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As CA Moves to Legalize Recreational Weed, Startups Work Hard to Meet the Demand

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

As CA Moves to Legalize Recreational Weed, Startups Work Hard to Meet the Demand

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

California could soon be legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

If Proposition 64 passes this November, recreational marijuana would be legal in the Golden State for individuals aged 21 or older. Taxes would be established and then used to back government-run drug law enforcement, research, and what the architects of Prop 64 call “environmental restoration, cleanup, and enforcement efforts” resulting from illegal marijuana production.

PotWhile the initiative allows the state to profit from legalization, helping to boost the militaristic approach to the war on drugs locally, the law could benefit individual users and business owners who commercialize weed. And that’s what the startup community living in the heart of the American tech revolution is celebrating.

According to some reports, Silicon Valley’s class of pot entrepreneurs can’t wait until the votes have been all counted. Instead of sitting and waiting to see how things play out, they are already putting a “signature Valley spin on the age-old practice of selling marijuana,” using what they have learned from the social media explosion in order to prepare the market for consumers dying to use their smartphones to order some ounces of girl scout cookies, Bruce Banner, or perhaps sour diesel.

But they are not stopping there. They are also eager to develop software for growers and dispensaries, helping to “blow open the doors to innovation on the technology side of the cannabis industry,” says Chris Walsh, editorial director of Denver-based Marijuana Business Daily.

While this enthusiasm shows the importance of allowing markets to let consumers make all decisions, it is also a risky business, considering marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

During the upcoming months and even years, many states will be joining the list of states legalizing marijuana, but federal regulators will, most likely, be the last ones to embrace the trend.

Estimates suggest that by 2020, marijuana sales in America will exceed $22 billion. While there’s a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs to join the industry, barriers lifted by the very laws removing the criminal element and regulating the sale and use of weed may make it difficult for those who aren’t already established or well-connected to succeed.

To those who are already in the business or getting ready to cash in, there’s still an issue with the financial aspect of the marijuana industry, considering the fact that most investment firms will steer away from marijuana entrepreneurs due to federal pressure. But companies like Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital have already thought of that, offering startups the means to get going with their ideas without having to worry about convincing powerful, well-connected men in suits their business plan will work despite all odds.

As more states join the legalization movement, opportunities will be made available. It’s up to those willing to take the risk of going against the feds to embrace them.

SHOCKER: Prison Food Makers Don’t Want Arizona to Legalize Pot

in Drugs, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

SHOCKER: Prison Food Makers Don’t Want Arizona to Legalize Pot

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Rent-seeking, better known as the practice many companies embrace while trying to obtain benefits through the political machine, is, more often than not, the reason why our liberties are clipped, one by one, in the name of the greater good.

The war on drugs is the perfect example of this.

WeedEver since the idea of the drug war was first considered a valuable policy, politicians have used it as a way to bring their own enemies to heel. Much like major companies — whose profits suffer greatly whenever new competitors enter the market — these politicians often exploit their titles while claiming to hold an entirely different position in public.

With the war against marijuana, we have seen countless industries such as the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries step up their efforts to ensure the plant remains criminalized. As some begin to embrace the trend — even adding marijuana to their portfolio — others remain stubborn, fighting against the change and pushing Washington insiders to keep weed as a Schedule I substance.

Still, there’s one particular industry fighting marijuana legalization that, up until recently, had not made it to the news.

While the law enforcement and prison sectors have always been anti-drug legalization — with the exceptions of groups such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) — yet another prison-related company has been investing in keeping weed illegal in at least one state: The prison food industry.

According to official Arizona state reports, Services Group of America has donated $80,000 last month to a campaign committee that hopes to defeat the legal cannabis measure on this year’s November ballot.

SGA’s subsidiary, Food Services of America, is tasked with preparing meals for correction facilities. And, in the past, it has been accused of offering meals that fail to meet basic nutritional standards set by the government. They do not seem too keen on allowing prison demands for their food reach a new low.

Local news reports also add that other groups such as the state Chamber of Commerce in Arizona have also donated heavily to the anti-marijuana effort, addressing a $498,000 check to the campaign.

Before both groups offered their financial support, opioid maker Insys Therapeutics had gone further, donating $500,000 to the anti-pot campaign.

Other groups listed as major anti-weed donors include the Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association, and SAM Action, which is often described as the campaign arm of Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Despite the heavy-handed efforts coming from these companies to defeat the marijuana legalization efforts, polls show voters are supporting the effort to legalize pot in the Grand Canyon state.

Will rent seekers win this time?

Pharmaceutical Industry Terrified Weed Legalization Will Put Them Out of Business

in Drugs, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Pharmaceutical Industry Terrified Weed Legalization Will Put Them Out of Business

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The opioid epidemic is a real issue in America. So much so that the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch started telling young folks that marijuana isn’t really the problem. Instead, Lynch explained, legally prescribed medications are to blame for the increase in opioid abuse.

But while learning that the head of the United States Department of Justice has just argued that weed does not represent a real threat may sound promising, it’s important to remember that marijuana is still a Schedule I drug. Meaning that the federal government still sees marijuana as a substance “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

ManufacturingRecently, a group of marijuana legalization activists got an initiative known as Proposition 205 in the ballot in Arizona.

The initiative would allow Arizona residents who are older than 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public. Prop 205 would also allow consumers to grow up to six plants at home, giving them the option to give other adults up to an ounce at a time of its produce “without remuneration.”

But with the good news came another discovery.

The group that, alone, donated $500,000 to the effort to oppose the Arizona marijuana legalization campaign, is a local pharmaceutical company known as Insys, and it produces oral sprays used in the delivery of an opioid painkiller known as fentanyl.

According to Reason, the same company is planning on marketing yet another device that would deliver dronabinol, a synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC: The main mind-altering ingredient in cannabis.

When donating to kill the initiative, the company contended that its opposition to marijuana legalization is due to Prop 205’s “[failure] to to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.” According to Reason’s Jacob Sullum, what Insys is truly worried about is “the impact that legalization might have on its bottom line, since marijuana could compete with its products.”

And why is Insys so concerned? Perhaps because a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health contends that, in states where marijuana use is legal to a certain extent, fatally injured drivers are “less likely to test positive for opioids.” Sullum adds that this finding, along with the results of other studies show that “making marijuana legally available to patients saves lives by reducing their consumption of more dangerous medications.”

The data analyzed by researchers comes from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). By looking at the data gathered from 18 states where 80 percent of drivers who died in auto crashes were drug-tested, researchers found that, between 1999 and 2013, drivers between the ages of 21 and 40 were half as likely to test positive for opioids where medical marijuana laws had been implemented.

In these same states, researchers found that painkiller prescriptions fell by 3,645 daily doses per physician. Researchers concluded that “the passage of the medical marijuana laws” are directly associated with “the observed shifts in prescribing patterns.”

As the industry begins to fear the consequences of ending the drug war, we begin to understand that their dominance over the market is mainly due to their rent-seeking practices, which keep their leaders close to lawmakers, helping the industry to exert enough influence to sway public policy in a way that benefits them.

Without the presence of a government body giving companies special protections while outlawing particular drug transactions, drug providers are able to compete freely and in the open, giving consumers better and safer options.

It’s time to finally put an end to the drug war and admit that, rent-seeking will never help the nation heal from all of the negative consequences of our country’s ongoing romance with crony capitalism.

They Said It… With Vicente Fox, Grover Norquist and More

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!) LEGALIZE DRUGS WORLDWIDE, SAYS FORMER MEXICAN PRESIDENT: Former Mexican President Vicente Fox“What the hell is going on with Mexico? Those kids, like you … were not born criminals.… And yet they die, and yet they [are] killed … on this so-called War on Drugs. … The way, I see, for coming out of that trap, is legalization … taking away a business that is run by criminals, to be run by entrepreneurs. … I’m an activist in trying to promote the change, worldwide if possible, and for all drugs.” — Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico (2000-2006), speaking at the 2015 International Students for Liberty Conference, February 15, 2015. LEGAL U.S. POT KILLING MEXICAN CARTELS: “Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90. But now they’re paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It’s a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they’ll run us into the ground. … The day we get $20 a kilo, it will get to the point that we just won’t plant marijuana anymore.” — “Nabor,” a Mexican pot grower interviewed by NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Dec. 1, 2014, quoted Feb. 9 at DailyCaller.com. MINIMUM WAGE KILLS BELOVED SAN FRAN BOOKSTORE: “Borderlands is closing. In 18 years of Borderlands Booksbusiness, Borderlands has faced a number of challenges. … But, through all those challenges, we’ve managed to find a way forward and 2014 was the best year we’ve ever had. … So it fills us with sorrow and horror to say that we will be closing very soon. In November, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed a measure that will increase the minimum wage within the city to $15 per hour by 2018. … The change in minimum wage will mean our payroll will increase roughly 39%. … Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in principle and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco — Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage. Consequently we will be closing our doors no later than March 31st. ” — Borderlands Books blog, “Borderlands Books to Close in March,” Feb. 1, 2015. GIVING ISIS WHAT IT WANTS: “The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment.” — journalist Graeme Wood, “What ISIS Really Wants,” The Atlantic magazine, March 2015. SHEARING THE SHEEPLE: “China announces this coming year is the ‘Year of the Sheep.’ Here in the States, IRS chief announced: ‘We view all years that way.’” — tweet from Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, Feb. 14, 2015.

Try This Brilliant Argument Against the War on Drugs

in Communicating Liberty, Drugs, Liberator Online, One Minute Liberty Tip by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 16 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

One of the most powerful arguments I’ve ever heard against the very concept of Our Right to Drugsthe War on Drugs was made by Thomas Szasz, the great libertarian psychiatrist.

In the introduction to his wonderful book Our Right to Drugs, Szasz wrote:

“Casting a ballot is an important act, emblematic of our role as citizens. But eating and drinking are much more important acts. If given a choice between the freedom to choose what to ingest and what politician to vote for, few if any would pick the latter. Indeed, why would anyone be so foolish as to sell his natural birthright to consume what he chooses in return for the mess of pottage of being allowed to register his preference for a political candidate?”

and:

“The right to chew or smoke a plant that grows wild in nature, such as hemp (marijuana), is anterior to and more basic than the right to vote.”

This contrast — between the right to vote and the right to choose what substances we ingest — is brilliant, powerful and mind-opening.

Americans treasure our right to vote as a symbol of our liberty and self-governance. Epic struggles have been fought to extend the vote to women and disenfranchised minorities. Fights still wage today over voting issues. In troubled countries around the world people are willing to risk their lives to vote. The right to vote is widely considered sacred.

Yet the right to choose what we put into our own bodies is obviously a more fundamental freedom, a freedom rooted in our very nature as self-controlling adult human beings. In comparison to this freedom, voting is abstract and distant. Voting gives us only one small voice among many. The right to decide what we ingest is far more personal and basic. Indeed, without the ability to exercise that right, the very idea of self-governance is meaningless.

When you think about it, what could be a more fundamental freedom than the right to decide what plants we can consume? How can we consider ourselves free at all if we can’t make this most basic of choices?

Shouldn’t we, then, argue strongly for this right — at least as strongly as we argue for the right to vote?

Thomas Szasz’s powerful analogy can open minds on this difficult subject.

New York Times: End the Federal War on Marijuana

in Criminal Justice, Drugs, Liberator Online, Libertarian Stances on Issues by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

In a major and historic breakthrough for libertarians and other advocates of marijuana re-"Repeal Prohibition, Again" in the New York Timeslegalization, the New York Times editorial board has called for ending the federal war on marijuana.

Here are excerpts from the July 27 editorial, entitled “Repeal Prohibition, Again”:

“It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end [alcohol] Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

“The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana. …

“There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level. …

“The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

“There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the ‘Reefer Madness’ images of murder, rape and suicide. …

“Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime. …

“We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.”

