August 20, 2018

Alibi Pierce, Author at MARIJUANA POLITICS - Page 2 of 3

Alibi writes weed news right here at Marijuana Politics, and infrequently updates The Stoner's Journal. You'll find him reviewing weird bands and editorializing here and there and from time to time.

Colorado’s 2015 Marijuana Tax Results: $135 Million, $35 Million Going to Schools

Marijuana Medicine Packaging

Last week we told you that San Francisco based marijuana investment firm The ArcView Group was projecting total 2015 marijuana sales in Colorado to break the billion dollar mark. Turns out they were off, but not by much. Yesterday Colorado released its official tax data and it shows that total sales in the first state to legalize recreational marijuana reached $996,184,788. The ArcView Group had based their projections on a weak retail December and on that they were totally off. December saw the highest sales of recreational weed since the first storefront opened its doors two years prior, and jumped to $11.2 million from $10.6 million in November (a more-than-20% month-to-month increase).

Total tax revenue for the 2015 calendar year came out to just over $135 million, with nearly a quarter of that, or $35 million, reserved specifically for school construction. USA Today reported a year ago that funds from that tax pool were already being used “to buy new roofs, boilers and security upgrades for public schools across the state.” Local communities like Pueblo are using local tax proceeds to fund college scholarships for their residents.

Last year the state hauled in $76 million on sales of $700 million, so the 2015 numbers reflect a significant increase year-to-year. As The Cannabist notes, this is due to a variety of growth factors:

Colorado’s 2015 marijuana tax and sales totals tell a story of implementation and growth. While the state’s pot shops sold more than $699 million of cannabis in 2014, they moved more than $996 million in 2015 — a year when more pot shops opened, more municipalities started allowing these businesses and more customers found their way into the regulated market. Year-over-year totals for taxes and license fees grew too, from $76 million in 2014 to $135 million in 2015.

While these numbers are impressive and are already making a huge positive impact on Colorado’s citizens, it’s important to remember that more money in the coffers is only one bright spot in a legalization movement that promises to reverse decades of discrimination, unjust policing, and mass incarceration.

Press release from the Marijuana Policy Project regarding Colorado’s marijuana revenue:

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Contact

Mason Tvert, Director of Communications

720-255-4340, mtvert@mpp.org

Colorado’s Regulated Marijuana System Generated More Than $135 Million in Revenue for the State in 2015, Including More Than $35 Million for School Construction Projects

The total revenue raised from January-December 2015 surpassed original projections and far exceeded the costs associated with regulating the system

DENVER — Colorado’s regulated marijuana system generated more than $135 million in revenue for the state in 2015, including more than $35 million for school construction projects, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

There were just under $588 million in adult-use marijuana sales in Colorado from January-December 2015, producing approximately $109.1 million in tax revenue in addition to $4.7 million in license and application fees. The state’s regulated medical marijuana system produced more than $11.4 million in tax revenue and $9.8 million in license and application fees.

In 2014, the state’s regulated marijuana system raised just over $76.1 million in total revenue, including about $56.2 million from adult-use marijuana tax revenue and fees and $19.9 million in medical marijuana tax revenue and fees.

“There are hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales taking place in every state,” said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Colorado is one of the few where those sales are being conducted by licensed, taxpaying businesses.”

Adult-use marijuana sales in Colorado are subject to the state’s standard 2.9% sales tax, plus a 10% special state sales tax.Additionally, wholesale transfers of adult-use marijuana are subject to a 15% state excise tax. The first $40 million raised annually by the 15% excise tax is earmarked for public school construction projects. The excise tax raised just over $35 million in 2015, up from about $13.3 million in 2014.

“These tax revenue figures are truly impressive,” Tvert said. “Just six years ago, Colorado received zero dollars in tax revenue from the sale of marijuana in the state. Now it’s raising more than $100 million annually with tens of millions of dollars directed toward public school improvements.

“The additional tax revenue far exceeds the cost of regulating the system,” Tvert said. “Regulating and taxing marijuana has been incredibly successful in Colorado, and it represents a model for other states to follow. These numbers should put to rest the claims we keep hearing from opponents that marijuana tax revenue has fallen short of expectations in Colorado.”

# # #

(Featured Photo Image: torbakhopper via flickr Creative Commons)

Woody Harrelson May be Opening a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Hawaii

Woody Harrelson

Renowned stoner, activist, and Hollywood star Woody Harrelson may be opening the first medical marijuana dispensary in Hawaii. The Natural Born Killers and True Detective star was among 66 applicants to throw their hat in the ring for one of eight licenses that will be awarded in April; he applied under his company’s name, Simple Organic Living. According to the Associated Press, there are strict financial requirements in place for any potential dispensary owners who hope to open an establishment in the state-determined July time-frame. The license would allow multiple production facilities in addition to two storefronts. Here’s the AP:

If selected, dispensary applicants must have $1 million cash before applying for a licenses, plus $100,000 for each dispensary location. All applicants must have been Hawaii residents for more than five years.

Under a law passed in 2015, the state will grant eight licenses for marijuana business owners across the islands. The law allows medical marijuana businesses to have two production centers and two retail dispensaries, for a total of 16 dispensaries statewide. Six are allowed on Oahu, four on Hawaii Island, four on Maui and two on Kauai.

Tetris creator Henk Rogers and a local television producer also applied.

The 54-year-old Harrelson is an environmentalist who’s not been shy about his affinity for the green stuff, and frequently pops up in those “Celebrities Who Smoke Weed” listicles that infest your suggested article feed. In 1996 he was arrested for planting hemp seeds in Kentucky, a protest in conjunction with other activists against Kentucky’s anti-marijuana laws. A year later he posted a half-million dollar bond for childhood cancer survivor and medical cannabis activist Todd McCormick after his home was raided by the Feds. More recently, and on a less-serious note, the actor was featured on Saturday Night Live in weed-heavy skits that anchored a widely-praised episode. Embedded below is a clip from that episode in which Harrelson plays a dredded neuvo rasta-type leading a Kumbaya singalong:

Featured Image Credit: Steve Rogers via flickr Creative Commons.

