Category Archives: marijuana lobbying

Marijuana is not a schedule 1 drug; Step by step politicians acknowledge public opinion and the waste of taxpayer money policing this.

Admin; It is interesting to watch the consistent public opinion overcome decades of marijuana policing policy.

Nutter Agrees To Sign Bill Softening Marijuana Laws in Philadelphia

September 8, 2014 3:57 PM

(Mayor Nutter speaks with reporters outside his City Hall office.  Photo by Mike Dunn)

(Mayor Nutter speaks with reporters outside his City Hall office. Photo by Mike Dunn)

Mike DunnMike Dunn

Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers…

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Nutter today agreed to sign into law a bill that essentially decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana.   But he says he’ll sign it only after City Council tweaks certain details of the measure.

The original bill, authored by councilman Jim Kenney, would have police issuing citations akin to a parking ticket for possession of one ounce of pot or less.

The Nutter administration and police officials had reservations about that approach.   Now, Kenney and the mayor have reached agreement on a compromise: the infraction would result in what’s called a “non-summary civil offense.”

“We’ve gotten to a place where it is out of the criminal realm,” Kenney said today.  “There’s no more handcuffs, no more bookings, no more criminal record.  Police will not have to leave their posts and go to the station house to deal with this.  People will pay a fine based on the offense: $25 for the possession of anything under an ounce.” Continue reading

Lobbying to keep marijuana on the prohibition list.

Admin. It is good to know who really finances the opposition to legalizing marijuana .  It is heartening to see what voter inspired amendments in Washington and Colorado states has overcome. This means that you as a voter needs to get with  like minded people to show elected politicians that your own state needs grass roots amendments to overcome the opposing special interests groups.

The Top Five Special Interest Groups Lobbying To Keep Marijuana Illegal

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POSTED AT 9:04 AM BY LEE FANG

Last year, over 850,000 people in America were arrested for marijuana-related crimes. Despitepublic opinion, the medical community, andhuman rights experts all moving in favor of relaxing marijuana prohibition laws, little has changed in terms of policy.

There have been many great books and articles detailing the history of the drug war. Part of America’s fixation with keeping the leafy green plant illegal is rooted in cultural and political clashes from the past.

However, we at Republic Report think it’s worth showing that there are entrenched interest groups that are spending large sums of money to keep our broken drug laws on the books:

1.) Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbyingdisclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.

2.) Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.

3.) Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.

4.) Pharmaceutical Corporations: Like the sin industries listed above, pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”

5.) Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”

– See more at: http://www.republicreport.org/2012/marijuana-lobby-illegal/#sthash.yXYYppeP.dpuf

Exclusive: Why Can’t You Smoke Pot? Because Lobbyists Are Getting Rich Off of the War on Drugs

Police association lobbyist John Lovell

POSTED AT 11:00 AM BY LEE FANG

John Lovell is a lobbyist who makes a lot of money from making sure you can’t smoke a joint. That’s his job. He’s a lobbyist for the police associations in Sacramento, and he is a driving force behind grabbing Federal dollars to shut down the California marijuana industry. I’ll get to the evidence on this important story in a bit, but first, some context.

At some point in the distant past, the war on drugs might have been popular. But not anymore — the polling is clear, but beyond that, the last three Presidents have used illegal drugs. So why do we still put hundreds of thousands of people in steel cages for pot-related offenses? Well, there are many reasons, but one of them is, of course, money in politics. Corruption. Whatever you want to call it, it’s why you can’t smoke a joint without committing a crime, though of course you can ingest any number of pills or drinks completely within the law.

Some of the groups who want to keep the drug illegal are police associations that want more members to pay more dues. One of the primary sources for cash for more policing activities are Federal grants for penalizing illegal drug use, which help pay for overtime, additional police officers, and equipment for the force. That’s what Lovell does, he gets those grants. He also fights against democratic mechanisms to legalize drugs.

In 2010, California considered Prop 19, a measure to legalize marijuana and tax it as alcohol. The proposition gained more votes than Meg Whitman, the former eBay executive and Republican gubernatorial nominee that year, but failed to pass. Opponents of the initiative ran ads, organized rallies, and spread conspiracy theories about billionaire George Soros to confuse voters.

Lovell managed the opposition campaign against Prop 19. He told Time Magazine that he was pushing against the initiative because, “the last thing we need is yet another mind-altering substance to be legalized.”

