Connecticut Launches Education Campaign to Promote Responsible Weed Use

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Tuesday announced the launch of a new state-sponsored education campaign designed “to promote responsible cannabis use by adults.”

The state legalized recreational marijuana use for adults last year when Lamont signed a bill into law. Adults aged 21 and older can now legally possess small amounts of marijuana, and Connecticut officials have said that legal weed sales could start by the end of this year.

In the meantime, the state wants would-be customers to know the ropes before entering an era of legalization.

Lamont’s office said on Tuesday that the education campaign “contains a collection of materials that cover how to safely store and dispose of cannabis and cannabis waste, and what to do in case someone, such as a child or pet, accidently ingests cannabis.”

The materials include “videos, brochures, flyers, and social media graphics,” the governor’s office said, and they are “available for anyone to use and can be downloaded for free on the state’s adult-use cannabis website at”

“Protecting public health and safety includes providing people with the tools and knowledge to make informed decisions to keep their families safe,” Lamont, a Democrat, said in a press release announcing the campaign. “We’re working to educate the public about the steps they can take to protect themselves and their families from accidental ingestion and over-consumption. We encourage adults who choose to use these products to do so responsibly.”

The campaign is similar to efforts undertaken by other states that have legalized cannabis for adults. In New York, which also legalized weed last year and is currently preparing for the launch of its own regulated marijuana market, subway advertisements and billboards went up in the spring as part of the state’s “Cannabis Conversations” campaign.

Similar to the program launched Tuesday in neighboring Connecticut, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said the PSA campaign would “inform the public on the state’s Cannabis Law, including who can consume, where to consume, and how to consume safely,” and “provide parents and caregivers with tools to protect youth, remind New Yorkers of the risks of driving while impaired by cannabis, and other messages to help keep New Yorkers safe and healthy as the new industry develops.”

“With the ‘Cannabis Conversations’ campaign, we’re following through on our commitment to provide New Yorkers with the information they need to safely navigate the new Cannabis Law,” Hochul said in a statement at the time. “Education is the best tool to keep New Yorkers healthy as we continue to ramp up this safe, inclusive, and equitable industry.”

Lamont’s office said the materials for Connecticut’s education campaign “were created by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services,” and “are encouraged to be used by cannabis and non-cannabis business owners, medical facilities, community health organizations, and others who would like to help promote safe and responsible cannabis practices in their communities.”

Tuesday’s launch of the campaign is also apparently only the first step.

Lamont’s office says that “the Department of Consumer Protection plans on adding more content to the campaign that concern other health and safety topics related to cannabis, including responsible use, where consumption is permitted, and how to read and understand cannabis product labels,” and that in the fall, “the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will launch a multimedia campaign to educate the public about state laws related to cannabis.”

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Legalization Campaign Kicks Off in Maryland Ahead of November Vote

A campaign to bring legal cannabis to Maryland officially kicked off in earnest on Thursday, as supporters look to build support ahead of this November’s vote on the initiative.

Appearing on the ballot as “Question 4,” the measure would legalize possession of cannabis for Maryland adults aged 21 and older, and also establish a regulated marijuana industry in the state.

The measure requires a simple majority to pass and, should it be approved by voters, will take effect on July 1, 2023.

“Question 4” is backed by a power player in the cannabis industry. According to The Washington Post, the campaign “relies on funding from Trulieve…an industry giant with dispensaries in eight states, including three medical locations in Maryland.” The newspaper reports that Trulieve has given $50,000 to the Question 4 campaign, which has only one other donor, Blended Public Affairs, which contributed $100 to the effort.

The chairman of the campaign is Eugene Monroe, a former offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens who has become a champion of cannabis reform since retiring from the NFL.

“Legalizing cannabis would stimulate Maryland’s economy and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, while allowing Maryland residents to benefit from vital investments in education, public health, and public safety funded by cannabis taxes,” Monroe said in a statement, as quoted by The Washington Post.

