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Washington’s Governor boasts that his state has the best marijuana in America. During an appearance as a panelist on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, Gov. Jay Inslee repeatedly worked references to his state into the conversation, earning some laughs as the host lampooned Inslee’s self-promotion. [INSLEE CLIP: “Well, as we talked about Starbucks, we talked about our great voter rights bill, we talked about our efforts to beat climate change, but for you, Bill, I can honestly say we’ve got the best weed in the United States of America.”]
Marijuana Moment breaks the news that Utah activists have gathered enough signatures to put medical marijuana on the ballot this November. Utah Patients Coalition succeeded in collecting over 113,000 signatures statewide and collecting a certain amount of those signatures from 26 to 29 of the state Senate districts, according state records available online. Official confirmation of the petition should be available by mid-May. Utah’s medical marijuana law would allow possession of up to two ounces of cannabis, but no home grow for patients unless they live outside a 100-mile radius halo of a licensed dispensary. A similar halo rule of just 25-miles in Arizona resulted in over 97 percent of the population living where no home growing of cannabis is allowed. Utah’s law would also strictly ban the smoking of marijuana.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is the latest Democrat to bring attention to the issue of drug law reform. [GILLIBRAND CLIP: “I just sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and I put a formal request that he sit down and listen to New Yorkers about how these harmful and dangerous policies have affected their lives.”] Gillibrand, often touted as a potential 2020 presidential candidate for the Democrats, emphasized the racial justice imperative in ending the drug war. [GILLIBRAND CLIP: “The reality is that my 14-year-old son, Theo, would likely be treated very differently than a Black or Latino peer if he was arrested for marijuana possession. And I think that is fundamentally shameful.”]
Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer delivered his Cannabis State of the Union message on 4/20 via Twitter. [BLUMENAUER CLIP: “We must fight to make sure the federal government protects the states’ progress. There’s no doubt in my mind that the next Congress will finish our efforts on cannabis reform.”] Blumenauer has sponsored or cosponsored numerous bills to protect states from federal interference, remove banking impediments, and fix cannabis business taxation. While the measures often have strong bipartisan support, they are held up at the committee level, something Blumenauer took note of. [BLUMENAUER CLIP: “If the Republican leadership would allow this to be fully debated on the floor now, it would happen even sooner.”] Blumenauer heads up the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and traces his marijuana reform bona fides back to his work as an Oregon legislator, ushering in the first state law to decriminalize marijuana in the United States back in 1973.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul appeared on the conservative SiriusXM Patriot channel to make the case for marijuana law reform. [PAUL CLIP: “So I’ve been for telling the federal government to stay out of the affairs of the states on this.”] Paul has cosponsored several bills in Congress to extricate the federal government from state marijuana laws, including measures to allow state-legal marijuana businesses to have regular access to banking services. [PAUL CLIP: “They pay million of dollars in sales taxes, but then they have to carry their money around in brown bags, because if a bank takes their money, the federal government will put the banker in jail.”]
While arrests are down in states that have legalized marijuana, prohibition continues to increase arrests totals in 21 states. Data prepared by Jon Gettman and provided to The Intercept found that the states of New Jersey and Arkansas saw about a thirty percent increase in marijuana arrests from 2014 to 2016, while Hawaii’s arrests increased by over half in that span. Nationwide, arrests fell from just over 700,000 in 2014 to about 650,000 in 2016.
Marijuana prohibitionist group Project SAM held a 4/20 press conference that featured former Congressman Patrick Kennedy comparing legalized marijuana to the opioid overdose crisis. [KENNEDY CLIP: “If everybody’s now looking at pharma and saying, ‘they got us into this mess…’ why would we at this stage in our lives, as a nation, say ‘well, let’s repeat that mistake,’ and instead of oxys, we’ll have… this new addictive drug, THC!”]