But Republic Report reviewed lobbying contracts during the Prop 19 fight, and found that Lovell’s firm was paid over$386,350 from a wide array of police associations, including the California Police Chiefs Association.

While Lovell may contend that he sincerely opposes the idea of marijuana legalization, he has constructed an entire business model predicated on pot prohibition.

Shortly after President Obama’s stimulus program passed, Lovell went to work channeling the taxpayer money for California into drug war programs. According to documents Republic Report obtained from the Police Chiefs Association, Lovell helped local departments apply for drug war money from the Federal government. Here’s a copy of one letter sent to a police department in Lassen County, California:

There is big money in marijuana prohibition. Lovell represented a police association in a bid to steer some $2.2 million dollars into a “Marijuana Suppression Program.” In 2009 and 2010, California police associations sought a $7,537,389 chunk of Federal money for police to conduct a “Campaign Against Marijuana Planting” program.

The anti-marijuana money went directly into the paychecks of many officers. For example, police departments in Shasta, Siskiyou, and Tehama Counties formed a “North California Eradication Team” to receive $550,000 in grants that helped pay for overtime, a new officer, and flight operations:

The total amount awarded was $550,000, to be split between Shasta, Siskiyou and Tehama counties, which make up the Northern California Marijuana Eradication Team (NorCal-MET). Broken down in the agenda worksheet, the sheriff’s office is expecting to spend $20,000 on flight operations, $94,895 for the full-time deputy’s salary and benefits, $16,788 for the administration assistant salary and benefits and $29,983 to cover up to 666.29 hours of overtime.

The Federal anti-marijuana honeypot might have dried up if Prop 19 had passed. Legalizing marijuana would have generated billions in tax revenue for the state of California, while also reducing victimless crime prosecutions. But for lobbyists like Lovell, legalization was a direct assault on hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential fees for helping to solicit taxpayer money for his clients.

Police associations also contributed about $100,500 to a campaign account used to coordinate opposition to Prop 19. Of the $386,350 in fees paid by police associations to Lovell through 2009 and 2010, status update reports reviewed by Republic Report reveal that Lovell worked on a number of issues, from advocacy against Prop 19 to channeling grants and monitoring legislation.

Of course, police associations aren’t the only interest group with a stake in maintaining broken drug laws. The beer industry,alcohol corporations, and prison guard interests also contributed money to help Lovell stop Prop 19. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now helps push for legalization as a citizen advocate, told Republic Report that drug company lobbyists also fight to keep marijuana illegal because they view pot as a low-cost form of competition.

– See more at: http://www.republicreport.org/2012/exclusive-why-cant-you-smoke-pot-because-lobbyists-are-getting-rich-off-of-the-war-on-drugs/#sthash.5lYY3TFt.dpuf

Politician forgets the intent of medical marijuana in his fervor to acquire more spendable tax revenue.

LOCAL NEWS

Colorado lawmaker seeks marijuana tax review amid disappointing sales

By John Ingold
The Denver Post

POSTED:   08/12/2014 02:47:14 PM MDT337 COMMENTS| UPDATED:   A DAY AGO

Representative Dan Pabon, center, (D) Denver.

Representative Dan Pabon, center, (D) Denver. (Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)

Colorado’s tax collections from recreational marijuana sales in the past fiscal year came in more than 60 percent below early predictions, and now a state lawmaker says it may be time to reconsider the tax formula.

State Rep. Dan Pabon, who is leading a special legislative committee on marijuana revenue, said the medical-marijuana system also may come under scrutiny.

“There’s some real impact that the medical marijuana market is having on the recreational marijuana market,” said Pabon, D-Denver. “I think it’s worth looking at the taxation on the recreational side but also looking at the rules and regulations on the medical side.”

Tuesday marked the first meeting of the committee, which is studying how Colorado spends its marijuana tax money.

Marijuana at a medical marijuana center in Denver,  Colorado in February 2014.

Marijuana at a medical marijuana center in Denver, Colorado in February 2014. (Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file photo)

The first item of business: Why is there so much less of it than predicted?

When Colorado voters approved special taxes on recreational marijuana in November, the official fiscal analysis estimated the taxes would bring in a combined $33.5 million through that fiscal year, which ended this summer. Budgeters for Gov. John Hickenlooper had similarly optimistic projections.

