Fear and Loathing in the Cannabis Community

Posted by on Nov 20, 2016 in Blog

Magazines-24 (6)While it has been more years than I care to admit since I was a young woman who read Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the words Fear and Loathing have been rolling around my head for the last several days. This year’s presidential election has brought a whole lot of Fear and Loathing bubbling up from all sides. It truly seems that we have all fallen into our own echo chambers, been barraged with tabloid style fake news and left scratching our heads as to how we found ourselves in this state of disarray. Exactly when was it that we stopped talking to each other in any kind of meaningful and productive way? In many ways it no longer matters.

Done is Done.

What is certain at this point, regardless of who you supported in this election or why, the election is over. Donald Trump is our President-Elect. Whether you love or hate him, for the cannabis community his victory does pose some major concerns. Mostly in regards to who he is surrounding himself with.

gk2PoFor our cause that would be the very disturbing appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions, a staunch prohibitionist, as Attorney General. There is still some hope that he will not be confirmed, but that hope is sketchy at best. Cannabis reform up to now has not even been much of a talking point in this other than his being quoted as joking about the KKK being ok with him until he found out they smoked pot. This is mostly because of some legitimate concerns about his past racist remarks that prevented him from being confirmed as a federal judge 30 years ago. Most believe he will be confirmed relatively easily.

While I have some reassurances from sources that even if Sessions is confirmed recreational and medical cannabis states are not on the chopping block, at least not as a priority in the first 100 days, the danger is very real. No doubt the mere tone of the people currently surrounding our President-Elect will make our work for decriminalization much more difficult on both the local and state-wide levels.

quotation-hunter-s-thompson-sports-meetville-quotes-89828 We no longer have the luxury of pointing fingers, casting blame or even worrying about who was right and who was wrong in their reasoning. We must face the reality of the current moment and figure out where we go from here – together.

The other thing we can be certain of is that the Cannabis Community and Culture is a diverse and beautiful slice of America. We come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders religious backgrounds, economic brackets and sexual preferences. We come from both the Left and the Right.

truth-in-loveWe must be strong and we must be vigilant, but that strength must come from a place of Love. Truth in Love will always win in the end no matter how long the road or how difficult the struggle may be.

If we can find the grace to cast aside our fear and loathing for the other side and come together to support our cause, there just may be hope. Not only for cannabis consumers, but all of America.

Let us treat each other with respect and kindness. Let us listen to each other with open hearts and minds. Let us show the rest of this great country how its done.

~Erica McBride

 

 

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Pennsylvania 2016 Cannabis Voting Guide

Posted by on Oct 18, 2016 in Blog

MPPKCC

Voting is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to further cannabis reform. We need as many friendly legislators as possible to reach our goals. As a service to our supporters we partnered with MPP to create a 2016 voting guide.

We had send out questionnaires to all the candidates to ask them about their position on both decriminalization and full legalization.  The voting guide indicates their responses as well as their voting record on medical cannabis. It is extremely disappointing how many candidates would not respond to the survey which indicates that they either did not deem the issue important enough or they were unwilling to go on record with their position.

The guide is split between the House and Senate races and is in order by district. If you do not know what district you are in you can find it here.

VotePOTElection Day is Tuesday, November 8th.

Remember, voting is not only our right, it is our civic duty!

 

 

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Northeast Post Election Cannabis Reform Pivot

Posted by on Oct 17, 2016 in Blog

thFQLN8RNNIn about three weeks the cannabis reform movement is about to shake the foundations of the earth with resounding victories in five states.

Full legalization of cannabis is on the ballot and is expected to pass in California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine and Massachusetts. They will join Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Washington D.C. as places where cannabis is perfectly legal.

After the election 25% of the United States population will live in the nine states with fully legal cannabis. In addition medical cannabis is on the ballot in four states – Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana. Wins in these states would put us at 29 states with medical cannabis. Victory in all four states is possible but the state with the biggest significance to the movement will be Florida.

states_next_marijuana_legalization.0When Barak Obama took office in 2008 there were zero states with legalization and only 13 states with medical cannabis. The next president will take office in January with cannabis completely legal in nine states plus D.C. and 26 or more states with medical cannabis. What comes next? Which states will the national movement and the big money donors put their efforts into?

I suggest a Northeast pivot. States that allow ballot initiatives are obvious targets of action but the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland are the keys that will unlock the gates and cause the wall of national prohibition of cannabis to crumble faster than the Berlin Wall.

new-jersey-weedAfter the election our movement goes big time all over the country. With victories in Maine and Massachusetts it is likely that all of New England will go legal. Rhode Island and Connecticut are likely to legalize cannabis through their legislatures and Vermont and New Hampshire cannot hold out for long either.

