The constant flow of cannabis news can be daunting and keeping current can be a hassle. For this reason, Respect My Region keeps an eye out on your behalf, providing a weekly roundup of significant happenings in the world of cannabis and cannabis legislation. State-level developments have come about in the New Year.
This week, we cover the effects of legalization in the state of Illinois, legal shenanigans in Florida, stand-taking in Virginia, and a good old fashioned Twitter roast.
Illinois Lieutenant Governor Participates In First Day Of Legal Weed
For forward-thinking politicians nationwide supporting cannabis is becoming an incredibly easy choice to make. The country is in support of it, it brings in tax revenue, and it lowers law enforcement costs. No brainer.
For Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, however, simply supporting the new Illinois cannabis policy fell short. Stratton took her support a step further than most politicians would dare, stepping into a Lakeview dispensary to purchase a handful of clementine edible gummies.
Stratton’s bout of pot patronage took place on Jan 1, making the Chicago politician one of the first to partake in legalized recreational cannabis in The Prairie State. On its first day, Illinois topped $3 million in sales, a promising sign for the newest state to fully legalize weed. These state-level developments in cannabis legalization give rise to a lot of hope.
Virginia Prosecutor Opts Out Of Low-Level Weed Busts
In states that still have some form of cannabis prohibition in place, state prosecutors continue to pursue criminal cases of cannabis possession. The juxtaposition between such states and some of their neighbors can be jarring. In Colorado, a jacket pocket full of joints can land you a solid buzz, but in Alabama, for instance, it can land you in the slammer.
State-level developments continue in Virginia, where cannabis possession can still land you a $500 fine and 30 days in jail, a county prosecutor has decided to step up. Steve Descano, Fairfax County’s prosecutor, made an announcement that he will not pursue any cases involving low-level possession. According to Descano, he did not come to this decision “lightly.”
“This deliberate policy shift is a result of significant meetings, research, and thoughtful considerations,” Descano said. “It’s based on a thorough look at our criminal justice system, downstream consequences, and most importantly our community.”
Florida Laws Obstruct Potential For 2020 Cannabis Legislation
According to a Floridian activist group seeking to introduce cannabis legislation to the 2020 ballot, the state is taking illegal measures to block them. The group is currently suing the state, saying legal hurdles have been implemented that will effectively kill 2020 cannabis legislation in the sunshine state.
The group had plans to gather signatures in order to introduce a recreational legalization bill into the 2020 ballot. According to them, the state has intentionally passed legislation to quash such efforts. The group claims that were it not for such laws, the measure would have easily received the votes necessary.
One such law requires signature gatherers to register with the state, a process the claim includes extensive wait times. Also, any signatures gathered by such individuals must be approved by county election supervisors. These supervisors reportedly have 30 days to approve such signatures. Given the Feb. 1 deadline for signature submission, these requirements may have the Sunshine State’s 2020 cannabis hopes dead in the water.
Illinois Governor Pardons Over 11,000 People With Cannabis Charges
As far as state-level developments in cannabis is concerned, Illinois had itself a hell of a start to the New Year. They boasted strong sales in the first days of recreational legalization, announced worry-free airport policies for cannabis carriers in Chicago, and now, they’re distributing pardons.
On December 31, Governor JB Pritzker announced that he would be doing away with simple cannabis charges for 11,007 Illinois residents. Such individuals had criminal records as a result of possession of fewer than 30 grams of cannabis. Pritzker made the announcement on Twitter, saying “we are ending the 50-year-long war on cannabis.”
Pritzker has been vocal about the potential economic benefits that will likely result from legalization. However, this set of expungements represents what he describes as “restorative justice.” According to him, the state’s venture into legal weed must have “equity at its very core.”
Senator Rand Paul Torches McConnel On Cannabis Knowledge
There are 1,001 things you could say about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel. For some, those things are primarily good, and for others, those things are very, very bad. No matter which side you’re on, however, one thing must be said: the man seems to love hemp.
He has been heralded as a world-class champion of American hemp farming. He throws his weight behind legalization efforts and has a keen focus on growth for the now-burgeoning industry. However, his actual knowledge of the plant itself came under attack by Rand Paul, his republican congressional cohort.
Every year, around the holidays, Rand Paul celebrates Festivus. The holiday was made famous by the sitcom Seinfeld, and Rand Paul is a devoted follower. In particular, Rand Paul is a staunch believer in the “airing of grievances,” and throws lighthearted jabs at his fellow lawmakers at the end of each year.
This year, Mitch McConnel was in the middle of Paul’s grievance airing crosshairs: