Wednesday, June 29, 2016

California Set for Historic Vote on Cannabis Legalization

by David Downs
Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 8:35 AM

Registered California voters will have a historic chance to end cannabis prohibition for the first time in more than 100 years in the Golden State.

Proponents of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act announced Tuesday evening that state officials had qualified the ballot initiative to appear in the November General Election.
This election, Californians can end 100 years of pot prohibition, which critics say has been a disasterous failure. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • This election, Californians can end 100 years of pot prohibition, which critics say has been a disasterous failure.
Initiative proponents succeeded in collecting more than the 365,880 valid petition signatures to place AUMA on the ballot . Using professional signature-gatherers paid for by wealthy individual donors and activist groups like the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, AUMA’s team collected more than 402,468 “projected” valid signatures, a threshold it crossed Tuesday.

Tomorrow the California Secretary of State will certify the initiative as qualified. The official Title and Summary of the initiative that voters will read states:

MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law. Designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry.

Imposes state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15% of sales price, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Exempts medical marijuana from some taxation. Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana. Prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana to minors. Authorizes re-sentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.

Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Net reduced costs ranging from tens of millions of dollars to potentially exceeding $100 million annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Net additional state and local tax revenues potentially ranging from the high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually related to the production and sale of marijuana. Most of these funds would be required to be spent for specific purposes such as substance use disorder education, prevention, and treatment. (15-0103.)
When regulated, California could collect an extra $1 billion dollars per year in taxes from its existing cannabis trade, state officials estimate.

AUMA allows all adults 21 and over to walk around legally with up to one ounce of flower or seven grams of cannabis extract, as well as grow up to six plants on their own.

About 20,000 Californians are arrested each year for pot, and tens of thousands more receive tickets for marijuana infractions — with minorities bearing the brunt of the enforcement. Scores remain locked up for non-violent marijuana-related offenses.

This election cycle, legalization again faces strong opposition from the drug war establishment, including cops, rehab clinics, democrat and republican politicians supported by drug war lobbies, and even some pot growers and  medical marijuana industry who fear decreased profits under legalization.

“This campaign will very be similar to that of Proposition 19. They have the money and we have the facts,” stated the opposition coalition, which has dubbed themselves 'They Got It Wrong Again'. “This new initiative will specifically allow felons convicted of dealing up to 20,000 heroin doses to receive marijuana licenses.”

That’s not true. State regulators can bar anyone from receiving a commercial cannabis license for a wide range of issues like past hard drug dealing.

Campaign organizers said in Oakland last week that both industry and citizens need to donate and work for legalization in California this year, or it will not happen.

Legalization polls in the mid-to-high 50s in California, just as it did in 2010 when Prop 19 failed due a lack of funding, voter apathy, and an opposition campaign that included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blanketing the airwaves in October with threats of a federal backlash.

To get involved with the Let’s Get It Right campaign, individuals can sign up for updates, as well as make unlimited personal contributions to the campaign committee to legalize cannabis in California.

“And the truth is that we simply cannot do this without you. You're going to push this through to the end,” AUMA’s proponents stated Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Congress Moves to Legalize Cannabis Banking, Research

by David Downs
Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 6:52 PM

America’s lawmakers continue to chip away at federal cannabis prohibition during this lame duck session of Congress.

Last week, Republican Congressmen Andy Harris from Maryland, Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, Virginia Republican H. Morgan Griffith, and California Democrat Sam Farr introduced the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016, which would remove barriers to cannabis research. A group of bipartisan Senators plan to introduce a similar bill in the Senate.

Dr. Harris said cannabis prohibition is blocking needed research on treatments for epilepsy, cancer, and a host of other conditions. Rep. Harris had been one of the House's most prominent anti-marijuana voices.
“As a physician who has conducted NIH sponsored research, I can’t stress enough how critical this legislation is to the scientific community. Our drug policy was never intended to act as an impediment to conducting legitimate medical research. We need empirical scientific evidence to clearly determine whether marijuana has medicinal benefits and, if so, how it would be used most effectively. This legislation is crucial to that effort, because it removes the unnecessary administrative barriers that deter qualified researchers from rigorously studying medical marijuana.”
Like the vast majority of doctors, Rep. Harris received no cannabis training in medical school, and has apparently yet to read the thousands of research papers that empirically attest to the botanical's medical efficacy. In 2015, the American Medical Association admitted as much. Over 200 million Americans have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, yet federal policy blocks science.

