Amidst the crisis USA is currently in, New York’s Senator has pushed through a bill to legalize the recreational use of Marijuana in the city.
It is no secret that United States is going through a major crisis. Especially, with the continuous spread of coronavirus and “#BlackLivesMatter” protests all over the country, the government has lost control over the masses.
Amid the ongoing retaliation from the public, Trump’s political standing is greatly challenged. With the whole country in unrest, these are certainly some critical times. However, the Senator of New York undoubtedly made a large chunk of the public happy with the news.
As a part of the Criminal Justice reforms, the senator has pushed towards a possible legalization of cannabis for non-medicinal purposes. The Safer NY Act also contains a prompt for legalizing cannabis for adults. However, it comprises of five bills that are primarily focused on policing reforms.
Main Aim behind the Legalization
The main aim behind the step is to improve the transparency of police. It is also an attempt to increase accountability to the general public. Sen. Julia Salazar talked about the subject in a press release, saying that the legislators should immediately accept the package.
via The New York Post
The press release majorly focused on “legalizing marijuana with strong attention paid to ensuring that the government is reinvesting resources in communities most harmed by prohibition”.
The Senator told the Marijuana Movement about her ideology behind the decision in a phone interview. She said that only the “decriminalization” of the drug was not enough. There was nothing wrong with using Marijuana. Hence, the government should not penalize the public should for its use Especially, since it is not a big deal in the neighboring states.
Salazar further added that the legalization would also reduce racist encounters with the police, as mostly brown and black people face charges for the ordeal. On the other hand, their white counterparts generally go free. She said, “More people end up in the criminal justice system in the first place than is necessary at all.”
The senator is also trying to pushed the bill to increase the revenue from the Marijuana industry. And, since, more and more nations are accepting it as normal.
Will Marijuana become legal?
There is a high possibility that the legislators would push through the bill. Since, the government agencies were taking numerous steps for the objective previously as well. Peoples -Stokes, Assembly majority leader, also added that she hoped the legislators would finalize the legalization this year. However, the officials might further delay the decision due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Further, there is a lot of political unrest in the country right now. People have come out on the streets to support the fight against racism. Numerous protests are being held across the country and the black community is raising a voice for its rights. This situation might also delay the process.
About Marijuana Movement
Marijuana Movement is an online forum working towards promoting the use of Cannabis. In light of the Cannabis rights, the platform tries to make its use normal and more acceptable. Marijuana Movement provides you with the latest interviews and news regarding the subject.
Patients Prescribed Cannabis In Georgia, USA, Can’t Legally Obtain It
The United States of America often astounds the rest of the world with just how ludicrous its laws seem. Take the example of recreational cannabis, which remains federally illegal since decades. However, a few select states, such as California, Colorado and Georgia, allow small quantities of legally purchased cannabis. Everywhere else, possession of cannabis remains a misdemeanor offense, and other disproportionately severe punitive measures.
In Georgia, in particular, the case of medicinal marijuana recently emerged as troubling. For many patients, medicinal weed simply is a lifesaver and experts agree that it packs unique therapeutic effects. However, in the state of Georgia in particular, it seems like a cruel joke that obtaining said weed becomes near impossible. And this is despite the fact that it’s been legal to possess since 2015.
Despite the usage of medicinal cannabis being legal in the state of Georgia, purchase or sale remains illegal
As far as ridiculous laws go, this one stands out as extremely cruel. With doctors able to prescribe doses of cannabis to ailing patients, the lack of any places to legally obtain it seems absurd. And no, buying cannabis from a shady back alley dealer is not a safe idea. Not just because of the chance of getting caught but because there’s no guarantee the product is what you pay for. Only a legal and regulated avenue available would help.
In 2019, at the behest of several concerned citizens, official government action started. The state governor set up the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission in 2019 to discuss this terrible issue. And yet, the problem still stands. This is because the panel only convened once, before the COVID-19 pandemic put the matter on hold indefinitely. Thus, millions of patients needing their drug have no one else to ask for help from.
For many patients with a variety of ailments, medicinal marijuana works wonders for their health
Medical science generally holds several consensuses on the health effects of different substances. No respectable doctor will ever claim that arsenic is good for your health. And when it comes to cannabis, the leading consensus after extensive studies and research holds opinions that cannabis may hold several cures. Weed, which consists primarily of CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), exerts effects on the body’s physiology. This leads to improvements in breathing, blood circulation, mood, and pain relief.
