March 22, 2023

Democrats on failing to legalize weed

Social equity reform is a term that refers to a variety of policies and initiatives aimed at addressing past and present injustices and promoting equality and fairness for marginalized and disadvantaged groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities. These initiatives can take many forms, such as affirmative action programs, policies to address income and wealth disparities, and efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in various sectors.


It is possible that some larger corporations may have been able to take advantage of social equity reforms in ways that have disproportionately benefited them, rather than the marginalized groups that these reforms are intended to help. This could happen for a variety of reasons, such as if the reforms are not designed or implemented in a way that effectively addresses the needs and challenges faced by marginalized groups, or if larger corporations are better able to navigate and take advantage of the reforms due to their greater resources and influence.


It is important to note that social equity reform is a complex and multifaceted issue, and it is not possible to make blanket statements about its effectiveness or impact. It is possible that some social equity reforms may have had unintended consequences or may not have achieved their intended goals, while others may have had a positive impact on marginalized groups. Ultimately, the effectiveness of social equity reform will depend on the specific policies and initiatives that are put in place and how they are implemented.


Yet when it comes to cannabis, we can already see that there are some major instances on how “Social Equity Licensing” is actually, failing the very minorities they are “supposed” to protect.


In 2022, many of the Social Equity license holders sold off their licenses to larger corporations simply because of all the “red tape” that increase cost of operations. It doesn’t matter if you give a poor person a mansion – if they can’t pay the property tax you’ll make them poorer in the long run.


This is the major issue with the “Social Equity Angle” pushed by Democrats and is one of the major reasons why the Democrats did nothing significant in cannabis reform in over two years.


The truth of the matter is that I don’t think they actually care about cannabis reform. They are the epitome of the “latest thing that is happening now” party. When cannabis gained in popularity, they quickly saddled up and went along for the ride.


However, prior to that, people like Biden and other Democrats took a “hard stance against drugs” and other “whoo-has!” They built careers on their “tough on drugs” laws that help increase the U.S Prison Population.


Now, in a recent article in Forbes by Kris Krane the article argues that Sen Chuck Schumer is largely to blame for the “non-action in relation to cannabis reform”.


The Forbes Article in a Nutshell


In order for us to be on the same page, here’s my best attempt at summarizing the Forbes Article;


In January 2021, Democrats took control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, leading to optimism among supporters of marijuana policy reform that significant cannabis reform would be achieved in the 117th Congress. Both the MORE Act, a comprehensive reform bill, and the SAFE Banking Act, which allows banks to do business with state-licensed cannabis businesses, had already been passed by the Democratic-controlled House in the previous year. However, the SAFE Banking Act was not included in the Omnibus spending bill, nor the National Defense Authorization Act, and no other substantive marijuana reform bills were passed. Despite this, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has blamed Republicans and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for the failure to pass reform, although McConnell argued that Democrats had two years to move the bills forward and schedule votes. The executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) also stated that Democrats failed to prioritize and advance marijuana reform legislation. As Republicans are set to take control of the House of Representatives and Congress is set to adjourn for the holidays, it appears that marijuana reform will not be achieved in the current session.


The disappointment among supporters of marijuana reform is understandable, given that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had both expressed support for reform and the SAFE Banking Act had received strong bipartisan support. The SAFE Banking Act was seen as the most achievable reform, with hopes that even more significant reform could be achieved. The failure to pass any reform is a significant blow to the cannabis industry, which has been operating in a legal grey area at the federal level, with state laws on marijuana varying greatly. The industry has faced challenges such as difficulty accessing banking services, which the SAFE Banking Act aimed to address.


The lack of progress on marijuana reform is in contrast to the progress made on the issue at the state level, with 15 states and Washington D.C. having legalized recreational marijuana and 36 states allowing medical marijuana. Public opinion on the issue has also changed, with a majority of Americans now supporting legalization. Despite this, federal reform has been slow to progress, with previous attempts to pass reform having failed. The most recent attempt, the MORE Act, which aimed to legalize marijuana at the federal level and address social and racial justice issues, was passed by the House in 2020 but was not taken up by the Senate.


The reasons for the failure to pass reform at the federal level are complex and multifaceted. One factor is the lack of consensus among Democrats on the issue, with some lawmakers hesitant to support reform due to concerns about the potential negative consequences, such as increased drug use and impaired driving. Additionally, there has been opposition to reform from some Republicans and law enforcement groups, who argue that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that federal laws should not be relaxed. The influence of these groups, as well as the lobbying efforts of the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries, may also have played a role in the lack of progress on reform.


However, in discussing who is holding the majority of the blame, Schumer blames Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. However, supporters of the act argue that Democrats, and specifically Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, are also to blame for the failure as they did not prioritize and advance marijuana reform legislation, including the SAFE Banking Act, on a reasonable timeline, putting the issue in a position where McConnell could block it. The failure to pass the act will have negative consequences for the cannabis industry, including difficulty accessing banking services, increased risk of violence and death for cannabis business employees, and challenges for businesses in the capital markets. There is now a low chance that the social equity and justice goals supported by Schumer and advocates will be part of any banking reform bill that could pass a GOP-controlled House.


Why are they playing politics when people are suffering?


You’d think that if Democrats were so “hardliner” when it comes to cannabis reform, that they would have implemented “incremental reform” as was suggested by McConnell himself. In fact, Schumer had all the power yet wanted to have a “specific way” of passing reform.


Instead of protecting businesses and consumers, they wanted to push “Equity licensing”.


However, while they Democrats want to paint the Republicans as the “Opposition” of reform, the truth of the matter is that Social Equity could be a way for large corporations to gobble up all the market share of cannabis in a new market.


The state of Arizona’s “Social Equity Licenses”  were designed to benefit people and communities disproportionately affected by past marijuana criminal laws in the state. Proposition 207, which legalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana in Arizona in November 2020, required the state to promote the ownership and operation of marijuana establishments and testing facilities by individuals from these disproportionately impacted communities.


The Social Equity Licenses program was the state’s solution, a system in which 26 licenses were given to individuals from these communities.


However, there are concerns that large marijuana companies are using predatory tactics to exploit loopholes in the program. Instead of opening their own dispensaries, individuals who received the licenses are being offered large sums of money by these companies to sell their licenses and give up control of the businesses, although they are required to maintain 51% ownership.


These actions may undermine the intended purpose of the program, but they are not illegal according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, which operates the program. In addition, some investors have submitted hundreds of applications for the licenses, increasing their chances of receiving one, and in one case, an investor received five licenses through this method. These investors are registered as shell companies in Wyoming and their identities are unknown.


This is also not an isolated occurrence. The trends of “equity holders” selling their licenses to big corporations will only grow in 2023 because the majority of these “equity holders” don’t have the capital to run the operations.


Therefore, they are being bought out – placed as “name holder” of the dispensary when the Mega Corporation runs the business and makes most of the profit.


Yet, despite this – The Democrats continue to push this agenda and the Republicans continue to oppose it. Who’s stuck in the middle?


Businesses, consumers, and the rest of us who just want cannabis legal and safe for adults and medical patients.


The Government doesn’t serve you!


It is important to note that the actions of individual politicians and political parties should not be generalized or assumed to represent the views and interests of all members. Political parties and politicians may pursue policies and initiatives that align with the views and interests of certain groups or individuals, but it is not accurate to say that they do not serve the people as a whole.


That being said, it is common for political parties and politicians to be influenced by special interests, such as lobbying groups, corporations, and other organizations that seek to advance their own agendas or agendas that align with their values or goals. These interests may use a variety of tactics, such as campaign donations, lobbying efforts, and public relations campaigns, to influence policy decisions and shape public opinion.


Political parties and politicians may also be influenced by their own ideology, values, and beliefs, as well as the views and interests of their constituents and supporters. This can lead to disagreement and conflict with other parties and politicians with different views and interests, resulting in a lack of progress on certain issues.


It is ultimately the role of the voters to hold their elected representatives accountable and ensure that their interests and concerns are represented in the legislative process. This can be done through participating in elections, engaging in the political process, and advocating for policies that align with one’s views and values.


Cannabis has long shown me that the politicians have sold us out. I’m not saying “all of them”, but certainly the most influential of the bunch have their fingers deep in the pockets of “Special Interests”.


You can just check out the “Twitter Files” to see this collusion in action. Of course, as a stoner – I’ve known this for decades. But it’s good that the general public is waking up to the fact.


What can be done?


I think it’s important to not just talk about how these things impact us, but also what we can do to make some significant change in our society.


There isn’t a lot you can do. However, the following will give you some actions to take.


  1. Vote in LOCAL elections: One of the most fundamental ways for individuals to have a say in their government is by participating in elections and casting their ballots for candidates who align with their values and goals. If there aren’t any that align with your goals, then potentially run for office or find someone who will.

    The reason why “LOCAL” elections is more important than national elections is because local councils are the ones that set the rules where you live, are typically “less competitive” and can help you affect most of the change. Once you have filled up lower positions, begin going after bigger ones such as Mayor, Governor, Senator, etc


  2. Get involved in community organizing: Participating in community organizing efforts can be an effective way to make a difference at the local level and bring about change in specific issues or policies. This is for those who simply don’t want to get involved in politics. You can also create enough change by simply “doing” whatever it is you want.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to cannabis reform – you need politicians to vote on it on your behalf. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t create organizations taking care of the needs of those negatively affected by the War on Drugs.


  3. Spend your Money Wisely – At the end of the day, you only have your money to vote. Find out which companies are lobbying with candidates that are opposing the legislations you want to see passed – and remove your money from those organizations.


In other words, if you find out that a brand you use regularly is funding someone who is staunchly opposed to cannabis reform – stop buying from them. More over, send them a message or a tweet letting them know why.

Social Media gives you the ability to amplify your voice. The truth of the matter is that politicians aren’t here to serve you – but the people spending money on their campaigns.


Therefore, if you want change – you’ll need to make it!





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