In a statement on the “Yes on 4” campaign’s official website, Monroe says that passing “Question 4 will put an end to the failed criminalization of cannabis, create a well-regulated legal marijuana market centered around equity, and open up new doors for local entrepreneurs and small business owners.”

“I hope every Marylander will vote yes on Question 4 this November,” he says.

The campaign says that the proposal will lead to the “creation of a well-regulated legal market for cannabis sales would generate tens of thousands of new jobs in Maryland, and may provide new opportunities for hundreds of local small business owners and entrepreneurs,” while also “creating new small businesses and career pathways within the cannabis industry, legalization would provide an economic boost to related industries that already provide good-paying jobs for many Marylanders, including construction, real estate, and transportation.”

The “Yes on 4” campaign also asserts that legalization is “estimated to provide the state with over $135 million in tax revenue annually,” a figure it says “doesn’t include city and county revenue or the savings from the millions of dollars Maryland spends each year enforcing marijuana possession laws.”

Lawmakers in Maryland passed a bill earlier this year that set the stage for the ballot referendum. Under the legislation that passed, as The Washington Post reported on Thursday, “if the referendum passes the state will conduct a study of the impact of marijuana on public health and a disparities study looking at the business market and what might be needed to help women- and minority-owned businesses enter the industry.”

The campaign says that the new law would create a Cannabis Business Assistance Fund “to help minority- and women-owned businesses seeking to enter the legal cannabis market” in order to “help level the playing field and ensure those in Maryland who are most often left behind get a fair shot at the economic opportunities created by marijuana legalization.”

The state’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, did not sign the bill that passed earlier this year, which means that it would not require his signature to take effect.

Polling suggests that cannabis advocates could be in line for a big victory in Maryland come November.

A survey in March found that 62% of Marylanders support the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, while only 34% said they were opposed.

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Petition Deadline Looms For South Dakota Legalization Campaign

The clock is ticking for a group of South Dakota activists to get a legalization proposal on this year’s ballot.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana, the group spearheading the effort to get the initiative on the ballot, said Wednesday that it is more than 3,000 signatures short of where it needs to be.

The deadline to submit the petition to the South Dakota Secretary of State is May 3.

“Our conservative estimate right now is that we’re at 13,500 valid signatures and we need 17,000 valid signatures,” Matthew Schweich, the campaign director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, told local television station KELO.

“We are a little nervous, we are within striking distance of getting enough valid signatures and qualifying for the ballot, but really don’t want to take any chances,” Schweich added.

The campaign is also an effort to avenge last year’s legal rulings that undid Amendment A, the constitutional amendment approved by a majority of South Dakota voters in 2020 that legalized recreational pot use for adults.

The state’s Republican governor, Kristi Noem, was vigorously opposed to the amendment from the start, and took the measure to court last year.

A circuit court judge in South Dakota ruled in Noem’s favor, saying the amendment violated the state’s constitution.

In November, on the day before Thanksgiving, the state Supreme Court upheld that lower court ruling, saying Amendment A violated the constitution’s “one subject” requirement for amendments.

Noem, a possible 2024 GOP presidential candidate, celebrated the outcome.

“South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that’s what today’s decision is about,” Noem said in a statement following the decision. “We do things right—and how we do things matters just as much as what we are doing. We are still governed by the rule of law. This decision does not affect my Administration’s implementation of the medical cannabis program voters approved in 2020. That program was launched earlier this month, and the first cards have already gone out to eligible South Dakotans.”

South Dakota voters have not celebrated Noem’s approach to cannabis policy, however.

A poll late last year found that only 39% of voters in the Mount Rushmore State approve of her handling of cannabis legalization, while 17.8% said they somewhat disapprove, and 33.4% said they strongly disapprove.

Activists like Schweich hope those numbers––not to mention the passage of Amendment A in 2020––augur well for this November.

But the protracted and messy legal challenge that followed the previous legalization effort has apparently soured some South Dakota voters on the issue.

