Libertarian, aka right wing thinktanks, aren’t hanging around to put the knife into the Democrats over federally regulated cannabis now Trump has left the White House.
In our prior story we highlight the “Government Accountability Institute” and their report
Now the Cato Institute are at it, although it has to be said, they show more positivity for regulation than the “Government Accountability Institute”
It seems more than coincidence that these two reports appear from two institutes partly funded by amongst others the Koch brothers now that both houses are under Democrat control and some form of over-arching federal regulation for cannabis is on the way.
We’d suggest that this report is the first shot over the bows in the new battle to ensure that Republicans get their narrative included in any Federal legislation on the way in 2021-2022
When they were in charge and especially so with McConnell as Senate leader (Mr Kentucky hemp) the idea of pushing through anything with regard to cannabis was shot down in flames with all the usual tropes, mistruths and filibustering from the GOP.
Now the glove is on the other hand it is remarkable how quickly the GOP’s lobbying shocktroops are swinging into action to make sure that narrative doesn’t sit entirely with the likes of Schumer, Merkley & Booker.
For those of you unaware of the Cato Institute here’s a quick precis from Wikipedia before we get to their report.
The Cato Institute is an American libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974 by Ed Crane, Murray Rothbard, and Charles Koch, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries.[nb 1] In July 1976, the name was changed to the Cato Institute. Cato was established to have a focus on public advocacy, media exposure and societal influence. According to the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), Cato is number 15 in the “Top Think Tanks Worldwide” and number 10 in the “Top Think Tanks in the United States”.
The Cato Institute is libertarian in its political philosophy, and advocates a limited role for government in domestic and foreign affairs as well as a strong protection of civil liberties. This includes support for the demilitarization of the police, lowering or abolishing most taxes, opposition to the Federal Reserve system, the privatization of numerous government agencies and programs including Social Security, the Affordable Care Act and the United States Postal Service, along with adhering to a non-interventionist foreign policy.
Read more at. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cato_Institute
Here’s their introduction
In November 2012, Colorado and Washington approved ballot initiatives that legalized marijuana for recreational use under state law. Since then, nine additional states (Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Illinois) plus the District of Columbia have followed suit, either by ballot initiative or legislative action. Voters in four other states (New Jersey, South Dakota, Arizona, and Montana) approved state ballot measures legalizing marijuana for personal use in the November 2020 election.
Supporters and critics make numerous claims about state‐level marijuana legalizations. Advocates suggest that legalization reduces crime, raises tax revenue, lowers criminal justice expenditures, improves public health, increases traffic safety, and stimulates the economy. Critics argue that legalization spurs marijuana and other drug or alcohol use, increases crime, diminishes traffic safety, harms public health, and lowers teen educational achievement.
In previous work, we found that the strong claims made by both advocates and critics are substantially overstated and in some cases entirely without support from existing legalizations; mainly, state legalizations have had minor effects. This paper updates previous work to account for additional years of data and the increase in the number of states with legalized marijuana. Our conclusions remain the same, but our assessments of legalization’s effects remain tentative because of limitations in the data. The existing data nevertheless provide a useful perspective on what other states should expect from legalization or related policies.
In November 2012, Colorado and Washington approved ballot initiatives that legalized marijuana for recreational use under state law.1 Since then, nine additional states (Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Illinois) plus the District of Columbia have followed suit, either by ballot initiative or legislative action.2 Four additional states approved marijuana legalization in the 2020 November elections (New Jersey, South Dakota, Arizona, and Montana).
Supporters and critics make numerous claims about state‐level marijuana legalization. Advocates suggest that legalization reduces crime, raises tax revenue, lowers criminal justice expenditures, improves public health, increases traffic safety, and stimulates the economy. Founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance Ethan Nadelmann, for example, asserted in 2010 that legalization would help end mass incarceration and undermine illicit criminal organizations.3 Former New Mexico governor and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson has also advocated for marijuana legalization, predicting it would lead to less overall substance abuse because individuals addicted to alcohol or other substances would find marijuana a safer alternative.4 Even some law enforcement officials agree legalization lowers crime; Denver police chief Robert White, for example, said in 2014 that violent crime dropped almost 9 percent.5
Critics argue that legalization spurs marijuana and other drug or alcohol use, increases crime, diminishes traffic safety, harms public health, and lowers teen educational achievement.6 Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, opposed initial efforts to legalize marijuana because he thought the policy would, among other things, increase the number of children using drugs.7 Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III, who is now the Heritage Foundation’s Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus, and Charles Stimson, also with the Heritage Foundation, have argued that violent crime surges when marijuana is legally abundant and that the economic burden of legalization far outstrips the gain.8 Kevin Sabet, former senior White House drug policy adviser in the Obama administration, called Colorado’s marijuana legalization a mistake, warning that potential consequences may include high addiction rates, spikes in traffic accidents, and reductions in IQ.9 David Murray, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, and John Walters, a former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and president and CEO of the Hudson Institute, claimed in 2014 that “what we saw in Colorado has the markings … of a drug use epidemic” and argued that there was a thriving underground marijuana market in Colorado and that more research on marijuana’s societal effects should be completed before legalization is considered.10 John Walsh, the U.S. attorney for Colorado, defended the targeted prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries located near schools by citing figures from the Colorado Department of Education showing dramatic increases in drug‐related school suspensions, expulsions, and law enforcement referrals between 2008 and 2011.11 Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey pointed to the 9 percent rise in felony cases submitted to his office from 2008 to 2011, after Colorado’s marijuana laws had been partially liberalized, as evidence of marijuana’s social effects.12
Reviews of the literature on the first wave of marijuana decriminalizations in the 1970s note that marijuana use did not change in response to relaxed restrictions.13 Analysis of the recent U.S. state legalizations is more limited, but broader research suggests little to no effect of decriminalization on drug use.14
In previous work, we assessed these claims based on data from states that had legalized the recreational use of marijuana by mid‐2018. In this paper, we update our earlier work to account for an additional two years of data, both from those initial states and from others that have since legalized marijuana.15
Our earlier conclusion was that the strong claims made by both advocates and critics are substantially overstated and in some cases entirely without real‐world support. At the time, our data showed that state‐level legalization of marijuana had generally minor effects. One notable exception was the increase in state tax revenue from legalized marijuana sales; states with legal marijuana markets have collected millions of dollars in state tax revenues. As of July 2020, all but two jurisdictions with legalized marijuana had opened the door for retail sales. Although both Vermont and the District of Columbia officially allow marijuana consumption, neither permits the substance to be bought or sold on the market.
New data reinforce our earlier conclusions. Even with two additional years, however, the data available for before‐and‐after comparisons are limited, so our assessments of the effects of legalization remain tentative. Nevertheless, the existing data provide a useful perspective on what other states should expect from legalization or related policies.