Vote NO to legalizing the marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
16 08, 2016

ICYMI – SLATE: The Pot Industry Is Taking Over Pro-Pot Efforts

“Drug policy is all about reducing demand, and a company that has a profit motive is only going to increase demand. Having a big commercial marijuana industry runs counter to public health goals.” – former Marijuana Policy Project Lobbyist

The Pot Industry Is Taking Over Pro-Pot Efforts
Slate Magazine
By Liz Essley Whyte
August 12, 2016

When Secretary of State Michele Reagan put her stamp of approval on petitions bearing 177,000 signatures in Phoenix on Thursday, Arizona became the fifth state to schedule a ballot measure for November on legalizing recreational marijuana—joining California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

Each of the measures calls for making it legal for people older than 21 to possess small amounts of pot, taxing the drug and allowing regulated stores to sell it. Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota will vote this fall on legalizing medical marijuana. And Oklahoma may yet join the fray.

The activity is a sign of just how much momentum the movement has picked up in only a few years. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to pass ballot measures making the sale and use of pot legal. Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia followed in 2014. Twenty-five states and D.C. have medical marijuana laws, and others have decriminalized small amounts of the drug.

As the movement has grown, the politics behind marijuana are also undergoing a subtle shift. Though traditional pro-pot activists have given the bulk of the money supporting the five recreational pot ballot measure campaigns—roughly $7 million of the $11.6 million raised so far—more and more of the backers are coming from the new but growing marijuana industry. Two-thirds of the big donors—those giving at least $5,000 to the campaigns for this fall’s measures—have direct financial stakes in the weed business, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of state records.

Indeed, as legalized pot grows in state after state, so has the industrial complex around it. This year, though, marks the first time this new legal pot industry has significantly contributed to making itself bigger. Now the movement’s campaigns are starting to resemble most other big-money ballot measure fights, with business-minded donors looking to protect or enhance their profits.

“It has gone from an activist influence and is in transition to an industry influence,” said Joe Brezny, who is directing Nevada’s legalization campaign and also co-founded the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association. “The industry is required to step up more now.”

In Nevada, for example, at least 39 out of 47 major donors—who gave at least $5,000 each to the campaign supporting legal weed—have financial interests in expanding the legal marijuana market. They contributed $625,000 of the more than $1 million that the pro-pot political committee has raised so far. Among them: more than a dozen existing medical marijuana dispensaries and five beer distributors, which would have the first shot at being the state’s recreational pot dispensaries and distributors, respectively.

Similarly, in Arizona, where a pending court case could complicate marijuana advocates’ path to the ballot, at least 26 of the 35 top donors potentially stand to make a profit if recreational marijuana is legalized there. The campaign so far has raised $2.2 million.

In Massachusetts, 11 out of 18 major donors came from the marijuana industry, though they accounted for only $80,000 of the nearly $500,000 supporters raised.

In contrast, only two of the 17 major donors to the measure that legalized weed in Colorado in 2012 had ties to the marijuana industry. They raised just $42,000 of the $3.3 million total raised by supporters.

Likewise in Washington that year, the list of donors who raised $6.2 million was dominated by activist groups and philanthropists, such as Phil Harvey, the multimillionaire who made his fortune on sex toys, and Rick Steves, of travel book fame. The George Soros–backed Drug Policy Alliance and billionaire Peter Lewis of Progressive Insurance also gave to legalize marijuana there, as they did in Colorado and in other states. (Disclosure: The Center for Public Integrity receives funding from the Open Society Foundations, which Soros funds. A complete list of Center for Public Integrity funders is found here.)

“We’re starting to see the industry get to a level of maturity where they’re getting involved in the political sphere, as they have the right to.”

Ellen Komp, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

In other states voting this year, the funding is more of a mixed bag. In California, where campaign supporters have raised more than $7.1 million, Napster and Facebook investor Sean Parker has bankrolled the campaign to the tune of $1.5 million. But Weedmaps, a company that helps customers locate pot shops, contributed $1 million. The Werc Shop, a laboratory that tests marijuana for potency and pesticides, pitched in $5,000, as did several other weed-related businesses.

