The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol turned in more than 360,000 signatures today calling for its marijuana legalization initiative to be placed on Michigan’s November 2018 ballot. The state Board of Canvassers approved ballot language on May 18 of this year. Shortly afterward, the campaign began its 180-day statewide signature collection effort using both volunteer and paid signature collectors.
“Collecting enough signatures to get on the ballot is always a massive undertaking and we’re thrilled to have gathered more than 100,000 signatures beyond the 252,000 required by the state,” said Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Spokesperson Josh Hovey. ”Just like with alcohol, marijuana prohibition has been a huge failure. Instead of wasting law enforcement resources on a substance that is proven to be less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco, our initiative creates a tightly regulated system that will generate significant revenue for the state that will help fund our roads, public schools and local governments – three of Michigan’s most underfunded needs.”
If ultimately passed by Michigan voters in November 2018, the initiative would:
- Legalize personal possession, cultivation and use of limited amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and older;
- Legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp (used to make textiles, biodegradable plastics, food, construction materials and even fuel);
- License marijuana businesses that cultivate, process, test, transport and sell marijuana;
- Protect consumers with proper testing and safety regulations for retail marijuana;
- Tax marijuana at retail levels with a 10 percent excise tax and 6 percent sales tax; and
- Local governments will have the choice of whether and where to allow marijuana businesses in their community. (This takes marijuana sales out of neighborhoods and into a regulated spaces where IDs are checked and products are tested for safety.)
The campaign is proud to have the support from both national and local advocacy organizations including the Marijuana Policy Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML and MI Legalize.
“It is unconscionable for our state to continue to spend tax dollars to arrest, prosecute and crowd the courts and our jails with people arrested for marijuana possession. To make matters worse, this war on marijuana has been waged with staggering racial bias,” said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. “When our community members are arrested for possessing even tiny amounts of marijuana, they can be disqualified from public housing and student financial aid, lose or find it more difficult to obtain employment, lose custody of their child, and be deported. There is nothing practical or fair about the continued aggressive policing of marijuana.”
For more information about the ballot initiative, including full language of the proposed law, please visit www.RegulateMI.org.
For more information about the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, please visit RegulateMI.org.
Source – Campaign press release
Last month former National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner David Stern stated that he now supports cannabis reform in the NBA. Stern’s endorsement of NBA cannabis reform was met with a swift reply from the NBA that it would keep cannabis on its banned substances list. However, Stern’s statements did generate a significant amount of conversation in the NBA community and beyond, with much of the conversation being positive from a cannabis reform standpoint.
A number of retired players have joined 18 year veteran Clifford Robinson in coming out in support of cannabis reform in the NBA. Today an active player, Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, expressed support for medical cannabis reform in the NBA. Towns’ pro-cannabis comments came during an interview with ESPN, excerpts of which can be found below (interview questions are in bold):
If you’re commissioner Adam Silver and could make one change to the rules in the NBA, what would it be?
I agree with David Stern with marijuana. You don’t have to actually make it “Mary J” [or] “Half Baked.” You don’t have to do it like that, but you could use the [chemical] properties in it to make a lot of people better. That’s something that Adam Silver has to do. That’s out of my control, but maybe legalizing marijuana. Not fully legal where people are chimneys but using [marijuana] as a beneficial factor as an athlete, as a person living daily. I think a lot of times fans forget that sometimes there may be some things that are banned that may not be the greatest for playing basketball, but for everyday living off the court, sometimes those things that are legal could help us.
And again, you’re coming at this as a guy who has never smoked.
No, I’ve never smoked or drank a day in my life. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. All my friends don’t drink or smoke. I’ve always believed the people you keep around you [represent] who you’ll become. I have no animosity or ill will or any belittlement to anyone who smokes or drinks. Everyone has their own hobbies and what they like to do and who they are. So I just personally have never done anything like that. I was just raised a little different like that. I never had anyone [around me] who wanted to do it … I’m a strong believer, I have a strong mind. So if I don’t want to do it no one can peer pressure me into doing it.
