Chronicle AM: MA Gov Signs MJ Law, GAO Report Finds Drug Policy Failures, More... (7/28/17)

An anticipated Justice Department decision on what to do about legal marijuana hasn't happened yet, Massachusetts' governor signs the legal pot implementation bill, the GAO reports on federal drug policy, and more.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is picking up big bucks from the cannabis industry as he campaigns for governor. (ca.gov)
Marijuana Policy

Justice Department Has No Plan on Marijuana Yet. The department's Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety was supposed to turn over recommendations on a number of criminal justice issues, including how to deal with states that legalized for medical or recreational use, by Thursday. Thursday has come and gone, but there is nothing about marijuana yet. Attorney General Sessions provided an update Wednesday on the task force's work, but again nothing about marijuana policy.

Massachusetts Governor Signs Legal Pot Regulation Bill. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Friday signed into law House Bill 3818, which implements -- with some changes -- the marijuana legalization initiative approved by voters last November. Among the changes: Legal marijuana sales are delayed from January 1 to July 1, 2018, the three-member Cannabis Control Commission has been expanded to five members, localities that voted against legalizing marijuana will be able to ban pot businesses without a popular vote, and the tax rate has been increased from 12% to 17%, with localities able to tack on another 3%. Under the new law, Bay State adults can possess up to an ounce in public and 10 ounces at home and can grow up to six plants.

California Lt. Gov. Newsom Picking Up Big Bucks from Pot Industry. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a leading supporter of marijuana legalization, is a leading contender for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and the state's marijuana industry is throwing money at him. Cultivators, retailers, and others in the industry have so far donated $300,000 to his campaign, dwarfing pot industry contributions to his challengers, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ($5,000) and current state Treasurer John Chiang ($100). The pot industry's contributions to Newsom are only a fraction of the $14 million he's raised so far, but shows the sector's emergence as a political player in the state.

Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Job Fair Draws Hundreds. Hundreds of people showed up Thursday for a chance to get a job at PurePenn's future production facility in McKeesport. The company will be growing pot plants and producing capsules, ointments, and oils. It is expected to be fully operational by January. Employees will be paid twice the minimum wage.

Drug Policy

GAO Report Finds Federal Drug Policy Mostly Fails at Achieving Stated Goals. In a report released this week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) diplomatically said that the federal government "has made mixed progress" toward meeting goals articulated in the 2010 National Drug Control Strategy. "The federal government made moderate progress toward achieving two goals, limited progress on two goals, and no progress on the other three goals. However, none of the overall goals in the Strategy were fully achieved," the watchdog reported. Among those goals was reducing drug overdose deaths by 15%, but they instead increased by 41.5%.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org"s lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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