“South Dakota is sick of it, we’re all exhausted,” said Melissa Mentele, an activist involved in the legalization campaign, as quoted by KELO. “It’s not the issue people are exhausted with, they’re exhausted with the process of I vote, and it doesn’t matter.”

“That’s the biggest thing that we’re running into. It’s not, I already signed this, it’s, why should I sign this because it doesn’t matter,” Mentele added.

As reported by KELO, “Schweich says this signature drive is to put a statutory initiative on the ballot that is a very simplified, shortened version of Amendment A.”

“I would call it legalization for individuals,” Schweich said, as quoted by the station. “It makes it legal for an adult 21 years or older to possess up to an ounce, to cultivate up to three plants at home and it reduces three personal penalties related to how you grow it.”

Lawmakers in South Dakota attempted to get ahead of the ballot initiative by passing their own legalization bill in this year’s current legislative session, but the effort fizzled out.

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Louisiana Senate Candidate Gary Chambers Smokes Blunt in Campaign Video

A Louisiana politician who is running for a congressional seat is appealing to voters by showcasing his own personal cannabis use while addressing the failed War on Drugs. Louisiana Senate candidate Gary Chambers, released the video on YouTube entitled “37 Seconds” to sum up the problems with the War on Drugs and the need for social justice now—all while sitting in a chair smoking a blunt.

“Every 37 seconds, someone is arrested for marijuana. Since 2010, state and local police have arrested an estimated 7.3 million Americans for violating marijuana laws, Over half of all drug arrests,” he says in the video. “Black people are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana laws than white people. States waste $3.7 billion enforcing marijuana laws every year. Most of the people police are arresting aren’t dealers, but rather people with small amounts of pot, just like me.”

Courtesy Gary Chambers for Louisiana

Chambers expresses his confidence that he can stand up for the cannabis consumers of Louisiana if he becomes a Senate representative. “I hope this ad works to not only destigmatize the use of marijuana, but also forces a new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology,” Chambers wrote on social media channels.

Chambers announced his run for U.S. Senate on January 12, citing the need for change. “I’m running for the U.S. Senate because Louisiana continues to be ranked last in the nation. That is more a reflection of our leaders than our people,” he wrote of the current regime. Furthermore, he pointed out that it has been 149 years since a Black man served in the “statewide office” in Louisiana. The last Black man, P.B.S. Pinchback was governor of the state between December 9, 1872 through January 13, 1873. “Let’s not wait another 100 years before another Black person is elected statewide in Louisiana.”

In the past, Chambers has made himself known as an advocate for social justice. In March 2021 he ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, but lost in the special election to Troy Carter. He also shared his support both for the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act, as well as the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.

Gary Chambers Jr. YouTube

Chambers’ video is a brief but bold display of the reality of cannabis in a modern age, and the drawbacks that the stigma still perpetuates. However, he isn’t the only politician who has embraced cannabis to appeal to voters.

In 2019, a Illinois House candidate Anthony Clark smoked a joint while discussing the need for honesty. “I think I have to be just as open about my cannabis use, you know? Because lying to individuals, I think, plays a direct role in enabling status quo, in enabling the oppressors, the top one percent, to remain,” Clark said in an interview. “We have to empower ourselves. We have to educate ourselves. I don’t hide this at all. I tell people on a daily basis, cannabis saved my life, it continues to save my life.”

Likewise, the presence of cannabis is being used elsewhere to help educate and normalize cannabis for other lawmakers. A Mississippi legislator brought an ounce of hemp to the state governor to demonstrate how little it is, and how much more medical patients could require to be properly treated for their ailments.

Sales for cannabis flower in Louisiana only just began on January 1, 2022, finally bringing the reality of medical cannabis to patients in Louisiana after it was originally approved by legislators in 2015. Currently, patients with one or more qualifying conditions can received approval from their doctor to use medical cannabis.

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