That is “outrageous,” stated Congressman Blumenauer. “We owe it to patients and their families to allow for the research physicians need to understand marijuana’s benefits and risks and determine proper use and dosage. The federal government should get out of the way to allow for this long overdue research.”
“There are countless reports of marijuana’s medicinal benefits, but patients, doctors, pharmacists, and policymakers must have more to rely on than anecdotal evidence,” stated Congressman Griffith. “Removing the barriers that prevent further research on marijuana’s medicinal benefits and possible side effects is the right thing to do, plain and simple.”
“This bill is about helping people. As more states pass their own medical marijuana laws, it’s time for Congress to reexamine federal policy. This bill does just that by supporting research so policy decisions about the role of medical marijuana are based on science and facts instead of rhetoric,” stated Congressman Farr.

The Act would not change cannabis’ status atop the federal list of the world’s most dangerous drugs, rather it would cut red tape to marijuana research “a new, less cumbersome registration process specifically for marijuana, [would reduce] approval wait times, costly security measures, and additional, unnecessary layers of protocol review.”

The act also would make research cannabis easier to obtain and end the government’s monopoly over the nation’s supply of cannabis deemed OK for researchers.

Last week, a key Senate committee voted to allow legal cannabis businesses to use the national banking system. Prohibition blocks banks from taking canna-business deposits, forcing the industry to use cash and risk robbery.

“It makes no sense to have bags of cash, and it’s an invitation to organized crime, an invitation to theft, and invitation to tax evasion,” Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley reportedly said.

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to shield banks working with state-legal marijuana businesses. The vote was 16 – 14, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein opposed.

City of Richmond Approves Huge Expansion to Medical Cannabis Industry

by David Downs
Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 5:36 PM

The City of Richmond stands to reap millions of dollars each year after green-lighting a large expansion of licensed commercial medical cannabis activity this June.
A flyer for a Richmond cannabis industry event. - 7 STARS ON FACEBOOK
  • 7 Stars on Facebook
  • A flyer for a Richmond cannabis industry event.
The East Bay city became the latest jurisdiction to embrace state-level regulations by crafting local components that plug into the state’s multi-billion dollar industry, defying critics who said state-level regulations would damage medical marijuana.

Starting last Friday, Richmond will not cap permits for commercial cannabis gardens, as well as edibles kitchens. Richmond could collect a minimum of $1 million per year with a 5 percent sales tax on activity that would otherwise go un-taxed.

"We're going to be in full tax-collection mode," Mayor Tom Butt told the Mercury News. "We want the money."

Richmond has a $12 million budget deficit, and is now open for canna-business, with less red tape than nearby city Oakland, which also green-lit an industry expansion, but with onerous permitting rules.

By contrast, Berkeley or Emeryville does not permit licensed gardens or kitchens. At the back of the pack is Contra Costa County and Alameda County, which still ban most legal medical cannabis activity.

Richmond will use zoning rules to corral the cannabis industry into light industrial zones, and requires lengthy security and safety plan review by local officials.

All energy used by the Richmond cannabis industry must be 100 renewable to be eligible for a permit — a major environmental win.

Richmond’s handful of licensed dispensaries will also be able to apply for a second permit to grown their own supplies. 7 Stars Holistic Healing Center in Richmond held a Community Cannabis Expo on Thursday.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Major Pot Company Hit With Six Counts of Securities Fraud

by David Downs
Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 9:30 AM

Beware, the wolves of weed street are on the hunt.

Federal securities officials charged executives at the high-flying, publicly traded pot company Hemp Inc. (formerly Marijuana, Inc.) with six counts of securities fraud this week in Nevada.

