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

Former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, openly refuted countrywide efforts for cannabis reformation and personally sponsoring legislation geared towards recreational use in a speech this past Tuesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. In his words, “To make it easier for people to engage in a behavior that has a significant possibility of damaging people’s health—is just nonsensical… And today incidentally, we are trying to legalize another addictive narcotic [cannabis] which is perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done. We’ve got to fight that!” This is certainly unnerving to hear - let alone from a potential candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. 

The wave of green states gaining momentum across our country is supported by 75% of voters within the Democratic party, putting Bloomberg at odds with the vast majority of his constituents. The current list of Democratic nominees in favor of cannabis reformation, regulation and taxation are: California state Senator Kamala Harris, New York state Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Massachusetts state Senator Elizabeth Warren and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) proposed a plan last week for adult cannabis legalization within the state of New York that was included in his annual budget request to lawmakers. As outlined he would like to instill a 20% state tax and 2% county tax on cannabis distribution between wholesalers and retailers. Also there would be a $1/gram tax for dry herb cultivation in addition to a $0.25/gram tax on trimmings. In total, this plan could generate up to $300 Million in annual tax revenue depending on the number of contributing cities and counties. 

Although on the surface there seems to be a unified consensus within the Democratic Party regarding the central role state lawmakers play in ending federal prohibition, the topic is still highly debatable, requiring a cultural shift in ideology to perform. The likelihood of which occurring can neither be confirmed nor denied, despite an overwhelming majority of Democrats agreeing that abundant opportunities will be allotted to our nation for investing in the cannabis industry. 

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.