It takes a lot of courage to speak out about cannabis reform when a player is active due to the unfair stigma they will face. What Karl-Anthony Towns did this week is inspiring, and will hopefully encourage other active NBA players to come out in support of cannabis reform. Hopefully it also encourages athletes in other sports to do the same. Towns is joined by at least one other active NBA player in supporting medical cannabis reform in the league – Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin.
In an interview in 2014 Blake Griffin had the following to say about medical cannabis reform in the NBA (interview question in bold):
The NFL might let players use medical marijuana to treat pain. If you had a vote, would the NBA do the same?
It doesn’t really affect me, but so many guys would probably benefit from it and not take as many painkillers, which have worse long-term effects. So I would vote yes. I just think it makes sense.
As always, the Uncle Cliffy team feels the need to point out that while medical cannabis reform is a great thing, a full end to cannabis prohibition in professional sports is even better. A medical-only approach to cannabis in professional sports leaves open the door for selective enforcement, and does not address the issue of professional sports leagues perpetuating institutional racism via suspending players for cannabis arrests while they are away from their team. 8 states and Washington D.C. now allow cannabis for adult use (with more on the way), and considering how many professional sports teams are located in those states, the NBA and other leagues need to get with the times and get on the right side of history. Free the plant!
Yesterday, the Partnership for the Public Good, a Buffalo community-based think tank, introduced a report highlighting marijuana arrest disparities in Buffalo, New York. The report, Advancing Racial Equity and Public Health: Smarter Marijuana Laws in Western New York, reveals the city of Buffalo’s marijuana policing practices to be as pervasive as the practices witnessed in New York City in their targeting of low-income communities of color.
The report analyzed marijuana arrest data and the populations most impacted by the enforcement of marijuana prohibition and found that, similar to New York City, those being arrested for low-level marijuana possession in Buffalo were largely young people and largely people of color.
“In the last five years, people of color made up 77 percent of marijuana possession arrests in Erie County, though they make up just 18 percent of the population,” said Andrea Ó Súilleabháin of the Partnership for the Public Good.
“We know that young people of color use marijuana at slightly lower rates than white people, so this disparity cannot be explained by use. This is one local result of the war on drugs, which has tended to target low-level offenses in non-white, low-income communities,” continued Andrea Ó Súilleabháin. “This unequal enforcement of marijuana prohibition comes at a high cost for communities of color.”
Advocates in the criminal justice field from across the state have pushed for the decriminalization of low-level marijuana possession for years citing the racially disproportionate enforcement and the devastating collateral consequences that can accompany a marijuana arrest or conviction.
“Despite the fact that NY has decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana, hundreds of people are arrested for it every year in Buffalo. Even if they do not go to jail, the charges can be devastating to their prospects for jobs, loans, student aid, housing, benefits and child custody,” said Rebecca Town of the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo. “The arrests also create a huge financial burden between the court fees, fines, and co-pays for substance abuse counseling. Not to mention time away from work or school and childcare costs required for court appearances and counseling.”
Buffalo Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes was joined by national and local organizations as she called on New York State to follow the example of California, Colorado, and other jurisdictions by ending marijuana prohibition and creating a system to tax and regulate marijuana.
“Communities of color have been on the frontlines of the failed war on drugs, bearing the heaviest burden in arrests, incarceration and ultimately exclusion in economic opportunities. New York State has made steps on reforming draconian mandatory minimum sentencing however, this tough on crime approach for low level possession and nonviolent offences has to stop. We are stifling economic opportunity for all, and breaking apart families. Open Buffalo and allies are working on a local level to repair relationships between law enforcement and communities however, state action is needed to untie the hands of law enforcement,” said Franchelle Parker of Open Buffalo.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have now ended marijuana prohibition and instituted policies to tax and regulate marijuana — moving oversight of marijuana policies from the criminal justice system to regulatory bodies. Data from those states on trends in use and public safety show that marijuana legalization has had no discernible negative impact. And most importantly, people are no longer being confronted daily with the threat of criminalization because of their use.
Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes has been a leading voice in the New York State Legislature on marijuana reform since 2013 when she introduced the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, a bill that would legalize the production, distribution, and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The bill would effectively end marijuana prohibition in New York State and would create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
“Historical data shows that minorities and whites use marijuana at roughly the same rate, but blacks and Latinos are almost four times more likely to be arrested for pot,” said Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes. “This criminal record follows them, as they can be discriminated against for employment, housing, and access to education and public benefits, and they’re essentially locked into a second-class status for life. This legislation works towards the prevention of a criminal record to afford young adults basic opportunities that they would otherwise never have available to them.”
The MRTA legislation is currently being supported by a statewide campaign, of which Buffalo advocates Partnership for the Public Good and Open Buffalo are coalition partners. The campaign, Start SMART NY is dedicated to ending senseless marijuana arrests and citations, creating a public dialogue on collateral consequences and the hyper criminalization of communities, transforming stigma, and building economic power.
“As states across the country continue to re-envision their marijuana policies, it is imperative that New York and New Yorkers also engage in a thorough review of the efficacy of marijuana prohibition. We have watched as other states have been able to re-direct state resources from criminalizing this low-level offense to developing communities. We think this is a sensible response to the problem of marijuana arrests and that it is time that we end the marijuana arrest crusades being waged from Buffalo to Brooklyn,” said Chris Alexander of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Source: Drug Policy Alliance
Back in March of this year Bleacher Report posted an article which described fears among National Football League (NFL) players that the Trump administration would crackdown on players that consume cannabis. The fears arose due to anti-cannabis comments made by United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and then White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Mr. Spicer hinted at ‘greater enforcement’ of federal cannabis laws, and Jeff Sessions stated the following at the time, per Politico:
“Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot,” Sessions said during an exchange with reporters at the Justice Department. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago.”
“We’re seeing real violence around that,” Sessions said. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”
“I’m definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana,” he said. “States they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”
The Uncle Cliffy team pointed out at the time that while it’s possible that the federal government could target a pro athlete for personal cannabis use, such a move would be unprecedented, and was highly unlikely. We felt that it was much more likely that the cannabis comments and news coming out of the White House earlier this year were more rhetoric than anything. By making such comments the Trump administration, and likely sports league officials, knew that it will create a chilling effect that would possibly slow down reform efforts, or convince advocates to abandon their efforts altogether.
Jeff Sessions’ staunch opposition to cannabis reform was also cited by the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) in its response to the newly found support for cannabis reform by former head of the NBA David Stern last month. Per NBA.com:
“I think its fair to say we have to be mindful that given the current administration and Sessions’ comments on his view, that it’s a gateway drug, it wouldn’t be prudent for any changes to be made until we know what the current DOJ has to say about this.” – Michele Roberts, Executive Director of the NBPA
NBA and NFL players have every right to feel however they want about cannabis reform in pro sports, but they should not let the scare tactics of cannabis opponents like Jeff Sessions be the sole reason to oppose meaningful reform. The Trump administration has yet to go after a professional athlete for cannabis consumption, and the Uncle Cliffy team feels that such a move is very unlikely. Sessions’ previous comments were just empty political rhetoric, proven by his flip flop yesterday when testifying before a Congressional committee, as covered by Forbes:
Obama-era guidance that allows states to legalize marijuana without federal interference remains in effect, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday during a congressional hearing. He also conceded that cannabis is not as dangerous as heroin and that a current budget rider prevents the Department of Justice from prosecuting people who are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.
“Our policy is the same, really, fundamentally as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes,” Sessions said, referring to his predecessors as attorney general during the Obama administration.
