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Thoughts on the Midterm Election

November 12, 2018 Drug Policy, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Thoughts on the Midterm Election
Most of the recreational marijuana stores we visited in Colorado in 2014 had a separate section for medical marijuana.

Among the biggest midterm election news is that deep red Missouri overwhelmingly approved the most liberal (Proposition 2) of three medical marijuana propositions, the other two failed (Prop 3 & Prop C). All 3 were described in a Sunday Poll in late September. In 2019 we’ll see rules for growers & dispensaries.  A year from now we should see storefronts fill up as dispensaries occupy them.

Missouri voters also approved a new redistricting plan with campaign limits (Proposition 1). The state’s minimum wage will now increase gradually to $12/hour by 2023.  A gradual fuel tax increase failed (Prop D).

St. Louis County voters approved all propositions:

  • 1 (donation limits to candidates for county executive or council)
  • 2 (County council can hire their own attorney separate from the county counselor, who is appointed by the county executive)
  • B (County council more budgetary power)
  • C (Require specific County financial information be placed online)
  • D (Establishing a commission to examine revising county charter)
  • F (A casino-backed smoking change)
  • Z (one-eighth of 1 percent sales tax for the Zoo)

St. Charles County passed their first smoke-free law, with exemptions.

Claire McCaskill lost her bid for a 3rd term in the US Senate. Though I voted blue, I know she wouldn’t have won a 2nd term in 2012 had Todd Aikn not mentioned “legitimate rape.”  This was a gift she didn’t receive this year.  As I watched her ads about being right in the middle I hated that I had to fill in bubble next to her name.

The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon. When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle? Rather than chattel slavery, perhaps we could agree on a nice program of indentured servitude? Instead of subjecting Japanese-American citizens to indefinite detention during WW II, what if we had agreed to give them actual sentences and perhaps provided a receipt for them to reclaim their things when they were released? What is halfway between moral and immoral?

When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle?

The search for the middle is rooted in conflict avoidance and denial. For many Americans it is painful to understand that there are citizens of our community who are deeply racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic. Certainly, they reason, this current moment is somehow a complicated misunderstanding. Perhaps there is some way to look at this–a view from the middle–that would allow us to communicate and realize that our national identity is the tie that will bind us comfortably, and with a bow. The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant than the issues over which we are sparring. (Time)

If Democrats want to win in Missouri they need to stop trying to be GOP Lite.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: How Will You Vote On Missouri’s 3 Medical Marijuana Measures?

September 30, 2018 Drug Policy, Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Sunday Poll: How Will You Vote On Missouri’s 3 Medical Marijuana Measures?
Please vote below

In just over five weeks Missouri voters will decide if the state joins the majority of states that have already legalized marijuana for medical use.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Most recently, sales of recreational-use marijuana in California kicked off on Jan. 1. In Massachusetts, retail sales of cannabis are expected to start later this year in July. Voters in Maine similarly approved a ballot measure legalizing marijuana in 2016. The state, however, has not yet adopted rules for licensed marijuana growers or retailers, nor has it begun accepting licenses. Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would have established a legal framework for sales of the drug.

The vast majority of states allow for limited use of medical marijuana under certain circumstances. Some medical marijuana laws are broader than others, with types of medical conditions that allow for treatment varying from state to state. Louisiana, West Virginia and a few other states allow only for cannabis-infused products, such as oils or pills. Other states have passed narrow laws allowing residents to possess cannabis only if they suffer from select rare medical illnesses. (Governing)

Our neighbor to the East, Illinois, has had a test medical marijuana program for a couple of years. Arkansas, to the South, approved it in 2016 and the program should begin in 2019. For Missouri voters it isn’t a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote:

Missouri voters will find not one but three different proposals aiming to legalize marijuana for medical purposes when they pick up ballots Nov. 6. 

Some language is similar across all three proposals, but they are not identical. Here are some common questions and answers that explain how each would function.

What’s on the ballot?

Two constitutional amendments and one change to state law regarding medical marijuana have been proposed:

  • Amendment 2, supported by a group called New Approach Missouri
  • Amendment 3, supported by Springfield physician-attorney Brad Bradshaw
  • Proposition C, supported by a group called Missourians for Patient Care

All three would legalize growing, manufacturing, selling and consuming marijuana and marijuana products for medicinal use at the state level. (Proposition C touts an additional requirement that local community support would be required before and after its local licensing authority approves medical marijuana use.)

Proposition C would tax marijuana sales at 2 percent; proceeds would be split four ways to fund veterans health care, public safety, drug treatment programs and early childhood development initiatives.

Amendment 2 would tax marijuana sales at 4 percent, with the resulting proceeds going to fund veterans health care programs. This is the only proposition that would allow for home-growing of marijuana.

Amendment 3 would tax sales by growers to dispensaries at $9.25 per ounce for marijuana flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves and would tax sales by dispensaries to patients at 15 percent. The proceeds — projected to be by far the most of the three measures — would go toward setting up a research institute and efforts to cure currently incurable diseases, with money set aside to acquire land for the institute’s campus and to fund transportation infrastructure, medical care, public pensions and income tax refunds.

Under all three proposals, prospective patients and primary caregivers would apply to the state for identification signifying their ability to receive and prescribe medical marijuana, respectively. Those hoping to cultivate, manufacture or sell marijuana products would apply for separate licenses. (Springfield News-Leader)

Today’s poll seeks to find out how you plan to vote on the three medical marijuana measures on the ballot.

This poll will automatically close at 8pm tonight. On Wednesday I’ll discuss my thoughts on each of the three, what happens if all three are approved, etc.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Opinion: St. Louis Should Legalize Marijuana

November 1, 2017 Board of Aldermen, Crime, Drug Policy, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: St. Louis Should Legalize Marijuana

Marijuana never should have been classified as am illegal drug to begin with. So why was it? A top bureaucrat didn’t want to be out of a job!

In 1929, a man called Harry Anslinger was put in charge of the Department of Prohibition in Washington, D.C. But alcohol prohibition had been a disaster. Gangsters had taken over whole neighborhoods. Alcohol — controlled by criminals — had become even more poisonous.

So alcohol prohibition finally ended — and Harry Anslinger was afraid. He found himself in charge of a huge government department, with nothing for it to do. Up until then, he had said that cannabis was not a problem. It doesn’t harm people, he explained, and “there is no more absurd fallacy” than the idea it makes people violent.

But then — suddenly, when his department needed a new purpose — he announced he had changed his mind. (Huffington Post)

He sold the public on the idea smoking weed caused “reefer madness.”

See the full propaganda film here. The madness has been decades of prohibition on a plant with remarkable medicinal qualities.

Poster for the 1930s propaganda film ‘Reefer Madness’

From Board Bill 180 introduced last week:

WHEREAS, in 2013, Board of Aldermen addressed marijuana possession in the City of St. Louis by passing Ordinance 69429, as codified in Part IV, Chapter 11.60, Title 11 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis;

WHEREAS, at least five cities, including Breckenridge, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; Portland, Maine; South Portland, Maine; Washington, D.C., and eight states, including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada have legalized and regulated marijuana under state and local laws;

WHEREAS, cities and states have not seen significant increases in crime since legalization and regulation of marijuana, and many have seen slight decreases in crime;

WHEREAS, the Drug Enforcement Agency found that, overall, research does not support a direct causal relationship between regular marijuana use and other illicit drug use;

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Police Department has contended that it is understaffed by over 110 officers;

WHEREAS, federal law prohibition makes enforcement of state laws on marijuana by the City of St. Louis, including by the Metropolitan Police Department, redundant and wasteful of city resources;

WHEREAS, arresting, citing, and prosecuting marijuana offenders diverts police time away from crimes with victims. Nationally, 87% of all motor vehicle thefts and over 70% of robberies go unsolved, while law enforcement pursues over half a million arrests for marijuana possession. Regulating marijuana would free up law enforcement time and resources to focus on real crime;

WHEREAS, it is in the best interests of the City of Saint Louis that City resources only be devoted to issues of priority in ensuring public safety and protecting the quality of life for its residents;

WHEREAS, eliminating marijuana enforcement by local police may separate the market for marijuana from the market for more harmful substances, reducing the likelihood that marijuana consumers will be exposed to opiates or other dangerous drugs when they purchase marijuana;

WHEREAS, studies have found that a 48% reduction in patients’ opioid use after three months of medical marijuana treatment, 39% reduction in their opioid dosage, and 39% stopped using opioids altogether;

WHEREAS, researchers at Columbia University’s School of Public Health found that, in states that passed medical marijuana laws, fewer drivers killed in car crashes tested positive for opioids after the laws went into effect

Yes, this should be addressed at state & federal levels, but it’s not. We can’t afford to just sit around waiting for the pushes of old myths to admit they were wrong.