“Opioid-Induced Constipation”: Big Pharma More Interested in Treating Your Bowel Movements Than Saving Your Life

Pills

If you’re like a plurality of Americans, you spent Sunday night watching the Super Bowl along with its celebrated commercials that technically take up more time than actual game-play. Those ads are incredibly lucrative; CBS–which is airing the game this year–is reportedly charging $5 million for 30 seconds of airtime. And what mega-rich multinational corporation wouldn’t jump at the opportunity? No other traditional television platform allows a company the opportunity to present its product to more than a third of Americans in one fell swoop.

Enter Big Pharma with its latest display of benevolence: A cure for “Opioid-Induced Constipation,” or “OIC” as the advertisement so expertly vanilla-labels the malady.

Yes, it’s a widely-known fact that heroin and its legal opioid prescription cousins can cause a pretty rough case of constipation. And, of course, big Pharma couldn’t be happier to provide you with a solution to the problem it’s created. In fact, it shelled out something like 5 mil to advertise said solution during the Big Game.

The ad (embedded below) looks like your typical big-budget pharmaceutical TV production, featuring a handsome lead, and with a pleasant male voice narrating, “If you need an opioid to manage your chronic pain, you may be so constipated it feels like everyone can go except you. You may have ‘Opioid-Induced Constipation,’ or ‘OIC.'” The nice man then encourages the afflicted viewer to “have a conversation with your doctor about OIC and ask about prescription treatment options.” Without, of course, explaining exactly which “prescription treatment options” it is referring to. The ad then gently fades to a black screen displaying “brought to you in partnership with” followed by the logos of several prominent pain advocacy organizations along with, at the very bottom, the true benefactors: AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo.

AstraZeneca is a $6 billion multinational pharmaceutical firm that last year announced a partnership with Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo to “jointly commercialise” MOVANTIK, a drug the DEA had previously scheduled as a controlled substance because it is “structurally related” to an opiate painkiller. The press release touting the deal described AstraZeneca’s president as cooing, “We are delighted to collaborate with Daiichi Sankyo to expand our commercialisation efforts in the US in order to get this important medicine to the large number of patients suffering with opioid-induced constipation.”

Serendipitously, AstraZeneca also very recently announced a “novel open innovation model” partnership with the French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi, which calls itself “one of the major international players in opiates production.”

So, AstraZeneca announced a partnership to sell a medication that cures an opiod-caused side-effect the very same year it announced a partnership with a company that is, by its own promotional tools, “the Opiate Expert.”

Interesting.

Prescription opioids kill tens of thousands of Americans annually, and have left another two million in the throes of addiction. Big Pharma has made, literally, billions off of people’s pain, entrapping millions in a cycle of abuse and misery. Now they’re selling us the cure for what is probably the least bad side-effect of mass opioid consumption: Constipation.

Of course there’s another remedy for chronic pain that does not, to my knowledge, afflict its users with any side effect as awful as constant constipation. You might have guessed. It’s called cannabis and is not only shown to reduce pain, but also to reduce opioid-related harm and help users break their dependency on the harmful drug. Is it any wonder, then, that pharmaceutical companies are fighting tooth and nail against its legalization? A movement that would, of course, potentially kill AstraZeneca’s new big money-maker: A treatment for a side-effect caused by medication its partner is making a shit-ton of money off of.

But, wow! One hell of a halftime show, huh?

Featured Image Credit: Jason Rogers via flickr Creative Commons

Colorado Pot Sales Could Top $1 Billion in 2015

Cash Money 2

Colorado again proved itself a trailblazer in cannabis sales, hauling in over a billion dollars in 2015 according to a new report from a marijuana investment organization. San Francisco based The ArcView Group, which bills itself as “the legal cannabis industry’s premier hub for investment, data and progress,” crunched the numbers and put total sales figures at $1.005 billion, nearly 50% higher than the 2014 numbers. Noting that “industry insiders had long predicted revenue would cross the $1 billion mark,” Boulder’s Daily Camera reported the news:

Estimates put the figure at $1.005 billion, up nearly 45 percent from about $700 million last year. Growth was primarily driven by recreational sales, which topped $600 million. Medicinal sales in the state came in just above $400 million.

Last August we reported that Colorado was on track to bust all previous records when the state reported over $75 million in sales in one month. At that point, total tax revenue was at $42 million. By October the Denver Post was reporting that monthly sales had broken $100 million, with an estimated year-to-date tax haul of $86.7 million. According to the latest data available from the state’s Department of Revenue, total marijuana state revenue through November 2015 is at $120 million. Recreational taxes making up a vast majority of that figure, filling the coffers with $105 million.

Even more exciting for pot enthusiasts (and entrepreneurs looking to profit off of the burgeoning business), the spreading legalization of recreational marijuana across America meant a 184% increase in sales nationwide: Sales jumped from $351 million in 2014 to $998 million last year. In other words, while sales are soaring across the nation, Colorado still has the rest of the U.S. beat when it comes to buying legal weed.

ArcView’s CEO Troy Dayton was upbeat in the survey: “The data in this report confirms (that) legalization of cannabis is one of the greatest business opportunities of our time and it’s still early enough to see huge growth.”

Featured Image Credit: Pictures of Money, via flickr Creative Commons

Don’t Be THAT Stoner: Paranoid Would-Be Marijuana Traffickers Call 911…on Themselves

Holland Sward Leland Ayala-Doliente Mugshots

Introducing our new semi-regular feature in which we examine the biggest fails in the cannabis community. Be smart when you smoke. Don’t be that stoner.

We’ve all been there–chilling on the couch, hitting that bong maybe just a little too hard, when paranoia rears its ugly head. What was that sound? My landlord creeping up on me for a surprise inspection? And, why is my cat giving me that look? Does it want to kill me? Answers, respectively: Probably not, and maybe. Most experienced smokers take it in stride. And, really, if you smoke the right strain you should rarely–if ever–have to deal with it. But these two self-professed “dumb-asses” and aspiring black market marijuana traffickers took paranoia to the next level when they stopped next to an Applebee’s in Idaho, and called the cops on themselves for hauling 20 pounds of marijuana over the Nevada border. Recently released transcripts from the 911 call add a lot of color to the 2015 story.

Las Vegas to Montana Map

It goes something like this: Twenty-something dudes Leland Ayala-Dolient and Holland Sward had big dreams of smuggling a lot of pot from Las Vegas to Montana, and all was apparently going to plan until that chronic they had been hauling (and, according to the authorities, smoking) got to their heads with paranoid delusions of unmarked cop cars creeping on them. In a masterstroke of genius, Ayala-Doliente decided to pull off the highway and call 911 in an effort to get the cops off their trail. Complaining about the unmarked “jack wagons” and cold outdoor temperatures, he mellowly explained the situation to the dispatcher:

“Hi, we’re the two dumb-asses that got caught trying to bring some stuff through your border and all your cops are just driving around us like a bunch of jack wagons and I’d just like you guys to end it. If you could help me out with that, we would just like to get on with it..We kind of got spooked here trying to bring some stuff across your Idaho border. A bunch of your cops are driving around in a bunch of civilian cars not wanting to pick us up. I don’t know what’s the deal. I was just wondering if you could help us out and just end it.”

Idaho Bust
Courtesy Rexburg Police

 

The dispatcher, like a boss, calmly and effectively talked Ayala-Doliente down and convinced him to provide his full name and location, promising to send a marked car his way to take care of the problem. When asked if he had any weapons on him, The stoned would-be trafficker admitted that he didn’t, “just a bunch of snacks and stuff.”

East Idaho News reports that both men were charged with felony possession of trafficking marijuana. You can watch the report, including the 911 audio transcript, below in its entirety.

Sward pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver, amended down from an original charge.

Sward was given a five-year sentence to prison. District Judge Greg Moeller suspended the judgment and placed Sward on probation for five years and ordered him to serve 30 days in jail.

Ayala-Doliente was sentenced to 1 1/2 to eight years in prison. Moeller increased the sentence after Ayala-Doliente tested positive for marijuana, cocaine and oxycodone on his sentencing day.

Take-aways:

Don’t drive stoned
Don’t smuggle cannabis
NEVER talk to the cops, and definitely don’t initiate the conversation.

Don’t be that stoner, readers.

Congress Pressures VA to Allow Medical Marijuana Discussion and Recommendation

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

A bipartisan group of congressional representatives has released a letter encouraging the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow its doctors to discuss cannabis (and, when necessary, recommend it) with their veteran patients. The letter, signed by 21 senators and House members aims to “to improve the relationship between Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors and their patients, with respect to medicinal use of…marijuana.”

The letter’s release is timed to the impending expiration of VHA Directive 2011-004, which strictly prohibits VA doctors from so much as speaking to their patients about marijuana. The directive, which expires Sunday, states doctors should refrain “from completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a Veteran’s participation in a State marijuana program,” in effect muting any doctor-patient conversation about medical marijuana.

Addressed to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, the letter doesn’t mince words:

We have worked to ensure that our veterans have the care they have earned and deserve. That means allowing veterans to have full and frank discussions with their doctors without the fear of losing benefits. It also means allowing VA doctors to provide opinions and recommendations to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. Congress has taken initial steps to alleviate this conflict in law and we will continue to work toward this goal. However, you are in a position to make this change when the current VHA directive expires at the end of this month. We ask that you act to ensure that our veterans’ access to care is not compromised and that doctors and patients are allowed to have honest discussions about treatment options. We look forward to your prompt attention to this issue.

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), along with House members Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) led the charge. Daines told Yahoo News that the directive violates 10th Amendment rights:

“When veterans walk into a VA facility and talk with their doctor, they can’t discuss all of the options available to them that they could discuss at a non-VA facility next door. Current VA policy is not only a clear violation of states’ 10th Amendment rights — it’s a violation of our veterans’ First Amendment rights to talk openly and freely with their doctors. Veterans shouldn’t be discriminated against just because they’re seeking the care they deserve at VA facilities.”

Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a piece of legislation last year, the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, that attempted to end the VA’s anti-marijuana stance via the budget process. That amendment was narrowly defeated, partially because one representative said he accidentally voted no.

The Marijuana Policy Project’s director of federal policies, Robert Capecchi, praised the representatives for “standing up for our nations veterans:”

“Current VA policy is doing a disservice to veterans by preventing their doctors from exploring all possible treatment options. We trust VA physicians to prescribe painkillers and other prescription drugs that are far more addictive and infinitely more lethal. Why can’t we trust them to recommend medical marijuana to the patients who they believe could benefit from it?

We applaud these senators and representatives for standing up for our nation’s veterans. We hope the Department of Veterans Affairs will act compassionately and follow their recommendation. It’s time for the VA to stop interfering in the doctor-patient relationship when it comes to medical marijuana.”

You can read the letter in its entirety here. Below is a list of all of the representatives who signed it:

Senate: Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

House of Representatives: Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dina Titus (D-NV), Joe Heck (R-NV), Sam Farr (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Justin Amash (R-MI), and Mark Pocan (D-WI)

Photo Credit for Featured Image: Ed Schipul via flickr Creative Commons.

Colorado Cannabis Grower Sued for Pesticide Use in the Midst of Growing Controversy

Lab test

It’s been a rough week for Colorado’s burgeoning marijuana industry. One day after the Denver Post reported that the state’s Department of Agriculture had caved to industry pressure in allowing the use of potentially harmful pesticides in the production of cannabis, two consumers–one a medical patient with a brain tumor–have filed a lawsuit against a major grower claiming that it used a carcinogenic pesticide called Eagle 20 on the pot it produces.

While neither plaintiff claims to have experienced negative health effects by smoking Eagle 20-laced marijuana, they say that they would not have consumed the marijuana had they been aware it had been treated with Eagle 20, a pesticide they claim converts to “poisonous hydrogen cyanide” when heated. Here’s The Cannabist:

The lawsuit against LivWell Inc. by Brandan Flores and Brandie Larrabee seeks class-action status and alleges the company for years inappropriately used Eagle 20, a heavy-hitting pesticide with myclobutanil that kills a variety of pests endangering the plants.

