Browsing: Legalize It

chase-6344-2Maria Levitov

Trail Blazers is a series of portraits by photographer Maria Levitov spotlighting cannabis consumers from all walks of life.

Chase Livingston moved to Denver from Florida and was quick to notice the difference in cannabis laws. A professional sound engineer, Livingston uses cannabis for recreational purposes and an occasional extra push to fall asleep, but isn’t ignorant of its medical benefits.

Kenzie Bruce

Members of Congress joined legal cannabis-industry representatives in front of the United States Capitol today, May 23, calling for an end to federal pot prohibition. Among the lawmakers appearing in solidarity with the National Cannabis Industry Association were Colorado representatives Diana DeGette and Jared Polis.

“There are 34,000 Coloradans who are licensed to work in this industry, so you can imagine how dismayed everyone in Colorado was when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he was going to rescind the Cole Memo,” DeGette told the gathering. “I can say, I have never seen our delegation work so quickly to fix something in a bipartisan way.”

Jake Holschuh

To get around the guardrails surrounding marijuana research, Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University wants to create a network of 100,000 medical marijuana patients in order to collect definitive information about the plant. Founded “to advance scientific understanding of medical marijuana and its derivatives” by providing evidence-based resources for patients and caregivers, the new mmj.org initiative is working to build the world’s largest database of patients.

Scientists hoping to research marijuana in a clinical setting currently have one option for specimens: the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which sources its marijuana plants from a single contractor at the University of Mississippi. Not only have those plants been criticized for their inferior quality, but the list of authorized marijuana research projects stuck using them is extremely short, with each requiring approval from the Drug Enforcement and Food and Drug administrations.

Jacqueline Collins

A report released at a national conference hosted by the Federal Transit Administration earlier this month shows that American workers in states with legalized marijuana are failing drug tests for the substance at an increasing rate. The study, by Quest Diagnostics, which monitors drug test results in all fifty states annually, found the average positivity rate for Colorado and the national number both sitting at 4.2 percent last year. The positivity rates for pot, however, varied widely.

Colorado’s percentage of drug tests failed because marijuana — at 2.5 percent — was slightly above the 2 percent national average. Still, Colorado came nowhere near the rates of Nevada (43 percent), Massachusetts (14 percent) and California (11 percent), all states that approved recreational marijuana legislation in 2016.

cannabis advocateBrandon Marshall

Most people thought the fight was over when Colorado voters legalized commercial cannabis in 2012, but that victory led to a series of smaller battles over such issues as social consumption, home-grow limitations and industry expansion. Proposals continue to pop up on both the local and state level that could advance or limit your rights as a cannabis consumer, patient, grower or business owner. Want to make sure things go in the right direction? Here’s how to become a cannabis advocate:

cory gardnerBrandon Marshall

In a story of strange political bedfellows, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is working with the office of Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner on an upcoming bill that would prevent the federal government from interfering with the marijuana system here and in other states that have legalized.

As noted by NORML political director Justin Strekal, Gardner has confirmed that he’s teaming up with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, “to craft legislation that would reduce the tension between federal prohibition and states that have moved forward with legalizing marijuana for medicinal or adult use. And we’re working with a number of offices to make sure the language is going to be right and palatable to a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate.”

Maria Levitov

In honor of 4/20, we’re presenting Maria Levitov’s portraits of cannabis consumers in Colorado, the first state to allow legal recreational sales. “The world can feel isolating and discouraging, so now more than ever, it’s important to show the things that connect us, not separate us,” says the photographer.

“I think cannabis is distinctive in that it mixes medicine with recreation in a way that feels inherently inclusive. By combining fine-art photography with the act of smoking, I think these portraits offer a different insight and perception. Plus, smoke is beautiful and ever-changing; it’s as unique as the participants in this project.”

Kate McKee Simmons

Back in February, Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet were among the eighteen senators who urged the Senate Committee on Appropriations to “respect states’ laws regarding the regulation of marijuana.” But this week, those laws didn’t get any respect.

In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ rescinding the Cole Memorandum and other Obama-era protections, the senators’ goal was to make sure that states that have legalized recreational marijuana, such as Colorado, would be protected from punitive action by the Department of Justice. “It is our hope that the fiscal year 2018 appropriations will alleviate the turbulence the attorney general’s abrupt decision has caused and that the appropriations will help preserve the strong regulatory frameworks the states have created,” they wrote.

denver pot loungeThe Coffee Joint Facebook page

After years of gaining little ground in Colorado, social cannabis consumption is finally making progress. On the same day a bill was introduced in the Colorado Legislature that would allow dispensary tasting rooms, and less than a week after a members-only pot lounge successfully opened in RiNo, the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses approved the Coffee Joint’s Cannabis Consumption Establishment license — making it the first establishment to ever hold a pot consumption license in Denver.

File photo/Facebook

Last year, then-eleven-year-old Colorado resident and medical marijuana patient Alexis Bortell joined other plaintiffs in a lawsuit against pot-hating Attorney General Jeff Sessions over federal scheduling of cannabis. Yesterday, February 26, a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the suit, but Bortell, now twelve, wasn’t distressed. Shortly after the news went public, a post appeared on her Facebook page reading, “We were ready. Smile. We know #SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States] is where we are probably going.”

The note ended with the hashtags #IStandWithAlexis and #AlexisBortell.

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