Cannabis Advancements in Danger Under President-Elect Trump’s Attorney General Nominee Sessions; What You Can Do Today

Marijuana and criminallity

We’ve seen some incredible advancements in medical and adult-use cannabis in the United States this year. As we approach the end of 2016, we can proudly say that over half of U.S. states have now legalized cannabis in some form. This past year Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana approved legalizing medical cannabis and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts—joined Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and D.C. in legalizing adult-use cannabis.

According to Dale Sky Jones the overwhelming support shown by voters this year is a strong message that social justice matters in cannabis policy reform. “As cannabis is legalized across America, citizens are saying ‘no’ to unjust tactics to target growers, close dispensaries and incarcerate more people—largely minorities—consuming or possessing cannabis and saying ‘yes’ to regulated and taxed cannabis to be consumed by adults responsibly,” said Jones.

We also saw other advancements:  Congress approved veteran access to medical cannabis in states where the plant is legal, the DEA changed its policy to expand the number of DEA-registered cannabis manufacturers to foster more research, multiple studies were published regarding the science of cannabis, presidential candidates weren’t afraid to talk about cannabis on the campaign trail, and new research from Pew Research now shows that 57% of U.S. adults agree that cannabis should be made legal compared to only 32% a decade ago.

As much as we’ve seen and cheered for forward progress, advancement is still hard. Congress did indeed approve access of medical cannabis to veterans, but it is ultimately up to a vet’s VA doctor to recommend medical cannabis and not all states have approved PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a common disorder suffered by many veterans) as a condition to be treated with medical cannabis. And, researchers now have access to better grades of cannabis and the DEA is working to recruit universities to open cannabis cultivation facilities (in addition to the University of Mississippi, which has been growing cannabis for the federal government for 46 years), however, the federal application process is lengthy and complicated.

As concerned as we all are about these cannabis setbacks, we have an immediate concern…one that will make all of our current cannabis concerns moot.

Many of us were still celebrating the November 8th ballot wins for cannabis, when just a mere 10 days later news broke that President-Elect Trump wants to appoint Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as the U.S. Attorney General.

Of course, he’s got to be confirmed by Congress yet, but having an “Attorney General Sessions” is a daunting thought. He has been a vocal opponent of legalizing cannabis and has been quoted as saying ‘good people don’t smoke marijuana’ and former colleagues have testified that Sessions thought the Ku Klux Klan was ‘okay until he learned that they smoked marijuana.’

As the Attorney General, Sessions would have the authority to block the implementation of the recent ballot initiatives, dismantle the legal cannabis industry in Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska, and begin massive raids on existing medical and adult-use retail stores.

This is just a glimpse of what cannabis could mean under a President Trump administration.

What Can You Do?

Within days of Trump’s announcement DCMJ, the Washington D.C. advocacy group that was instrumental in legalizing cannabis in D.C., took a group of volunteers to Sessions office on Capitol Hill. While they didn’t talk with Senator Sessions directly and the staff members made it clear that they don’t make decisions for the Senator, the group showed up to show their concern. You may not be able to go to Washington, D.C. to protest the confirmation of Sessions, but there are options for you to consider.

Write Your State Senators: Write to your state representatives in the U.S. Senate. They are taxed with confirming all of the president elect’s nominees. The list of U.S. Senators and their contacts will change as of January 3, 2017, which is when the 115th Congress is sworn in. Nominees cannot be confirmed until the new president is sworn in on January 20, 2017. If you know your Senator was re-elected, start writing to him or her now!

Support NORML*: Another option, or an additional option, is to support the efforts of NORML to fight back, to send a message to President-Elect Trump and his Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions that the American people won’t stand for intervention into state cannabis programs and we want to  move towards de-scheduling at the federal level and legalization in all 50 states. Contribute Now!

You could also connect with your closest state NORML Chapter to learn about or become involved in preparing an official statement to your State Senators.

As Dale Sky Jones has been known to say, no one said advocating for cannabis would be easy. We must stay the course. Now more than ever.

*NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.

Oaksterdam University Partners With Jamaican Organizations; Sponsors Rastafari Rootzfest Ganja Festival Scheduled for December 9-11, 2016

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We all watched cannabis win big last week in America as California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to legalize adult-use cannabis and Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana voted to legalize medical cannabis. Even before Tuesday’s votes were tallied, legalization of cannabis had been moving swiftly within the United States, where medical cannabis is legal in some form in 25 states. But legalizing cannabis around the world has also had forward momentum this year.

Within the last year: 1) Australia federally legalized the growing of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes, 2) Uruguay saw its cannabis program get off the ground with its first legal cannabis harvest in June, 3) Columbia decriminalized adult-use cannabis and legalized cannabis for medical and scientific research purposes, 4) the first ExpoWeed Mexico was held in August, and 5) Jamaica decriminalized small amounts of cannabis, established a licensing agency called the CLA, or Cannabis Licensing Authority, and is in the process of setting up regulations for the cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, transportation and consumption of medical cannabis.

Global cannabis market opportunities are on the radars of investors too. Investors are watching emerging cannabis markets in Canada, Israel, Spain, and Australia…even Mexico, Uruguay, Chile and Jamaica. No major companies have emerged from the Jamaican market yet. That’s where Oaksterdam University comes in.

Oaksterdam University and Jamaica – Partnering For Success

Oaksterdam University is in its second year of partnering with various Jamaican organizations to provide guidance regarding medical cannabis regulation best practices as well as to educate those who are interested in working within this nascent enterprise. Embracing cannabis is a great thing for Jamaica. The country has earnestly worked to establish serious fiscal plans, adopt practical macroeconomic policies, and create a friendly climate for outside investors. Perhaps the immediate opportunity for economic growth lies in ‘ganja tourism’ or ‘health and wellness tourism,’ which has the potential to provide the same kind of economic success that has occurred in states like Colorado and Washington. As Jamaica moves forward, we all realize the importance of implementing the needs and considerations of local farmers who have been growing cannabis for years as well as the needs of patients, caregivers, and anyone involved in the industry.

“Based on our involvement with Jamaica, we believe that the country’s cannabis industry will evolve with very positive outcomes,” said Dr. Aseem Sappal, Oaksterdam’s Provost and Dean of Faculty. “An example of this is evident in the upcoming Rastafari Rootzfest™ to be held December 9th to 11th this year.”

The annual festival was launched in November 2015 as Jamaica’s first legal ganja event after receiving approval from Cabinet and the Ministry of Justice in August.   The now  annual event is sponsored by the Tourism Enhancement Fund in the Ministry of Tourism and endorsed by the Jamaica Tourist Board, the Ministry of Entertainment Culture Gender and Sports, the Negril Chamber of Commerce and the Westmoreland Hemp & Ganja Farmers Association.

jamaicabookingweb“Rastafari Rootzfest is a three day and night celebration of Jamaica’s indigenous culture with a focus on the education of grassroots farmers and investors through its seminar series ,” said veteran ganja advocate Ras Iyah V, who leads  the festival’s management team. “We are working with a wide circle of strategic partners in the Rastafari, grassroots and cannabis fraternities to ensure the sustainable success of Rastafari Rootzfest as a strategic annual calendar event for Jamaica’s cannabis, tourism, wellness and entertainment industries.”

“Oaksterdam is pleased to be the main festival sponsor of Rastafari Rootzfest,” said Sappal. “Attendees will gain valuable information about cannabis and the related industries emerging in Jamaica and worldwide. Our goal is to empower the Rastafarian and grassroots communities to connect with economic opportunities in Jamaica and beyond. Exhibitors, growers, and attendees will have the opportunity to network with stakeholders in the local and global cannabis industry.”

If you’ve dreamed of visiting Jamaica, attending Rastafari Rootzfest would certainly be a great introduction to the indigenous Rastafari culture, Jamaica’s ganja strains, and the country’s wellness legacy. VIP travel packages are available. Book online or call toll-free at 212-803-7212.