By Dalton Rosario
Following Baltimore city’s top prosecutor Marilyn Mosby pledging that her office will end prosecuting possession-related cannabis arrests last week, Maryland is now the latest state to officially have passed cannabis legalization in the forms of possession, purchasing, consuming and cultivating. Individuals can legally carry up to an ounce of dry herb or five concentrate cartridges and home-grow up to four plants per household. Cannabis sales from licensed retailers will be taxed at a modest six percent, with state tax revenues being implemented in programs ranging from substance abuse and DWI prevention to K-12 and reparations for communities disproportionally targeted by law enforcement during cannabis prohibition; including expungements of current and prior possession and cultivation convictions.
As stated by Olivia Naugle, the Marijuana Policy Project’s Legislative Coordinator, in regards to pro-cannabis legislation passing in Maryland, “[cannabis] can be conducted by licensed, taxpaying businesses rather than criminal enterprises. This legislation would improve public health and safety [and] also have the bonus of generating significant new tax revenue for the state.” Maryland is a prime example of the green pendulum sweeping our nation. 2019 has proven to be a year of state lawmakers lining up to file recreational adult use cannabis bills for the benefits of surplus from immediate tax revenues to be allocated and reinvested directly into state programs, while also providing a means of reparations for communities impacted most dearly from cannabis abuses during prohibition.
By Dalton Rosario
Today Pennsylvania Rep. Jake Wheatley (D) filed Bill HB50 to rectify years of abuses from the war on drugs, by granting residents aged 21 and over legal access to cannabis via licensed retailers, permitting its possession and consumption, and its home cultivation of up to 6 plants per household. As stated by Wheatley in a press release, “It’s about making sure that we are righting some of the wrongs of the failed war on drugs.” What this entails is immediate release of offenders serving jail time for cannabis-related arrests made prior to this legislation being passed, criminal record expungement for prior convictions and instilling policies of equity to make sure there is equality in the communities that stand to profit from regulating cannabis trade across the 57 counties that comprise of Pennsylvania.
Most notable are Wheatley’s proposed initiatives for the incurred tax revenues from the regulated industry. As outlined he would allocate 50% to be invested in student loan forgiveness programs for in-state tuition, 40% would be reserved for funding affordable housing programs and 10% would be invested in after school care programs for children. His enthusiasm for reformation has been shared by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) who agrees that legislation must be passed immediately or else nearby states that are further along swinging the pendulum of legalization will take advantage of the influx of market demand from customers commuting across state lines for cannabis tourism and adult recreational use. The Northeast Corridor has been booming with pro-cannabis legislation lately and the time to end state prohibition is now, or risk falling behind and losing a lot of tax revenues that can be used for the good of the people.
By Dalton Rosario
Next week on February 7th, Hawaii’s Committee on the Judiciary will vote on cannabis legalization. This is a widely discussed topic throughout the state lately as the Democratic Party presidential nominee Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) openly advocates for cannabis reformation ranging from years of supporting bills that exempt CBD from the Controlled Substances Act, to legalizing industrial hemp and providing assurance for banks that service registered cannabis businesses. This legislation, if passed in Hawaii's Committee on the Judiciary, would allow for adults aged 21+ to cultivate, consume and possess cannabis. Also, manufacturing licenses would be issued for dispensaries and retail locations throughout the islands.
As outlined in the bill, “the legalization of marijuana for personal or recreational use is a natural, logical, and reasonable outgrowth of the current science of marijuana and attitude toward marijuana,” deducing a commercial interest in regulating and taxing the statewide cannabis market and a fundamental understanding that investing in healthy industries such as these reduce black market incentive for violent crimes related to the cultivation and distribution of cannabis. The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (DPFH) believes that regulatory frameworks of commerce are not enough to address the iniquities disproportionately targeted against communities of poverty thus far perpetrated by the war on drugs. They say that more needs to be done; which would likely include expungement services against prior non-violent convictions and/or on-going possession charges being dropped based on similar examples of restitution programs implemented across the country.