Comparing the Candidates: 4 Opinions on Marijuana Legalization

Here we are almost three months away from Election Day. How do the candidates view the prospect of federal cannabis legalization? This issue has not been covered much in the mainstream media, but there are some sources that give us a sense of where the candidates stand.

Keep in mind that federal legalization is a complex initiative and even if the executive branch pushed for legalization, it would most likely be challenged in Congress after the decree is issued. Here are the four main candidates' opinions on the question of legalization.


Hillary Clinton and Marijuana Legalization

Hilary Clinton (D):

Clinton’s stance is that of pragmatism. She believes that there should be full federal access to medicinal marijuana and that more research and funding opportunities into the medicinal benefits of marijuana is needed. This would require a change in the scheduling of marijuana, down from schedule 1 to schedule 2 or 3. This would in turn open up research opportunities and get rid of red tape associated with marijuana research. To research marijuana in the United States, approval from both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration is required. This approval can often take many years.

Clinton also supports allowing states to implement their own marijuana policies without fear of retribution from the federal government. (This is the same stance President Obama has now.) In October 2015 during a democratic primary debate, she was asked if she had a position on state legalization laws in states like Colorado and Washington. She said she had no definitive opinion on the matter, but that she did have concerns about the rising U.S incarceration rates around drug possession.

She made a definitive statement on the topic in March of 2016, on Jimmy Kimmel Live; “I think what the states are doing right now needs to be supported, and I absolutely support all the states that are moving toward medical marijuana, eventually moving toward legalizing it for recreational use.” This state model contradicts her former opponent Bernie Sanders' opinion on federal legalization and was a big difference highlighted during the primaries.

Clinton is faced with a party that is split on the idea of federal legalization. The more progressive side of the party supports legalization while the more conservative “blue dog” democrats of the south are still wary of it. Clinton has taken a middle ground position in support of marijuana, moving slowly and cautiously to full federal legalization.


Donald trump and marijuana legalization

Donald Trump (R):

Trump’s position on marijuana has changed and throughout the years. Like Clinton, he is faced with the problem of having a split party on the issue of legalization. Whereas the libertarian side of the Republican Party advocates the decriminalization of all drugs (an opinion Trump held in the '90s), the more socially conservative part of the party is vehemently opposed to legalization of any kind. He has been quoted as saying “In some ways (legalization) is good” but it is uncertain if he will hold to this position once the presidential debates begin. 

In terms of medicinal marijuana, Trump does support legal access -- but says that states should have the final say without interference from the federal government. On an interview with Bill O’Reilly, Trump rebuked O’Reilly when O'Reilly said medical marijuana was "a ruse.” Trump responded that he knew people that had serious medical problems and that having access to marijuana helped them cope with their condition.

Trump has been inconsistent on many policy positions. Out of the four candidates, he is the most difficult to find definitive statements from on marijuana legalization. He has said he is for medical marijuana “100%,” but it seems as if federal legalization is not at the top of his executive priorities if elected president.


Gary Johnson (L):

Gary Johnson Marijuana

            Since 1999, when he was governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson has advocated the legalization of marijuana. He has said he would allow states to regulate marijuana in a way that was best for their constituency, but would guarantee decriminalization at the federal level. For instance, if a state or local municipality voted against full-scale legalization, they could stay decriminalized and not sell within the town, city, or state.

“Over time, politicians have criminalized far too many aspects of people’s personal lives,” Johnson has said. ”Why do we tell adults what they can put in their bodies?” As a former patient himself, Johnson has used marijuana as an alternative to painkillers for a broken back, specifically a fracture to his T12 vertebrae.

He has often compared the current prohibition of marijuana to the prohibition of alcohol back in the 1920’s. He believes prohibition was repealed because it made matters worse by creating a black market that gangsters like Al Capone took advantage of. “Today, no one is trying to sell our kids bathtub gin in the schoolyard and microbreweries aren’t protecting their turf with machine guns. It’s time to apply that thinking to marijuana.” He has also added that drug use is up in the U.S -- despite 30 billion dollars being spent annually on the war on drugs.

Before running for president, he served as CEO of a medicinal marijuana business based in Nevada. (He has not used marijuana since his injury in 2008, and was not governor at the time of the injury.) He has also said he would abstain from using marijuana if elected president. 


