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2020 the “Biggest Year Yet” for Cannabis Reform—These Are the States That May Legalize Weed

States across the country have taken it upon themselves to legalize marijuana.

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(TMU) — As we enter 2020, the legalization of marijuana on a state-by-state level continues to steadily progress.

However, a comprehensive end to marijuana prohibition on a national level remains distant as Congress continues to oppose attempts to legalize marijuana or even reduce criminal penalties associated with the plant.

Rather than wait on permission from a deadlocked Washington D.C., states across the country have taken it upon themselves to legalize cannabis. According to cannabis reform advocacy group NORML, twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have either legalized or decriminalized possession and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, while medical marijuana is legal in 33 states.

In 2018, Michigan, Utah, Missouri, Vermont, and even the deeply conservative state of Oklahoma freed up access to medical marijuana. And while the steady spread of legalization has run into some stumbling-blocks in New York and New Jersey, an end to prohibition appears inevitable across the country.

According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of the public in the U.S. favors the legalization of cannabis—a sure sign of the anti-prohibitionist mood of most Americans, especially millennials. For many, the sentiment is less about politics or partying, and more a simple matter of wanting to put an end to the failed “War on Drugs” and its disproportionate and unjust impact on poor communities of color.

Let’s look at the states where weed could be legalized in 2020:

Illinois

The Prairie State rang in the New Year by allowing residents 21 and older to purchase up to 30 grams of cannabis flower from authorized dispensaries while non-residents can carry 15 grams. Only patients will be allowed to grow plants at home.

And while consumers have complained of exorbitant taxes on legal weed, that didn’t stop them from flocking to dispensaries and shelling out $3.2 million on the first official day of legalization.

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support last spring, also provides a number of different avenues to expunge convictions and arrest records for minor cannabis offenses.

The law has also been hailed by advocates for its various social justice provisions meant to undo the damage done against those who have run afoul of the state’s past prohibitionist policies, and it also establishes $30 million in low-interest loans for aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs from areas impacted by the War on Drugs.

Minnesota

In February, Minnesota will consider a bill to legalize cannabis that has similar social justice provisions as those in the Illinois bill, Democratic house majority leader Ryan Winkler told Newsweek. While the bill hasn’t been drafted yet, supporters will ensure that cannabis apprenticeships and loans for people from communities that suffered from prohibitionist laws will be included. Winkler said:

“It just is manifestly unfair to say ‘Okay, well, now that we think [marijuana] is good and we’re going to make money, let’s make it a corporate, whites-dominated industry.’

We may not be able to stop that, but we’re going to try.”

However, even if the legalization bill clears the Democrat-held House it will have to clear a Republican-held Senate. In that case, Winkler said that supporters of the bill will be studying the impact of legalization on taxes, DUI rates, and other sources of concern for conservative lawmakers.

New York

In New York, advocates are steadily pushing to legalize marijuana in 2020. However, the campaign faces concerted opposition from cops, conservative parents, and even some members of the medical community.

While the state decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot and the expunging of prior convictions last year, many argue that it didn’t go far enough in rooting out the damage wrought by the War on Drugs. The sale and purchase of cannabis also remains prohibited.

Lawmakers like Manhattan Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger hope that opponents of legalization can see the benefits of legalizing and regulating weed rather than allow it to continue dwelling in the shadows of the black market.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo strongly supports legalization and has proposed that revenue from taxes on pot go toward everything from traffic safety to transit upgrades, addiction treatment, public health education and intervention, and small business developments.

Critics contend that while Cuomo talks a big game, he didn’t do enough during the last legislative session to support legalization.

States Pushing Toward Legalization:

The state governors of New York, New Mexico, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont each support the legalization of recreational cannabis use. Each state legislature besides that of Rhode Island is considering legislation or will draft bills for that purpose.

This past fall, Marijuana Moment reported that New York Gov. Cuomo revealed that he was working with fellow Democratic governors in the northeast states of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania to ensure that they could unify their efforts across state lines to push legalization efforts in the face of federal inaction on the issue.

Cuomo told reporters at the time:

“We can do more together than we can working alone … We don’t have a federal government, in my opinion, that is providing leadership on these issues. They’re saying to the state, ‘you are on your own,’ and that’s liberating on one level.

If we are on our own, let’s hook our boats together and let’s see if we can find our way through this storm … The devil is gonna be in the details and how you do it will determine the success of the program. Doing that collectively and regionally makes sense.”

Ballot Measures:

According to Forbes, advocates for recreational and medical cannabis will soon be able to bypass their legislatures with ballot measures that will be voted on in the November 2020 ballot.

Meanwhile, advocates are hard at work gathering signatures for similar ballot measures in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. Idaho and Mississippi could also see ballot measures to approve the use of medical cannabis.

Voters in New Jersey and South Dakota can bypass their legislatures at the ballot box with a vote in favor of recreational and medical legalization, respectively, in 2020, according to Forbes.

In Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma, advocates are working to gather signatures for similar ballot measures to legalize recreational cannabis use, according to Forbes and data compiled by Ballotpedia. Mississippi and Idaho could see ballot initiatives approving its medical use.

2020 the “Biggest Year Yet” For Cannabis Reform

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal told Forbes:

“In 2020, hundreds of thousands of Americans will turn out to vote not for the top of the ticket, but for the rights of cannabis consumers in upwards of a dozen states.

As we have seen in previous elections, marijuana initiatives increase voter turnout in nearly every demographic. With public support growing by the day, 2020 will be the biggest year yet for expanding the freedoms and liberties of cannabis consumers.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Corruption

Man Who Spent Decades in Prison Gets $6 Million After Cop Found to Have Faked Evidence

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A North Carolina man who spent decades in prison was awarded $6 million in damages by a federal jury after it was found that he was wrongfully convicted thanks to evidence fabricated by a detective.

Darryl Howard languished in prison for over 20 years on double murder and arson charges in 1995 for killing a woman and her teen daughter in 1991. Last Wednesday, a jury in Winston-Salem found that former Durham police detective Darryl Dowdy simply faked the evidence that resulted in his conviction.

In 2016, Howard’s 80-year sentence was stricken down by a Durham County judge who cited the misconduct of police and prosecutors. The $6 million award was the result of a 2017 federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Howard, reports the News & Observer.

Dowdy, 65, denied the accusations in the lawsuit. The former detective was a 36-year veteran of the Durham Police Department before he retired in 2007.

Howard and his legal team have expressed satisfaction that the jury recognized the grave injustice he faced, but are disappointed that the $6 million is a mere fraction of the $48 million in damages they requested.

Attorney Nick Brustin, who represented Howard, said that Dowdy’s defense attacked Howard for his past gunshot wounds and history of selling and using drugs.

“I think to some extent the racist defense that they have been implementing since the beginning of the ligation has in some ways succeeded,” Brustin said. “I think the verdict doesn’t value the suffering that Darryl went through.”

Howard himself noted that the heavy damage dealt by his long incarceration have completely altered his life.

“I am happy about the verdict, but I am kind of upset about the damages,” Howard told the News & Reporter.

“Just imagine, 23 years I stayed in prison,” he added.

Brustin also highlighted the systemic nature of the injustice his client suffered as a result of Dowdy’s police work.

“The kinds of misconduct are pattern misconduct,” he noted, adding that Durham police need to review other cases handled by the crooked cop.

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News

Happy Holidays? Billionaire CEO Fires 900 Workers in Zoom Call

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The boss of an online mortgage lending company has come under fire as callous and heartless after he unceremoniously fired about 900 staff members in the run-up to the holidays – all on one single Zoom call.

Vishal Garg, the chief executive of New York-based mortgage firm Better.com, didn’t mince words in the call, telling employees:

“This isn’t news that you’re going to want to hear … If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”

Adding that he did “not want to do this,” he explained that “this is the second time in my career I’m doing this … The last time I did it, I cried.” 

While the 43-year-old CEO claimed that the mass sacking was a painful ordeal, he also noted that the “market has changed” and the company required streamlining to deal with the cool-off in the recent housing boom.

However, Garg neglected to mention that the company recently received $750 million from investors just last week.

According to Fortune, the chief executive also was the anonymous author of a blistering blog post to professional network Build that put his own employees on blast.

“You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of 2 hours a day while clocking 8 hours+ a day in the payroll system?” Garg wrote, adding that “they were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills. Get educated.”

Garg also has come under fire for his poor management approach and history of abusing workers after an email he sent to employees was published by Forbes last year.

“You are TOO DAMN SLOW,” the CEO wrote. “You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS… SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME.”

Regardless of his personal frustrations with employees, social media users were stunned by news of the mass firing, calling the move “cold,” “a horrible move,” and “harsh” – especially with Christmas around the corner.

Employment law and business experts have also lambasted Garg’s actions, noting that such mass firings run counter to the law in most countries, and are not only abusive but destructive toward morale, despite being perfectly legal in the United States.

“Existing employees will look to how the company treats people as a signal to how it will treat them in the future,” Gemma Dale of the Liverpool John Moores University in the UK told the BBC.

“There are ways to do these things which, even in difficult conditions, are empathetic and decent,” she added. “There is a right way to do these things both morally and legally.”

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Environment

China Was Just Caught Literally Changing The Weather For Communist Party Celebration: Study

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In recent years, China has made a number of head-turning and downright dazzling technological advances. Now, according to a new study, the East Asian giant has successfully managed to literally change the weather.

According to a recent report from the South China Morning Post, scientists at Tsinghua University say that during the 100-year anniversary of the Communist Party of China, authorities succeeded in modifying the weather in Beijing to clear the sky and improve air quality for the masses gathered to celebrate the party’s centenary in Tiananmen Square.

The large-scale operation involved lacing the clouds above the capital with chemicals to usher in rainfall over suburban parts of Beijing before the July 1 centennial event. According to the Tsinghua researchers, eyewitnesses report rockets being launched from mountains outside the city in the run-up to the event.

The Beijing researchers claim that the artificial rain managed to reduce the level of PM2.5 air pollutants by over two-thirds, bringing air quality to “good” conditions from “moderate” levels per World Health Organization Standards.

The use of chemicals to modify weather conditions is a practice that dates back to at least the 18th century, when European states used gunfire to shoot at storms in hopes to prevent hail from harming crops.

By the turn of the 20th century, dozens of hail cannons were deployed for commercial purposes despite the unproven nature of such primitive geo-engineering methods.

Fast forward to the 2020s, and the People’s Republic of China has reportedly invested vast resources into weather modification programs that will be tested in a region spanning 5.5 million square miles by the year 2025. The impact of such geo-engineering efforts could lead to regional tensions with China’s increasingly nervous neighbors.

Meanwhile, as the potential for a new cold war with the people’s republic continues to grow, professional China skeptics have stoked fears that the ruling Communist Party could use its newfound ability to manipulate the weather for military purposes. However, it’s worth noting that the United States military has been hoping to weaponize the rain since at least 1967.

However, with arid conditions and extreme drought threatening the food security of populations across the globe, the ability to literally make rain fall may not be as frightening as some make it out to be.

Additionally, some researchers have claimed that geoengineering could play a role in mitigating the impact of rampant climate change. However, it remains far too early to know the long-term impact of lacing skies with chemicals on a widespread, regular basis.

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