Flores lives in Denver and Larrabee is a Grand Junction resident.

Neither alleges they were sickened from ingesting marijuana they purchased at LivWell, but each said they would not have inhaled the product if they had known it was treated with Eagle 20.

Myclobutanil is a common active ingredient in fungicide products. In a “product safety analysis,” DOW Chemical states it “is used to control a diverse range of economically important plant pathogens including powdery mildews, dollar spot, summer patch, brown patch, rusts, and scab in a range of crops including established turf grasses, landscape ornamentals, greenhouse and nursery ornamentals, apple trees, stone fruit trees, almonds, strawberries, vegetables, soybeans and grape vines.”

The thing about those fruits and vegetables? You eat them. You don’t smoke them. The analysis warns that eye contact should be avoided and that inhalation “may cause irritation to the upper respiratory tract.” In case you didn’t know, inhalation is the most common method of marijuana administration. Even scarier–and supportive of the plaintiffs’ claims–is this warning (emphasis mine):

Myclobutanil is stable under recommended storage and normal use conditions, but can decompose at elevated temperatures. Generation of gas during decomposition can cause pressure build-up in closed systems. Decomposition products depend on temperature, air supply, and the presence of other materials, but can include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen cyanide, and nitrogen oxides.

In March, six Denver grow facilities had their plants quarantined due to the improper use of pesticides, and Eagle 20 was said to be among the offenders. Frank Conrad of Colorado Green Lab wrote this blog post at the time warning of the potential danger in using myclobutanil in marijuana grows:

Tolerance levels and toxicity studies for myclobutanil on edible products should not be used for evaluating the safety of myclobutanil on marijuana. Passage of pesticides into the bloodstream varies considerably between inhalation and ingestion routes of exposure, and the application of high temperature is known to alter the chemical composition of myclobutanil. Unfortunately, very little information is available to evaluate myclobutanil in the context of tobacco use, as Eagle 20 and myclobutanil-based fungicides are not approved for use on tobacco plants in the United States (6,7). Myclobutanil is approved for use on tobacco cultivated in China, however, and a 2012 study has demonstrated that 10% or more of the active pesticide remains on tobacco leaves up to 21 days after treatment, with residue present from 0.85 parts per million (ppm) up to 3.27 ppm (8). Using tobacco as a model for pesticide retention, it is probable a considerable amount of myclobutanil may remain present in cannabis weeks after fungicide application.

Where is the EPA in all of this? Well, marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 illegal substance under federal law and the agency has provided little help, according to Colorado’s former agricultural commissioner John Salazar. He told the Denver Post that the Department of Agriculture “tried to work with the EPA, to figure out what to do [with regard to putting together a list of banned pesticides], but…got nothing.” States are going to have to tackle the issue of pesticides on their own; Oregon has had issues with pesticides and other contaminants as well.

After working closely (some are saying too closely) with the marijuana industry, state officials have finally put together a working list of banned grow chemicals and are “now preparing for regular inspections of marijuana growers using pesticides,” according to the Post. While it is unfortunate that patients and consumers have had to experience uncertainty about contaminants in their cannabis, it should be noted that legalizing and regulating marijuana led to the discovery of potentially unsafe products in the marijuana. There have been, and will be, growing pains (pun intended) with the new industry, but clearly legalizing and regulating cannabis is better for public safety than prohibition, and keeping marijuana on the illegal market.

FBI: America is Arresting One Marijuana User Every Minute

Woman arrested

A marijuana user is being arrested every minute–more than a dozen will be taken to jail as I type this piece. This according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation which today released its annual Uniform Crime Report aggregating law enforcement data and tallying the nation’s crimes and arrests in 2014. While murders, robberies, and burglaries dropped considerably, authorities across the country still apparently have an uncontrollable urge to arrest and prosecute nonviolent drug offenders.

2014 saw marijuana users arrested in record numbers–an estimated 700,993 were apprehended for marijuana-related offenses, up from 693,058 in 2013. Nearly 90% of those arrests were for simple possession. This means that one person was detained for a cannabis-related offense every 45 seconds in this country last year. Take those who were committing other crimes out of the equation and you get one person arrested every 51 seconds. Marijuana possession charges made up more than 5% of all arrests in America. Full stop.

In fact, more than a million and a half drug arrests were made in 2014, far surpassing the number of violent crimes, which the the FBI estimates at about 1.2 million.

This comes at a time of unprecedented support for marijuana legalization in the United States, and as states across the country look to repeal prohibitionist policies and allow legal, well-regulated, and lucrative marijuana sales within their borders.

In a statement today, Mason Tvert, Marijuana Policy Project’s director of communications, scolded the nation’s law enforcement:

“These numbers refute the myth that nobody actually gets arrested for using marijuana. It’s hard to imagine why more people were arrested for marijuana possession when fewer people than ever believe it should be a crime. Law enforcement officials should not be wasting their time and resources arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana. While law enforcement was busy making nearly three quarters of a million marijuana arrests, more than 35% of murders went unsolved, the clearance rate for rape was less than 40%, and for robbery and property crimes, it was below 30%.”

The Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell was just as blistering:

“It’s unacceptable that police still put this many people in handcuffs for something that a growing majority of Americans think should be legal. There’s just no good reason that so much police time and taxpayer money is spent punishing people for marijuana when so many murders, rapes and robberies go unsolved.”

While this is unquestionably a civil liberties nightmare, the Washington Post‘s Wonk Blog notes that all of these arrests are, well, getting really expensive:

Marijuana arrests can be costly for states and for the people arrested. The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that the typical marijuana arrest, excluding any costs of adjudication or detainment, costs about $750. At 620,000 arrests, that means that states spent nearly half a billion dollars in 2014 just to arrest people for marijuana possession.

In warring with drugs for nearly 50 years, our nation has spent more than a trillion dollars, sent tens of millions through a justice system that ruins lives and tears apart families, and contributed to unspeakable violence, strife, and mass murder in nearby countries. Some of our leaders are coming to their senses, but it’s apparent that the machine our government created has an insatiable appetite for more: More debt, more violence, more loss, more heartbreak. It’s time to end this.

