pcloudy.png
Monday August 2nd, 2021 8:42PM

Election could stoke US marijuana market, sway Congress

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Voters in four states from different regions of the country could embrace broad legal marijuana sales on Election Day, and a sweep would highlight how public acceptance of cannabis is cutting across geography, demographics and the nation’s deep political divide.

The Nov. 3 contests in New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana will shape policies in those states while the battle for control of Congress and the White House could determine whether marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

Already, most Americans live in states where marijuana is legal in some form and 11 now have fully legalized the drug for adults — Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. It's also legal in Washington, D.C.

In conservative Mississippi, voters will consider competing ballot proposals that would legalize medicinal marijuana, which is allowed in 33 states.

Nick Kovacevich, CEO of KushCo Holdings, which supplies packaging, vape hardware and solvents for the industry, called the election “monumental" for the future of marijuana.

New Jersey, in particular, could prove a linchpin in the populous Northeast, leading New York and Pennsylvania toward broad legalization, he said.

“It’s laying out a domino effect ... that’s going to unlock the largest area of population behind the West Coast,” Kovacevich said.

The cannabis initiatives will draw voters to the polls who could influence other races, including the tight U.S. Senate battle in Arizona.

In Colorado, one supporter of legal cannabis could lose his seat. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who is struggling in an increasingly Democratic state where some in the industry have lost faith in his ability to get things done in Washington.

Despite the spread of legalization in states and a largely hands-off approach under President Donald Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate has blocked cannabis reform, so under federal law marijuana remains illegal and in the same class as heroin or LSD. That has discouraged major banks from doing business with marijuana businesses, which also were left out in the coronavirus relief packages.

“Change doesn’t come from Washington, but to Washington,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “States are sending a clear message to the federal government that their constituencies want to see cannabis legalization.”

The presidential election could also influence federal marijuana policy, though the issue has been largely forgotten in a campaign dominated by the pandemic, health care and the nation’s wounded economy.

Trump’s position remains somewhat opaque. He has said he is inclined to support bipartisan efforts to ease the U.S. ban on marijuana but hasn’t established a clear position on broader legalization. He’s appointed attorneys general who loath marijuana, but his administration has not launched crackdowns against businesses in states where pot is legal.

Joe Biden has said he would decriminalize — but not legalize — the use of marijuana, while expunging all prior cannabis use convictions and ending jail time for drug use alone. But legalization advocates recall with disgust that he was a leading Senate supporter of a 1994 crime bill that sent droves of minor drug offenders to prison.

Even if there are lingering doubts about Biden, the Democratic Party is clearly more welcoming to cannabis reform, especially its progressive wing. Vice presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California has said making pot legal at the federal level is the “smart thing to do.”

Familiar arguments are playing out across the states.

Opponents fear children will be lured into use, roads will become drag strips for stoned drivers and widespread consumption will spike health care costs.

Those backing legalization point out the market is already here, though in many cases still thriving underground, and argue that products should be tested for safety. Legal sales would mean tax money for education and other services, and social-justice issues are also in play, after decades of enforcement during the war on drugs.

An added push this year could come from the virus-damaged economy — states are strapped for cash and legalized cannabis holds out the promise of a tax windfall. One Arizona estimate predicts $255 million a year would eventually flow for state and local governments, in Montana, $50 million.

Despite the pandemic and challenges including heavy taxes and regulation, marijuana sales are climbing. Arcview Market Research/BDSA expects U.S. sales to climb to $16.3 billion this year, up from $12.4 billion in 2019.

In New Jersey, voters are considering a constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana use for people 21 and over. It's attracted broad support in voter surveys. If approved, it’s unclear when shops would open. The amendment also subjects cannabis to the state’s sales tax, and lets towns and cities add local taxes.

The Arizona measure known as Proposition 207 would let people 21 and older possess up to an ounce or a smaller quantity of concentrates, allow for sales at licensed retailers and for people to grow their own plants. Retail sales could start in May. State voters narrowly rejected a previous legalization effort in 2016.

If Montana voters approve, sales would start in 2022. Montana passed a medicinal marijuana law in 2004 and updated it in 2016. The proposed law would allow only owners of current medical marijuana businesses to apply for licenses to grow and sell marijuana for the broader marketplace for the first year.

Perhaps no other state epitomizes changing views more than solidly conservative South Dakota, which has some of the country's strictest drug laws.

The sparsely populated state could become the first to approve medicinal and adult-use marijuana at the same time. However, legalizing broad pot sales would be a jump for a state where lawmakers recently battled for nearly a year to legalize industrial hemp, a non-intoxicating cannabis plant.

Meanwhile, a confusing situation has unfolded in Mississippi, after more than 100,000 registered voters petitioned to put Initiative 65 on the ballot. It would allow patients to use medical marijuana to treat debilitating conditions, as certified by physicians. But legislators put an alternative on the ballot, which sponsors of the original proposal consider an attempt to scuttle their effort.

Hawkins is among those already looking toward 2021, when a new round of states could move toward legalization, including New York and New Mexico.

“There is clearly a tide,” Hawkins said. “We are moving toward a critical mass of states that ... will bring about the end of federal prohibition on cannabis.”

___

Associated Press writers Michael Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey; Bob Christie in Phoenix; Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Amy Beth Hanson in Helena, Montana; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; and Nick Riccardi in Denver contributed.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Foreign students show less zeal for US since Trump took over
America has been considered the premier destination for international students, with the promise of an education at top-notch universities leading to job opportunities
11:13AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Election could stoke US marijuana market, sway Congress
It could be a landmark election year for the legal marijuana industry
11:09AM ( 51 minutes ago )
Black woman shot by officer seeks justice from hospital bed
A Black woman who was shot and wounded inside a vehicle by a police officer who also fatally shot her 19-year-old boyfriend told about 200 people gathered at an emotional rally in suburban Chicago that she’s fighting to be there for her son
12:35AM ( 11 hours ago )
U.S. News
Geoghegan Hart beats Hindley to Giro title by 39 seconds
British rider Tao Geoghegan Hart has won the Giro d’Italia
11:41AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Pence to keep up travel despite contact with infected aides
The White House says Vice President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite his exposure to a top aide who tested positive for the coronavirus
11:39AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Finland shocked by therapy center hacking, client blackmail
Finland’s interior minister has summoned key Cabinet members into an emergency meeting Sunday after hundreds of patient records at a private Finnish psychotherapy center were accessed by a hacker or hackers who are seeking ransom from clients
11:27AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Afghanistan claims killing an al-Qaida leader wanted by FBI
Afghanistan is claiming it has killed a top al-Qaida propagandist on an FBI most-wanted list during an operation in the country’s east
10:34AM ( 1 hour ago )
Thai protesters rally ahead of parliamentary debate
Thousands of pro-democracy protesters have gathered in Thailand’s capital again, seeking to keep up pressure on the government a day ahead of a special session of Parliament called to try to ease political tensions
10:33AM ( 1 hour ago )
Pope names 13 new cardinals, includes US Archbishop Gregory
Pope Francis has named 13 new cardinals, including Washington D
10:20AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
California girds for most dangerous fire weather of year
California, which has endured its worst wildfire season in history, is bracing for the most dangerous winds of the year, a forecast that prompted the largest utility to announce plans to cut power Sunday to nearly 1 million people to guard against its equipment sparking new blazes
10:59PM ( 13 hours ago )
Crews vacuum 'murder hornets' out of Washington nest
Heavily protected crews in Washington state have worked to destroy the first nest of so-called murder hornets discovered in the United States
4:24PM ( 19 hours ago )
Cunningham keeps low in NC Senate race marked by his affair
North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham is bypassing uncomfortable questions about his extramarital activities in the final days of his race with GOP Sen. Thom Tillis
2:40PM ( 21 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
The Latest: Pelosi says she's not giving up on virus relief
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s not giving up on passing another coronavirus relief economic package before the Nov. 3 election
10:19AM ( 1 hour ago )
Pompeo, Esper to push Trump's anti-China message in India
Two of President Donald Trump’s top national security aides will visit India for meetings focused largely on countering China’s growing global influence
2:55AM ( 9 hours ago )
Pence to keep up travel despite contact with infected aide
The White House says Vice President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite his exposure to a top aide who tested positive for the coronavirus
1:29AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
France reacts after Erdogan questions Macron's mental health
France has recalled its ambassador to Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said President Emmanuel Macron needed mental health treatment and made other comments that the French government described as unacceptably rude
4:09PM ( 19 hours ago )
Alaska Sen. Murkowski to support Barrett for Supreme Court
Sen. Lisa Murkowski has announced that she'll vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett
3:37PM ( 20 hours ago )
Senate GOP pushing Barrett ahead past Democrats' blockade
The Senate has opened a rare weekend session as Republicans race to put Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court
12:54PM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Observers say Tanzania's presidential vote is already flawed
Tanzania’s opposition faces a new obstacle in its quest to unseat President John Magufuli in Wednesday’s election: It says the government has made it difficult to accredit thousands of opposition electoral observers who want to ensure the vote is fair
4:59AM ( 7 hours ago )
Ukraine's local elections test leader and his young party
Ukrainians are voting in local elections that are considered a test for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy
3:24AM ( 8 hours ago )
The Latest: A week before election, Biden to visit Georgia
Joe Biden will travel to Georgia next week, making a late push in a state that hasn’t voted Democratic for president since 1992
10:04PM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: Biden repeats no fracking ban at Pa. rally
Joe Biden is repeating that he has no plans to ban hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, a critical battleground state where many jobs depend on the industry
1:08PM ( 22 hours ago )
Trump votes in Fla. before rallies; Biden focuses on Pa.
President Donald Trump says he voted Saturday “for a guy named Trump” and called it an “honor” to cast his own ballot in his adopted home state of Florida
12:47PM ( 23 hours ago )
The Latest: Biden doesn't want events to be `superspreaders'
Joe Biden tells supporters in Pennsylvania that he misses up-close campaigning, but doesn’t want his events to “superspreaders.”
12:20PM ( 23 hours ago )
General Election News
Amid turmoil, Kyrgyzstan sets presidential vote for Jan. 10
Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have called an early presidential election for January after the nation’s previous president was driven from power by protests triggered by a disputed vote
8:46AM ( 1 day ago )
Senate GOP marches ahead on Barrett over Democrats' blockade
The Senate is gearing up for a rare weekend session as Republicans race to put Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court and cement a conservative majority before Election Day despite Democratic efforts to stall President Donald Trump’s nominee
12:13AM ( 1 day ago )
Biden's warning on oil tests voter resolve on climate change
Joe Biden has said the quiet part out loud on climate change
12:05AM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Foreign students show less zeal for US since Trump took over
America has been considered the premier destination for international students, with the promise of an education at top-notch universities leading to job opportunities
11:13AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Black woman shot by officer seeks justice from hospital bed
A Black woman who was shot and wounded inside a vehicle by a police officer who also fatally shot her 19-year-old boyfriend told about 200 people gathered at an emotional rally in suburban Chicago that she’s fighting to be there for her son
12:35AM ( 11 hours ago )
California girds for most dangerous fire weather of year
California, which has endured its worst wildfire season in history, is bracing for the most dangerous winds of the year, a forecast that prompted the largest utility to announce plans to cut power Sunday to nearly 1 million people to guard against its equipment sparking new blazes
10:59PM ( 13 hours ago )
Crews vacuum 'murder hornets' out of Washington nest
Heavily protected crews in Washington state have worked to destroy the first nest of so-called murder hornets discovered in the United States
4:24PM ( 19 hours ago )
Cunningham keeps low in NC Senate race marked by his affair
North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham is bypassing uncomfortable questions about his extramarital activities in the final days of his race with GOP Sen. Thom Tillis
2:40PM ( 21 hours ago )