Great news guys, after eighty years of prohibition, hemp may finally become legal again by the end of this year.
This Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signed the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill – and he did it in style with a pen made out of hemp. This bill contains a provision that will legalize industrial hemp and all hemp-derived products, including CBD. It may seem strange that America’s top Republican leader is fighting to legalize cannabis, but McConnell has actually been advocating for legal hemp for years now, as it’ll bring many new jobs to his home state of Kentucky.
American farmers started growing hemp as soon as they settled in the country, but hemp cultivation was put to a stop in 1937, when the U.S. government banned all forms of cannabis. Today, hemp is considered a dangerous drug, even though smoking it doesn’t even get you high. The Farm Bill will change that, making it legal for any farmer in the country to grow this form of cannabis wherever they choose. The bill still requires approval from Congress and the president, but advocates are optimistic that this will happen before the end of the year.
While the federal government is finally getting around to legalizing hemp, individual states are also fighting the good fight for cannabis reform.
In New York, a fully-legal adult use pot market is becoming less of a pipe dream and more of an inevitability. After years of calling pot a “gateway drug,” Governor Andrew Cuomo is finally seeing green, and Empire State lawmakers are currently hard at work drafting a new legalization bill. A recent report has estimated that legal pot could bring New York as much as $750 million in tax revenue every year, which raises an important question: What to do with all this money?
A new report out of NYU says that the best solution would be to use this cash to shore up New York City’s antiquated subway system. Over 5.5 million people ride the NYC subways every weekday, and if you’re one of those people then you know exactly how uncomfortable and unreliable the subway system can be. That said, a steady stream of green from legal pot sales could be just the ticket to keep trains running.
But as great as it would be to have reliable subway service in the Big Apple, cannabis advocates arguing that public transit should take a back seat to social justice. Drug Policy Alliance deputy director Melissa Moore believes that pot revenue should be directed to “marginalized communities…who have been ravaged by over-policing and impacted by other insidious criminalization.” The current draft of the bill already addresses this issue, directing 50% of all legal pot tax revenue back to neighborhoods impacted by prohibition.
It’s good to hear that New York’s legalization bill may include social justice reforms from the get-go, especially since righting the wrongs of prohibition has been an afterthought in other canna-legal states.
…but reform is catching on
San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle announced their efforts early this year, framing the work as an attempt to repair years of damage on people who found that a misdemeanor conviction could bar them from jobs, housing and financial resources
That may soon change for Denver residents, thanks to a new program spearheaded by Mayor Michael Hancock. Hancock’s program will automatically clear the records of over 10,000 people who were convicted of minor pot offenses between 2001 and 2013.
The mayor’s goal is to quote “move on from an era of marijuana prohibition that has impacted the lives of thousands of people,”
The mayor’s office is also working on directing weed tax revenue to lower-income neighborhoods, and is actively considering ways to boost minority participation in the pot industry.
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