Professional athletes need to focus on what is right, just, and compassionate, and not be distracted by the words of politicians. League officials can no longer hide behind the ‘cannabis consumption may result in federal prosecution’ scare tactic to keep players from standing up for what’s right. Cannabis prohibition has failed. That is true in professional sports just as it is true in society.
Cannabis prohibition has a disproportionate impact on racial minority communities, and league cannabis prohibitions perpetuate institutional racism. Every professional athlete should oppose such a policy. Suffering players should be allowed to use a safer, effective medicine like cannabis, no matter where they live. Only time will tell if the recent comments by Jeff Sessions will sway players and league officials, but it is the sincere hope of the Uncle Cliffy team that it proves to be the case sooner rather than later. Free the plant!
Clifford Robinson is very proud to say that he was born and raised in Buffalo, New York (Go Bills!). The same is true for other members of the Uncle Cliffy team, many of which still reside in Buffalo. Cliff and the Uncle Cliffy team have witnessed firsthand the failures of cannabis prohibition in Buffalo, which is why we fight so hard to free the plant there, and everywhere else that prohibition exists.
Below is information about a report highlighting the alarming racial disparities in cannabis arrests in Buffalo, New York. A press conference is planned for next week, details of which can also be found below, via a press release from the Drug Policy Alliance and Start Smart New York:
On November 14th, the Partnership for the Public Good will release a report highlighting marijuana prohibition enforcement practices in Buffalo and their disparate impact on communities of color.
The report, Advancing Racial Equity and Public Health: Smarter Marijuana Laws in Western New York, shows that marijuana prohibition in Buffalo has been largely enforced in communities of color and that the harms of prohibition—including increased barriers to higher education, housing, and employment opportunities—have been born almost entirely by Buffalo’s Black and Latino residents.
The report shows that from 2012 to 2016, people of color represented 76% of the arrests for low-level marijuana possession, despite being 18% of Erie County’s residents. In the city of Buffalo, Black people—especially youth—are 7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people. These extreme disparities in arrests exist despite government data showing that young white people use marijuana at higher rates.
This event will also will highlight legislative solutions to end the marijuana arrest crusade. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which was reintroduced in June 2016 by Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, would legalize marijuana for adult use in New York and reclassify or seal records for prior marijuana arrests. Advocates across the city of Buffalo are joining Assm. Peoples-Stokes in calling for an end to marijuana prohibition and signing on to the Start SMART NY campaign to tax and regulate marijuana.
This report includes extensive analyses of marijuana arrest data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
What: Press Conference and Panel Discussion for release of Advancing Racial Equity and Public Health: Smarter Marijuana Laws in Western New York report
When: Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 at 9 a.m.
Where: Overflow Cafeteria at ECMC, 462 Grider St, Buffalo, NY 14215
- Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes
- Kassandra Frederique, Drug Policy Alliance
- Franchelle Parker, Open Buffalo
- Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Partnership for the Public Good
- John Washington, PUSH Buffalo
- Rebecca Town, Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo
- Individuals directly impacted by marijuana prohibition
GOP Congressmen, with leading Cannabis advocacy firm The Liaison Group (TLG) and Public Affairs firm Gide, will hold a press conference to bring together a diverse set of patients who have all benefited from medical Cannabis to share their personal stories on Capitol Hill. This press event is presented in conjunction with broad bi-partisan legislative efforts to continue the protection of State-enacted, State-regulated medical Cannabis programs from federal interference.
“Support for medicinal Cannabis has become widely accepted across the country with 46 States and the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, allowing the medical use of the plant. However, at the Federal level, Cannabis continues to be a Schedule I substance—the most restrictive classification,” said Saphira Galoob, TLG Principal. “We are holding this press event to give patients who have benefited from medicinal Cannabis a platform to speak to Congress about why Federal Cannabis policies must be updated to respect States rights, protect patients and reflect modern scientific research that demonstrates how the Cannabis plant can effectively treat a variety of medical conditions.”
“It was important for us to bring together a diverse set of individuals to show that so many people today are benefiting from medical Cannabis—Veterans, athletes, children, as well as their parents. Many Members of Congress are taking positions on medical Cannabis policies without hearing the real-world stories of how the plant is transforming some of their constituents’ lives, which is why we wanted to bring these voices directly to Capitol Hill,” said Gide Principal, Arika Pierce.
During the press event, speakers will include:
• GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Congressman Tom Garrett (R-VA) who are actively working in Congress to reform Federal Cannabis laws, including to remove research restrictions and to protect State-enacted medical Cannabis programs from federal interference.
• Former NFL star Kyle Turley whose eight-year NFL career and over 100 concussions caused him to become reliant on pain killers which contributed to his 20-year struggle with depression, anxiety, and rage. Kyle will share his experience with medical Cannabis and how it ultimately saved his life, and now allows him to live opioid-free.
• Former Navy SEAL Nick Etten who is the Founder and Executive Director of the Veterans Cannabis Project, an organization dedicated to improving US military Veterans’ quality of life through legal access to medical Cannabis.
• Nurse Holley Moseley who has over 14 years of nursing experience, specializing in pediatrics and clinical research. Her daughter suffered from daily seizures despite the use of anti-epileptic medications, special diets and an implantable device. It wasn’t until she began using high-CBD cannabis oil that she found relief. As a result, Holley has become a medical Cannabis advocate and was instrumental in passing the first cannabis legislation in the state of Florida, known as “The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014”.
Other speakers will include parents of children who have effectively used Cannabis to treat illnesses such as epilepsy and chronic pain, as well as other Republican Congressional Members who support efforts to advance Federal Cannabis policies that respect the robust and sophisticated State Cannabis programs that have been enacted throughout the country.
Details for the press conference are as follows:
A press conference calling on Congress to recognize the modern medical developments of Cannabis through first-hand patient stories from the many different faces that benefit from medicinal Cannabis—children, parents, Veterans, and athletes.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at 11.00 a.m. ET
Rayburn House Office Building (Gold Room), Room 2168
Source: EIN Presswire
Yesterday was a big day for cannabis reform, especially in New Jersey where Clifford Robinson played for the New Jersey Nets from 2005-2007. Yesterday was Election Day in New Jersey, with voters selecting a new Governor to replace staunch cannabis reform opponent Chris Christie. As the Uncle Cliffy team has pointed out before, the 2017 Governor race in New Jersey featured Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno as the two major party candidates, and the outcome would largely determine cannabis legalization’s chances in New Jersey in 2018.
Phil Murphy was very clear during the campaign that he intended to help make cannabis legalization a reality in New Jersey if he won the race, whereas his opponent opposed full legalization. Fortunately for cannabis legalization efforts in New Jersey, and for social justice in the Garden State, Phil Murphy won the election. He doubled down on his campaign promise to end cannabis prohibition during his victory speech, as outlined below in a press release from our friends at NORML:
After making the legalization of marijuana a core issue in both his primary and general election campaigns, Democratic candidate Phil Murphy has claimed victory in the New Jersey gubernatorial election over Republican Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.
In fact, in his primary victory speech, Phil Murphy proclaimed his desire to sign a marijuana legalization bill within his first 100 days in office.
“Candidates across the country should take notice, as Phil Murphy won the Governor’s seat soundly because of, not in spite of, his open and vocal support for legalizing marijuana – a position supported by 65% of New Jersey voters and 64% of Americans nationwide,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “NORML looks forward to working with Governor-Elect Murphy and other stakeholders in the state to end the disastrous policy of marijuana prohibition and to implement the moral, economic, and scientifically sound policy of legalization and regulation in the Garden State.”
Polling data released this week by Predictwise/Pollfish Survey revealed that a 65% of New Jersey voters support legalizing marijuana outright.
Currently in New Jersey, a possession conviction of anything under 50 grams of marijuana can carry a sentence of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The ACLU-NJ found that police make a marijuana possession arrest in New Jersey on average every 22 minutes and that black New Jerseyans were three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite similar usage rates.
It will be interesting to see how things play out in New Jersey, and equally interesting to see how ramped up legalization efforts in New Jersey will affect surrounding states such as New York and Connecticut. Cliff Robinson was born and raised in New York State, and played college basketball in Connecticut. Cliff has seen firsthand the failures of cannabis prohibition in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York, which is why he fights so hard to help reform efforts in those states and will continue to do so until all three states free the plant. Congratulations Phil Murphy, please keep your campaign promise!
Clifford Robinson is a proud resident of Portland, Oregon. Cliff played for the Portland Trail Blazers for 8 seasons, having been named an NBA All-Star and NBA Sixth Man of the Year while playing with the Blazers. Robinson ranks in the top ten in several Blazer career statistical categories. Portland is home to part of Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District, which is the district represented by Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
The Uncle Cliffy team has covered Congressman Blumenauer’s pro-cannabis efforts in the past. In mid-October Blumenauer testified in a Congressional hearing in support of cannabis as a viable solution to combat the opioid epidemic. Congressman Blumenauer has been a champion of cannabis reform in the political world for a very long time, having led the effort in Oregon’s Legislature in 1973 to successfully decriminalize cannabis possession. The successful effort made Oregon the first state in the nation to decriminalize cannabis.
Congressman Blumenauer has either sponsored, co-sponsored, or strongly supported every pro-cannabis reform measure that has been introduced in Congress since he became a United States Representative in 1996. Blumenauer was recently interviewed by TMZ, and during the interview Earl Blumenauer had something to say specifically about sports cannabis reform. Per TMZ:
“It’s much less damaging than the opiods, the painkillers, the shots, the pills … and it’s time professional sports stops punishing them but works with them.”
Congressman Blumenauer says 2/3 Americans have legal access to medical marijuana — so to ban NBA and NFL players is basically treating them like “second class citizens.”
Earl Blumenauer’s endorsement of ending cannabis prohibition in professional sports is a big deal. As far as the Uncle Cliffy team is aware, he is the first member of Congress to specifically express support for cannabis reform in professional sports. Hopefully his support encourages other members of Congress to do the same, and also hopefully it is an endorsement that league officials in the NBA and NFL see and are swayed by. If fans, players (current and retired), members of sports media, and members of Congress all keep calling on the leagues to end cannabis prohibition, they will have to listen and get on the right side of history.
Possessing more than 14 grams of cannabis in Connecticut is a crime, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Distributing or cultivating any amount of cannabis in Connecticut is a felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The penalties increase as the amount of cannabis involved increases. Cannabis prohibition in Connecticut has a disproportionate impact on minority communities. An example of that would be in New Caanan, Connecticut where nearly half of all cannabis penalties are given to African Americans even though they make up only about 1 percent of the town’s population.
Cannabis prohibition has obviously failed in Connecticut, and the Uncle Cliffy team was hopeful that cannabis legalization would be included in Connecticut’s next budget. The Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, which Clifford Robinson is a member of, has been pushing lawmakers for months to include legalization in its budget. Connecticut has been facing huge budget gaps, and while taxing and regulating cannabis would not fix all of Connecticut’s budget woes, it would certainly help. Unfortunately, Connecticut’s budget was approved this week without cannabis legalization provisions being included, as outlined in a message sent by Regulate Connecticut to its supporters this week:
On Tuesday, Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law a $41.3 billion, two-year state budget that increases taxes by approximately $1 billion over that period. That number could have been significantly reduced had the budget included taxing and regulating marijuana for adults’ use.
The budget also cuts municipal aid, higher education funding, social services, and tens of millions of dollars from energy conservation programs. According to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, when the subsequent governor and General Assembly begin drafting the next budget, they will be facing a deficit of approximately $4.6 billion unless a new source of revenue is created.
It is deeply disappointing that lawmakers missed this opportunity to enact commonsense marijuana policies that could have generated a new source of revenue, thereby saving the state money while creating new jobs and causing a major increase in tourism.
However, this conversation is not over in Connecticut. When lawmakers return in February, we will continue the fight to enact legalization in 2018. In the meantime, please keep talking to lawmakers about this issue, educate your friends and family, and stay tuned for other ways to help in the fight!
The University of Connecticut (UConn), where Clifford Robinson proudly went to college and is a member of the All-Century Men’s Basketball Team, now faces a budget cut of $134 million dollars over the course of the next two years. Legalization would generate over $360 million dollars for Connecticut according to recent estimates. Taxing and regulating cannabis in Connecticut literally has the potential to eliminate budget cuts at UConn and help fill in other budget gaps that other Connecticut institutions are now facing.
The Uncle Cliffy team will keep pushing for legalization in Connecticut, and urges you to do the same if you live there. A recent poll conducted by Sacred Heart University Institute for Public Policy found that ‘more than two out of three residents (70.6%) either “strongly support” or “somewhat support” legalizing and taxing marijuana’ in Connecticut. That level of support is up from 63% from just two years ago. Clearly the citizens of Connecticut want lawmakers to take a more sensible approach to cannabis policy. Connecticut lawmakers need to do what is right and free the plant.
Last week ex-commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) David Stern endorsed cannabis reform in the NBA. Stern’s statements generated a significant amount of conversation around the league, with members of the NBA community making comments for and against the endorsement. Ultimately the audience that needed to embrace David Stern’s words the most was NBA leadership, but it appears that Stern’s words did not have the intended effect, at least not right now. The NBA responded to Stern’s comments via an article posted by USA Today:
“While (current NBA) commissioner (Adam) Silver has said that we are interested in better understanding the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana, our position remains unchanged regarding the use by current NBA players of marijuana for recreational purposes.” – NBA executive vice president of communications Mike Bass
The league’s response was then followed by a response from the National Basketball Player’s Association, as covered by NBA.com:
“I think its fair to say we have to be mindful that given the current administration and Sessions’ comments on his view, that it’s a gateway drug, it wouldn’t be prudent for any changes to be made until we know what the current DOJ has to say about this,” NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts said Sunday. “The other sports that aren’t testing for marijuana like we are, I don’t know if they’re paying attention to today’s DOJ. I want us to be aware of what the political agenda looks like.”
The NBA’s response is obviously completely out of touch, as it has been for a number of years. Oregon, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis for adult use, all of which are home to one or more NBA teams. Legalization is on the way next year in Canada, which will add the home of the Toronto Raptors to the list. States like Michigan (home of the Pistons) may legalize cannabis in 2018. Every state in America has passed at least CBD-specific cannabis reform measures except for Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. Support for legalization in American society is at an all-time high. So why does the NBA continue to cling to such an unpopular, failed policy?
Members of the National Basketball Players Association need to recognize that this is an important issue for players’ health, and that it’s also important from a social justice standpoint. Cannabis prohibition is a racist public policy, as proven by abundant statistical data. If an African American NBA player is almost four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis while away from their team compared to Caucasian players, and the NBA suspends players for getting arrested for cannabis (via Article 35 of the NBA Constitution), African American players are then also four times more likely to be punished by the NBA for a cannabis arrest compared to Caucasian players. That’s a perpetuation of institutional racism that should not be tolerated by NBA players (or league officials for that matter).
NBA players need to lead the charge on calling for the league to end cannabis prohibition. NBA officials need to get on the right side of history and completely remove cannabis from the league’s banned substances list and refrain from taking actions against players that are accused/convicted of cannabis-only offenses. Exemptions for medical cannabis will not go far enough, as it will not fully address the harmful social injustice component of the NBA’s current cannabis policy. Players that live in states that do not have a medical cannabis program will still be targeted by the NBA under a medical-only policy. Also, some players may still become the victims of institutional racism simply because they were caught with a personal amount of a plant that has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol.