No joke: Comedians, cannabis companies push pot…


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NEW YORK (AP) — Large hashish corporations are backing a brand new, celebrity-infused marketing campaign to enlist marijuana customers to stress members of Congress to legalize pot nationwide.

Federal legalization has superior considerably however nonetheless faces sturdy headwinds on Capitol Hill. The “Cannabis in Common” initiative launched Tuesday goals to vary that.

An internet site makes it simpler for supporters to e-mail or name their congressional representatives and push for making marijuana authorized. State-licensed pot corporations additionally plan to e-mail their prospects, put up posters in retailers, add data to their apps and in any other case encourage shoppers to become involved.

“Legalizing cannabis is long past due, and if we make enough noise, we can make it happen,” actor Seth Rogen, co-founder of a hashish firm and enthusiastic person of the drug, says in a kickoff video. Comic Sarah Silverman voices one other, animated promo.

Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized leisure grownup use of marijuana and a voter-approved measure in a nineteenth state, South Dakota, is present process a courtroom problem. Greater than two-thirds of states permit medical marijuana.

However pot stays unlawful below federal regulation to own, use or promote, so many banks shun cash from the hashish {industry}, fearing it may expose them to federal authorized hassle.

That battle has shut many authorized growers and sellers out of on a regular basis monetary providers like opening financial institution accounts or acquiring bank cards. It additionally has pressured many companies to function solely in money, making them ripe targets for crime.

Professional-legalization teams have mounted state and federal campaigns for years, and advocates are break up about “Cannabis in Common,” which isn’t centered on any explicit piece of laws. Organizers say it breaks floor by extensively involving main {industry} gamers and mobilizing their prospects.

“We just feel there’s a larger, untapped group of individuals that we would love to see weigh in,” stated Steve Hawkins, CEO of the U.S. Hashish Council, an industry-led coalition organizing the marketing campaign with HeadCount, a voter registration group. The council declined to reveal the price.

Whereas hashish corporations have performed particular person lobbying, this new effort “reaches across all the peccadilloes that every weed interest brings to the table” in hopes of getting previous the patchwork of state laws, stated Jeremy Unruh, a senior vp of PharmCann Inc., which has dispensaries in six states.

Greater than two dozen corporations have signed on, together with the vaping model Pax and such publicly traded companies as Cover Progress, Curaleaf Holdings and Cronos Group.

The hassle shortly drew criticism from a nationwide anti-legalization group, Sensible Approaches to Marijuana. CEO Kevin Sabet, a former Obama administration official, known as the marketing campaign “an egregious example of profit over public health.”

Some nonprofit, pro-legalization teams are becoming a member of the “Cannabis in Common” initiative. However others are steering clear.

The Drug Coverage Alliance sees the marketing campaign as overly company and never devoted sufficient to expunging previous marijuana convictions and serving to communities and individuals who have borne the brunt of pot arrests.

“For us, it’s not just about getting federal legalization over the finish line,” says Maritza Perez of the alliance, which convened the nonprofit-focused Marijuana Justice Coalition in 2018 to push for legalization coupled with different reforms. “We have a very specific constituency that we are fighting for, and that’s people who have been impacted by prohibition.”

NORML, one of many nation’s oldest legalization teams, is sitting out the brand new marketing campaign and specializing in particular congressional proposals to make marijuana federally authorized, political director Justin Strekal stated.

A proposal to decriminalize and tax marijuana, expunge federal pot convictions and direct pot tax cash to communities beleaguered by the “war on drugs” handed the Home final 12 months. The measure was reintroduced on this 12 months’s new Congress and just lately handed a key committee once more.

President Joe Biden has stated he helps decriminalizing marijuana and expunging previous pot use convictions, however he hasn’t embraced federally legalizing the drug.

A Gallup ballot launched final week discovered 68% of People favor legalization, together with 83% of Democrats, 71% of independents and 50% of Republicans. The survey of 823 adults had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 proportion factors.

Pointing to such polls, the brand new marketing campaign casts legalization as a difficulty that crosses political divides and has new potential within the Democrat-led Congress.

Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) in July grew to become the chamber’s first chief to again legalizing marijuana, pledging to “make this a priority in the Senate,” the place Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon have drafted laws.

And legalization advocates hope to have a champion in Vice President Kamala Harris, who stated earlier than her election that making pot authorized on the federal stage is the “smart thing to do.”

However legalization opponents notice that it’s not clear that every one Senate Democrats would vote for marijuana legalization, not to mention discover sufficient Republican supporters to keep away from a filibuster. Congress is in any other case occupied with huge laws on social providers and local weather change forward of subsequent 12 months’s midterm elections.


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