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Headlines: New York Democrats Overwhelmingly Support Legalization

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Headlines: New York Democrats Overwhelmingly Support Legalization

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New York Democrats overwhelmingly recognize marijuana prohibition is racist and three-quarters of them want the state to tax and regulate marijuana. The latest poll from Quinnipiac University shows that 63 percent of New Yorkers favor legalizing marijuana, with support from 75 percent of Democrats for the idea of increasing tax revenue for the state. 82 percent of Democrats agreed that black people are more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites, something only 28 percent of Republicans believe. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing a strong challenge from actor Cynthia Nixon. [NIXON CLIP: “I believe it is time for New York to follow the lead of eight other states and DC and legalize recreational marijuana.”] That may not be enough to tip Democratic New Yorkers in her favor, however, as the same poll showed that 79 percent of Democrats would vote for a candidate they agreed with on other issues even if that candidate did not agree with legalizing marijuana.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has been quite open about his desire to legalize marijuana, but somewhat dodgy about his own marijuana use. On Wednesday at a news conference, Murphy responded to a reporter’s question about his past, present, and future marijuana use by saying, “I’ve never been a marijuana guy – this is for social justice.” When the reporter tried to clarify whether “never been” could mean “might now” or “will in the future,” Murphy did not answer and left the room. Then Thursday, Murphy again demurred on the question of whether he’d use legalized pot, saying, “We’ll deal with that some other time.” Finally, on Twitter, Murphy released a statement reading, “Here’s the deal: I’ve tried marijuana literally once or twice many years ago, and I don’t have any desire to partake again.”

Lawmakers in Vermont are already looking to add a system of taxed-and-regulated sales to the non-commercial marijuana legalization law they passed last year. The pressures of the opioid overdose crisis plaguing the Northeast has Progressive Rep. Diana Gonzalez looking at marijuana as a revenue source. [GONZALEZ CLIP: “If we had a tax-and-regulate system for marijuana, then we could have some funds to address, in terms of prevention and treatment, in ways that we know that we need.”] Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman says that once legal possession and home grow passed, Republicans he spoke with began to warm to retail sales. [ZUCKERMAN CLIP: “And quite a few said, ‘now that it’s legal, I think tax-and-regulate’s a better model.’”] Republican Rep. Janssen Willhoit will be pushing his bill to legalize sales. [WILLHOIT CLIP: “I would want something that actually is regulated, so that way people know what they’re buying, and they’re safe when they can buy it.”]

Legalization of cannabis in Canada has hit a snag as three Senate committees issued reports calling for a delay beyond the proposed July 1, 2018, implementation date. The Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to ban home grow, reduce possession limits, and increase penalties on illegal exports. The Committee on Aboriginal Peoples want to delay the implementation for a year to better study the impact on indigenous communities and expand their sovereign rights to set taxes and penalties. The Committee on National Security and Defence is warning of the problems Canadians would face at the international border when dealing with the United States Customs and Border Patrol. Prime Minister Trudeau did not comment specifically on the prospect of potential delays, suffice to say, “legalization is not an event, it’s a process.”

Associated Press is reporting that more employers are dropping marijuana from the drug testing requirements for new hires. Low unemployment and the need for skilled workers means many companies cannot fill their open positions if they continue to exclude qualified workers who consume marijuana on their own time. Courts in the west have sided with employers in lawsuits over off-duty medical marijuana use by employees, but recently, courts in three East Coast states have ruled for employees in such cases. The Society for Human Resource Management claims that 57 percent of companies surveyed still test applicants for marijuana use, but that is down from near 80 percent just a couple of decades ago. Much of the drop is attributable to legalization of marijuana in now nine states, but the shortage of qualified labor is causing companies in both medical and non-medical states to look the other way on marijuana as well.

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