Marijuana Politics Evolving in Red States
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Marijuana Politics Evolving in Red States
Posted by CN Staff on July 10, 2018 at 06:20:51 PT
By Reid Wilson
Source: Hill
USA -- Supporters and opponents of legalizing marijuana are preparing to fight over ballot measures in half a dozen states this year, shifting the political battleground away from traditionally liberal states and into some of the country’s most conservative areas.Two measures are already scheduled to appear on November ballots: Michigan voters will decide whether to become the ninth state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, while the electorate in Utah will choose whether to join 22 other states by legalizing pot for medical use.
In Missouri, as many as three separate measures could make the ballot. Supporters have submitted signatures for both medical and recreational regimes that will now be inspected by the secretary of state’s office.Oklahoma, which voted last month to legalize medical marijuana, could see a ballot measure to approve a recreational scheme as well. Legalization measures are also circulating in Arizona, Nebraska and North Dakota. Supporters in Ohio are trying for a second time to qualify for the ballot, in 2019.The rush toward legalization comes after a relatively slow start in liberal or libertarian-leaning states. Washington and Colorado were the first to legalize recreational marijuana, in 2012. Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., followed in 2014, and voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada backed legalization in 2016.After almost a dozen increasingly expensive and high-profile campaigns since 2012, both sides say they have honed their messaging in hopes of appealing to a broader swath of voters. Those pitches offer a preview of the millions of dollars in campaign advertising both sides are likely to spend this year. Supporters say they will focus on the benefits of creating a regulatory and taxation system for a market that would otherwise be controlled by cartels and street dealers.“We’re careful to talk about it as creating a regulatory framework,” said Martin Hamburger, a Democratic strategist who has crafted campaign advertisements for previous marijuana measures and who will work this year on the efforts in Michigan and Missouri. “Regulate it and tax it. And that frame of creating regulation so it can be used responsibly by adults 21 and over is pretty important.” Hamburger said legalization campaigns have also made inroads among minority communities by talking about decriminalizing marijuana sales, something that resonates in areas where authorities prosecute people on minor possession charges.“We often find that there’s sort of a social justice message there,” Hamburger said. “One arrest for marijuana can ruin your life and give you a felony, and it’s on your mark forever. A stupid mistake as a 19-year-old shouldn’t mess up your life.”Marijuana legalization has also meant a business boom for companies that are able to enter the market soon after regulatory schemes are enacted. Opponents of legalization have cast those businesses as Big Marijuana — a boogeyman as threatening to public health, especially children’s health, as Big Tobacco in earlier times.Increasing access to marijuana products, especially edibles like candies and chocolates, that might tempt children is something that can move voters away from legalization, said Kevin Sabet, who runs Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposes legalization.“Most voters don’t understand that legalization actually means commercializing edibles, pot candies, pot concentrates that are 99 percent THC,” Sabet said, referring to the main psychoactive component of marijuana. “What voters think it’s about, and what the pro-legalization side has been good about framing, is going to jail for a joint.”Casting marijuana as a get-rich-quick business for Wall Street hedge funds helped the legalization opponents notch their most notable win at the ballot box: Voters in Ohio three years ago resoundingly rejected a legalization measure, by an almost 2-to-1 margin. Even proponents of legalization grimaced at that campaign, where backers rolled out an ill-advised mascot named Buddie to greet voters. “We won in Ohio by a 2-to-1 margin because the singular message was about the marijuana monopoly, not whether marijuana is bad or good,” Sabet said.As campaigns for and against marijuana legalization have become more sophisticated, costs have risen, too. Supporters have outspent opponents; in California, $25 million poured into the campaign in favor of legalization, while opponents spent $2 million. In Massachusetts, supporters outspent opponents by a margin of $6.8 million to $3 million. And in Maine, where a legalization initiative passed by 4,000 votes, backers outspent opponents more than 10-to-1.This year, supporters in Michigan had raised $1.6 million to back their measure, through last week. Opponents had pulled in $280,000, though Sabet said he expected the opposition campaign to have a seven-figure budget. The shifting battlefield, away from liberal coastal states and into more traditionally swing and red states like Michigan, Ohio and Oklahoma, illustrates the unusual coalitions of support on which each side relies. Far from the traditional conservative-liberal split that divides modern politics, older men and younger progressives tend to favor legalization, while women with children — typically guaranteed Democratic voters — tend to harbor doubts.“Democrats and progressive women with children are our swings,” Hamburger said. “They’re the ones we can lose. So a lot of our messaging are about regulations, how to prevent kids from getting it.”“The swing voters are basically 35- to 55-year-old women,” Sabet said. “That is going to be key for us. We know that we’re not going to get a majority of 18- to 34-year-olds.”“It’s really going to be those moms” who decide whether legalization passes or fails, he added. Both sides are already exploring another new way to appeal to that swing demographic: the opioid crisis. Supporters hope to convince voters in states hit hard by opioids, including heroin and fentanyl, that marijuana can act as a substitute, something to ease pain that might otherwise only be stopped by a powerful pill. Opponents say marijuana is a gateway drug that can lead to more serious addictions.Whether either is the case is unclear. The national rate of opioid overdoses has spiked, especially since 2012, but overdose rates in Washington have been flat since legalization took effect and they have risen in Colorado.Between 2016 and 2017, the overdose rate dropped or held relatively steady in five of the eight states where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes. Overdose rates rose substantially in Washington, D.C., and by smaller though still significant margins in Colorado and Maine. Overdose rates rose by a smaller amount in Nevada.Opponents of legalization have had more success in state legislatures, which have proven reluctant to pass anything beyond measures decriminalizing marijuana. Vermont’s legislature legalized pot this year, though without a regulatory structure that would allow its commercial sale. Legislators in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, New Hampshire and New Jersey have all voted down or killed legalization measures.“This is very much an uphill battle,” Sabet said. “They are trying to act like this is totally inevitable, that the battle is over. That’s not the case.”Source: Hill, The (US DC)Author: Reid WilsonPublished: July 10, 2018Copyright: 2018 The HillContact: editor thehill.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #7 posted by afterburner on July 15, 2018 at 18:43:05 PT
Fly in the Ointment in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Board of Health bans sales of smokeable marijuana.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018 | by Meg Wingerter boards changing the implementation of the law without discussion with legislature.
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Comment #6 posted by John Tyler on July 13, 2018 at 17:47:43 PT
it's common knowledge
Thanks, Hope, but there is no need to foot note me, it is common knowledge.
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on July 13, 2018 at 17:02:08 PT
To be clear, I was quoting
John Tyler in comment 2."It eased their pain, lightened their burden, brought joy to their heart, it was good for the body, mind, and spirit, it was food, fuel, and fiber and it was good for the economy."
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on July 13, 2018 at 16:52:25 PT
wonderful and amazing to see
"It eased their pain, lightened their burden, brought joy to their heart, it was good for the body, mind, and spirit, it was food, fuel, and fiber and it was good for the economy."I started complaining online and in newspapers about what looked like a lot of very obvious injustice to me. It was horrible and it was wrong. There were things that went on in the name of the War on Drugs that should never have happened. All the news and studies over the years that have slowly verified that cannabis is indeed a very fine herb and medicine and nicely helpful to humankind has been wonderful and amazing to see, though. Seeing the injustice and persecution slack off is wonderful and finding out about the beneficial qualities cannabis can have has been eye opening.People have been unrighteously persecuted for daring to seek it's benefits and it apparently really does have quite a few benefits.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on July 13, 2018 at 15:05:10 PT
John Tyler. "Just a big lie..."
It was. It really was. 
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on July 13, 2018 at 11:49:07 PT
Everybody loves cannabis
Everybody loves cannabis now. The big lie has been revealed for what it was…just a big lie used as a cudgel to abuse minorities and others folks out of favor with the authorities. Once people got a chance to try it for themselves they asked what the fuss was all about. This stuff was great. It eased their pain, lightened their burden, brought joy to their heart, it was good for the body, mind, and spirit, it was food, fuel, and fiber and it was good for the economy. What sensible person could not like that? We have to keep on keeping on. We have more good Karma to make.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on July 10, 2018 at 16:21:15 PT
Nothing but good days. There is virtually no negatives to RE-legalizing this beneficial plant.One shortcoming is how activists who have traditionally spent time toward the movement are scaling back their efforts. I fit in that category. -& I notice some of that here... That said, people are making moves and advocating for the superplant all around the country. Speeding up rather than slowing down. Opportunity flourishes.The worst ignoids have no foothold. They can only expose themselves further as bad people. Onward We go.
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