Various types of disorders that lead to seizures, such as West Syndrome, in all age groups exist. Fortunately, cannabis is also a known therapeutic agent for reducing the intensity of seizures. In many young individuals, such as a recent UK toddler, it offers marked improvements to health. Furthermore, cannabis offers health benefits to patients with PTSD, anxiety, extreme pain and even in certain cancers. However, there also exists evidence that in the smoked form, it can lead to cardiovascular issues in the long term. Hence, edibles or inhalables suit most users better, and offer better efficacy of the weed.
The United States sorely needs to fix its haphazard and primitive legislation regarding both recreational and medicinal cannabis use
Several conservative states, like Texas, where the most anti-cannabis attitudes prevail, reflect that in their legislation. From introducing ridiculous hemp regulation laws, to launching an entire War On Drugs, they’ve done it all. None of that changes the fact that cannabis stays, and will always do so.
The time comes now that lawmakers, urged by the people, reexamine the science. And then, hopefully change laws for the better. That remains to be seen, however.
Voting on MORE Act Delayed
Marijuana advocates were expecting the MORE Act to be put up for a historical voting session this September. The bill was supposed to legalize marijuana at the federal level and introduce social justice reforms. Advocates were seeing this as an opportunity to finally end the racial disparities faced by the people of color in the United States. Contrary to these expectations, voting on the MORE ACT has now been delayed until after the November elections.
What is the MORE Act?
MORE Act is short for Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. It is a proposed legislation that would remove cannabis from the Schedule 1 category and legalize it federally.
In addition to this, the bill has also proposed criminal justice reforms. This involves an expungement of prior cannabis convictions and re-sentencing of those under supervision and much more. Furthermore, the bill has also proposed to create grant programs to benefit the communities most hardly hit by the war on drugs.
apart from this, the bill also introduced certain immigrant protection laws. The Act has attempted to put an end to deportation or citizenship denial on the basis of minor marijuana offenses. It also aimed to establish a sales tax of 5% on marijuana and its related products. Returns from it were to be channelized towards youth training programs, substance use treatments, loans and licenses for small businesses in the marijuana industry, and many other causes.
Kamala Harris an Jerry Naddler introduced the MORE Act in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively, on the 23rd of July 2019. The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill with a 24-10 majority.
In August of 2020, Vanita Gupta called for a vote on the Act on behalf of marijuana advocates and civil right activists. It would have been a historic move if the bill had been placed in the House of Representatives for voting. Never before in history has a move for descheduling marijuana reached this farther in the legislation process.
In the words of Rep. Earl Blumenauer, “As people across the country protest racial injustices, there’s even greater urgency for Congress to seize this historic opportunity and finally align our cannabis laws with what the majority of Americans support, while ensuring restorative justice,”
Voting on MORE Act delayed
A few weeks ago, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had announced that voting on the MORE Act will hit the floor during the week of September 21. However, the office of Steny Hoyer did not include the bill in it weekly floor schedule. A commitment to bring up the bill sometime in late fall has been made.
Most reform advocates believe that the decision to delay voting on MORE Act may have been influenced by moderate Democrats. This group had expressed an earlier concern that voting on a cannabis bill while coronavirus relief legislation was was unresolved would not create a pleasant image for the reelection campaigns.
This delay has not been taken in good spirits by reform advocates like Rep.Barbara Lee and Rep Earl Blumenauer. According to them, ending the failed war on drugs has disproportionately hurt Black and Brown Americans disproportionately. They believe that the public deserves the right to vote on the issue of marijuana legalization.
“Though it appears to be a temporary delay, we are seriously disappointed by this news as time and time again, communities directly impacted by systemic injustices are made to wait for justice and change,” said Queen Adesuyi, policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance.
Despite of this blow to their cause, albeit temporary, advocates of marijuana legalization are still hopeful. They are optimistic that whenever the bill gets presented for a vote, it will get some bipartisan support. This was established Republicans like Rep. Matt Gaetz, McClintock and showed their intentions to vote yes on the MORE Act.
Opponents of the MORE Act
The delay on the marijuana legalization voting is being celebrated among the opponents. Among them is Rep. Andy Harris who took to twitter to express his views.
Opponents have hailed this delay in voting as a massive victory for public health and safety. They established the fact that encouraging marijuana use in disadvantaged communities was social injustice as less than 2% of marijuana industry is owned by the minority community. The bill would benefit the wealthy white investors, big pharma and the tobacco and alcohol conglomerates.
Decriminalization of marijuana likely under Joe Biden’s administration
Joe Biden has gained prominence yet again on the political scene of United States as a presidential nominee for the 2020 elections. According to his running mate Kamala Harris, decriminalization of marijuana is a change in the design of the system which will definitely be dealt with if they win the elections. Effectuation of this policy will also involve an automatic expungement of all marijuana-use convictions and ‘end incarceration for drug use alone’.
Kamala Harris outlined these proposals during a virtual roundtable she hosted through Facebook Live on September 14th.
“This is no time … for half-steppin’, this is no time for incrementalism. We need to deal with the system, and there needs to be significant change in the design of the system.” said Kamala during the virtual roundtable.
The proposed alterations in the legislative policies reflect a huge change in the political stances of these democratic leaders. Both Kamala Harris and Joe Biden have been active supporters of strict actions against drug use. From proposing decriminalization of marijuana to desceduling it, the duo has evolved a lot on their attitudes towards the drug.
Biden has spent a career in Washington that stressed for mandatory minimum sentencing. According to Naomi Murakawa, author of The First Civil Right:How Liberals Built Prison America, Joe Biden’s policies have ‘made the criminal justice system more lethal and just bigger’.
Biden helped write the controversial 1994 ”tough on crime” law. This law had resulted in aggressive policing, mass incarcerations and more prison cells in the 1990s. He was at the center of framing many other federal policies that escalated the war on drugs.
Biden has defended the 1994 law as recently as 2016. He argued that it helped to put an end to an era of crime and violence in American cities. Biden’s past records with criminal justice issues had put him at odds with most Democrats as a vast majority of them were in support of some sort of reforms in marijuana policies.
Earlier this year, Joe Biden has admitted to making mistakes in his political career. “I haven’t always been right. I know we haven’t always gotten things right, but I’ve always tried,” he said. In an attempt to highlight the changes in his political views, he admitted to the presence of systematic racism within the nation. His decisions had trapped an entire generation, but despite of this he was hopeful about carrying the legacy of MLK forward.
California and Proposition 19
Proposition 19 is also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. The initiative had proposed legalization of marijuana and its related activities for adults 21 years and older. It had also allowed local governments to regulate, tax and control these activities.
About 53.5% votes opposed the initiative on the ballots, leading to its defeat. Kamala Harris was also among those who opposed it and saw the proposition as a public safety issue. She only supported the legal use of medical marijuana but not anything beyond that.
Policy reforms by Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris is often mocked by her opponents for her past record as a prosecutor of marijuana cases. According to some sources, she is responsible for putting 1500 people in jail for marijuana related crimes.
In July of 2019 however, Kamala Harris introduced the MORE Act, short for Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungment Act. The bill proposed a removal of marijuana from the Schedule 1 classification. In addition to this, criminal justice reforms and decriminalization of the drug were also a part of the bill. This bill has not received a single vote from the republican controlled Senate.
This September, the MORE Act would be up for vote in the House of Representatives. Voting for rescheduling marijuana in the Congress is a history changing event which has never happened before. Many are seeing this voting opportunity as ‘a chance to end a failed policy’.
If successful, the Act will allow marijuana a legal status at the federal level, although sales will not be legalized immediately in states. “As people across the country protest racial injustices, there’s even greater urgency for Congress to seize this historic opportunity and finally align our cannabis laws with what the majority of Americans support, while ensuring restorative justice,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), an advocate of marijuana legalization.
Will marijuana be legal?
Republicans have criticized Democrats for ignoring more urgent issues like handling the pandemic and handling healthcare issues. Therefore, the chances of this bill passing in the Senate are low in light of the severe opposition.
Furthermore, both Kamala Harris and Joe Biden have been supporters of decriminalizing marijuana not legalizing it. This is why many politicians, including Barbara Lee, think that Joe Biden will need to evolve more on his marijuana policies. Although the decriminalization of marijuana and its removal from the Schedule 1 classification are big steps but more needs to be done.
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