Bruce Perlowin, of Las Vegas - SCREENGRAB
  • Screengrab
  • Bruce Perlowin, of Las Vegas
The SEC complaint is one of the biggest legal actions taken against an increasingly brazen and unchecked market in pot securities. Hemp Inc. / Marijuana Inc. CEO Bruce Hay Perlowin of Las Vegas faces securities fraud charges, along with Jed M. Perlowin, 55, of Parkland, Fla., and 64-year-old Barry Keith Epling, of Las Vegas for “a coordinated and fraudulent scheme to sell to public investors millions of unregistered and purportedly unrestricted Hemp securities that were, in fact, restricted.”

According to CourtHouseNews: “Essentially, the men gave hundreds of millions of unregistered Hemp shares to one another, and to their companies, to be sold into the market, the SEC says.”

A June 20 SEC complaint states: ”The defendants' scheme involved, among other things, the use of nominees, phony gifting of stock, bogus consulting agreements, and forged documentation, all of which were utilized to avoid registration requirements and sell Hemp securities.”

"This long-running and profitable scheme resulted in the sale of hundreds of millions of unregistered and purportedly unrestricted Hemp shares to public investors," the complaint states. "The execution of this scheme involved, among other things, purported gifts and consulting agreements that do not appear to have been bona fide and fraudulent statements made to commission-registered broker-dealers.”

“We understand your concern over the recent news about Bruce Perlowin and Hemp Inc. Our legal counsel, which represents Hemp Inc. and CEO, Bruce Perlowin, has instructed us not to comment on any pending litigation,” the company states.

Cannabis could generate $40 billion in economic activity in the U.S. by 2020, and investors are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into private investments, as well as public companies — the vast majority of which do not meet stringent accounting standards.

Investors lost $23.3 billion in pot stocks in 2014 according to according to data analyzed by Openfolio, VICE reports. Leading investment expert Troy Dayton has told me to avoid pot penny stocks, because “the incentives are screwed up. It becomes more profitable to sell stock than make a company.”

"During the relevant period, the majority of Ferris's revenue and all of Hobbes' revenue came from the sale of Hemp shares,” the complain states.

The complaint lists several companies related to the alleged fraud: including Hobbes Equities Inc., Diversified Investments LLC, Quantum Economic Protocols LLC.

Hemp Inc. shares crashed this week, down from a high of 20 cents to a new low of two cents today. The company has an alleged market capitalization of $6.57 million.
HEMP stock cratering. - BLOOMBERG
  • Bloomberg
  • HEMP stock cratering.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Major Cannabis Conference Brings Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to Oakland

by David Downs
Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 11:37 AM

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is supporting the leading cannabis legalization initiative, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, and will keynote a national cannabis business conference planned for Oakland next week.

Newsom addresses the nation’s canna-business people Tuesday morning at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit & Expo. The trade association represents 1,000 member-business nationwide, and expects to draw 3,000 attendees to the three-day, business-to-business conference and trade show at the Marriott City Center at 1001 Broadway in Oakland June 20-22.
Gavin Newsom speaks during the 2013 launch of the ACLU's Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • Gavin Newsom speaks during the 2013 launch of the ACLU's Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana.
The legal cannabis industry is expected to generate $40 billion in economic activity by 2020.  Oakland continues to lead the global cannabis industry, and is working to vastly expand the scope of regulated medi-pot activity — licensing farms, kitchens, and distributors, as well as green-lighting up to eight new dispensaries per year. The Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission met last night to begin phase one of the new licensing roll-out.

Monday, NCIA workshops on running canna-business and branding coincide with tours of major dispensaries and labs including Harborside Health Center, CW Analytical, and Dark Heart Nursery. The conference offers continuing legal education for lawyers, and classes on sustainability. Five panel tracks explore trending topics like intellectual property, hash extraction, the emerging world of product liability, as well as increasing diversity. Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf is scheduled to give closing remarks Wednesday.

Your Legalization Nation editor is scheduled to moderate a panel related to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act Wednesday, titled “Golden Opportunity: The Industry's Role in California Legalization.” According to state campaign donor records, the industry has by and large not helped pay to put legalization measures on the ballot.

The panel follows another legalization-themed conversation — “Putting It To a Vote: A Hard Look at Ballot Measures and Post-Election Predictions” on Tuesday.

Tickets to the conference start at $150 to dispensary owners and other industry insiders, go to $350 for expo-only general admission, and reach $795 for non-member full pass. Inclusion Scholarships are available.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Microsoft Becomes Biggest Company To Enter Cannabis Game

by David Downs
Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 12:39 PM

Technology giant Microsoft will become the largest blue-chip company to ever enter the cannabis industry, according to a new report from The New York Times.

While federal pot prohibition gives most corporate lawyers the chills, state-level legalization is apparently hot enough to attract the Redmond, Wash., company — which plans on dominating the software market for “seed-to-sale” tracking.
Microsoft, the world's largest software maker by revenue, will power legal cannabis tracking for state governments. - VIA WIKIPEDIA
  • via Wikipedia
  • Microsoft, the world's largest software maker by revenue, will power legal cannabis tracking for state governments.
Most legal cannabis regimes call for intense tracking of every plant grown in the legal system from its birth to its distribution at retail stores. (Gun control advocates can only dream the same thing might be applied to assault weapons designed explicitly for mass murder.)

Amidst widespread business dissatisfaction with the existing options for seed-to-sale tracking, Microsoft’s entry promises to completely blow up the sector.

“We do think there will be significant growth,” said Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft, told the Times. “As the industry is regulated, there will be more transactions, and we believe there will be more sophisticated requirements and tools down the road.”

Microsoft said it had partnered with seed-to-sale software company Kind, a Los Angeles start-up. Kind’s executive said he had courted a lot of companies before getting Microsoft to sign on.

“I would like to think that this is the first of many dominoes to fall,” the exec told the Times.

Pot business software is a ripe target for disruption, said Ben Larson head of the Gateway cannabis tech incubator in Jack London Square. Gateway is incubating it’s own “MJ Freeway-killer” — he said, referring to the leading software solution.

Microsoft’s baby steps into cannabis fit a pattern of blue chip company interest in the cannabis space, which will generate $40 billion in economic activity by 2020, watchers estimate.

The large gardening company Miracle Grow purchased pot-focused General Hydroponics in 2015.

PayPal founder Peter Thiel has helped fund a $75 million cannabis investment firm called Privateer, which owns the strain information site and has launched the Marley Natural line of pot.

The Times also reports that Oracle has been working to track pot in New York state’s tight and unworkable regime.

California regulators are currently mulling options for picking a track and trace software vendor for the massive state — where there are an estimated 40,000 medical cannabis gardens, and around 1.4 million adults have used the botanical medicinally.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ACLU California Announces Support of Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure

by David Downs
Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 10:30 AM

The American Civil Liberties Union of California on Tuesday endorsed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA — Californians’ ballot measure that would legalize cannabis in the 2016 general election.

After conducting research proving  Black people and other minorities get arrested far more for pot than whites despite similar usage levels, the ACLU is supporting AUMA to help stem the mass incarceration epidemic in America.
“The disastrous war on marijuana in California continues to ensnare thousands of people – particularly young people of color – in the criminal justice system every year,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, criminal justice and drug policy director with the ACLU of California. “It is time to move from prohibition to regulation. AUMA will establish a controlled and regulated market for adults, significantly reduce the harm done to young people under current marijuana laws, and generate substantial revenue for drug education and for the communities most devastated by the war on drugs.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a groundbreaking new study showing that even after California decriminalized personal possession of pot in 2010 by making it equal to a parking ticket — minorities are still the ones getting those tickets. Police use cannabis laws to prey on young males least equipped to pay fines, or fight charges, and most at-risk of being knocked off their life-track by adjudication.

From 2011 to 2014, California police made 60,000 marijuana arrests statewide, with young people under the age of 20 accounting for 73 percent of all misdemeanor marijuana arrests. “Nearly 70 percent of all marijuana arrests were of people of color,” the CA-ACLU found.

The ACLU states that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act offers the most vetted, thoughtful cannabis policy reform in the state’s history, and AUMA builds on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy spearheaded by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and the ACLU of California in 2013.

“In November, California voters will have the opportunity to get regulation right,” stated Abdi Soltani, executive director of the ACLU of Northern California and steering committee member of the Blue Ribbon Commission. “AUMA is a comprehensive proposal that incorporates consensus findings based on extensive research and discussion. Most importantly, it includes measures that will protect young people, maintain public safety, and establish workable taxation and regulation. This comprehensive measure lays out a strong framework for implementation.”
AUMA allows adults 21 and over to have an ounce of pot in public and grow up to six plants at home and is the most endorsed legalization initiative in state history, with support from the California Council of Land Trusts, California Medical Association, and California NAACP, and now the California ACLU.

In related news, retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer said she was 'leaning toward' supporting legalization during an interview on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Snoop Dogg, Too $hort Endorse California Marijuana Legalization in New Video

by David Downs
Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 11:04 AM

Snoop Dogg, Too $Short, and Quincy Jones make key appearances in one of the first and most powerful new campaign videos for the California initiative to legalize marijuana in the November 8 general election.
Lion for legalization: Snoop Dogg.
  • Lion for legalization: Snoop Dogg.
The California and Hawaii chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a new video that flips the script on the notion that the U.S. drug war is designed to protect poor communities and people of color.

The nine-minute video recounts recent U.S. history, where systemic racism through paternalistic drug policy eviscerated communities of color. From the Reefer Madness '30s, through Nixon’s war on (some) drugs in the '70s, to the '80s crack scare — it’s been minorities that do the time.

Despite similar usage levels, Black people enter prison 10.2 times the rate of whites for minor drug offenses, activists note. America has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prisoners.

“Ronald Reagan, George Bush, the Republican beatdown — and now you got a city of hopelessness,” said Bay Area rapper Too $hort.

“The war on drugs was a war on African-American kids. I couldn’t believe it but the facts were there,” said Alice Huffman NAACP President for the California and Hawaii chapters

“It was pretty clear that I had had my head in the sand for too long,” said Huffman. “All the work I was trying to do in the NAACP was not going to ever amount to very much because the segment that we should be serving was the segment that was was being targeted by government.”

“That’s why I can’t vote,” said Snoop. “Now we have reason to vote and these people that normally wouldn’t vote — their votes definitely make a difference.”

U.S. has been the world leader in promoting the war on drugs, we’re also leading on marijuana law reform, said the Drug Policy Alliance’s Ethan Nadelmann.

Four states have legalization and Washington, D.C., and the legal industry should reach $40 billion by 2020. Fifty-four percent of Americans say it’s time to legalize, polls says.

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act would legalize personal possession of up to one ounce in public and the cultivation of six plants at home, generate $1 billion per year in taxes for social services, and allow those with a post pot convictions to get their records wiped clean. Pot prisoners could petition for a re-sentencing based on modern pot laws.

“We need to overturn outdated drug laws and release inmates that have been convicted for drug offenses that are now legal today. We need to make sure our community is not left behind,” the vide declares.

“I think we need to start all over again and we need to build a society with compassion,” said Huffman.

Here’s the full video.

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How Marijuana Did at Yesterday's Primary Election

by David Downs
Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 12:34 PM

They say "all politics is local," and local marijuana battles proved mixed in California during the primary election Tuesday.

In the California Democratic primary presidential contest, Hillary Clinton bested pro-legalization candidate Bernie Sanders, beating him with 56 percent of the vote in early results. Many predicted the race was too close to call, and voter turnout would be high. But turnout sagged and Clinton ran away with it after, some say because the Associated Press called her the presumptive nominee before Californians went to the ballot box in the pivotal race. Sanders has vowed to fight on against the system of super-delegates. Presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump was the choice among California’s widely reviled GOP field. The GOP has record-low approval ratings in California.
Blue Dream from the NorCal 2012 harvest.
  • Blue Dream from the NorCal 2012 harvest.
In the race for Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat, the more pro-marijuana Rep. Loretta Sanchez got trounced by the more cannabis-cautious Attorney General Kamala Harris, who had Sanchez beat by 23 points.

Here in Alameda County, medical cannabis regulation pioneer and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley bested newcomer Bryan Parker and retained his seat.

In San Jose, voters rejected Measure C to loosen up the city’s tight but workable restrictions on dispensaries.

Marijuana supporters lost in Butte County, where voters passed Measure G to declare that cannabis is not an agricultural crop with “right to farm” protections. Voters also passed Measure H to maintain a tiny 50 square-foot cap on garden sizes.

But weed won in Nevada County, where voters rejected a cannabis growing ban by voting No on Measure W.

Patients lost in Yuba County Tuesday, where voters rejected Measures A and B to ease farming rules and allow dispensaries.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

'Racial Injustice' Lurks in California Pot Enforcement, Study Finds

by David Downs
Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 8:45 AM

Personal pot possession in California was reduced from an arrest to an infraction in 2010, but systemic racism around pot enforcement continues, a new study finds.

  • EBE file photo
The American Civil Liberties Union of California, in conjunction with the Drug Policy Alliance, published a groundbreaking, heavily reported piece of research Monday that concludes that the Black community in California faces ticketing for pot at a rate four times as high as whites. Latinos have about double the rate of pot tickets as whites.

Titled “Marijuana Enforcement Disparities in California: A Racial Injustice”, the ACLU-DPA report is the culmination of more than a year’s work by a group of four Stanford law school students.

California arrests for pot have dropped 86 percent from highs of nearly 100,000 to about 20,000 in 2014. What remains unknown is how many pot tickets are being written and to whom.

The research group had to threaten to sue cities and counties to divulge pot infraction statistics — which are poorly tracked, and often hand-written, with no electronic records in existence.

An analysis of infraction data from Los Angeles and Fresno found disparities in Black and Latino citations compared to whites. Researchers also found a form of predatory policing where police placed the highest burden of tickets on the backs of young men and boys, particularly ones of color.

“Racial disparities in marijuana enforcement are widespread and longstanding. Los Angeles and Fresno are very different places; yet they reveal similar disparities. It’s likely that young black and Latino Californians experience these disparities statewide,” stated Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Criminal Justice and Drug Policy director for the ACLU of California. “A $100 citation can easily become several times that, after all the fees are added. This presents a significant burden for young people and low-income families.”

“It is disappointing to see that even at the level of infractions, California law enforcement are incapable of applying the law equally across racial lines,” stated Alice Huffman, president of the CA-Hawaii NAACP. “I am hopeful that full legalization as proposed in the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will drastically reduce the numbers of young people of color being funneled into the criminal justice system for minor drug offenses.”

With infraction data hidden from officials themselves, police cannot speak accurately on levels of pot enforcement or allegations of racial bias, said Amanda Reiman, Marijuana Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Law enforcement assumptions based on personal experience don't often match the statistics.

For example, Oakland’s pot crime is concentrated in just two police beats, she said. “If you’re a cop covering Montclair in Oakland, yeah, there are no marijuana arrests.’”

She said weed crime statistics are caught in a “weird area” where they are underreported compared to the scale of pot activity. Pot crime is measured more like crack cocaine crime, which is rare, instead of alcohol-related crime, which is very common.

“We have this weird situation with cannabis where we have a great deal of use but we have no one with reporting systems, measuring outcomes.”

Now, millions of dollars in legal pot taxes have begun paying for some of the first statistical reporting on cannabis crime — as in Colorado and Washington.

California’s continued targeting of blacks even as pot laws changed mirrors new findings from Colorado, where pot cases dropped 86 percent, yet black teens actually got arrested more.

The ACLU’s groundbreaking study will add to calls for more racial equity in legalized cannabis markets. Recently, Oakland earmarked priority pot permits for cannabis offenders and residents of certain police beats.

Most Popular Stories

© 2020 Telegraph Media    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation