Hey everyone, we have your weekly update on the top 5 marijuana news stories of the week. New Jersey is trying hard to get over certain hurdles to pass adult-use marijuana legislation; marijuana advocates are getting fed up in Maryland; a massive Supreme Court decision on civil asset forfeiture should help in the battle to solve the social injustice aspect of marijuana prohibition; cannabis studies are resulting in breakthroughs in Autism Spectrum Disorder research; Constellation Brands are projecting huge numbers for the future of the cannabis industry worldwide. New Hampshire also took a big step towards marijuana legalization with the passage of a bill in a House committee, but it still has a long way to go. Today is February 22, 2019 and I am Richard Lowe, the managing editor at The National Marijuana News. Let’s get started.
Supreme Court Decision Does Away With Civil Asset Forfeiture Eliminating Significant Weapon in the War to Enforce Marijuana Prohibition
If you are unfamiliar with the civil asset forfeiture debate, let me explain briefly. When law enforcement stops a suspect, they are permitted to seize assets including cars, money and all sorts of things. Many people argue that civil asset forfeiture has led to excessive asset seizures and that marijuana possession is often the probable cause used to justify the seizures. In a remarkable unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court this week on Timbs vs Indiana, the Supreme Court decided that civil asset forfeiture is a form of an excessive fine that the people are protected against under the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fine Clause. Before now, the Excessive Fine Clause only applied on the federal level, but the ruling by the Supreme Court means it now applies to all 50 states. Just like the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill the President signed last December which reduces the sentencing of federal prisoners serving time for non-violent crimes, this ruling can be in part attributed to the efforts of marijuana legalization advocates that have argued that the penalties associated with marijuana possession are unacceptable. Civil asset forfeiture has been a massive deterrent for not only the possession and consumption of cannabis, but also research on cannabis here in the United States.
New Jersey Inches Closer to Recreational Marijuana Legalization
Sticking with the law for a moment, New Jersey is expected to pass legislation that would legalize the consumption and sale of recreational marijuana some time in the next couple of weeks. It has been a long hard fought battle by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy who made adult-use legalization a major part of his 2016 run for governor. While every state so far that has legalized a regulated commercial marijuana market has done so through voters approving legislation, Governor Murphy was the first governor put in office that planned on legalizing it through the legislature. There are now numerous governors around the country working to accomplish the same goal. If the bill passes, it is anticipated that the earliest that recreational marijuana will be available for sale will be January of 2020. In order to get the bill signed, pro-cannabis New Jersey lawmakers had to concede on a flat tax of $42 per ounce. That will make marijuana very expensive in New Jersey and many people are worried it will still allow the illicit market to flourish in the garden state.
MOMS Are Fed Up with Marijuana Prohibition in Baltimore Evidenced by Billboard
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is in trouble. She is not listening to marijuana reform advocates in Baltimore that want to see marijuana possession decriminalized. Due to her inaction, she has drawn the ire of a group known as MOMS or Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters United. The group put together a billboard attached to a truck this week and circled it around the War Memorial Plaza all day long during a press conference held by Mayor Pugh. The billboard read, “MAYOR PUGH, STOP POT ARRESTS. SOLVE MURDERS INSTEAD.” Baltimore’s state’s attorney office even issued a statement earlier this year that they would cease prosecuting anyone for marijuana possession regardless of quantity or criminal records, however Mayor Pugh has taken no action. When asked about the billboard by reporters, Mayor Pugh said that drug deals fuel criminality and violence. MOMS argument is that city’s resources should be used for solving homicides in a city plagued by them, not on marijuana possession arrests.
New Research on Autism Spectrum Disorder Shows More Evidence that Cannabis Can Help
Israeli researchers have been studying the effects of medical cannabis on subjects with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD for years. They have found that CBD can help ASD patients with sleep, self-injury, hyperactivity and anxiety disorders. However, that continued research has evolved into the discovery that children with ASD have deficient anandamide levels, a naturally produced endocannabinoid by the human body, along with other endocannabinoids. It is leading researchers to wonder if a deficient endocannabinoid system is the specific cause of ASD. The Schedule I status of marijuana here in the United States, and other strict scheduling guidelines worldwide, have prevented the rigorous research on cannabis which has left medical professionals scratching their heads over conditions such as autism. Now that international scientists have more access to cannabis for research, perhaps more clues will be found to solve medical enigmas such as ASD.
Constellation Brands Makes Strong Projections on The Future of the Cannabis Industry
Constellation Brands is now a marijuana stock. The alcohol distributor for beer brands like Corona and Modelo, vodka brands like SVEDKA, along with many spirits and wine brands, has a market capitalization of over $32 billion. They own nearly half of the largest cannabis company in the world, Canopy Growth Corporation, as well. They plan on reducing their portfolio of wine and spirits by 40% and we can only guess as to why, not really. They have marijuana on the mind. Marijuana consumers in the United States purchase $50 billion dollars worth of cannabis, and consumers globally spend $150 billion. They are estimating that around another $100 billion could emerge from the illicit market into the legal mainstream market as legalization expands globally. If the 30 different countries currently looking into legalizing marijuana were to follow through, Constellation Brands believes that in 15 years consumers may be spending as much as $200 billion a year on cannabis products. In the U.S. alone they project consumers will be spending $96 billion per year on cannabis products. Currently U.S. consumers spend $77 billion on cigarettes annually.
That’s it for this week everyone. Remember to follow our Youtube channel, The National Marijuana News, along with our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages @NationalMJNews. I hope everyone enjoys the weekend.