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Number 9, Number 9… Welcome to the Legalization Club, Vermonters!

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Number 9, Number 9… Welcome to the Legalization Club, Vermonters!

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NEWS: Vermont becomes the 9th state to legalize marijuana, first by legislature; DATA: NBC/WSJ Poll shows more Americans find sugar harmful than marijuana; RANT: The Future of the Radical Rants and The Marijuana Agenda.

Vermont is officially the ninth state to legalize marijuana, and the first to end cannabis prohibition through an act of lawmakers. “I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children,” Gov. Phil Scott (R) said in a statement accompanying a legalization bill he signed into law on Monday. Under the legislation’s provisions, people over 21 years of age will be allowed to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow as many as two mature and four immature cannabis plants. Commercial marijuana sales will not be allowed under the new law, which is set to take effect on July 1.

The legislative committee charged with developing regulations for the sale of recreational marijuana in Maine has voted to extend a moratorium on the adult-use market until mid-April. The moratorium that’s been in place since last year has had little practical effect on the marijuana law voters approved back in 2016. That’s because Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill last fall that would have established licensing standards for the purchase and sale of marijuana. Nevertheless, lawmakers on the Marijuana Implementation Committee voted Friday to extend the moratorium – which expires on Feb. 1 – to April 18. Without a moratorium on sales, some fear the public will be confused into thinking that it’s OK to proceed with retail business plans.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said he is skeptical about marijuana legalization but it willing to study it. In an interview with WNYC, de Blasio responded to the fact that New York City still had over 17,000 marijuana arrests last year, a number that was virtually the same as the year prior. [DE BLASIO CLIP: I think it’s reached a normal level in a sense for what we were trying to achieve. We said we would end arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The only way you get arrested if you have 25 grams or less of marijuana is if there’s something else going on.] De Blasio also suggested that the only way New York City could have fewer than 17,000 annual arrests is if people stopped smoking pot. [DE BLASIO CLIP: So, would I like to see the number go down? Sure, I’d like to see the number go down, but that would involve people not committing the original offense to begin with.]

Marijuana business owners are increasingly pouring their profits into lobbying lawmakers as they face a federal crackdown from the Trump administration. A USA TODAY survey found hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing from the cannabis industry into campaign finance accounts of both lawmakers and political action committees, with emphasis this year on Congressional Republicans who are trying to stop the Trump administration from targeting marijuana businesses. Combined, medical and recreational marijuana marketplaces across the country are worth a staggering $8 billion, and last year generated at least $2 billion in taxes, said Matt Karnes of cannabis data firm GreenWave Advisors. It’s no surprise those businesses want to protect what they’ve built, experts say. Democrats have typically been the largest recipients of marijuana campaign money in the past, but Republicans are now taking the lead in accepting those donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzed contributions at the request of USA TODAY. Experts say the recent shift is largely attributable to the belief by marijuana businesses that Republicans who support states’ rights are their best allies today.

The 24-year-old who’s surprised drug war observers by being appointed to a top position at the drug’s czar’s office “just didn’t show” up to work at the law firm he was fired from. While in college, late in 2014 or early in 2015, Taylor Weyeneth began working as a legal assistant at the New York firm O’Dwyer & Bernstien. In a résumé initially submitted to the government, Weyeneth said he worked at the firm until April 2016. When an FBI official called as part of a background check in January 2017, the firm said Weyeneth had left eight months earlier than the résumé indicated, O’Dwyer said. A Jan. 14 Washington Post story detailing Weyeneth’s rapid rise at the drug policy office, or ONDCP, prompted 10 Democratic senators on Wednesday to write President Trump. The lawmakers, including Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), expressed “extreme concern” about Weyeneth’s promotion and unfilled drug policy jobs.

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