But the actual number came in at just more than $12 million.

A market study for the Colorado Department of Revenue says the lower-taxed medical-marijuana market, which continues to outpace the recreational market in sales, is to blame.

Rather than pulling consumers out of the medical-marijuana market, the recreational market largely has feasted on tourists and people who previously bought pot on the black market.

“I think our original assumption about the cannibalization was wrong,” Colorado Legislative Council economist Larson Silbaugh said at Tuesday’s committee meeting.

The result, suggested David Blake of the Colorado attorney general’s office, is that the resilience of the medical-marijuana market “is being driven by avoidance of that tax.”

Dorinda Floyd, the chief financial officer for the Department of Revenue, said recreational sales continue to rise and eventually are expected to surpass medical sales “in the out years.”

Meanwhile, state economists have adjusted their predictions. A forecast in June significantlydialed back expectations for the current fiscal year — $30.6 million in special recreational marijuana taxes, compared with the roughly $100 million that Hickenlooper’s office had predicted this year.

A new forecast is due in September.

“While I think our forecasts are getting better,” Silbaugh said, “they’re still based on just six months of data.”

John Ingold: 303-954-1068, jingold@denverpost.com or twitter.com/johningold

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26323416/amid-disappointing-sales-colorado-lawmaker-seeks-marijuana-tax

Marijuana legalization challenged by well funded alcohol and beer lobbyists.

POLITICS

Marijuana Legalization: Pharmaceuticals, Alcohol Industry Among Biggest Opponents Of Legal Weed

By Philip Ross@ThisIsPRop.ross@ibtimes.com
on August 06 2014 5:54 PM

Opposition To Pot Reform = Big Money For Pharmaceuticals

Pancreatic cancer survivor Mellody Gannon smokes medicinal marijuana during the annual convention of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in San Francisco, California Sept. 25, 2009.REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Opponents of marijuana legalization argue that decriminalizing pot increases crime, creates juvenile delinquents and can even lead to more marijuana-related deaths. But there is another reason for the crusade against marijuana that involves some people losing lots of money as the country becomes increasingly pot friendly, according to a recent report from The Nation and astudy by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The biggest players in the anti-marijuana legalization movement are pharmaceutical, alcohol and beer companies, private prison corporations and police unions, all of whom help fund lobby groups that challenge marijuana law reform. In 2010, California Beer and Beverage Distributors funneled $10,000 to Public Safety First, a political action committee, or PAC, that led the opposition to California’s Prop 19. The initiative, if passed, would have legalized recreational marijuana in the state.

Corrections Corporations of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies in the U.S., has spent nearly $1 million a year on lobbying efforts. The company even stated in a report that “changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances … could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”

Among the largest donors to Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a New York City-based nonprofit that campaigns against teen drug and alcohol abuse, are Purdue Pharma, makers of the painkiller OxyContin, and Abbott Laboratories, which produces the opioid Vicodin. Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, or CADCA, a Virginia-based anti-drug organization, also receives donations from Purdue Pharma, as well as Janssen Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson that manufactures the painkiller Nucynta, according to The Nation.

The reason for opposing marijuana reform is simple: Legal weed hurts these companies’ bottom lines. “There is big money in marijuana prohibition,” the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit research group based in Washington, D.C., notes in a recent series on marijuana lobbying efforts, including who funds legislation to keep the drug illegal.

Part of the missions of groups like Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and CADCA is to lobby Congress to maintain marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning the U.S. government considers the drug as having a high potential for abuse, has no medical use and poses risks to public safety. Nevermind that more than 22,000 people die every year in the U.S. from overdoses involving pharmaceutical drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three out of every four pharmaceutical overdose deaths involve painkillers — more than heroin and cocaine combined.

“I think it’s hypocritical to remain silent with regard to the scheduling of hydrocodone products, while investing energy in maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I drug,” Andrew Kolodny, a New York psychiatrist and head of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told The Nation. “I don’t think it’s inappropriate for them to be advocating on marijuana, [but] when we have a severe epidemic in America — one the CDC says is the worst drug epidemic in US history — it makes you wonder whether or not they’ve been influenced by their funding.”

