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WIRE: Marijuana groups respond to White House comments on rec marijuana crackdown

WASHINGTON — The Marijuana Policy Project has issued the statement below regarding White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments about federal marijuana enforcement. A clip of the comments is available at http://bit.ly/2leuCx9.

Earlier today, Quinnipiac University released a poll that found five out of seven U.S. voters (71%) — including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and every age group polled — oppose the government enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal for medical or adult use. It also found that 93% of voters support allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes and 59% support making it legal for all purposes. The full poll results are available at http://bit.ly/2kR4sVh.

Statement from Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“The vast majority of Americans agree that the federal government has no business interfering in state marijuana laws. This administration is claiming that it values states’ rights, so we hope they will respect the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want marijuana to be produced and sold by cartels and criminals rather than tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses. Mr. Spicer says there is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, but the benefits of and need for regulation apply equally to both.

“Mr. Spicer acknowledged that the Justice Department is currently prohibited from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. It is critical that Congress once again includes that provision in the next budget, and we are hopeful that they will also adopt a provision that extends that principle to all state marijuana laws.”

FROM NORML:

Washington, DC: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the Trump administration will step up enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana. “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer said, and added that the exact policy is “a question for the Department of Justice.”

The Department of Justice is lead by Jeff Sessions, a renowned ardent marijuana prohibitionist.

“If the Trump administration goes through with a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana they will be taking billions of dollars away from state sanctioned businesses and putting that money back into the hands of drug cartels. This action will lead to swift backlash from the 71% of Americans that think marijuana policy should be dictated by the states and is a foolish and reckless direction to take our country. Sad.” said Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML.

The Press Secretary’s comments are similar to those made by Sen. Sessions during his vetting process when he made clear that any use of marijuana remains against federal law and that “it is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”

“Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions both hold views are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with the laws regarding marijuana in over half of the states in this country,” said Justin Strekal, Political Director of NORML. “The fact that President Trump would allow his Attorney General to pursue a path that is so politically unpopular and contrary to will of numerous states is absurd.”

Ultimately, patients and others in legal jurisdictions will only truly be safe from federal prosecution when and if members of Congress elect to amend federal marijuana laws in a manner that comports with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status. Congressional passage of HR 975, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ which NORML supports and/or re-authorization of the Rohrabacher-Farr (now to be introduced as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer) amendment would be steps in the right direction to protect patients and others in legal states from undue federal interference.

If federal politicians were truly listening to the will of the electorate, they would move forward to enact these changes, which are strongly in line with voters’ sentiments. According to national polling data released today, 71 percent of voters — including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans — say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”

In short, undermining voters’ wishes and state laws in this regard not only defies common sense, it is also bad politics — particularly for an administration that is defining itself as populist in nature.

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NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.

From NEW FRONTIER DATA:

Washington – New Frontier Data, the authority in business intelligence for the cannabis industry, for the past two years has been monitoring the top 10 trends that could affect the market and a cannabis unfriendly administration has been among those. Today White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that those on the recreational side of the industry could see “greater enforcement” from the Department of Justice. If the federal government decided to crack down on the adult use side, this year alone, it could jeopardize $2.5 billion in projected revenue and $8.6 billion by 2020.

“Just yesterday, we released our projections that the cannabis sector could create almost 300,000 jobs by 2020, and it goes without saying that adult use cannabis factors significantly in that number. Adult use is now legal in eight states including the District of Columbia, covering a population of 69 million people, nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population. In the first week of February alone, retailers in Washington state sold $30.5 million worth of cannabis products reflecting the high demand for cannabis in legal markets.

Press Secretary Spicer also brought up distinctions between medical and adult use, or recreational, marijuana and how they may color how DOJ plans to enforce prohibition laws. He also discussed the growing opioid epidemic in the country and how recreational cannabis encourages drug use. However, according to a study released last year by Johns Hopkins University, states with ‘medical cannabis laws were associated with a 24.8% lower annual rate of opioid analgesic overdose deaths compared with states without laws. In 2010, this translated to an estimated 1,729 fewer deaths than expected.’

Legal cannabis has been one of the fastest growing industries in the country for the past three years and any disruptions would substantially impact the economic activity stemming from this industry,” said New Frontier CEO and Founder Giadha Aguirre De Carcer.

About New Frontier Data:
New Frontier Data is an independent, technology-driven analytics company specializing in the cannabis industry. We offer vetted data, business intelligence and risk management solutions for investors, operators and policymakers. New Frontier’s data and reports have been cited in over 45 countries around the world to inform industry leaders. Founded in 2014, New Frontier is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and an additional office in Denver. For more information or media inquiries, please visit www.newfrontierdata.com or contact Gretchen Gailey at 202-489-3821 or ggailey@newfrontierdata.com.

From the Cannabis Business Alliance:

DENVER (Feb. 23, 2017)The Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA) has released a statement regarding recent comments from the White House on adult-use marijuana.

Mark Malone, Executive Director, Cannabis Business Alliance stated: “The legal cannabis industry takes power and money out of the hands of drug cartels and puts funds into state coffers and has the real potential to help offset the Federal Government’s budget shortfalls. The legal cannabis industry provides safety procedures and regulations that protect our youth, and states where cannabis is legal have seen a reduction of teen use. In fact, a recent study found that opioid use decreases in states that legalize marijuana. Dialing back any level of legalization of marijuana would be extremely misguided and would turn back the enormous positive progress that has occurred over the last several years. Going after the legal marijuana industry would be a direct affront to the overwhelming numbers of Americans who have voted time after time to approve legal cannabis. It would also be an affront to the Cole Memo and a misuse of energy and taxpayer funds. The Cannabis industry is compliant, a job creator, and tax engine bringing state budgets out of the red and into the black.  Republicans have core values that include belief in state rights and a free market. The same voters that have elected the current Administration continue to overwhelmingly support cannabis, as was evident in this fall’s Elections. President Trump has said that this is a State issue so we expect him to be true to his word and continue to let States regulate cannabis.”

Colorado, the first U.S. state to legalize cannabis for adult-use, reported selling $1.3 billion in marijuana and marijuana-related products in 2016, with a projected $3 billion economic impact for 2016. Additionally, Colorado’s 2016 tax revenues from marijuana sales were about $199 million in tax and fees revenue for the calendar year. These taxes fund projects including school construction, public health and law enforcement. Throughout the country, cannabis prohibition continued to be rolled back, with more states legalizing marijuana in 2016. Earlier in 2016, Ohio and Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana, and Illinois decriminalized the plant. November’s election results found four states voting positively to approve cannabis for adult-use (California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada), and four states voting to allow Medical Marijuana use (Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana). These new additions mean 29 states plus the District of Columbia now offer some category of legal cannabis, and one in five Americans soon will have access to legal marijuana.

Cannabis continues to offer a positive medicinal option for patients including veterans suffering from PTSD and children with debilitating conditions such as epilepsy and spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. A recent report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that marijuana consumption by Colorado high school students has dipped since the state first permitted recreational Cannabis use by adults. The biannual poll also showed the percentage of high school students consuming Cannabis is smaller than the national average among teens. Colorado has experienced a significant economic boost since the legalization of Cannabis, accounting for sizeable job growth and tax income for Colorado.

About the Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA)

The Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA) is an advocate and a resource for business owners, employees, patients and clients of the medical and adult-use marijuana industry. CBA promotes programs that will enhance the emerging marijuana industry’s place in Colorado’s business economy, create respect for the industry in the communities we serve, and support client and patient access, education and safety. For more information, visit www.cannabisalliance.org. Friend us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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