Jeffrey Raber, a California chemist who founded the Werc Shop, acknowledged his company would benefit from the measure’s passage, since it requires legal marijuana to be tested at facilities like his. But he and his clients mostly want the state to regulate their business so they can “be recognized as responsible citizens who are legitimate actors,” he said.

In Maine, only one of the major pro-marijuana contributors is closely related to the pot industry. The initiative there is in part led by a group representing small marijuana farms, which has donated $10,000 of the $692,000 raised by the committees supporting the measure.

Those interested in legalizing marijuana are trying to adjust to the new funding dynamics.

“Marijuana legalization in the past has depended on a few kind of eccentric old white guys who had money, and some of them are literally dying off,” said Ellen Komp, deputy director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“We’re starting to see the industry get to a level of maturity where they’re getting involved in the political sphere, as they have the right to.”

Twenty-six states allow residents to put measures on the ballot. The efforts are notoriously expensive, often requiring generous donors to pay workers to gather enough signatures to allow the measures to go before voters and then promote them with pricey ads. So major ballot measure fights are often dominated by corporations spending to support or blockmeasures that would affect their bottom lines.

The contributions are flowing in even though marijuana remains illegal under federal law, forcing pot companies to operate outside the banking system and run all-cash operations.

The Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit known for its major influence in making marijuana legal in Colorado and Alaska, acknowledges that the industry is more involved in bankrolling the political movement now—and sees potential for even more funding.

“This is really the first major election cycle where there’s actually a business community already up and running in the states that are considering these broader reforms,” said Mason Tvert, MPP’s spokesman. “We’d still like the industry to step in and contribute a little more. … The vast majority of marijuana businesses are not getting involved or contributing.”

Others are dismayed at the legalization movement’s new corporate friends.

Dan Riffle quit his job as a lobbyist at the Marijuana Policy Project because he said he was uncomfortable with how closely tied the advocacy group had become to industry.

“Drug policy is all about reducing demand, and a company that has a profit motive is only going to increase demand,” Riffle said. “Having a big commercial marijuana industry runs counter to public health goals.”

To read the full article, click here.

15 08, 2016

ICYMI – Sentinel & Enterprise Editorial: Feds Make Compelling Anti-Marijuana Case

Feds Make Compelling Anti-Marijuana Case

Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise
August 13, 2016

What's wrong with this picture? While some states have approved the everyday use of marijuana and many more allow it to be used for medicinal purposes, the federal government still considers it a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

That means as far as the Food and Drug Administration is concerned, marijuana -- along with heroin and peyote -- has no medical benefits. Also, states that allow marijuana for medical use or legalize it for recreational purposes remain in defiance of federal law.

This position was affirmed Thursday by the Drug Enforcement Agency, which said a Health and Human Services evaluation shows marijuana has no ''currently accepted medical use'' for a variety of reasons, including "a high potential for abuse."

The federal government in its decision did say it would allow more research into marijuana's benefits, which might ultimately move pot out of its current classification.

So far, according to the FDA, the available research that meets its testing standards hasn't demonstrated "an accepted medical use." That conclusion comes after a review of more than 500 studies.

Confused? You should be.

By referendum, Massachusetts approved medical marijuana in 2012, and now voters can extend that to recreational pot if that ballot question passes in the 2016 general election.

Pot backers say marijuana's medical benefits are too numerous to mention, while the federal government can't identify a single one.

As far as regulation, while federal law usually prevails when it conflicts with a state statute, our current president instructed federal prosecutors in 2009 not to go after individuals who distribute marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with state law. This was reinforced in 2013 when the Justice Department notified Colorado and Washington, the first states to legalize recreational pot, that it wouldn't interfere with state laws, under certain conditions.