Photo Credit for Featured Image: Oregon Department of Transportation via flickr Creative Commons.

Donald Trump Hits Jeb Bush on Instagram: You Must Be High

Donald Trump DonkeyHotey

Less than a week after what many saw as a lackluster performance at the second official GOP debate, Donald Trump is still leading in the polls and back on the attack, this time on Instagram implying that Jeb Bush must be totally high. In a video posted yesterday, The Donald’s media team spliced together some of Jeb’s weaker moments on the Iraq war, immigration, and a clip from last week’s debate in which the former Florida governor admitted to smoking cannabis some 40 years ago, set to the soundtrack of Natural Yogurt Band’s funky track Pot Head, with overlayed text asking, “Are we sure it was only 40 years ago?”

This is not the first time the Trump team has attacked Bush on Instagram, but it may be one of his best hits yet. And while we can’t condone using marijuana consumption to disqualify a presidential candidate for the highest office in the land, one has to admire Trump’s gumption and sense of humor. The unlikely GOP front-runner is, after all, on record at various times supporting decriminalization, medical marijuana, and “second chances” for recreational drug users. Trump even stated his support for legalizing all drugs in the early 1990s. Regardless of his attack on Bush’s admission of marijuana use, it appears that Trump has settled on supporting medical 100% while personally opposing legalization, sticking with a states’ rights position on the issue.

It will be interesting to see how many Instagram videos bashing Bush the GOP frontrunner will produce during the course of the campaign or if he’ll start setting his sights on other candidates as well. You can check out Trump’s latest video ridiculing Bush below:

Jeb has been confused for forty years…

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Featured image credit: DonkeyHotey via flickr Creative Commons.

Martin O’Malley: I Will Reschedule Marijuana and (Maybe) Support Legalization

Martin O'Malley Denver Marijuana

Today, at a Denver event billed as a “marijuana legalization listening session,” Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley confirmed that, if elected, he would use his executive authority to reschedule cannabis as a Schedule 2 substance. He also indicated that he would be willing to push for full legalization after “two or three years” should hard data and trends prove that state-level legalization has a positive effect on communities.

The round table event, hosted by the pro-marijuana legalization specialty law firm Vicente Sederberg, was attended by Colorado lawmakers, cannabis business representatives, and anti-prohibition law enforcement groups, and meant to give the underdog candidate an opportunity to hear from those on the frontline of the state-level legalization effort.

After being briefed on the basics like Colorado’s seed-to-sale tracking system, the different systems for medical marijuana patients and adult retail customers, taxation, and the difficulties created by a multi-million dollar industry not having access to a banking system, the governor spoke to two military veterans who use cannabis for therapeutic purposes even though they risk losing their VA benefits. One, a former marine named Sean Carroll, told O’Malley that he–along with many of his fellow veterans–was able to break an opiate addiction through use of marijuana:

“For me, being critically wounded, on a lot of oxycontin and morphine at the hospital, [I had] been to the ER a few times for almost ODing and whatnot just from what they were prescribing me. So I had an ER doctor tell me, ‘I’d rather see you smoke marijuana and get off all these harmful drugs,’ so I ended up doing that and got off all my medications…A lot of marines I know, they did the same thing–they got off all their pills. For me, smoking basically got me off all my pain meds and doing a lot better…I know a lot of veterans have gotten off the opioids by smoking and are healthier and more active. I talked to my doctor at the VA and she said basically we can’t give you a recommendation [because marijuana is illegal at the local level].”

Heroin and opioid addiction is one of the more important issues to O’Malley, the former mayor of Baltimore, a city ravaged by the effects of open air drug markets and heroin abuse.

Speaking to attendees and press covering the event, O’Malley was direct in his assessment of the need for marijuana reform and how he planned to tackle it from the Oval Office:

“I would reschedule it [cannabis] with the executive authority–the discretion it already has. The executive branch sometimes has to exercise leadership and then the legislature will follow. Sometimes it works the opposite way. But in this particular case I’ve committed to moving it to Schedule 2 on the DEA by executive authority.”

Schedule 2 drugs are defined by the DEA as “drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Helpfully, the DEA adds, “These drugs are also considered dangerous.”

That may not sound anything like the marijuana you know, but it is a positive step forward from the current Schedule 1 placement of cannabis, which has it sharing company with drugs “with no currently accepted medical use” like heroin and LSD.

O’Malley was more hesitant, however, to endorse full legalization, though he said that he would push for its passage should future data support three key findings: Harm reduction, violent crime reduction, and overdose reduction.

“I’m not there yet but I am watching very closely what’s happening in Colorado and Washington state. I think this is a changing area and I think a lot of us are still learning from Colorado’s experience and Washington state’s…I would think that after two or three years we would have some trend lines and some solid factual evidence upon which to base new action based on deeper understanding.”

The governor, perhaps influenced by the tremendous support anti-prohibition candidate Bernie Sanders is receiving, noted the importance of marijuana legalization to younger voters and the impact that drug policy reform will have on the upcoming election:

“I think it definitely will [have a big impact on the election]. I think it’s part of the mix of this sickness we have in our society of violent crime, and the numbers of our people who are killing themselves and overdosing on prescription drugs and other drugs, and it’s a part of the whole issue of racial justice. Make no mistake about it, I mean there are few areas that are as intertwined with our painful racial legacy that all of us share as Americans quite so much as law enforcement, public safely, and drug policies. So I think this is actually a very important issue to a lot of people and if you talk to young Americans under 30 there is a growing consensus that is consistent with many of the opinions I heard around the table here…that marijuana should be treated more akin to alcohol than to other substances.”

Currently polling in the low single digits, O’Malley is struggling to find a voice in a Democratic field dominated by the juggernaut Sanders campaign and the Clinton establishment. As governor of Maryland he decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis and was progressive in other areas including gay marriage and the death penalty. The O’Malley campaign is likely hoping to jump start itself into at least double digits, partly by demonstrating a willingness to be forward-thinking on cannabis policy. It was great to cover today’s event for Marijuana Politics and I expect that it’s a sign of similar things to come across the political spectrum as supporting sensible cannabis policies has become a common sense issue in the American mainstream.