The two states most likely to legalize cannabis in our neighborhood are New Jersey and Delaware. Chris Christie will be gone forever in January of 2018, just a bit over one year from now. Within one year of his departure there is a good chance that the legislature of New Jersey will legalize cannabis.

delawares-poll-to-legalize-marijuanaDelaware is a small state. They have already legalized medical cannabis and passed legislation for statewide decriminalization. They are primed and ready to legalize cannabis. A half million dollars pumped into the state could tip the balance easily. It would be easier to flip Delaware than almost any other state. A victory in this small state though would be HUGE.

Maryland is another state that is primed for legalization. They are so close to Washington D.C. that they can feel it. They have also passed both medical cannabis and statewide decriminalization. There is a great likelihood that within 1-3 years Maryland will also legalize recreational cannabis.

New York is different. They have a huge population and the state is large in size. New York will likely go last but we can completely surround them with legalization states and then they will be forced to change. Cannabis is already decriminalized in the state and they also have a weak medical cannabis law.

Now on to my favorite state, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is the Keystone State. Take out the keystone and the whole thing collapses. Not only will Pennsylvania be influenced by legalization in New Jersey and Delaware but what we do here in this state can have a huge effect on what they do.

1917630_1165780583431965_4275595058223880301_n (1)Pennsylvania has already legalized medical cannabis. In a bit over one year we will have at least 150 medical cannabis dispensaries and 25 grow operations. We have also legalized industrial hemp and over the next few years we expect thousands of acres to be grown throughout the state. PLUS, cannabis has been decriminalized in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and State College with discussions ongoing in Wilkes Barre, Lancaster, Scranton, Reading and other municipalities.

thPJJB9FT1Governor Tom Wolf is calling on the state legislature to send him a bill to sign for statewide decriminalization of cannabis. When Pennsylvania decriminalizes cannabis that will be a huge signal for New Jersey and Delaware to go ahead and legalize.

KCC is calling on the movers and shakers in the national movement to pivot to three states. If the movement is properly funded we can get decriminalization in Pennsylvania within one year. We can get full legalization in New Jersey within one to two years and full legalization in Delaware within one to two years as well. A quick decrim victory in Pa. and legalization wins in the next two years in New Jersey and Delaware can ensure a win for full legalization in Pennsylvania within 3 years, four years tops.

Three million dollars or less, strategically placed, could tip all of these states in favor of legalization. In fact, I could see how we could put all of these states into the legalization column with less than a million dollars. That’s a bargain compared to how many millions of dollars were poured into the states that have so far legalized cannabis.

politicsKeystone Cannabis Coalition played a big role in passing medical cannabis legislation and we are the ones who passed the industrial hemp legislation. Our involvements in both of these efforts have taught us a lot of valuable lessons on how to work within the legislative system.

Money should be given to grassroots organizations in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Hiring a few lobbyists in those states is essential as well. Revolution is coming to the Northeast and these states will be key. New England is going legal. Focus on these three key states will clinch the deal.

Put $50,000 into the coffers of KCC and we WILL get statewide decriminalization in Pennsylvania and thus set the stage for the final battle for full legalization. A few hundred thousand dollars strategically placed in Delaware and New Jersey will lead to full legalization victories there and put the pressure on Pennsylvania to legalize.

Medical-Marijuana-TaxationThe Northeast market for cannabis is so huge that there are literally BILLIONS OF DOLLARS at stake. With so much at stake it should be plain to all to see the bargain of funding the movements in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Those are the three most important states to fund and strong consideration should be given to boosting the efforts in Maryland.

The election is just three weeks away. Prepare for serious victory and get ready for the fight in the great Northeast. We are looking for some big donors to help fund KCC but all donations great or small will help us. If you believe in our vision, our mission and our ability to get things done, please support our efforts to legalize cannabis in the Keystone State by making a generous donation to KCC today.

Les Stark
Executive Director, Keystone Cannabis Coalition

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Why Reading PA Should Decriminalize Small Amounts of Marijauna

Posted by on Sep 26, 2016 in Blog

download (1)There are many reasons I support decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana but fundamentally all of those reasons can be boiled down to plain and simple common sense.

Cannabis has been used by human beings for thousands of years, long before we ever came up with the slang term marijuana to demonize both the plant and its consumers. Long before we decided its use is a ‘crime’. By definition a crime is a ‘violation of a law in which there is injury to the public or a member of the public’. Not only is cannabis not harmful to the individual who consumes it, nor to the public at large, in fact its use is beneficial to the wide majority who use it, whether they are using it under the guidance of a medical program or through self medication.

