Priorities: Government Officials Want Cannabis Legalisation Bill ‘as Soon as Possible’

Officials within Germany’s federal government are reportedly pushing for a bill to legalise cannabis in the country to be drawn up “as soon as possible”.

Kirsten Kappert-Gonther, a Green MP within the German parliament, has called for the Federal Health Minister to present a draft law that would legalise cannabis in the country “as soon as possible”, a report on Wednesday has claimed.

The issue has been a hot-button topic within the Bundestag for some time, despite the fact that the country has also largely failed to address its woeful energy situation which has seen inflation rise to its highest level in the country’s post-war history last year.

According to a report by Die Welt, Kappert-Gonther, who serves as the Green party’s health spokeswoman within parliament, emphasised that cannabis legalisation has already been agreed upon within Germany’s three-party ruling coalition, which consists of the Greens with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD, red), as well as the Free Democratic Party (FDP, yellow).

Now, the main issue getting in the way of legalisation is the country’s Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach, who has yet to publish a draft bill that would legalise the substance.

“The controlled release of cannabis is agreed in the coalition agreement,” the health representative said. “The Minister of Health must now present a draft law in a timely manner.”

“I’m committed to making it happen as soon as possible,” the Green MP went on to say.

Die Welt goes on to note that — while the country’s government does want to legalise the drug — it is possible that Eurocrats from Brussels may block the legislation should they feel it interferes with EU law.

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Marijuana Law Reached Peak Absurdity in 2022

Banning a plant with hundreds of industrial and medical uses was never going to work out well, but 2022 saw marijuana prohibition reach peak absurdity, not to mention peak confusion for consumers and new businesses trying to make sense of it all.

At first glance, cannabis reform appears to be humming along smoothly. Maryland, Missouri and Rhode Island approved legalization initiatives in 2022 as states such as New Mexico and New York raced to establish regulations for legal recreational sales. New laws in mostly blue states expunged cannabis arrests from criminal records for thousands of people. President Joe Biden made moves to pardon federal marijuana prisoners and reconsider the federal “scheduling” of marijuana, a baby step toward potentially ending federal prohibition administratively. Lawmakers debated cannabis reform bills in Congress, even if the vast majority were never passed into law.

A look under the hood, however, reveals regulatory chaos in a nation where marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. For many people, 2022 will be remembered as the year “legal THC” hit the shelves, including in almost every state still under prohibition. The hemp industry, which previously brought us non-inebriating CBD in countless forms, leveraged sketchy chemistry and legal loopholes to evade regulation and sell various synthetic THC products that will absolutely get customers high regardless of where they live, making a mockery of what remains of prohibition.

Unlike traditional cannabis sold in legalized states, researchers know little about the potential risks of using synthetic THC, but “legal THC” products are now commonly sold online and in convenience stories. Sales are booming in states where traditional marijuana remains illegal, particularly among novice consumers and medicine seekers who prefer to avoid running afoul of the law. While the hemp industry has expanded access to cannabis edibles that can relieve conditions such as pain and insomnia, unregulated vapes and powerfully psychoactive synthetics are raising public health concerns.

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Pharmaceutical Industry Suffers Billions In Losses After States Legalize Marijuana, New Study Finds

The pharmaceutical industry takes a serious economic hit after states legalize marijuana—with an average market loss of nearly $10 billion for drugmakers per each legalization event—according to a first-of-its-kind study.

The peer-reviewed research article, published in the journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday, looked at stock return and prescription drug sales data for 556 pharmaceutical companies from 1996 to 2019, analyzing market trends before and after the enactment of medical and adult-use cannabis legalization laws at the state level.

The stock returns were “1.5-2 percent lower at 10 days after legalization,” the study authors founds. “Returns decreased in response to both medical and recreational legalization, for both generic and brand drugmakersInvestors anticipate a single legalization event to reduce drugmaker annual sales by $3 billion on average.”

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The Problem with Marijuana Legalization

Although the medical use of marijuana has been legalized in 37 states, its recreational use is legal only in 19 states. (South Dakota voters approved a recreational marijuana initiative in the 2020 election, but it was overturned by a state circuit judge and upheld by the state supreme court.)

That is still a lot of states with legal weed considering that it was not until 2012 that the first two states (Colorado and Washington) legalized the recreational use of marijuana. In just the last two years, eight states have legalized recreational marijuana use. 

What is even more amazing is that the states have done this while the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) with “a high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use,” and “a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.”

But the problem with marijuana legalization on the state level is not that it is still illegal under federal law. The problem is that there are so many government rules and regulations on the state and local level that the marijuana market can hardly be considered free at all.

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Chuck Schumer Learned Nothing From the Failure of Pot Legalization in California

During the next year, California officials said last week, the state expects to seize “more than $1 billion worth of illegal cannabis products.” That announcement came a few weeks after the U.S. Justice Department bragged about guilty pleas by 11 unlicensed California marijuana merchants who had been nabbed with help from state and local law enforcement agencies.

The continuing war on weed in California, which supposedly legalized marijuana in 2016, reflects the striking failure to replace black-market dealers with state-licensed vendors, a plan that has been doomed by high taxes, local bans, and overregulation. Judging from the marijuana legalization bill he introduced last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D‒N.Y.) has learned nothing from that experience.

Six years after California voters approved recreational marijuana, unauthorized suppliers still account for somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of sales. A recent report from Reason Foundation, which publishes this website, highlights one major reason why licensed businesses have had so much trouble competing with illegal suppliers: Taxes are too high.

Geoff Lawrence, Reason Foundation’s managing director of drug policy, found that California’s effective tax rate ranged from $42 to $92 per ounce, depending on the jurisdiction, compared to an estimated wholesale production cost of $35 per ounce. The corresponding rates in Colorado and Oregon, both of which have been more successful at displacing the black market, are about $33 and $21, respectively.

Despite modest tax relief approved this year, legal marijuana remains overpriced in California. It is also inconvenient to buy in much of the state, Lawrence notes, thanks to local sales bans that have created “massive cannabis deserts” where “consumers have no access to a legal retailer within a reasonable distance of their home.”

Legal sellers also must contend with burdensome licensing requirements and regulations. Dale Gieringer, California director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says those rules help explain why legal marijuana prices are much higher than he anticipated.

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Senate Democrats introduce bill to federally decriminalize and tax marijuana after Biden said no one should go to jail for using cannabis

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday introduced a bill that would federally decriminalize marijuana and allows states to set up their own regulations on the cannabis industry. 

The bill came at long last to cannabis advocates and days after Biden proclaimed at a July 16 press briefing: ‘I don’t think anyone should be in prison for the use of marijuana. We’re working on the crime bill now.’ 

Biden was asked if he would be ‘honoring his campaign pledge’ to release all of those locked up for pot convictions from prison. The president has repeatedly says he does not support full legalization. 

Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Schumer first proposed a pot bill over a year ago but did not release text until Thursday. The legislation, called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, has a slim chance of passing the Senate, but portions of the bill could find their way into other packages that have a shot at passing before the end of the year. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee has set up a hearing titled: ‘Decriminalizing Cannabis at the Federal Level: Necessary Steps to Address Past Harms’ for next week. 

The legislation includes priorities sought by Democrats and Republicans: it expunges federal cannabis-related records and sets up funding for law enforcement to fight illegal cannabis production. 

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Did Minnesota accidentally legalize weed?

Minnesota just sorta, kinda, almost legalized weed.

A law took effect earlier this month allowing anyone at least 21 years old to purchase edibles or beverages with up to 5 milligrams of hemp-derived THC per serving. Those relatively low potency products with up to 50 milligrams per package still pack enough of a psychoactive punch to get most users plenty high.

But some key lawmakers who approved the significant change in drug policy were seemingly confused about what they’d done.

Marijuana legalization has been a divisive issue in the Minnesota Legislature for years. The Democratic-controlled House passed legislation last year that would allow anyone at least 21 years old to legally purchase and possess the drug, but the GOP-controlled Senate has remained staunchly opposed to recreational legalization. Yet a legalization provision was adopted during a marathon conference committee meeting in May without debate or objection.

“That doesn’t legalize marijuana?” Sen. Jim Abeler, the Republican chair of the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee, asked after it was adopted by a voice vote. “We didn’t just do that?”

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Despite 144 Million Americans Living in Legal States, DEA Making More Cannabis Arrests Than Ever

Since 2012, 19 states and Washington, DC have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. In total, 38 states and DC have legalized medical marijuana — meaning that a majority of Americans have access to cannabis, whether medically or recreationally. There are just 12 states in the country left who outlaw cannabis entirely — and even they are fading fast.

Currently, 144 million Americans live in states where recreational marijuana is legal and decriminalization measures are currently sweeping through all the other states where it is not. The war on weed is crumbling and the drug warriors who’ve ruined an untold number of lives over this plant are quickly finding themselves on the wrong side of history.

Despite the prohibition wall collapsing and legal cannabis winning the drug war, there are still police state-addicted tyrants holding strong while attempting to maintain their relevancy through enforcement. The US Drug Enforcement Administration is full of these tyrants and their latest numbers prove just how bad their addiction to the drug war is.

In the last two years, one would think that cannabis plant seizures and arrests related to marijuana would go down thanks to widespread legalization. Unfortunately, however, one would be wrong. The DEA is still carrying out their Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program with a vengeance.

Federal law enforcement agents and their partners seized over 5.5 million cultivated marijuana plants and made more than 6,600 marijuana-related arrests in 2021, according to annual data compiled by the DEA.

According to figures published in the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program Statistical Report, agents and their partners confiscated approximately 5.53 million cultivated cannabis plants last year – a 20 percent increase over 2020’s totals. Law enforcement also reported making 6,606 marijuana-related arrests, a 25 percent increase over the prior year’s totals (when agents reported 4,992 arrests) … for a plant.

These numbers are record breaking and are the highest since 2011 — before any states had legal weed. Since then, arrests have been going down, but in 2021 a surge began once more as police-state worshipping tyrants ramped up their hatred of this amazing plant and the people who choose to grow it.

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Step by Step for Liberty: Cannabis Edition

In the early days of the state-level movement to legalize marijuana, we often got opposition from a surprising camp – libertarians.

You would think libertarians would be thrilled with laws rolling back cannabis prohibition, but for many, it wasn’t enough. Skeptical libertarians found a myriad of reasons to oppose legalization efforts, saying they “didn’t go far enough.”

The movement started in the early 1970s and really started to grow with the legalization of medical marijuana in California way back in 1996. Opponents protested, “what about everybody else?”

Some libertarians also opposed medical marijuana on principle, saying people shouldn’t need a state-issued “card” to access cannabis. They’re not wrong theoretically. Asking the government for permission is never desirable. But the fact is virtually all of these people carry a card so they can drive.

As the legalization movement grew and states started allowing recreational marijuana, libertarians often complained about the tax and regulatory schemes attached to cannabis legalization bills and used this as a reason to oppose reforms. Of course, you never heard any of these people arguing that it would be better for alcohol to be illegal rather than heavily taxed and regulated, as it is in most states.

Another common objection was that legalizing marijuana doesn’t help people who have already been convicted of marijuana crimes. Having a criminal record has lifelong consequences and millions of people have to go through life with this legal millstone tied around their necks simply because at some point they possessed or sold a plant. What about these people? Again, they would actively oppose legalization bills on this basis.

But think about the implied logic. We’re going to allow more people to get caught in this legal web because this bill doesn’t address the needs of people already caught in this legal web. Sounds self-defeating, doesn’t it?

In reality, all of these are legitimate concerns. These libertarian opponents were generally right about the problems inherent in most legalization schemes. They were good on the philosophy. But opposing legalization efforts because they “aren’t good enough” is a bad strategy.

Consider this: would a starving man turn down a slice of bread because it wasn’t a whole loaf?

Let’s be honest here. Today, we’re starving for liberty at every turn.

Sometimes you have to take what you get so you have the ability to move forward. If the man gets a slice of bread, he’ll have the energy to go for that loaf.

The same principle applies to legislative activism. Small steps forward often lead to more steps forward.

Thomas Jefferson understood this well. In fact, in a 1790 letter to the Rev. Charles Clay Jefferson said liberty is to be gained by inches.

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