By Tom Angell for Mass Roots – S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is indicating that he might keep Obama-era marijuana enforcement guidelines in place, perhaps with some modifications. “The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,” he said in a question-and-answer session with reporters on Wednesday following a speech in Richmond, Virginia. That memo, adopted in 2013, lays out guidelines for how states can avoid federal interference with their marijuana laws.
By Tony Newman for AlterNet – Attorney General Jeff Sessions became the second member of the Trump administration in less than a week to provide “alternative facts” and backward analysis when it comes to marijuana. Yesterday, in a meeting with reporters, Sessions spoke out against marijuana legalization and implied that it’s leading to more violence. “I’m dubious about marijuana. I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana sold at every corner grocery store.” “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think,” said Sessions. “You can’t sue somebody for a drug debt. The only way to get your money is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that.”
By Ryan J. Reilly and Matt Ferner for The Huffington Post – WASHINGTON ― Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday restated his opposition to marijuana use and offered an ominous warning about state-level marijuana legalization efforts, suggesting that such policies would open states to “violence,” as well as potential repercussions from the federal government. “I don’t think America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot,” Sessions said to reporters Monday at the Department of Justice. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that.” Sessions said he had a meeting on Monday with the attorney general of Nebraska, who is very concerned about marijuana flowing in from Colorado, which legalized weed in 2012. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved,” he said.
By Stephanie Akin for Roll Call – Lawmakers looking to draw attention to pet issues have formed groups in favor of everything from auto care to zoos. Now, there’s a caucus for cannabis. Rep. Earl Bluemenauer said the move — to be announced at a press conference Thursday — is a sign of how mainstream the drive for marijuana legalization has become. “This is happening all across the country, and its going to continue,” said the Oregon Democrat, an advocate for legalized marijuana since the 1970s. “The industry is growing, as is public acceptance and demand for medical marijuana.” Blumenauer is one of the caucus’s founding members, along with California Republican Dana Rohrabacher, Colorado Democrat Jared Polis and Alaska Republican Don Young.
By Reid Wilson for the Hill. Residents and visitors to the two states at the vanguard of the marijuana legalization movement spent about $1 billion on pot and pot products last year, according to state data. Marijuana producers and retailers in Colorado generated more than $1.3 billion in revenue in 2016, the state Department of Revenue said Thursday. In Washington, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board said retailers have sold $984 million in pot products during fiscal year 2017 — which does not end until June. Voters in four states — California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine — opted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November’s elections. They join Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, where ballot measures passed in 2014. Several state legislatures, including New Jersey, Vermont and Rhode Island, are expected to debate legalization measures in their current sessions. The legal marijuana industry generated almost $7 billion in sales in 2016, according to Arcview Market Research, which keeps tabs on the industry. Arcview expects more than $21 billion in revenue by 2021.
By Mike Crawford for Alternet. With marijuana having been legalized through the ballot in Massachusetts, and with it now being legal to grow 12 cannabis plants in a household, one might expect to see any existing small time marijuana grow cases to be dismissed.At the same time, state Sen Jason Lewis, considered the leading expert on weed among Beacon Hill lawmakers who themselves know little to nothing, is aiming to severely cut the cannabis possession limit from 10 ounces at home to 2 ounces, as well as limit for home grown plants from 12 to 6. Ironically, Lewis and others have shown superficial support for criminal justice reform—all while lining up to kill and compromise marijuana legalization, one of the clearest wins for criminal justice reformers in recent Mass memory. There is, of course, a choice. Instead of gutting the reform, Lewis should consider joining his colleague Jamie Eldridge in developing an amnesty bill that would dismiss charges, free prisoners, and seal criminal records related to marijuana. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.
By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. A total of 26 protesters were arrested today in opposition to Jeff Sessions, including members of Refuse Fascism, the NAACP, Democracy Spring, Code Pink, and Howard University, according to Refuse Fascism. The group is calling for millions to pour into the streets of DC to prevent Trump and Pence from assuming power. The protests began even before confirmation hearings officially began. Two CODE PINK members dressed in KKK costumes stood up before the hearing was gaveled to express their support for Sessions. They praised “Jefferson Beauregard” and as they were taken from the room they yelled mockingly “you can’t arrest me, I am white!” and “white people own this government.” In the hall as they were being detained they explained that Sessions history on racism, immigration, LGBTQ rights and sexism made him inappropriate to serve as attorney general.
By Staff of ABC – New figures put North America’s legal marijuana “green rush” above the dot-com boom of the early 2000s in terms of industry growth, according to Forbes. North America’s legal marijuana market posted $US9.3 billion ($12 billion) in revenue in 2016 — a 30 per cent increase on 2015 — according to a report by ArcView Market Research, a leading cannabis research publisher. The report said the industry could post sales topping $US20.2 billion ($27.9 billion) by 2021, assuming a compound annual growth rate of 25 per cent. The magazine reported GDP grew at 22 per cent during the dot-com boom, which saw dial-up internet replaced by broadband.
By Nina Golgowski for The Huffington Post – No matter where you stand on Donald Trump’s impending presidency, pot activists promise his inauguration will be a “smokin’ fun time.” A cannabis coalition from Washington, D.C., said it will hand out 4,200 marijuana joints for free to the public, as the group marches toward the National Mall on Jan. 20. It’s legal to give away marijuana as a gift in D.C., but it’s against the law to sell it or smoke it in public. But that last part’s not stopping DC Marijuana Justice’s plans to publicly light up four minutes and 20 seconds into Trump’s speech.
By Tom Angell for Marijuana – The nation’s largest military veterans organization is pushing President-elect Donald Trump to reschedule marijuana after he takes office early next year. Top officials from the American Legion, which passed a resolution endorsing the reclassification of cannabis under federal law earlier this year, sat down with Trump’s transition team last week to discuss key priorities for the more than 2 million military veterans the organization represents, including marijuana policy reform. The group “initiated a call-to-action on fairly new Legion priorities…
By Phillip Smith for AlterNet – Four states, including California, the nation’s most populous, voted to legalize marijuana on November 8. That doubles the number of legal states to eight, and more than quadruples the number of people living in legal marijuana states, bringing the number to something around 64 million. Every one of those states legalized marijuana through the initiative process, but we’re not going to see anymore initiatives on state ballots until 2018, and perhaps 2020. That means that if we are to make more progress on spreading marijuana legalization in the next couple of years, it’s going to have to come at the state house instead of the ballot box.
By Beau Kilmer for USA Today – As of last week, voters in California and seven other states have passed ballot initiatives to allow for-profit companies to produce, distribute and sell non-medical marijuana. With more than 65 million peopleliving in states that have passed marijuana legalization, and a Gallup poll showing that 60% of the country supports legalizing marijuana use, national legalization may seem inevitable. As goes California, so goes the nation, right? Not necessarily. Consider what happened with medical marijuana. California was the first state to allow medical marijuana, starting nearly 20 years ago.
By Phillip Smith for AlterNet – The election of Donald Trump is sending chills down the spine of the nation’s nascent marijuana industry. Could he and a Republican Congress try to roll back the clock and force federal pot prohibition down the throats of states that have, via the popular vote, gone down the path toward legalization? Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and Trump and the Congress could, in theory, try to put the genie back in the bottle.
By Liz Essley Whyte for the Center for Public Integrity. Despite massive losses for Democrats in races from the White House to governors’ offices Tuesday, those on the left celebrated some significant victories with state ballot measures. From marijuana to minimum wage to gun control laws, they won many key initiatives among the 162 statewide measures — part of a concerted plan put in motion more than a year ago to circumvent Republican-led legislatures and take policy questions directly to voters. Progressive advocates appeared to lose major healthcare initiatives in California and Colorado, however. The Center for Public Integrity tracked how those fighting over these measures shaped their messages with TV ads, typically an expensive yet far-reaching endeavor. Media tracker Kantar Media/CMAG estimates that more than $384 million was spent through Monday just to air TV ads about such measures this election.
By Alan Pyke for Think Progress. It turns out pot is a stronger economic driver than 90 percent of the industries active in Colorado. Legal weed created 18,005 full-time jobs and added about $2.4 billion to the state’s economy last year, an analysis from the Marijuana Policy Group (MPG)shows. Between the dollars that customers spend and the money businesspeople invest in their crops and shops, pot is generating more wealth and activity than almost anything else on a pound-for-pound basis. Every dollar spent in the industry generates between $2.13 and $2.40 in economic activity. Only federal government spending has a higher multiplier. Normally a business boom redounds immense benefits to people far outside of its immediate influence, as the money generated in one set of activities gets recirculated into others through consumer spending and business investment. But federal prohibition puts undue friction on that cycle, preventing it from reaching its full potential to create jobs and generate new opportunities.