Jill Stein Marijuana laws

Jill Stein (G):

Dr. Stein has come out in full support of legalizing and regulating marijuana for medical and adult use nationwide. She has pledged that one of her first actions would be to “order to DEA and the Justice Department to cease and desist all attempts to harass or prosecute medical marijuana clinics or other legitimate marijuana-related businesses that are operating under current state laws.” She believes that the real danger of marijuana is the violence of the underground drug economy created by prohibition --leading one to believe she may advocate the decriminalization of all drugs (but this is not confirmed).

On the issue of over-incarceration for non-violent crimes, Stein has said that there is a systemic problem of “wasting money and ruining lives by prosecuting victimless crimes.” Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simple possession according to the American Civil Liberties Union, a statistic Stein has quoted many times in interviews and public forums. She also supports creating new jobs in growing hemp for food and fiber.

Another long shot for the presidency, Stein believes that with full federal legalization, the U.S could transform the criminal drug system into one based on public health and rehabilitation. During an interview in 2012, she was quoted saying that “we would actually use science to determine which drugs are dangerous and which ones are not…If you don’t treat the problem it only aggravates it and compounds it with issues of public safety and criminal violence associated with the illegal drug culture.” This quote sums up Dr. Stein’s position, that marijuana should be removed from schedule 1 and that people struggling with addiction should be referred to treatment rather than incarceration.

Overall, the views of the candidates differ in degree, but one view around marijuana remains constant -- medicinal marijuana is a legitimate form of medicine and further research is needed without interference from federal agencies. 

Additional sources for the candidate’s positions can be found at the links below:

Written by Zach Johnson

Obstacles Facing the Legal Marijuana Industry

As the legal recreational marijuana industry in the United States passes its infancy stage, it has begun confronting a few obstacles along the way. As the industry gets bigger and bigger, competition becomes more and more intense. Prices are needing to drop, and competition between neighboring states is also becoming rather tricky. This leads to differing levels of success in different states. For instance, in Washington state, competition is causing sales to slow. In Oregon, on the other hand, sales of legal marijuana are increasing significantly.

To add to the mix, in Colorado and Oregon, out of state investors are also getting increasingly interested in the legal pot business. Meanwhile in California, voters will decide this November whether they will finally allow recreational marijuana in their state. It’s safe to say that the ball is rolling in the American marijuana world.

A risky business

Although things are definitely happening on the marijuana legalization front, that doesn’t mean everything is going perfectly just yet. Part of the reason for this is the fact that it remains an illegal industry in the eyes of the federal law. This means that bank accounts aren’t easy to open -- and without a bank account, everything ends up being done in cash. Businesses with lots of cash and nowhere to put it are at a much higher risk of theft.

This, of course, can make investors nervous as well. It also doesn’t help that the federal Department of Justice does not see investors from other states in a good light. Therefore, despite the fact that the money is there, and the industry is booming, inevitable roadblocks keep it from expanding as much as it could.

Marijuana money

marijuana-plant

The money in the legal marijuana business is a force to be reckoned with. Sales were up to $5.7 billion last year, which represents an increase of nearly 25% from the year before. This was helped by the fact that there were three times the number of states allowing recreational marijuana as there was the year before. If this continues as is projected, we could be seeing $22.8 billion in sales in less than four years.

The United States has reached a milestone in terms of how many states have legalized marijuana. With Ohio legalizing medical marijuana, 25 states (as well as Washington, D.C.) now allow medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana is legal in four U.S. states. Nine further states are progressing toward the legalization of marijuana (including California).

If California does legalize recreational marijuana, it will bring in a huge amount of sales for the industry – as much as $15 billion. A hefty portion of that money will go directly back to the state through taxes, jobs, and an overall economy boost. If you look at Colorado’s economy boost from legalizing recreational marijuana ($1 billion), it’s easy to imagine how California (whose economy is much larger) would benefit in an even greater way.

California’s medical marijuana industry is already the biggest in the nation; due in part to the fact that it was the first to legalize it, having done it already back in 1996. If recreational marijuana is legalized, it’s likely that the medical market would drop in California by about $100 million.

Marijuana laws on the federal level

The difference in the way the federal government sees marijuana compared to how now half of the U.S. states in the country see it is vastly different. This difference does not seem to be going away anytime soon, unfortunately. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California have come together with their Judiciary Committee and Caucus on International Narcotics Control. They are having a hearing about whether or not the federal government is doing a good enough job keeping people “protected” from what is happening with the surge of states legalizing marijuana.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Justice has not done enough in the face of so much state-level legalization. It recommends that it should closely monitor what the effects of legalization are. Of course, the Government Accountability Office is also being criticized for going after people who are legally using marijuana in states where it is allowed. In short, since the public clearly wants it to be legal, eventually the public servants will have to come around.

Marijuana in 2016

Ultimately this has been (and will continue to be) an exciting year for the legal marijuana industry. Prices are being driven down in states like Washington and Colorado, or they are predicted to start dropping later this year (such as in Oregon). Tax differences between bordering states can make a significant difference in terms of competition, leading to some sort of border wars between states such as Oregon and Washington.

The country waits to see how Alaska will do this year when it begins releasing its recreational licenses. It may look different from other states, if only because marijuana businesses must be entirely owned and run by Alaskans. This could mean slower growth for the Alaskan recreational marijuana industry. On the other hand, Alaska is allowing marijuana edibles along with other forms, meaning they could see something like Amsterdam’s “coffee shops” cropping up this fall and winter.

Written by Robert Bergman, founder of ilovegrowingmarijuana.com. Robert has been passionately exploring and experimenting with cannabis seeds for over 20 years and shares these insights to help prospective growers get the most out of their plants. On top of that, Robert engages to fully liberate marijuana by offering his views in the political, social, market and industry area of our beloved plant.

4 Reasons Why Using A Weed Vaporizer is Healthier than Smoking

vapor plants vaporizer

You've probably heard that using vape pens to vaporize e-liquid is safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes. What you may not realize is that using a marijuana vaporizer instead of smoking weed has been shown to also offer health benefits for those who make the switch. If you use medical marijuana or smoke pot for recreational purposes in a place where it's legal to do so, moving to a weed vaporizer can provide numerous health benefits. Here are just four of them:

1. Less Exposure to Toxins

To understand how a dry herb vaporizer can protect you from toxins, let's take a look at marijuana vapor and smoke side by side:

effects of vaporizing compared to smoking
  • Marijuana is 95 percent active cannabinoids like THC and CBN. Smoke is only 12 percent pure active cannabinoids. Read more about cannabinoids here.
  • Only about 5 percent of marijuana consists of other substances beyond the cannabinoids that give pot its benefits, yet 88 percent of what you inhale when you smoke a joint consists of impurities.
  • There is only one potentially harmful substance found in vapor plus two other natural, harmless compounds. Marijuana smoke contains 111 other compounds, and at least six of those could potentially be harmful.

2. Less Exposure to Irritants

Every time that you take a draw from a weed vape pen, your body is able to absorb 95 percent of the THC found in your dry herbs. When you take a drag on a joint, you're only getting 12 percent of that THC. As a result, you need to take more drags to get the benefits you desire. Because you can get better results with fewer draws, a weed vaporizer pen cuts down on exposure to irritants that cause symptoms like coughing and wheezing.

Risks from Smoking tobacco vs. cannabis

3. Support for Healthier Lungs

A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found that people who gave up smoking marijuana and began using an herbal vaporizer actually experienced improvements in overall lung health. Once they stopped smoking, their lungs began to recover from previous damage and they began to experience fewer chronic symptoms that previously had plagued them.

4. Faster Effects

If you're using medicinal marijuana, you'll be able to feel the results of your herbs more quickly when you use a weed vaporizer because your body is able to absorb the THC and CBN at a faster pace. This is especially beneficial for people who use marijuana to relieve debilitating pain.

Most experts agree that vaporizing dry herbs or wax in vaporizer pens and portable and desktop vaporizers is a safer alternative to smoking weed. Doctors frequently recommend that patients use a dry weed vaporizer for medicinal marijuana, and lawmakers in New York even mandated that only vaporizers be used for medical weed in the state due to how much safer vaping is. Plus, a marijuana portable vaporizer can help save you money in the long run by allowing you to get more benefits out of a smaller amount of dry herbs.

Reference: vaporplants

Photo credits: vaporplant

This Week in Medical Marijuana News 7/29/16

Welcome to our newest feature, where we compile and excerpt some of the more interesting medical marijuana headlines from the past week. Comments are open to discussion! 


TIME Magazine takes a look at the rise of medical marijuana and its potential to reverse the opioid epidemic. 

“If we could use cannabis, which is less addictive and harmful than opioids, to increase the effectiveness of pain treatment, I think it can make a difference during this epidemic of opioid abuse,” says Abrams, who has investigated the effect of cannabis on pain for over a decade. “We are hampered by the fact that it is still difficult to get funding for studies on cannabis as a therapeutic,” he adds.


Miami News published an article this week about a local heiress to a supermarket chain donating $800k to kill Florida's medical marijuana amendments.

Public records show that billionaire Carol Jenkins Barnett, heiress to the Publix fortune, contributed the large sum to a lobbying group that is currently "spreading lies, half-truths, and misinformation about the proposed law." One theory is that her motivation may be because "Publix is also one of the largest pharmacies in the South, and legalized medical weed might cut into her family's prescription-pill business." Hmm.


People Magazine reports that Montel Williams was detained briefly in Germany for having medical marijuana.

The former talk-show host was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and has been a longtime advocate for medical marijuana. Fortunately, he has "a prescription by a world class neurologist specializing in MS," and the whole situation was resolved in under an hour.
 

Will the Marijuana Industry Keep Growing?

There is no denying it: there has been some major growth in the marijuana industry in recent years. But how long can this sustain itself? And will the industry keep growing even now? The fact is, it will. And we’re here to tell you how we know that.

Marijuana: More popular than alcohol

Is there anything that could truly be more popular than alcohol? It’s hard to say, but at least for a few months in Aspen, Colorado, this was indeed the case. More marijuana was bought than alcohol out on the slopes during spring of last year, showing a distinct sign that marijuana is gaining in popularity and won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

The greatest sales in marijuana came in March (Spring Break month), getting up to just $2,000 short of one million dollars in sales. As the weather warmed up, the sales cooled off, but nonetheless, weed outsold alcohol the following month too. Aspen sold $8.3 million in medical and recreational marijuana, pulling in an extra two hundred thousand dollars in just taxes and fees alone.

Celebrity endorsement

While certain celebrities have always been known for their love of weed, the industry is starting to shine the spotlight on a new kind of celebrity -- the type of person who is famous for their work, and not for loving weed.

Mindy Segal, Mindy's Hot Chocolate

Mindy Segal, Mindy's Hot Chocolate

One such example is Mindy Segal of Chicago. She owns the place called Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, and her cookbook “Cookie Love” won all sorts of awards. Not only that, but she even received the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef award a few years back. Now, she’s broadening her horizons even more by teaming up with Cresco Labs to create pastries and sweets infused with marijuana. With Cresco’s extraction of the THC and other marijuana-related ingredients and Segal’s superior pastry skills, the two will create some amazing products.

What kind of products can we expect? Everything from granola bites to hot chocolate to boxed cookie and cake mixes to chocolate brittle bars! Segal is proud of being known as an authority figure of sorts in the baking industry, and she’s trying to show people that the marijuana industry isn’t as scary as it might seem. And this is not the only instance of a celebrity getting together with a marijuana company -- we can expect to see much more in this growing trend.

Mexican drug cartels don’t like it

Because there is far more domestic marijuana being produced in the United States, far less marijuana is being brought up from our southern border. To show it clearly: in 2009, there were almost four million pounds of marijuana from Mexico seized at the border. In 2014, this number dropped to just 1.5 million. The Mexican pot industry certainly is not doing well as the American pot industry booms.

The marijuana farmers in Mexico are getting paid less per kilogram of pot harvested, only furthering the signs that the marijuana industry in the States is growing without any plans to stop. It is, of course, unfortunate that the hard working farmers in the Mexican fields are being punished for this, there are some positives to it: this marijuana was being brought to the States with the dangerous and violent Mexican drug cartels -- if they are losing money, it is ultimately a good thing.

Of course, it will take a lot more than a rise in the marijuana industry to knock down the top dogs of the Mexican drug cartels. But in any case, it is a sign that there is a significant increase in the American marijuana industry, and that it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The economics of marijuana are extremely positive

It is estimated that retail sales of legal marijuana are going to get up to $11 billion by the year 2020. Last year it was already at around $4 billion, and that’s when there are still major roadblocks to the legalization of marijuana in the majority of the country. If the industry continues as projected, there might be a $44 billion economic impact by the year 2020.

What does such a huge economic impact mean? The key to the figure is this: for every dollar spent on legal retail marijuana, three more dollars have a ripple effect on the economy: revenue for the government, businesses in the marijuana industry, the creation of more jobs, and the rise in tourism are all included in this impact. In other words, the state and the country’s economy are going to get a lot more out of it than you might expect.


This guest post was written by Robert Bergman, founder of ilovegrowingmarijuana.com. Robert has been passionately exploring and experimenting with cannabis seeds for over 20 years and shares these insights to help prospective growers get the most out of their plants. On top of that, Robert engages to fully liberate marijuana by offering his views in the political, social, market and industry area of our beloved plant.