John Kasich: Right on So Many Issues, Wrong on Marijuana

John Kasich by Michael Vadon

Last month Ohio Governor John Kasich debated his way into the mainstream spotlight at the first official Republican presidential showdown. In a sea of prototypical GOP voices attempting to out-Trump The Donald, his reasonable and measured demeanor stuck out like a pair of cuffed skinny jeans paired with a man-purse at the Iowa State Fair. While everybody else was talking about defunding Obamacare and forcibly removing Mexican migrants, Kasich was touting his state’s $2.6 billion dollar Medicaid expansion by way of Affordable Care Act dollars as an example of compassionate conservatism with echoes of Ronald Reagan. With calm passion he managed to make every on-stage rival look like a heartless buffoon with poor knowledge of history. Here’s his answer to a question about the Medicaid expansion from moderator Megyn Kelly:

“First of all, Megyn, you should know that President Reagan expanded Medicaid three or four times. Secondly, I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio to do what? To treat the mentally ill. 10,000 of them sit in our prisons. It costs $22,500 a year to keep them in prison; I’d rather get them their medication so they can lead a decent life. Secondly [sic], we are rehabbing the drug addicted. 80% of the people in our prisons have addiction-problems. We now treat them in the prisons, release them in the community, and the recidivism rate is 10%. And everybody across this country knows that the tsunami of drugs is threatening their very families. So, we’re treating them and getting them on their feet. And, finally, the working poor: Instead of having them come into the emergency rooms where it costs more, where they’re sicker, and we end up paying, we brought a program in here to make sure that people can get on their feet. And you know what? Everybody has a right to their god-given purpose. and finally our medicaid is growing at one of the lowest rates in the country.”

With mental health, social welfare, criminal justice reform, drug addiction, health care, and even God thrown in the mix, Kasich was definitely pushing all of the right buttons for centrist, socially progressive-minded Republicans (if such a beast is still in existence). And liberals watching the debate loved him too. But at a time when the GOP grassroots seems intent on voting in the exact opposite of a compassionate conservative, the overall Republican response was cool. He’s currently sitting at 6% in the national polls–tied exactly with Ted Cruz, though statistically (and optimistically) with Jeb Bush if you take into account the 4 point margin of error.

Bizarrely, Kasich’s views on marijuana don’t seem to mesh with his reform-minded statements and legislative record. In fact, he seems completely blind to the direct correlation between harsh drug laws and mass incarceration. Despite the fact that he signed a progressive prison reform bill and made it easier for released felons to get jobs, and the fact that more than a quarter of those jailed in Ohio this year were imprisoned for drug crimes, Kasich has been outspoken in his unshakable opposition to cannabis decriminalization. Earlier this week, in an interview with MLive, he said legalization is a “terrible idea,” and “sends mixes messages to young people about drugs,” because it gives the impression that “some drugs are okay but others aren’t,” and “Why don’t we just say don’t do drugs, period.”

Earlier this year, in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Kasich made similar statements, equating cannabis to heroin and saying that all illicit drugs are “a scourge in this country.”

Despite that fundamental misunderstanding of cannabis and drug reform, Kasich takes a more nuanced view of other states’ legalization experiments. He has been outspoken in his opposition to his home state’s recreational bill that will go before voters this November, but sees the issue through a states’ rights lens and is, in that regard, more in line with rivals Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, and Rand Paul who have promised a “hands-off” approach if elected in 2016. Speaking with MLive, in comments that echoed those made to Hewitt, Kasich said he most likely wouldn’t interfere:

“I would try to discourage the states from doing it. Hopefully we’ll defeat it in Michigan and Ohio, but if states want to do it … I haven’t made a final decision, but I would be tempted to say I don’t think we can go and start disrupting what they’ve decided.”

John Kasich has fashioned himself as a compassionate conservative carrying Ronald Reagan’s mantle in expanding Medicaid, and is in many ways more progressive than any other GOP candidate running, especially when it comes to prison reform and social justice. Unfortunately Kasich’s views on marijuana legalization echo the Reagan presidency which saw the dawn of mandatory minimum drug sentencing and the devastation of entire communities due to unfair and immoral profiling and policing. The fact that Kasich is unable to recognize the chasm between his views on drugs and his views on social welfare is indicative of either poor judgment or cognitive dissonance. The good news is that there’s plenty of room to grow–in both perspective and poll numbers.

Featured Image Credit: Michael Vadon via flickr Creative Commons.

 

Science Blows Our Minds: There Are 420 Trees for Every Person on Earth!

Full colored cannabis Jurassic Blueberries

420: For some it’s simply the best time of day to spark a joint. For others it’s the day of the year dedicated to nonviolent protest against a failed drug war, or, increasingly, a day of celebration as the decriminalization effort steamrolls across the United States. However you view it, there’s no question that a secret code used by five California high school stoners in the 1970s has come to represent all things marijuana. It’s a hashtag used to unite like-minded smokers on Twitter and a dog-whistle used on Craigslist, Tinder, and other dating apps to indicate a potential mate is down to blaze up before getting hot and heavy. Even Etsy has a thriving market of 420-related crafty gear.

Now scientists at Yale University have discovered a fact sure to blow any Cosmos-loving stoner’s mind: 420 is the number of trees per person that currently inhabit Planet Earth. For those of you bad at math like I am, that’s three trillion trees. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, “trees” just happens to be slang for weed. Here’s USA Today:

Three trillion. That’s the staggering number of trees on Earth, according to a new tally that astounds even the scientists who compiled it.

Three trillion is three followed by 12 zeroes, which is more than the number of stars in the Milky Way and more than the number of cells in a human brain. If the new sum is accurate – and other scientists think it is – the planet boasts roughly 420 trees for every living person. An earlier count pegged the global tree total at a mere 400 billion, but that study relied on less sophisticated methods.

The Washington Post–going for the buzzkill–notes that, while impressive, the three trillion number represents a 46% decrease in total tree cover since humans started the process of deforestation:

However, in no way do the researchers consider this good news. The study also finds that there are 46 percent fewer trees on Earth than there were before humans started the lengthy, but recently accelerating, process of deforestation.

