By Dalton Rosario
Washington D.C. has been barred for years by a rider blocking the city from allotting its own tax dollars towards regulating recreational cannabis for adults. Current legislation permits personal cannabis to be cultivated at home in an amount of up to 6 plants. As well, possession of up to 2 ounces by residents aged 21 or over is lawful. In addition, up to an ounce of cannabis can be “gifted” or transferred from one person to another as long as both parties are at least 21 years or older. However, no money, goods or services can be exchanged in return, and cannabis cannot be consumed on public property. Even though these laws have been enforced for half a decade, still to this day residents cannot legally purchase recreational cannabis in retail dispensaries.
This is largely due to a series of Republican-dominated Congresses extending federal legislation blocking D.C. from spending its own tax dollars to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults, but with the pending partial government shut down, this very legislation is temporarily expired and can be worked around by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D). To do so she would have to immediately pass legislation that legalizes recreational cannabis sales, or risk waiting until the next fiscal year starting in October. As outlined in a public appearance made by Bowser two months prior, “We have an untenable situation in the District that I believe makes us unsafe… As long as we have the ability to possess marijuana, which is our law, we also need the ability to procure marijuana legally, which we don’t have now.” She sheds light upon a logical fallacy as the law stands, and derives a reasonable conclusion given the legality of cannabis possession throughout the district. With this in mind, the question remains if it is too bold a maneuver to undermine federal law by passing recreational legalization at such a time as this; despite being exactly what the green wave needs to end the war against cannabis in our Nation's Capital.
By Dalton Rosario
The partial Government shutdown has been in affect for 36 days now and hemp farmers are wondering when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s policies will be updated so that they can access federally controlled water. The U.S. Department of the Interior has been affected by the current impasse of government funding, placing a dead halt on hemp cultivation to begin despite an abundance of farmers ready to work. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jon Tester (D-MT) have already reached out to the head of the Bureau of Reclamations (BOR) to update their policies, to no avail. As stated by Sen. Michael Bennet, “After legalizing hemp in the Farm Bill, we should be expanding opportunities for growers. Instead, the ‘Trump shutdown’ has halted implementations and increased uncertainty for the [hemp] Industry.”
There are a number of policy discrepancies between the Justice Department, the Department of Agriculture and the BOR. This causes doubt and mistrust in the newly established hemp industry. Both on part of farmers looking to cultivate and companies willing to invest in the most crucial stage of getting industrial hemp production off the ground. This is terrible timing for the expected market boom of manufacturing and distribution for fibers, papers, biodegradable plastics and derivatives of hemp products including car parts and concrete. The Food and Drug Administration has also been affected acutely by the government shutdown, causing a lag of policy updates relinquishing restrictive policies against CBD derived products.
Democrats have already begun flirting with similar strategies Trump is currently implementing to secure border funding - as a tactical advantage for ending federal prohibition - contingent upon a Democratic nominee winning the 2020 presidential election. But these musings have been proposed as a means of showing what an unreasonable and abrasive misappropriation of negotiation leverage Trump has incurred onto the American people. We should not be held hostage at the mercy of political trifles and contextual semantic disputes. And it will not be long before the executive powers at be learn this lesson.
By Dalton Rosario
As it stands, our continued partial government shutdown is contingent upon a national security threat necessitating a wall spanning our souther border to keep illegal drugs from being smuggled into our country. The problem with this narrative lies in the fact that roughly 90% of all illicit drugs enter our country through legal ports. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in 2017 almost 1.6 million pounds of cannabis was seized from our souther border. This sounds like a large amount without proper context; however, licensed cultivators within the state of Oregon alone grew 2.6 million pounds of cannabis that same year. Certainly this does not negate the fact that at least 10% of illegal drugs entering our country comes from our southern border. But the 1.6 million pounds of cannabis confiscated by the DHS in 2017 - although a sizable amount - totals half of illegally imported drugs seized four years prior in 2013.
This denotes progress due to state legislation supporting the cannabis industry and its commercial viability to generate income and tax revenues from medical programs and recreational use. Not from buffing up Border Patrol with an already finite amount of resources at the federal government’s disposal. According to a marijuana supply chain analysis at the Cato Institute, an American Libertarian Think Tank, boarder patrol seizures dropped 78% over a span of five years due to a clear correlation that cannabis was the predominant drug being smuggled into our borders. As Cato analyst David Bier wrote, “State marijuana legalization starting in 2014 did more to reduce marijuana smuggling than the doubling of Border Patrol agents or the construction of hundreds of miles of border fencing did from 2003 to 2009.”
For years now advocates have been calling on state lawmakers to introduce quality control measures into legislation for cannabis to be treated as any other consumer good that is regulated for consistency, potency and purity of product. With this now-pending “state of emergency” comes a sense of urgency to act. Including this excuse for a wall to strengthen our border security - countering illicit drugs smuggled into our country - and the inevitable catalyst of backlash from those who harbor reason within our Congress; leading to the continued stalemate of this governmental shutdown.