenue:
“ On his way out the door, California’s governor, a Democrat, stated plainly: “I have not counted on any revenue from marijuana. Who’s counting on the marijuana revenue? People said that to make it more plausible for voters.” What makes us think the New York experiment will be any different?

The General Law Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill to legalize the commercial sale of marijuana in the state on the same day that the New Jersey Senate was forced to cancel a scheduled vote on its bill to set up the marijuana industry there. In the Hartford Courant, we argued that Connecticut lawmakers should follow the example of other states and reject Big Marijuana:
“Legalizing marijuana would unleash the second coming of Big Tobacco – which is currently investing billions into Big Marijuana – by legitimizing an industry that markets highly potent, unregulated pot products. This will be like pouring gasoline on the fire that is the opioid epidemic. Connecticut lawmakers should defend public health, safety, and commonsense and kick the industry to the curb.”


In  The Hill, a prominent national media outlet focusing on federal policy, our Director of Local Affairs and Executive Director of High Means DUI, Dana Stevens,  pushed back on dangerous, pro-pot comments made by California Senator Kamala Harris:
“California senator and 2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris admitted during her recent appearance on “The Breakfast Club” radio show that she smoked pot in college. In an apparent effort to seem ‘cool’ for the hosts and audience, and making references to popular rap music, she went on to say, “I think it [marijuana] gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy in the world.” Few would criticize Harris for smoking a joint in college, but her clear misunderstanding about the differences between today’s high-potency, commercialized marijuana and her college joint, are alarming. It demonstrates just how effective ‘Big Marijuana’ lobbyists have been at convincing politicians that legalizing weed is no big deal.”


Additionally, after SAM testified against the so-called SAFE Act, a bill that would grant the marijuana industry access to the federal banking system, we  shared a piece detailing a comprehensive argument against the bill:
“Over the past week, many have discussed the recent congressional hearing for the so-called SAFE Act, a bill that supporters say would grant the marijuana industry access to the federal banking system. In reality, this bill should be renamed the UN-SAFE Act.
Let me explain why…”



In Illinois, where newly-elected governor JB Pritzker has made legalization a key part of his policy platform, we are actively ramping up our activity and getting our message out.

In the  Journal Star , we announced the beginning of our efforts in the state to oppose marijuana legalization and discuss the efforts our grassroots coalition was undertaking to push back against the promoters of the marijuana industry:
“As Gov. JB Pritzker charges ahead in his push for legalized recreational marijuana, a growing coalition of Illinois citizens, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, and parents are telling lawmakers to slow down and look at the facts before we recklessly approve recreational pot in our state.”
In the  Rock Island Dispatch Argus, SAM Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor,
Luke Niforatos,  detailed his experiences from living in Colorado when the state voted to legalize:
“Calling Denver home when Big Marijuana first moved in, I experienced all of the problems firsthand that came with legalization. It was hard to walk my young daughter in her stroller without her being covered by secondhand smoke and the smell of weed in the air. But what do you expect when in cities like Denver, there are more pot shops than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined?”
When a bill to export pot out of Oregon was introduced, we  addressed how this would be illegal as the federal government regulates interstate commerce. Additionally, Oregon’s marijuana is famously unregulated and the state itself admitted that it could not verify its marijuana was safe for human consumption:
“Oregon has a massive problem on its hands. That problem is the more than 1 million pounds of pot that was grown in the state that has gone unsold through legal channels. So, what do pro-pot industry lawmakers in the state want to do about their glaring overproduction problem? They want to engage in state-sponsored trafficking of pot.”
A bill to legalize marijuana cleared a committee in the  New Hampshire General Assembly recently. Although its prospects are dim, we still placed an oped in the Nashua Telegraph outlining why New Hampshire lawmakers should follow the example of New Jersey and kill the bill:
“At the end of last month, a bill to legalize marijuana passed a key committee in the New Hampshire House. While the bill certainly has an uphill climb, no lawmaker who truly has the interest of public health and safety would let this proposal see the light of day. To find out why, let’s take a look at how it has affected other states.”
In the Colorado Springs Gazette, SAM Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor Luke Niforatosdiscussed the serious health and safety risks associated with high potency marijuana concentrates and called on Colorado lawmakers to ban their sale and use:
“The research is very clear that concentrates are linked to psychosis, toxicity, addiction and many other public health hazards. They are also responsible for butane explosions that have claimed lives and destroyed homes. And, of course, more children are accessing these highly dangerous products, and that is not the future we want for Colorado families.”
In the largest paper in Hawaii,  we made the case that the argument for legalizing marijuana because of mass incarceration is a false argument:
“Promoters of Big Pot – an industry that markets gummies, candies and lollipops in kid-friendly, colorful labels that find their way into the hands of children – often claim the illegal status of marijuana keeps our prisons stocked with low-level, non-violent offenders. In reality, this is simply not true.”
In New Jersey, where we recently scored a huge win by forcing the State Senate to cancel a vote on the legalization bill, we have been a regular presence in the editorial pages of the Asbury Park Press :

NJ-RAMP Advisor Ijeoma Oparaparticipated in a “Pro/Con” debate arguingthat the proposed social justice arguments in favor of legalization can only truly be accomplished by supporting Senator Ron Rice’s decriminalization and expungement bill.
“ It seems like every day there is a new twist in the long odyssey to legalize marijuana in New Jersey. One of the most widely used arguments centers on the issue of social justice. And while it is true that drug laws have disproportionately fallen on people of color, marijuana legalization is the wrong remedy.
Additionally, Stephen Reid, who serves as the Executive Director of NJ-RAMP, argued in the paper that the promised windfall being used by Governor Murphy as a selling point for legalization in the state  will fail to materialize:
“ In his State of the State address last week and in many other instances, Murphy has repeatedly stated that social justice is the main driver of his push for legalization. But the reality is the governor is really after the tax revenue that supporters of legalization like to talk so much about. If the true purpose for legalization was about social justice, surely the current sticking point over the rate at which the state should tax the substance wouldn’t exist.
Finally, in the days leading up to the vote, SAM president Dr. Kevin Sabet and NJ-RAMP Executive Director Stephen Reidargued that marijuana legalization is not the way forward for the state:
“ The pot industry is longing to become the next Big Tobacco and will do everything in its power to decrease regulations and maximize its own profits - at the expense of public health and safety. Lawmakers need only to look at the alarming example of other states to see why marijuana legalization is the wrong path for New Jersey.

Please take a moment to read through these op-eds and let me know what you think. If you would like to help us continue to get the message out and keep holding the marijuana industry accountable,  chip-in with a donation by clicking here .
Thanks for all you do,
Best,
Kevin Sabet
President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana 

 

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