So an uneasy alliance currently prevails that gives those who adhere to their state's marijuana law a free pass, or just a civil penalty, when it comes to possession of less than an ounce, as is the case here.

So for any Massachusetts voter still undecided on whether recreational marijuana should be legalized, here's some food for "pot": the federal government has reviewed far more data on this subject than anyone else.

So why should we dispute its findings?

To read the full editorial, click here.

10 08, 2016

ICYMI – Marijuana candy sickens 19 at quinceanera in California

Marijuana candy sickens 19 at quinceañera in California
By Susanna Capelouto
August 9, 2016

Story highlights

  • Gummy ring candy at party contains THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana
  • Candy with THC also leads to hospitalization for 24 people at a music festival in Ohio

(CNN) Edible marijuana offered at a quinceañera celebration is suspected of sickening 19 people Saturday night in San Francisco's Mission District, according to the city's Department of Public Health.

Preliminary lab tests showed that gummy ring candy from the party contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

"Anyone who attended the quinceañera and may have taken home some of the gummy rings is urged to discard them immediately," said Dr. Tomas Aragon, health officer for the city and county of San Francisco.

The 19 people were taken to the hospital Saturday with symptoms ranging from a rapid heart rate and dilated pupils to nausea, lethargy and confusion. All were released by Monday morning.

Health officials are investigating the origin of the candy, including the catering company, which is from Oakland, officials said.

"The question remains, where did the candies come from?" said Aragon.

He warned of the dangers of edible marijuana at parties where it can be hard to control the dosage.

"A situation like this, where they were consumed by unsuspecting people, and many children, is greatly concerning," Aragon said.

A quinceañera is a celebration of a girl's 15th birthday in some Latin American cultures.

24 sent to hospital in Ohio

THC in candies also sent 24 music festival attendees to the hospital in Richland County, Ohio, on Saturday, according to the county sheriff's office. No one lost consciousness and everyone seems to be OK, Sheriff's Capt. Donald Zehner said.

A 28-years-old man from Michigan was arrested in connection with the overdoses, the sheriff's office said Monday.

Paramedics initially believed the overdoses were caused by opiates, but when victims did not respond to the antidote Narcan, the candies were tested and came back positive for a high dosage of THC, CNN affiliate WEWS reported.

The overdose victims Saturday were attending the EST FEST music festival in Butler, Zehner said.

(To read the full article, click here)

3 08, 2016

Bi-Partisan Coalition Of 120 Lawmakers Urge Rejection of Ballot Question 4 To Legalize Commercial Marijuana Industry in Massachusetts

Leaders From Every Region Join Together To Say That Question 4 is Wrong Path For Their Communities

BOSTON – A bi-partisan coalition of 120 legislators from every region of the Commonwealth today voiced their opposition to ballot question 4 to legalize the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts.

The elected leaders said allowing the billion-dollar marijuana industry into Massachusetts to market highly potent edible products, particularly during an addiction crisis, is the wrong path for the state. Edibles like this account for 50% of the sales in Colorado, and the Massachusetts ballot question specifically authorizes these products and places no potency limit on them. A study released last week found that the number of children aged 0-9 who suffered from marijuana exposure has increased by 150% in Colorado since the state legalized commercial marijuana, including edibles.

The Massachusetts ballot question, which was written by and for the Marijuana industry, sets no limits on the number of producers and sellers, allows people to grow tens of thousands of dollars of marijuana at their homes, even over neighbors’ objections, and has been shown to dramatically increase impaired driving in other states that have legalized commercial marijuana.

Massachusetts has already taken major steps to address concerns around this issue. Massachusetts has decriminalized the possession of marijuana -  people are not being jailed for marijuana use nor are they receiving a criminal record for such activity. Massachusetts also legalized the use of marijuana for health purposes.

The legislators join elected leaders such as Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Attorney General Maura Healey who have come out in opposition to Question 4. The Massachusetts Municipal Association also has opposed this ballot question after a unanimous vote by their board of directors.