“We can now say that there’s less trees than at any point in human civilization,” says Thomas Crowther, a postdoctoral researcher at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies who is the lead author on the research. “Since the spread of human influence, we’ve reduced the number almost by half, which is an astronomical thing.”

Sounds like one more reason for a thriving regulated hemp market to me.

Featured Image Credit: Jurassic Blueberries via flickr Creative Commons

Denver Cannabis Activists Pull Public Consumption Initiative

Denver Skyline Larry Johnson

Last month we reported that Denver, Colorado voters would soon have the opportunity to approve the consumption of cannabis at some bars and restaurants. Turns out that won’t be happening after all.

Today the activists behind the Limited Social Cannabis Use initiative announced that they are withdrawing the measure, despite having gathered more than twice the number of signatures needed to put it on the ballot this November. Instead they will work in a collaborative effort with city officials and business groups to find a “workable solution” to one of the biggest dilemmas posed by Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana: Where exactly marijuana users can consume the product.

In a statement today, Vicente Sederberg, LLC–the marijuana-focused law firm that backed the initiative–described the move as pragmatic:

But conversations over the past few weeks have convinced campaign leaders that there is a sincere desire on the part of city leaders to address this issue in a collaborative manner. And these are not just closed-door assurances. As you can see in the Denver Post today, city officials and prominent business groups have been willing to express publicly their commitment to finding a workable solution to this issue. Based on this show of good faith, campaign leaders were willing to forego a contentious ballot initiative fight in order to give the collaborative process a shot. We are optimistic about these discussions, but also know that we can return to the ballot in November 2016 – when the electorate will be far more favorable to our cause – if they do not result in an acceptable outcome.

The Denver Post broke the news last night and provided some additional context, explaining that city officials were already working on compromise agreements that would hopefully provide cannabis users more options when it came to smoking. Under current law, marijuana must be consumed on private residential property:

Activists now will shift to working with city officials and the state restaurant and lodging associations to work out an ordinance that they hope will be considered by the City Council within the next year. The Downtown Denver Partnership, which represents business interests in that area, also plans to take part.

“We’re not approaching the withdrawal of this initiative lightly,” said [Mason] Tvert, who also was a co-author of Colorado’s marijuana-legalizing Amendment 64 in 2012. “We believe that cannabis users deserve the freedom to congregate and socialize to the same extent as alcohol users.”

Although Denver police have shut down private cannabis clubs, the city’s marijuana policy office this year began examining, as an evolving regulatory need, the potential of allowing some social use of marijuana. The idea came up in council races last spring, with some successful candidates open to the idea in part because tourists lack places to consume their purchases legally.

Speaking with the Post, City Councilman Albus Brooks implied that the ballot was too much too soon and that, by pulling the initiative, advocates were allowing the space needed to make a consensus decision involving all the key players:

[Pulling the initiative] “ensures we now have the time and ability to include all interested stakeholders to reach consensus on this important issue. I am committed to working on a broadly acceptable solution.”

Should the result be less than satisfactory for the folks behind the initiative, Vicente Sederberg has words of warning for the city of Denver: “There is certainly no fear, as far as campaign leaders are concerned, in pushing the envelope and taking matters to the voters…We are optimistic about these discussions, but also know that we can return to the ballot in November 2016 – when the electorate will be far more favorable to our cause – if they do not result in an acceptable outcome.”

Featured Image Credit: Larry Johnson via flickr Creative Commons

Jeb Bush: Bad for Marijuana and Drug War Reform

Jeb Bush DonkeyHotey

Jeb Bush, the one-time presumed 2016 Republican presidential nominee, has seen better days. His establishment front-runner status was shattered over the summer by the meteoric rise of Donald Trump and, more recently, surging GOP insurgents Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. After spending the first half of this year raising more than $600,000 per day, Bush’s campaign is in turmoil: Plagued with gaffes, shedding top fundraisers, slashing staff salaries, and national poll numbers that show him statistically tied at third place with names like Huckabee, Kasich, Cruz, and Rubio. Beyond that, Bush looks like a man defeated on the campaign trail. His slumped shoulders, vexed facial expressions, and snippy responses to reporters portray a man very different from the “happy warrior” who once said his decision to run for president would rest on the question, “can I do it joyfully“?

Still, the GOP’s established order is holding out hope that the Republican field will “winnow down” organically, and that insurgent candidates will self-deport over the next few months, leaving Jeb (he likes to go casual, by his first name) to lead the charge against the Democrats’ presumed nominee Hillary Clinton. As a part of our ongoing series examining the 2016 presidential candidates and their views on cannabis and the drug war, we take a close look at Jeb’s record and policy stances to see what yet another American Bush presidency would look like for the cannabis community.

First, make no mistake: Jeb is a drug warrior. By some accounts, he was one of the “best drug warriors in town” during his eight year stint as Florida’s governor. While there he took on the cocaine cartels and oversaw a slight reduction in drug-fueled violence. That’s the shiny part of his governorship; the rest was much more bleak. A vast majority of Governor Bush’s policy stances were indicative of and inspired by the larger failed trends in the war on drugs: He successfully lobbied against a ballot initiative that would have treated nonviolent drug offenders instead of jailing them, he cut funding to treatment centers and drug-courts, he increased mandatory minimum jail sentences for drug-related crimes, and, in 2014, stepped out of term limit-imposed retirement to urge Floridians to vote against an ultimately doomed medical marijuana bill that had, at one point, enjoyed nearly 90% support. That last one he did via scaremongering and slippery slope arguments:

“Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire. Allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts. I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November.”

It’s worth taking a look at Jeb’s family in order to put these policy stances in context, particularly the apparent hypocrisy in the treatment his own daughter enjoyed after getting busted for prescription fraud and, later, possession of crack cocaine. In 2002, while Jeb was launching his reelection campaign, his daughter Noelle–who had a history of motor vehicle accidents and “about a dozen” moving violations on her record–was arrested in Tallahassee for attempting to purchase the anti-anxiety medication Xanax with a fake prescription and charged with a felony. Rather than jail-time, a judge sentenced her to a rehabilitation program, during which she was twice jailed for violating the terms of her stay–once for possessing an unspecified prescription medication and then again for possession of crack cocaine, which she hid in her shoe.