Different-types-of-addictionCannabis is non-toxic, there has never been a single overdose death, and it is not physically addictive. For the rare instance that someone becomes psychologically dependent, I have to wonder why even that is ‘criminal’. The top 10 addictions are typically listed as alcohol, tobacco, prescription and illicit drugs, gambling, video games, shopping, sex, the internet, food and work. With the exception of drugs, which is typically listed third, none of these addictions are considered crimes. Why the double standard? People who suffer from any type of addiction need help, not to be burdened and harmed further by being saddled with the consequences of being labeled as a criminal.

urine-lab-drug-test-for-k2-spice-synthetic-marijuana-7In addition, while marijuana has never killed anyone, Spice or K2 has. It has become the drug of choice for many who are subjected to drug testing and/or falsely believe that because it is promoted as ‘synthetic marijuana’ that it is safe. And it most definitely is not. Decriminalizing marijuana will have a positive effect in reducing deaths from this dangerous alternative.

truth-in-loveI am a mother, so I definitely understand the argument that decriminalizing marijuana is akin to condoning its use. I understand it, but whole heartedly disagree with it. Every parent has a duty to instill in their children the principles of responsibility and morality that will guide them towards the best possible future. No mother wants to see their child engaging in reckless behavior, and equally no parent wants to see their child’s potential for the future destroyed by being labeled a criminal. A very large majority of youth have used marijuana at least once. Their ability to get student loans for college, to find a job and suitable housing should never come down to whether or not they got caught.

Then there is the economic and social impact for implementation of a failed policy. Decriminalization will have a positive impact both in the cost savings of not running people the court system for possession of a small amount of marijuana as well as providing funding for either drug and alcohol education programs or any other program council and law enforcement deem appropriate.

Community-PolicingDecriminalizing will free law enforcement to focus on actual crime. It will also allow law enforcement to better build a positive relationship with their community. When I was a child, I was taught to seek out the police should I ever need assistance, I was raised to believe law enforcement is on my side. Unfortunately, many now teach their children to avoid any interaction with law enforcement. They are no longer viewed as friends of the community. This needs to change. Police need to be respected. When citizens no longer look at officers as being in the community to arrest them for a petty drug offence and start seeing them as being there to protect and serve a more mutually beneficial relationship will emerge.

Despite the endless unsubstantiated claims otherwise, cannabis is not a gateway way drug to harder more harmful drugs. It is the gateway to only one thing….the criminal justice system.

a60690e4942e0dc1a9d6bc842fa5d883The simple fact of the matter is, whether you use it or not, approve of it or not, marijuana has always been a part of our culture. After more than 8 decades of attempting to arrest our way out of it, there are no less marijuana today then there was 80 years ago. Prohibition deters no one from its use. After all this time as a rational society we have no choice but to admit that cannabis prohibition is an utterly failed policy. It is time for it to end.

Mayor Scott said in the Reading Eagle (in regards to speaking to other mayors that have deriminalized ) that he wouldn’t ask their opinions on the ordinances since they don’t follow state or federal laws.
He said “Regardless of what the others are doing, I don’t think we should be looking at people who are basically making laws that are breaking laws,”

This is extremely disappointing to me and I couldn’t disagree more. This country has seen many an unjust, immoral law that needed eliminating or changing. The idea that a law must be followed simply based on the fact it’s a law is somewhat shortsighted and absurd. PA is moving towards statewide decriminalization, as it should. But the wheels of state government move slowly. Those cities and their Mayors that have decriminalized are not basically making laws that are breaking laws. They are ending the collateral damage and unintended consequences of a failed policy as we await the state to do the right thing. They are making laws that put their constituents and community first. I strongly urge Reading to so the same.

~Erica McBride

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Find out where candidates stand on marijuana decriminalization and legalization

Posted by on Sep 20, 2016 in Blog

MPPKCCOn August 26, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and the Keystone Cannabis Coalition (KCC) sent out a questionnaire to all Pennsylvania candidates for the General Assembly asking their position on decriminalization and legalization of adult use of marijuana. While we have heard back from many candidates, most have not yet responded.

Contact the candidates in your district, let them know you support marijuana policy reform, and ask them to respond to the MPP/KCC candidate questionnaire.

As election season approaches, MPP and KCC want to ensure voters know which candidates support common sense marijuana laws. Before Election Day, we will create a Pennsylvania voting guide — including past votes on medical marijuana — along with the answers of those who responded to the questionnaire and the names of those who did not.

Please contact the candidates in your district and politely ask them to complete the questionnaire so Pennsylvania voters will know their positions on marijuana policy. If you aren’t sure what district you live in, you can find out here. Thanks for all your help!

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