The idea is that drug companies want to sell expensive drugs by downplaying the medical benefits of marijuana, alcohol and beer manufacturers do not want to compete for customers with legal pot, and private prisons need to fill their beds with convicted drug offenders. That means marijuana advocates have some pretty large — and well-funded — enemies to contend with.

http://www.ibtimes.com/marijuana-legalization-pharmaceuticals-alcohol-industry-among-biggest-opponents-legal-weed-1651166

This article has insight into the overall hypocrisy of anti-marijuana arguments from people that have no problem smoking a cigarette or drinking alcohol.

The lonely lot of the anti-pot crusader


Pot legalization opponents find themselves outgunned as the anti-marijuana movement has little funding or staff, little momentum and, apparently, little audience. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

By Richard Leiby July 22

As pro-marijuana forces deployed their sidewalk soldiers to gather signatures to put pot legalization on the District’s November ballot, Aaron McCormick, a 47-year-old city native and father of three, watched with growing alarm.

Somebody must stop this scourge, he decided. But how?

McCormick says he knew of no group fighting the initiative, heard no opposition to it in his church and got no traction for his anti-weed views on his vibrant Twitter account, @blackmanhelping, where he opines on local affairs. McCormick, a construction project manager, considered challenging the ballot initiative himself, but he ultimately realized the futility of fighting an army of marijuana advocates.

Such is the lonely lot of today’s pot opponent. Parents like McCormick, once heroes of the just-say-no 1980s, find themselves outgunned: The anti-marijuana movement has little funding or staff, little momentum and, it appears, little audience.

Decriminalization went into effect last week in the District, setting a $25 penalty for possession of up to an ounce of weed. Earlier in July, pro-marijuana activists scored another victory, submitting 57,000 voter signatures, more than double the number required, to bring the ballot measure, which could add the District to the vanguard of legalization along with Colorado and Washington state.

The coverage of marijuana in PSAs, politics and pop culture has evolved quite a bit since the 1960s. See how the messages about pot have changed as much as the faces delivering them, from Sonny Bono to Barack Obama. (Gillian Brockell contributed to this video) (Kate M. Tobey/The Washington Post)

“I hope and pray that Congress will step in and shut it all down,” McCormick said, noting federal lawmakers’ penchant for trying to block marijuana initiatives in the District. “To me, we just came out of the crack epidemic and are still seeing its effects. Now we want to allow people to smoke marijuana 24-7?”

It would seem so. More than half of Americans support legalization,various polls show. The Pew Research Center has found that 48 percent have tried pot. Seventeen states plus the District have eliminated jail time for possession, and medical marijuana is now okay in nearly half of the United States (23 states plus the District).

“Interestingly, whenever we have a debate on TV, we hear the producer asking, ‘Who can we get to debate against marijuana?’ ” says Tony Newman, spokesman for the reformist Drug Policy Alliance.

The cable-show bookers’ “con” choices are indeed scant.

“It’s unbelievable what’s happened,” says Robert DuPont, a psychiatrist who was the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the 1970s. “You can’t find anybody to speak on the other side. . . . The leaders in both parties have completely abandoned the issue.”

DuPont, an addiction specialist, could hold his own in any debate about drugs. He and other experts point to research showing that 9 percent of marijuana users become addicted, a figure that rises to 16 percent when use begins in teen years. In various studies, weed also is linked to lower academic performance and mental illness and other health problems.

The marijuana normalization movement bats back such findings by citing the devastating results of alcohol and tobacco dependency and abuse, for example, and the palliative effects of marijuana as medicine. And they say the disproportionately higher rate of minorities’ arrests and incarceration for pot-related offenses have caused greater social harm — which became a major selling point for decriminalization in the District.

Backed by deep-pocketed funders, the legalizers deploy lobbyists, spokesmen and researchers from well-staffed organizations like the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). They even have their own business alliance: the National Cannabis Industry Association.

“These guys are in a full-court press coming at you from every angle,” says DuPont, 78, who runs the small, Rockville-basedInstitute for Behavior and Health. He sounds exasperated. “They have a bench 1,000 people deep. . . . We’ve got Kevin Sabet.”

Sabet, 35, first testified before the Senate against drug legalization when he was 17 and now runs an anti-pot-legalization group calledSmart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). Last year he made No. 1 on Rolling Stone’s “Legalization’s Biggest Enemies” list.

“Do we want a stoned America?” asks Sabet, who has served drug czars in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. “Is that where we want to go at a time when America’s place in the world, in terms of academic and economic competitiveness, is greatly threatened? Good luck.”

Based in Cambridge, Mass., Sabet says he commits “100-plus hours a week” to raising the alarm and has help from SAM affiliates in 27 states. People who still see grass as “a harmless giggle in our basement” are ignoring the “Wall Street sharks” hoping to profit from a nationwide cannabis industry as large and powerful as the booze or tobacco businesses, he says. Sabet predicts increases in buzzed driving and health problems.

But such arguments clearly have not stopped the other side’s momentum. “Woeful Kevin” is what Allen St. Pierre, NORML’s executive director, calls Sabet.

“I feel blessed by someone like Kevin,” St. Pierre says. “Since he has come on the scene we have prevailed, prevailed, prevailed. We could use 500 Kevins.”

The reversal of fortunes in the reefer battle is rooted in politics as much as anything. NORML was founded in 1970, when the counterculture ethos was in full flower, so to speak; millions of baby boomers experimented with drugs. The Nixon administration was decidedly anti-hippie, but by the time Jimmy Carter assumed the presidency, “decriminalization looked inevitable,” DuPont recalls.

In 1977, Carter said the punishment for marijuana possession“should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself” — a message still reinforced by legalization advocates today.

But in the mid-1970s, a potent counter-movement was already stirring across the land, a phenomenon tracked by Emily Dufton, who wrote her recent doctoral thesis at George Washington University on the remarkable shifts in American attitudes on marijuana in recent decades.

In the mid-1970s, middle-class parents, alarmed at finding stashes in fake Coke cans and hash pipes under mattresses, started banding together to talk about behavioral changes they saw in their weed-toking kids. In 1977, one Atlanta woman wrote to DuPont, then at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and invited him to meet with her group. At the time, he supported decriminalization, but he came away a staunch prohibitionist, convinced that heroin was not at the center of America’s drug woes — it affected relatively few users — but marijuana, which affected vastly more families.

The parent movement, embraced by the Reagan White House, eventually garnered enough strength to entirely change the debate. In just a few years, they transformed marijuana “from a seemingly benign middle-class drug into the most dangerous drug in the United States,” as Dufton put it.

But in the 1980s came a new scourge, crack cocaine, and marijuana became significantly less frightening to people than crack, she says.

The parents’ campaign did result in a major drop in teenage marijuana use from the 1980s to the dawn of the ’90s, research shows, but the campaign was ultimately doomed.

Professional organizations like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and D.A.R.E. siphoned funds away from the amateurs. The public grew weary of nonstop, sometimes hyperbolic anti-drug messages. (See: “This is your brain on drugs.”)

Promoting a message of compassion for the sick, medical marijuana advocates led the way in the 1990s to a more accepting public view toward recreational pot. The number of pro-pot groups began to surge.

“It’s our fault,” Sabet admits, but he cites one mitigating factor. “They have money and we don’t.”

Still, other forces explain why reform has caught on now, including supportive baby boomer voters; a lingering recession that dampened government revenue, making the taxation of marijuana tempting; and an overwhelming public view that alcohol prohibition was a “great failed experiment,” St. Pierre says. In addition, the Obama administration decided not to challenge legalization in Washington and Colorado and to allow banks to do business with legal marijuana sellers.

“This is like gay marriage,” St. Pierre argues. “Twenty years ago if you voted for it you were a loser; now 20 years later, if you vote against it you’re a loser.”

In the District, the legalizers are predicting success. Sabet’s group decided against challenging the signatures gathered for the ballot initiative: “We are picking our battles,” he says.

So where does that leave concerned residents like Aaron McCormick, who has 6- and 7-year old daughters and a 14-year-old son?

Even if pot is legal, he has told his teenager, think of career consequences: If you want a good job, you’re still going to have to pass a drug test. In the Navy, where McCormick served six years, regular drug testing was part of the drill.

“I have never smoked it,” he says. “My kids know that Daddy is definitely a hard-nosed person. I don’t give any slack on this marijuana issue. None. Zero.”

So, kids, some advice: You’d better just say no.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-lonely-lot-of-the-anti-pot-crusader/2014/07/22/7d0d490a-1036-11e4-8936-26932bcfd6ed_story.html

Richard Leiby is a senior writer in Post’s Style section. His previous assignments have included Pakistan Bureau Chief, and reporter, columnist and editor in Washington. He joined The Post in 1991.