Total time behind bars? 10 days.

Because of the leniency granted her–leniency, by the way, that her father made a career out of fighting against when it came to Floridians not lucky enough to be born with the family name “Bush”–Noelle walked away about a year later with no felony record and now makes appearances with her father at campaign events. “This is a private issue as it relates to my daughter and myself and my wife,” Jeb said at the time of Noelle’s drug woes. “The road to recovery is a rocky one for a lot of people that have this kind of problem.”

Many would agree that non-violent drug offenses are a private issue that should be handled with delicacy and compassion. But compare that to this guy who was sentenced to life in Florida for selling “a handful of crack-cocaine rocks” in 1995, or this (legal) Florida immigrant who was deported after spending six months in jail when found guilty of charges their lawyer states are “almost exactly like those allegedly committed by Noelle Bush,” and it begins to look a lot like Jeb’s drug-crime compassion stopped at the bloodline.

To be fair, Jeb has changed his tune in recent years, especially when it comes to a particularly right-wing flavored brand of sentencing reform. At last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Jeb joined other “prominent Republicans who once trumpeted tough-on-crime ­stances and now call for sentencing changes and rehabilitation programs for drug and other nonviolent offenders.” He’s also a backer of “Right on Crime,” an advocacy group that “supports constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility and free enterprise,” while focusing on “community-based programs rather than excessive mandatory minimum sentencing policies and prison expansion [and utilizes] free-market and Christian principles…to put their beliefs into practice as an alternative to government-knows-best programs that are failing prisoners and the society into which they are released.”

Jeb himself is an admitted former pot smoker and alleged former hash dealer. When it comes to state-level marijuana legalization efforts, though, his own youthful indiscretions aside (see a pattern here?), he seems conflicted. If “done appropriately,” he says, it’s “more than appropriate.” Hold up, though: “If it’s a step towards legalization of marijuana and open recreational use of it, there ought to be a debate about that before you just kind of step off the cliff because there are significant health consequences of that.” Get that? He’s ok with it (but not in Florida!) as long as it’s done the way he thinks it should be done. Otherwise we should have a debate, which we’re apparently not having. At this year’s CPAC, he reportedly said that state-level marijuana legalization “a bad idea, but [states] ought to have the right to do it.”

Jeb Bush’s history as a governor tells a good deal more about his perspective on marijuana and the drug war than any recent statements. And while he seems to agree with Chris Christie in his belief that medical marijuana is simply a conspiracy, or “front,” for an overall recreational legalization effort, he isn’t yet promising to arrest cannabis users in Colorado and Washington if elected the way the absentee New Jersey governor has. His fellow Floridian Marco Rubio has also promised to “enforce federal law” if he should win the presidency. Yet Jeb falls short of rivals like Carly Fiorina, who is on record stating that her commitment to states’ rights means she would “respect Colorado’s right to do what they did” in legalizing recreational cannabis.

In short, Jeb seems to be what passes as a moderate in Republican circles these days and has the record to prove it. Now if only he could get that pesky Trump out of the way…

Photo Credit for Featured Image: DonkeyHotey via flickr Creative Commons

Video Marijuana Awards? Miley Cyrus to Kanye West, MTV VMAs Celebrated Cannabis

Miley Cyrus VMA 2015

MTV’s Video Music Awards aired last night and right now your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds are doubtlessly blowing up with photos of host Miley Cyrus and all of her wacky antics. From a nipple slip and frantic wardrobe changes to public disses from Nicki Minaj, along with the announcement of a new, free concept album produced by Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, there’s enough Miley-generated content to feed the pop culture news cycle for the entire week, and quite possibly through the end of summer. And let’s face it: A lot of that conversation is going to be about cannabis.

It’s no secret that many–if not most–of the artists celebrated at MTV’s VMAs are fans of marijuana. Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Pharrell Williams are just a few of the pot consumers and advocates who have performed and won awards at the annual event. This year was no different as 420-friendly artists A$AP Rocky, Bruno Mars, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, and Beyoncé graced the stage with performances and racked up awards.

Cyrus, however, was extremely vocal about her love for the plant (to the point that some are saying it was too much). Watching the show, one would have been forgiven for thinking that “VMA” actually stood for “Video Marijuana Awards.” In addition to an Ellen Degeneres-inspired selfie moment during which Cyrus encouraged the participants to say “marijuana” instead of “cheese,” the pop star participated in a skit with Snoop Dogg featuring edibles, smoked up with Tyga, and referenced drugs about a million times (Slate put together a fun video featuring all of her 2015 VMA drug references-we’ve embedded it at the bottom of this article). The biggest Miley-Marijuana conversation-sparker, though, will center around the performance of Dooo It, the first single off of that Wayne Coyne collaboration, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. Backed by The Flaming Lips and accompanied by about a dozen of Rupaul’s drag queens, Cyrus took to the stage to perform the track live, cannabis-celebrating lyrics and all: “Yeah I smoke pot, yeah I love peace. But I don’t give a fuck–I ain’t no hippy.” The performance culminated with phallic bongs ejaculating fog and confetti into the air. Check it out:

Kanye West was also surprisingly open about his marijuana use during an epic, rambling, very Kanye-esque acceptance speech when he was given MTV’s highest honor, The Vanguard Award. After riffing about the importance of art being challenging to the masses, and just before announcing a potential 2020 presidential run, the rapper–who hasn’t been as vocal about his own marijuana use as many of his peers–said, “Y’all might be thinking right now ‘I wonder did he smoke something before he came out here?’ The answer is yes. I rolled up a little something. I knocked the edge off.” The crowd went wild. You can see it here (it starts right about 7:35 in):

A pseudo-subterranean staple of pop culture for years, cannabis use is no longer something simply hinted at or talked about in code. Last night provided strong evidence that the plant has, as VMA-winner Drake would say, “made it.” With poll after poll showing majority support for full legalization, it’s time for government and laws to catch up with the rest of the country and make this thing official.

Here’s that Slate video we promised you: