Beltway Insider: President Pushes Gun Reform; Legal Weed Sales High; 21st State Allows Med Marijuana; Cannabis Op-ed

President Obama, during the last week of the holiday season, has continued his aggressive action toward curbing gun violence by implementing additional executive orders in tandem with the 23 signed one year ago.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week dropped four percentage points to 40% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President rose four percentage points to 53%.

President Maintains Agenda Momentum; Moves Forward on Gun Control

President Obama, calling 2014 a “year of action,” began by announcing two executive orders, geared toward continuing common sense gun reform, that “will strengthen the federal background check system and keep the guns out of the wrong hands.”

Not allowing the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School to fade, which the president has described as possibly the worst day of his presidency, he and Vice President Biden along with the Department of Justice and the Health and Human Services department have proposed regulations that define who is prohibited, under mental health laws, from purchasing firearms and curbing the autonomy of states in determining what information can or should be released.

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) is proposing a regulation to clarify who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law for reasons related to mental health, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a proposed regulation to address barriers preventing states from submitting limited information on those [same] persons to the federal background check system,” according to the statement issued from the Office of the White House Press Secretary.

As states are the primary source needed to compile a federal database, the president’s initiative will focus on creating a quid pro quo system by offering states financial incentive to share all records on felons, criminals and those with mental health issues which will strengthen the National Instant Criminal System used when firearms are purchased.

The DOJ has also agreed to create strong and clear language which will assist states as they move forward, as they have indicated the current language used to determine selling criteria is “ambiguous.”

The president has also called on Congress to pass a common sense gun reform package.

Reiterating his domestic agenda the president said, in a pre-holiday press conference, “We’ve got work to do to create more good jobs, to help more Americans earn the skills and education they need to do those jobs and to make sure that those jobs offer the wages and benefits that let families build a little bit of financial security."

"We’ve got to build on the progress we’ve painstakingly made over these last five years with respect to our economy and offer the middle class and all those who are looking to join the middle class a better opportunity, and that's going to be where I focus all of my efforts in the year ahead, he said. ”


Colorado Cannabis Sales Strong

The first full week of legal Colorado cannabis dealing have lawmakers in a self-congratulatory mood as tallies of the once illegal drug have reached upwards of 1million in sales.

With long lines and cash only roadblocks, Colorado citizens are making news as they wait, patiently, for the opportunity to purchase legal weed.  

They’re not the only element of this bustling industry making the headlines, economics have now entered into Colorado’s newest consumer driven recreational industry.

Citizens who want to puff will pay, as demand as driven the cost up considerably with an ounce, which is the legal limit, costing upwards of $400.00 before taxes. Pot purveyors offer their customers potency variations and size options, anywhere from a eighth of a gram to the maximum of one ounce per transaction. No limit is placed on transactions per day.

No mandated pricing requirements or imposed ceilings are in place. Therefore bud-tenders can elevate or reduce prices as the market demands or the mood swings.

As lawmakers have legalized the stoner’s drug of choice, there are still many hazy areas. Legalized weed, does not equate to free reign with no boundaries.

Lawmakers have created the ultimate buzz kill for those citizens caught violating the newly enacted legal weed law.  Violators of any laws surrounding the cannabis laws face arrest and criminal penalties.

With Colorado being the first state to legally allow shop owners to sell to anyone over 21, state lawmakers, economists and entrepreneurs expect a boom in tourism.  Out of state bingers are restricted to a quarter of an ounce and cannot purchase the residency legal limit.

Although the federal government has chosen not to challenge the laws, harsh penalties in other states may still apply and unless traveling to a free zone state one should consider consuming in Colorado.

New York State Moves Towards Legalization

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who may be looking toward a 2016 Presidential bid, has decided to use his executive power to ease New York into a more progressive state of mind and sign into law the use of medical marijuana.

From all media accounts Cuomo, who had long stood solidly against any deviation in the current federal position, will announce the sweeping changes this week.

Giving no reason for the reform, in a state known for the harsh Rockefeller drug laws, Cuomo may have created a line in the sand as voters in the upcoming 2016 presidential campaign will expect candidates to address the ever growing marijuana legalization debate.

New York State becomes the 21st state to legalize medical marijuana. Cannabis is not legal in New York State. It has not been decriminalized although small amounts, possession of limited personal quantities, two to five joints, are considered minor and subject to fine.

Cannabis Legalization Debate – An Op-ed

With everyone from uber editor Tina Brown to liberal New York Times writer David Brooks weighing in on the Cannabis legalization debate, it seemed like the right time to address the benefits of a marijuana friendly society.

Anyone of a certain age, even former President Bill Clinton, has been exposed to weed, pot, marijuana, herb, cannabis, and its universal effects, euphoria, enlightenment, paranoia  and insatiable desires to eat, food, munchies of any kind, all without federal regulations, taxation and legalization.

The idea behind legalization of Cannabis is not to have a leader who participates or a puff cloud visible by NASA satellites. The idea is to have a leader with vision, an out-of-the box, innovated thinker who can understand and grasp the seriousness of the fiscal problems on both a federal and state level. 

Due to overspending, irresponsible government and an uncontrollable budget weed, our “been there done that” generational mantra, has quickly become the ticket to a balanced budget and a surplus of state generated revenue available for social and capital projects.

With all joking aside, crafting laws surrounding its purchase, sale, distribution and infractions could result in millions of necessary tax dollars without imposing any additional taxes on the overburdened middle class.

Creating state and federal purchase points and/or clearly regulated environments and impose voter approved taxation on the purchase, which will pass, can further regulate the ever growing industry and create subsidiary boom industries, all under the watchful eye of big brother.

In order to paddle our own fiscal boat to recovery state lawmakers need out of the box, innovated thinking, utilizing our natural resources and legalizing is a must.

Any candidate in the next presidential election will have to address constituents who will demand a position on legalization and the reassurance the now legal availability will not be rescinded by a new administration. 

Colorado’s legalization reform brought more voters to the polls then President Obama during the last election. Voter's are recognizing the individual lifestyle effecting power of the vote. Candidates need the same vision.

As New York State becomes the 21st State to recognize the benefits of medical marijuana it would be prudent for politicians to recognize the value of taxation associated with legalization.

With legalization, finally our federal and state lawmakers can return home, and collectively exhale, thankfully explaining to seniors, single parents, the homeless and hungry that not only do we really want to help, now we can.

Congress Stalls UI Benefits

Unemployment insurance for over 1.3million Americans lapsed over the Christmas holiday as Congress failed to craft into the bi-partisan budget bill legislation that would allow for an extension of the emergency benefits.

Although the President signed the Ryan-Murray bill he has made it clear he also strongly supports “Majority Leader Harry Reid’s commitment to bring the bipartisan Reed-Heller bill for a vote the very first day the Senate returns on January 6,2014. By temporarily extending emergency unemployment insurance for three months, this bipartisan bill will provide benefits for over 2 million Americans,” said Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council.

Congress should be presented with the Reed-Heller bill immediately. It should be voted on by week’s end, which will retroactively reinstate emergency unemployment benefits. The president has made it clear he will sign it.


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