Among the group of health care, public safety, business, and child protection experts who have already come out in opposition to this ballot question include:  Massachusetts Hospital Association, Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Municipal Association, Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Association of School Superintendents, Construction Industries of Massachusetts, Action for Boston Community Development, Association for Behavioral Healthcare, National Association of Mental Illness (Massachusetts Chapter), Massachusetts Chiefs of Police, Massachusetts Sheriffs Association and all Massachusetts District Attorneys.


(D) Senator Joseph Boncore - 1st Suffolk and Middlesex District

(D) Senator Michael Brady - 2nd Plymouth & Bristol District

(D) Senator Harriette Chandler - 1st Worcester District

(R) Senator Vinny deMacedo - Plymouth and Barnstable District

(D) Senator Sal DiDomenico - Middlesex and Suffolk District

(D) Senator Eileen Donoghue - 1st Middlesex District

(R) Senator Ryan Fattman - Worcester and Norfolk District

(D) Senator Jennifer Flanagan - Worcester and Middlesex District

(D) Senator Anne Gobi - Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, and Middlesex District

(R) Senator Donald Humason - 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District

(D) Senator John Keenan - Norfolk and Plymouth District

(D) Senator Barbara L'Italien - 2nd Essex and Middlesex District

(D) Senator Jason Lewis - 5th Middlesex District

(D) Senator Joan Lovely - 2nd Essex District

(D) Senator Mike Moore - 2nd Worcester District

(R) Senator Patrick O'Connor - Plymouth and Norfolk District

(D) Senator Kathleen O'Connor Ives - 1st Essex District

(D) Senator Michael Rodrigues - 1st Bristol and Plymouth District

(R) Senator Richard Ross - Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District

(D) Senator Michael Rush - Norfolk and Suffolk District

(R) Senator Bruce Tarr - 1st Essex and Middlesex District

(D) Senator Daniel Wolf - Cape and Islands District


(D) Representative James Arciero - 2nd Middlesex District

(D) Representative Brian Ashe - 2nd Hampden District

(D) Representative Cory Atkins - 14th Middlesex District

(D) Representative Bruce Ayers - 1st Norfolk District

(R) Representative Jay Barrows - 1rst Bristol District

(D) Representative Jennifer Benson - 37th Middlesex District

(R) Representative Donnie Berthiaume - 5th Worcester District

(D) Representative Daniel Cahill - 10th Essex District

(D) Representative Thomas Calter - 12th Plymouth District

(R) Representative Kate Campanale - 17th Worcester District

(D) Representative James Cantwell - 4th Plymouth District

(D) Representative Gerard Cassidy - 9th Plymouth District

(D) Representative Tackey Chan - 2nd Norfolk District

(D) Representative Edward Coppinger - 10th Suffolk District

(D) Representative Claire Cronin - 11th Plymouth District

(D) Representative Josh Cutler - 6th Plymouth District

(R) Representative Angelo D'Emilia - 8th Plymouth District

(D) Representative Michael Day - 31st Middlesex District

(R) Representative David Decoste - 5th Plymouth District

(D) Speaker Robert Deleo - 19th Suffolk District

(D) Representative Brian Dempsey - 3rd Essex District

(D) Representative Marcos Devers - 16th Essex District

(R) Representative Geoff Diehl - 7th Plymouth District

(D) Representative Diana DiZoglio - 14th Essex District

(D) Representative Paul Donato - 35th Middlesex District

(R) Representative Shawn Dooley - 9th Norfolk District

(R) Representative Peter Durant - 6th Worcester District

(D) Representative Jim Dwyer - 30th Middlesex District

(D) Representative Carolyn Dykema - 8th Middlesex District

(R) Representative Kimberly Ferguson - 1st Worcester District

(D) Representative John Fernandes - 10th Worcester District

(D) Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante - 5th Essex District

(D) Representative Michael Finn - 6th Hampden District

(D) Representative Carole Fiola - 6th Bristol District

(R) Representative Paul Frost - 7th Worcester District

(D) Representative Denise Garlick - 13th Norfolk District

(D) Representative Colleen Garry - 36th Middlesex District

(D) Representative Carmine Gentile - 13th Middlesex District

(D) Representative Thomas Golden - 16th Middlesex District

(D) Representative Patricia Haddad - 5th Bristol District

(R) Representative Sheila Harrington - 1st Middlesex District

(D) Representative Stephen Hay - 3rd Worcester District

(D) Representative Russell Holmes - 6th Suffolk District

(R) Representative Steve Howitt - 4th Bristol District

(D) Representative Daniel Hunt - 13th Suffolk District

(R) Representative Randy Hunt - 5th Barnstable District

(R) Minority Leader Brad Jones - 20th Middlesex District

(R) Representative Hannah Kane - 11th Worcester District

(D) Representative Kay Khan - 11th Middlesex District

(D) Representative Robert Koczera - 11th Bristol District

(R) Representative Kevin Kuros - 8th Worcester District

(D) Representative John Lawn - 10th Middlesex District

(R) Representative Marc Lombardo - 22nd Middlesex District

(R) Representative Jim Lyons - 18th Essex District

(D) Representative Elizabeth Malia - 11th Suffolk District

(D) Representative Ronald Mariano - 3rd Norfolk District

(D) Representative Christopher Markey - 9th Bristol District

(D) Representative Joe McGonagle - 28th Middlesex District

(R) Representative Joe McKenna - 18th Worcester District

(D) Representative Paul McMurtry - 11th Norfolk District

(D) Representative James Miceli - 19th Middlesex District

(D) Representative Frank Moran - 17th Essex District

(R) Representative David Muradian - 9th Worcester District

(R) Representative Mathew Muratore - 1st Plymouth District

(D) Representative James Murphy - 4th Norfolk District

(D) Representative Dave Nangle - 17th Middlesex District

(D) Representative Harold Naughton - 12th Worcester District

(R) Representative Shaunna O'Connell - 3rd Bristol District

(R) Representative Keiko Orrall - 12th Bristol District

(D) Representative Jerald Parisella - 6th Essex District

(D) Representative Thomas Petrolati - 7th Hampden District

(D) Representative William Pignatelli - 4th Berkshire District

(R) Representative Elizabeth Poirier - 14th Bristol District

(D) Representative Angelo Pupollo - 12th Hampden District

(D) Representative John Rogers - 12th Norfolk District

(D) Representative Dennis Rosa - 4th Worcester District

(D) Representative Jeffrey Roy - 10th Norfolk District

(D) Representative Daniel Ryan - 2nd Suffolk District

(D) Representative Jeffrey Sanchez - 15th Suffolk District

(D) Representative Angelo Scaccia - 14th Suffolk District

(D) Representative Paul Schimd - 8th Bristol District

(D) Representative John Scibak - 2nd Hampshire District

(D) Representative Alan Silva - 7th Bristol District

(R) Representative Todd Smola - 1st Hampden District

(D) Representative Theodore Speliotis - 13th Essex District

(D) Representative Thomas Stanley - 9th Middlesex District

(D) Representative Ellen Story - 3rd Hampshire District

(D) Representative Walter Timilty - 7th Norfolk District

(D) Representative Paul Tucker - 7th Essex District

(D) Representative Steven Ultrino - 33rd Middlesex District

(D) Representative John Velis - 4th Hampden District

(R) Representative David Vieira - 3rd Barnstable District

(D) Representative RoseLee Vincent - 16th Suffolk District

(D) Representative Thomas Walsh - 12th Essex District

(R) Representative Timothy Whelan - 1st Barnstable District

(R) Representative Susannah Whipps-Lee - 2nd Franklin District

(R) Representative Donald Wong - 9th Essex District

(D) Representative Jonathan Zlotnik - 2nd Worcester District