A marijuana reform advocate, Murphy [of the Marijuana Policy Project] said he will miss being able to “mix and mingle with senators and members of Congress who I work with on Capitol Hill.” In an interview, he said many people find it hard to reconcile his status as a Trump supporter and an advocate for legalized marijuana.
Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a press release about the new economic analysis that, “Vermonters overwhelmingly supported the effort to regulate cannabis sales prior to COVID-19, and the sense of urgency has only increased in light of the economic downturn.”
While cannabis is already legal in the Green Mountain State, Vermont will not collect new revenue without a system for taxation and regulated sales. Moreover, the state is facing over $570 million in pandemic-related budget losses through fiscal year 2021, and without federal support and new sources of revenue, community services will likely be reduced. If S.54 were to pass this year — and revisions are made to allow cannabis produced by existing hemp cultivators and medical dispensaries to be sold for adult use beginning in 2021 — this analysis projects the ability to generate over $175 million in cannabis sales taxes through 2025.
With signature-gathering deadlines for drug reform initiatives now having passed nearly everywhere, the picture of where voters will have a chance to vote on them in November becomes clearer—although not yet finalized because state officials are still counting petitions in some cases. Marijuana legalization will be on the ballot in two states and could also be put to vote in two additional states; and seven (four of them confirmed, three still in the running to be voted on) medical marijuana and groundbreaking initiatives on psychedelic policy and drug decriminalization will also go before voters.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis. Illinois, the most recent addition to the list, made recreational cannabis legal in January of this year, and sales have been strong since then. June was the strongest month for sales in the state, with $47.6 million in total legal sales.
“If they hold the gavel and have the votes, there is no reason to wait another term,” said Don Murphy, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “For the next 600,000 prisoners of the drug war, it would be a term too late."
We can talk all we want about "defunding the police," and cutting way back on law enforcement in American cities. But until cannabis is legalized in every state, real police reform "cannot happen," according to Neill Franklin, executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership.
As Connecticut lawmakers consider police reform and accountability legislation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, they should join several other states around the country in recognizing that our antiquated drug policies play an instrumental role in the over-policing of communities of color.