The Times followed with a six-part series on marijuana legalization, which can be found under the text of their editorial.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance,commented on the groundbreaking editorial:

“This is of historic consequence — far bigger than most people assume. Some people in the country may perceive the Times editorial page as a liberal organ, but they should know that on this issue they’ve been cautious to a fault, even conservative. So for them to write what they did, at this juncture, demonstrated intellectual and moral clarity as well as courage.”

It should also be noted that what the New York Times is calling for is what the Libertarian Party and Ron Paul in his presidential campaigns called for — many years earlier.

They Said It… Andrew Sullivan, H. L. Mencken And More!

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Senator Rand Paul

RAND PAUL’S ADVICE TO SILICON VALLEY:

“Don’t be depressed with how bad government is. Use your ingenuity, use your big head to think of solutions the marketplace can figure out, that the idiots and trolls in Washington will never come up with.” — Sen. Rand Paul(R-KY), speaking to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs at the Lincoln Labs Reboot conference, July 18, 2014.

THE DESTRUCTION CAUSED BY POT PROHIBITION: “America’s four-decade War on Drugs is responsible for many casualties, but the criminalization of marijuana has been perhaps the most destructive part of that war. The toll can be measured in dollars — billions of which are thrown away each year in the aggressive enforcement of pointless laws. It can be measured in years — whether wasted behind bars or stolen from a child who grows up fatherless. And it can be measured in lives — those damaged if not destroyed by the shockingly harsh consequences that can follow even the most minor offenses.” — journalist Jesse Wegman, “The Injustice of Marijuana Arrests,” New York Times, July 28, 2014.
CUT THE CRAP ABOUT THE GENDER PAY GAP: “A gender pay gap, albeit one that is rapidly decreasing, still exists; but the good news is that when occupation, contracted hours and most significantly age are taken into account, it all but disappears. In fact, the youngest women today, even those working part-time, are already earning more each hour than men. We need to ask why this is not more widely known and question the motives of those who seem so desperate to cling to a last-ditch attempt to prove that women remain disadvantaged. We should be telling today’s girls that the potential to do whatever job they want and earn as much money as they please is theirs for the taking, rather than burdening them with the mantle of victimhood.” —Joanna Williams, Spiked, “Cut the Crap About the Gender Pay Gap,” July 29, 2014.

President Barack Obama

OBAMA — U.S. TORTURED: “In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong.We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did things that were contrary to our values.” — President Obama, commenting on the new U.S. Senate report on CIA crimes, Aug. 1, 2014.
BUSH AND OBAMA VS. AMERICAN VALUES:

Andrew Sullivan“Either the rule of law applies to the CIA or it doesn’t. And it’s now absolutely clear that it doesn’t. The agency can lie to the public; it can spy on the Senate; it can destroy the evidence of its war crimes; it can lie to its superiors about its torture techniques; it can lie about the results of those techniques. No one will ever be held to account. … And so the giant and massive hypocrisy of this country on core human rights is now exposed for good and all. The Bush administration set the precedent for the authorization of torture. The Obama administration has set the precedent for its complete impunity. America has killed the Geneva Conventions just as surely as America made them. … The GOP ran a pro-torture candidate in 2012; they may well run a pro-torture candidate in 2016. This evil — which destroys the truth as surely as it destroys the human soul — is still with us.” — Andrew Sullivan on the new U.S. Senate report on CIA crimes, “We Tortured. It Was Wrong. Never Mind,” The Dish, Aug. 3, 2014.

Sheldon RichmanWHY WE SPEAK OUT: “How does one stand by in silence when one is forced by the tax collector tounderwrite aggression around the world against the poorest individuals imaginable? Innocent people — so many children — are killed and maimed, their homes and communities shattered, with the bombs, bullets, mortar shells, tanks, airplanes, helicopter gunships, and drones paid for by you and me through a government that claims to act in our names — while lying as a matter of course. Who can know these things and not speak out — no matter how wearying that may be?” —Sheldon Richman, The Future of Freedom Foundation, “I Can’t Help That I’m a Libertarian,” Aug. 1, 2014
Noted and Re-Quoted
ENDLESS HOBGOBLINS:

H.L. Mencken“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” — H.L. Mencken, from In Defense of Women (1918), quoted by Ralph Benko at Forbes.com.