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Marijuana News in Arizona and World
The New York Times has endorsed the legalization of recreational marijuana in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. in their editorial released on October 5.
This is the second time this year that The New York Times has publicly stated their support for marijuana reform in the United States.
In an excerpt from the Times’ recent editorial, “Yes to Marijuana Ballot Measures: Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia Should Legalize Pot,” they repeatedly touch on the argument that marijuana is still “far less dangerous than alcohol” and that medical marijuana is now available in nearly half the states in the US.
The editorial said in regards to the legalization in Colorado: “Opponents of legalization warn that states are embarking on a risky experiment. But the sky over Colorado has not fallen, and prohibition has proved to be a complete failure. It’s time to bring the marijuana market out into the open and end the injustice of arrests and convictions that have devastated communities.”
In closing, the editorial stated, “Ideally, the federal government would repeal the ban on marijuana, so states could set their own policies without worrying about the possibility of a crackdown on citizens violating federal. Even though a majority of Americans favor legalization, Congress shows no sign of budging. So it’s better for the states to take the lead than to wait for an epiphany on Capitol Hill that may never come.”
A broad study looking into the effectiveness of medical marijuana on patients in California has come back with very positive results; 92% of patients polled said that using marijuana helped to alleviate their symptoms, which ranged from chronic pain stemming from migraines and arthritis to cancer.
The California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System’s data concluded that 5% of adults in California admitted to using medical marijuana in order to treat a serious medical condition.
The study’s author noted that, “The most common reasons for [marijuana] use include medical conditions for which mainstream treatments may not exist, such as for migraines, or may not be effective, including for chronic pain and cancer.”
The author of the study also mentioned: “Our study’s results lend support to the idea that medical marijuana is used equally by many groups of people and is not exclusively used by any one specific group.”
Even with medical marijuana being legal in 23 states in the US there are still a large number of hurdles to overcome. One political hurdle comes from former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who has referred to marijuana as “one of the greatest hoaxes of all time.”
It seems like listening to patients, the people actually living with these chronic ailments every day, are the ones with the most valid input, not the politicians.
The anti-marijuana legalization movement seems to always come back to one argument which they believe helps their cause: that emergency room visits involving marijuana have risen over 175% since the mid 1990s.
The DEA even went so far as to state that nearly half a million emergency room visits in 2011 were a direct result of marijuana, with cocaine being the only drug responsible for more. But one large problem with this data is that there are roughly 70 times more marijuana users than cocaine users in the US, which would certainly result in more hospital visits for marijuana users. On a “per-user basis” marijuana causes drastically less emergency room visits than cocaine, and even less than alcohol.
Because the Drug Abuse Warning Network does not provide any information on emergency room visits related to alcohol, we will instead have to take a look at those numbers from a National Institutes of Health report which shows all alcohol-related emergency room trips. The report clearly reveals that marijuana is much less likely to end in a hospital visit than heroin, cocaine, meth, prescription drugs or alcohol.
The report goes on to show that for every thousand people who consume alcohol regularly, there are eight more trips to the hospital than when compared with marijuana.
These numbers were taken directly from the federal government’s records and they clearly prove that marijuana is a much safer substance than alcohol and other drugs.
Arizona has the potential to have a $303 million recreational marijuana market that would produce as much as $70 million in tax revenue. NerdWallet Inc., a financial research firm, examined Arizona’s potential recreational marijuana market size and tax revenue generated to establish these projections.
NerdWallet estimated that there are over 228,000 adult marijuana users in Arizona, which accounts for 5% of the totatal population over the age of 25.
Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard University economist, estimates that the U.S. marijuana market is valued at $14 billion and legalization would reduce prison and police department costs by nearly $7.7 billion annually.
Arizona will likely have a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot in 2016.
Warren Buffett, the man who made billions from soda and candy, is now shifting his keen investment eye onto the marijuana industry.
Cubic Designs Incorporated, a subsidiary of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, is a business which optimizes warehouse floor space. They recently delivered roughly 1,000 fliers to marijuanaover the last month hoping to catch the attention of cultivators looking to maximize their grow space. The fliers read in large lettering: “Double your growing space” and “Grow your profits.”
Shannon Salcrecht, Cubic Designs Inc.’s marketing coordinator, realized the potential business opportunity after being contacted by a number of marijuana growers looking for information. Retail cultivation space has become sparse in places like Denver and Seattle, where growers are hoping to maximize their yield which in turn has caused landlords to raise the rent.
The hardest part for Cubic Designs has been trying to locate the actual growers since they don’t intentionallytheir names or whereabouts. Salcrecht said, “The one thing with this industry that’s kind of tough is that it’s somewhat still secretive.”
Buffett amassed his fortune through acquiring large stakes in companies like Coca-Cola and Dairy Queen when the time was right. It only makes sense that he would get in on the thriving legal marijuana industry as it begins to develop.
US marijuana industry businesses are now profitable enough to become major political donors that support marijuana-friendly candidates and ballot questions.
Congress members who once politely returned the marijuana industry businesses’ contribution checks are now keeping them. Some new marijuana business political activities include fancy fundraisers at Four Seasons hotels and art auctions hosted atfirms.
“We’re developing an industry here from the ground up. If we don’t contribute politically and get out there with the candidates, we can’t help shape what happens,” said Patrick McManamon, of Cannasure Insurance Services, which provides insurance coverage to marijuana cultivation centers and.
Medical marijuana businesses have been giving contributions to candidates since the late 90s, but with the start of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the industry and its political clout are expanding quickly.
Marijuana is currently legal for medical or recreational use in 23 states and Washington, D.C. New marijuana measures will be on November ballots in Alaska, Florida, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. Many contributions are being funneled at those upcoming campaigns and the candidates that support them.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is one of the largest marijuana advocacy contributors and is expected to donate around$150,000 to federal candidates in 2014, up from $110,000 in 2013. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Drug Policy Alliance also contribute directly to federal candidates. And tax-exempt marijuana industry groups such as the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) can contribute an unlimited amount of untraceable money.
Governor Jan Brewer is softening her position on medical marijuana as well as for the right for terminally ill patients to choose to use drugs that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Brewer’s newly-found empathetic stance for people with debilitating medical conditions has her changing her views towards the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act which allows patients with certain medical conditions to get a doctor’s recommendation to obtain marijuana from dispensaries for medical purposes.
“I’ve been reading a lot about it [marijuana research studies],” she stated. “And it certainly looks like it probably does help people.”
When asked about Proposition 303, the “right to use” measure, Brewer stated: “I think that if someone is facing life or death that they should be able to make that choice … and if they’re willing to take that risk … they ought to be able to do it”
Proposition 303 would allow drug companies to make available drugs and/or medical devices that are not yet approved by the FDA for people with a terminal illness. It would also protect doctors from being disciplined by regulatory boards because they agreed to prescribe a non-approved drug to a patient.
As Attorney General Eric Holder prepares to resign from his post, he appears to be more open than ever towards the rescheduling of marijuana as a less dangerous, more beneficial substance.
In an interview, Holder stated, “I think it’s certainly a question we need to ask ourselves, whether or not marijuana is as serious of a drug as heroin. Especially given what we’ve seen recently with regard to heroin — the progression of people from using opioids to heroin use, the spread and the destruction that heroin has perpetrated all around our country. And to see by contrast, what the impact is of marijuana use. Now, it can be destructive if used in certain ways, but the question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that we need to ask ourselves and use science as the basis for making that determination.”
Holder also stated that the Obama administration would be “more than glad” to work with Congress to re-examine how marijuana is scheduled. In April he said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about how the historic marijuana legalization movements in Colorado and Washington were working out.
The Obama administration, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and a few U.S., raided hundreds of marijuana that were compliant with state . But it was Holder, in 2013, who announced that the Department of Justice would let Colorado and Washington implement their new marijuana legalization laws.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, as is LSD and heroin. According to the DEA, Schedule I substances have a “high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use.” Yet science has clearly indicated otherwise by proving that marijuana does help provide relief from a multitude of health ailments.
Although marijuana legalization is quickly gaining momentum in the United States, statistics from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveal that teens between the ages of 12 and 17 are using less marijuana than they were a decade ago.
According to the statistics, teen alcohol and tobacco consumption has declined as well. This might signify a healthy lifestyle shift by our society.
The survey also noted that teenagers are finding it more challenging to get a hold of marijuana than a decade ago. This can lead to the conclusion that the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use has made marijuana less available to teens. It’s also likely that the legal and regulated marijuana industries, whether medicinal or recreational, are diminishing the marijuana black market leading to less marijuana being distributed on city streets.
A marijuana advocacy group attempting to make marijuana legal for adults in Arizona in 2016 has filed the necessary paperwork with state elections officials granting them permission to raise money to campaign for the initiative.
The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona initiative will be based off of Colorado’s voter-approved recreational marijuana program that taxes and regulates marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older.
Andrew Myers, who is helping with the initiative, said the group will form a “diverse coalition” to assist with drafting the initiative’s language. He also stated that marijuana advocates are closely watching Colorado’s recreational marijuana program to determine what should and shouldn’t be replicated in Arizona. Colorado’s marijuana program allows a limited number of medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries to operate and has heavy oversight to regulate the industry.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which advocates to legalize and regulate marijuana, said it will pursue legalizing marijuana in Arizona in 2016 because such initiatives are more successful during presidential elections, which is when more voters visit the polls.
Over 50,000 Arizonans already have medical marijuana cards which allow them to legally purchase and use medical marijuana. Many more people are expected to become cardholders as more dispensaries open every month making access to medicine much more convenient.