This bill is sponsored by Megan E. Green (15) and co-spomsored by the following:

I urge you to thank each of these six aldermen and for you to contact the other 22 to get BB180 passed.

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll I used the word “pot” because it’s an old term generally used only by those who oppose legalization.

Q: Agree or disagree: Pot is a dangerous drug, St. Louis Police should continue enforcing state & federal pot laws!

  • Strongly agree 8 [17.02%]
  • Agree 4 [8.51%]
  • Somewhat agree 1 [2.13%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.13%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [2.13%]
  • Disagree 7 [14.89%]
  • Strongly disagree 23 [48.94%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [4.26%]

Clearly, many of those who responded still believe the propaganda.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should the City of St. Louis Legalize Marijuana?

October 29, 2017 Crime, Drug Policy, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should the City of St. Louis Legalize Marijuana?
Please vote below

One of four new board bills introduced on Friday

The bill, sponsored by Alderman Megan Green, 15th Ward, would stop enforcement of any laws that permit “the civil or criminal punishment for the use or possession of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia against any individual or entity,” except under certain circumstances.

Civil or criminal penalties could be enforced on anyone using marijuana under the age of 21, selling to someone under 21, or possessing more than 2 ounces of marijuana or more than 10 marijuana plants for cultivation. Under the measure, consumption of marijuana anywhere but on private residential property would be limited.

The plan would allow the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to focus on violent, more serious crime at a time when police resources are limited, Green said. (Post-Dispatch)

This is the subject of today’s poll.

This poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Pattreson

 

Readers Overwhelmingly Support Medical Marijuana for Missouri

The Sunday Poll on medical marijuana got lots of responses — but the results stayed consistent throughout the 12 hours the poll was open.

Q: Medical cannabis/marijuana may be on Missouri’s ballot in August or November, support or oppose such a proposition?

  • Strongly support 115 [76.67%]
  • Support 17 [11.33%]
  • Somewhat support 7 [4.67%]
  • Neither support or oppose 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat oppose 0 [0%]
  • Oppose 2 [1.33%]
  • Strongly oppose 9 [6%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

Less than 10% oppose, but this non-scientific poll isn’t representative of Missouri voters.  Still, supporters gathering signatures for a ballot measure believe there is sufficient statewide support for passage in 2016.

The initiative is described as:

  • Pro-patient: Instead of creating a short and restrictive list of qualifying conditions, this initiative puts power in the hands of a state-licensed physicians, not politicians or bureaucrats, to determine who will benefit from medical cannabis.
  • Robust System for Access: The initiative creates a statewide system for production and sale of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products. It also provides for limited and regulated patient cultivation.
  • Small Tax to Benefit Missouri Veterans: The initiative levies a four percent retail tax, and all revenue in excess of the cost of regulating the medical cannabis program will go to help Missouri’s veterans.
  • Public Safety: The initiative maintains the current prohibition on public use and driving under the influence. It also allows the Department of Health and Senior Services to institute a seed-to-sale tracking system to ensure that the product and money do not reach the illicit market.
  • Regulatory Framework: Puts Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in charge of licensing and implementation, but also allows the department to contract with other state agencies when necessary for effective and efficient regulation.
  • Quick Implementation: The amendment creates deadlines to make the department move quickly to promulgate rules, issue applications, and swiftly implement and award patient cards and industry licenses.

If passed, it could be far more effective than Illinois’ current effort.

Are you one of the few who oppose this? If so, you’re like CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta — before he researched the facts.  After looking into the issue, he did a 180.

Below is a short segment from his CNN special called Weed.

The fact is cannabis/marijuana has real medical benefits. Decades of a racist ban has stifled research, but that’s slowly changing. Below is the full Weed documentary.

When the 1937 law prohibiting cannabis was ruled unconstitutional, the Nixon administration included it as a Schedule 1 drug — again, for racist reasons.

We’ve been sold lie for decades — I fell for it too for a long time. It’s time to wake up to the medical benefits of this plant!

— Steve Patterson

 

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