Decriminalization Is the Best Offer on the Table

The election is so close you can taste it. Anxiety nightmares have left your family and friends in a state of absolute terror. There’s a crackling energy in the air and the smell of smoke. It’s perfect Halloween weather.

As we’ve already discussed in these pages, neither candidate seems particularly friendly toward the idea of making serious revisions to cannabis policy in this country. While President Donald Trump has consistently taken the populist position of leaving cannabis’ legal status up to the states, that’s no guarantee that he won’t turn the plant into a scapegoat during what will surely be a “law and order” term aimed to appease the voting bloc that wants to see an end to civil unrest in the nation’s urban centers.

And hoping for a cannabis-friendly White House under Joe Biden has been laughable, considering his history of anti-marijuana and pro-prison grandstanding. It’s been generally accepted that a Biden administration would maintain Trump’s hands-off policy, but that it would be unlikely he would legalize recreational cannabis (as his constituency clearly favors).

However, Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris—who has her own spotty history vis-à-vis her time as a prosecutor in California and her failure to support legalization in that state—has been trying desperately to signal to cannabis advocates and voters that she has come over to the good side. In 2017 Harris co-sponsored the SAFE Banking Act, which would protect financial institutions from federal prosecution if they chose to do business with cannabis companies. In 2018 she endorsed the Marijuana Justice Act, which would have descheduled cannabis and removed it from the list of controlled substances. And in 2019 she openly said she supported legalization in her book The Truths We Hold.

In recent weeks the potential veepee has been making some big promises to voters. Earlier this month she told viewers of the vice-presidential debate that a Biden win would guarantee the decriminalization of cannabis in the U.S.

“We will decriminalize marijuana, and we will expunge the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana,” she said.

Now it’s common enough for a candidate to say something big like this and then walk it back immediately upon entering office, so don’t get too excited. But she has decided to double down and repeat her promise. That means we’ll at least get to cry foul if it happens.

During an interview on theGrio, Harris said, “We have a commitment to decriminalizing marijuana and expunging the records of people who have been convicted of marijuana offenses. When you look at the awful war on drugs and the disproportionate impact it had on black men and creating then criminal records that have deprived people of access to jobs and housing and basic benefits.”

Is it legalization? No, but it will at least end the draconian practice of locking people in cages over their use of a natural substance.

And it’s 2020. We’ve all become nihilists. We’ll probably be happy enough just to eat our gruel and thank the overlords for letting us live through another cycle unmolested. That’s progress.

Explosion Injures Two Cannabis Workers

Two men are in stable condition after suffering severe burns as the result of a fire that broke out in a Santa Fe cannabis manufacturing site.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the men—whose identities have not been released—suffered extreme burns to their hands, faces and bodies. They were taken to Denver, Colo., to receive treatment for their injuries.

Both men were employed at the New MexiCann Natural Medicine headquarters on San Mateo Lane in Santa Fe, where the fire broke out. Some damage to the facility was reported, but specifics haven’t been given.

This is the second fire reported at the facility. The first one occurred in 2015 while employees were making hash oil using butane. A leak was determined to be the source of that fire, and the company was fined by OSHA for what were identified as “serious” safety violations. It reportedly paid $13,500 in fines.

The cause of this second fire has yet to be determined, and employees are keeping silent about the incident. But state authorities are investigating the fire.

The state has suspended New MexiCann’s medical cannabis production license and banned all employees from working with gas extraction processes. The company’s dispensaries continue to operate, however.

Some States Could Legalize This Month

Most states legalize recreational cannabis through voter initiatives. New Mexico was trying to be the first state to legalize through legislation, but that honor went to Illinois last year.

We won’t be voting on cannabis legalization (since New Mexico doesn’t have a voting initiative process), but four other states will: Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota.

There are 11 states that have legalized recreational cannabis, including our neighbor Colorado. If Arizona legalizes this year, New Mexico will be nearly surrounded on all sides by states that have recreational cannabis markets up and running. If that becomes the case (and we legalize in 2021, mind you), the only place where we will be able to extract significant cannabis tourism dollars will be Texas. That’s bound to negatively impact recent predictions of a robust cannabis revenue stream.

So once again it looks like New Mexico has failed to act in a timely matter and will end up missing out. Who would have guessed? [ ]