John Hudak profiles how policy has evolved; how factors like economics, racism, politics, and public opinion have shaped policy, and what the future of marijuana policy may hold. September, 2016.
>> Well, good afternoon and welcome everyone my name is Barry Rave I'm a professor here at the Ford School and I direct CLOSUP The Center for Local, State and Urban Policy. I'm very pleased to welcome you to our fall academic year kickoff event. Would only begin by noting that we very much appreciate the support of the school of public health in co-sponsoring this event I want to thank my colleague Bonnie Roberts for pulling all of this together. And, would note that this is the beginning of a very busy event season for that matter week for us. Wednesday, we'll be having a session on the role of interest groups in shaping Michigan politics, Friday we'll be visited by Cecilia Munos an alum of dealership Michigan the director of the white house policy counsel. And, on your flyer you'll see a fuller listing of events to come a list that continues to expand. One, of the great national treasures of the United States especially for those of us interested in question of public policy is the Brookings Institution. There are a good number of us here in the Ford School, myself included, but certainly Dean Collins and others who had a long standing relationship with Brookings which is for a long, long time has been a remarkable place to have a serious conversation about matters of public policy. And, it's one where you engage experts from Brookings you often learn a great deal and engage new kinds of perspectives. We were particularly delighted here in the Ford community when Molly Reynolds one of our doctoral students joined the government studies research team, just within the last year. There are a great many topics that today's speaker could address, John Hudak is a senior fellow in the government studies program, also deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings he holds graduate degrees that include a Ph.D. in Political Science for Vanderbilt many of you may know him for his first book which I highly commend to you "Presidential Pork Presidential Influence Over the Distribution Federal Grants". You may know him even more so through his frequent writing and his very incisive commentary on American politics, American elections and of late what's going to happen in tonight's debate. I opened up this morning or this week's Brookings Brief and there is the top line, "What to Watch for in Tonight's Presidential Debate" by John Hudak. I think in many respects many of us would love to hear what John has to say about the events that begin at nine o'clock tonight or the election but today we turn to a different area of expertise for John and a book that is published but we don't have copies of yet.
>> Yeah pretty soon.
>> We're very excited about this title Marijuana Policy in The U.S. From the War on Drugs to Rapid Reform. This is a new book part of a new Brooking series that looks at a number of public policy issues that have current immediate consequences but have quite a policy or political life cycle to them. This is a very detailed political history of marijuana issue in the United States placed in the context of current and evolving challenges. So we're really delighted before the book is formally released on a broader basis to have an inside look to this issue of great significance to Michigan and a great many other states. And for, I would just only add it's a real pleasure to invite my Brookings colleague and friend John Hudak to this campus for the first so please join me in welcoming John, John Hudak.
[ Applause ]
>> Well, thank you everyone for coming out today I was telling Barry last night over dinner my last talk on this topic or one of my last talks on this topic was at a state fair in Tennessee. Where I spoke to a much smaller crowd than this and they made me stand on a hay bale like I was running for the Senate in the 1920's to address the crowd. And so, I'm glad to be on solid ground, to have bigger audience today even if it is basically speaking about the same topic. As Barry had mentioned my new book "Marijuana: A Short History" is coming out within a matter of days I'm told, according to the publisher, and it's a piece that I'm particularly proud of. I think it makes a contribution in as the title would suggest a short way it condenses about 120 years of American history on this topic down into about 40,000 words so hopefully to pitch this you'll all go out and buy it and pre-order it. It's available at Brookings Press website or on Amazon. But even if you don't I hope today the conversation will be one that's insightful and I encourage you we'll leave about a half hour at the end to ask any questions. Preferably about marijuana policy but if you're just dying to ask that question about the debate tonight I'll relent and answer a question about that. First, I wanted to start off by talking about why Brookings is involved in this policy area I get asked a lot why a 100-year-old institution our birthday is in October, why a 100-year-old institution is dealing with this issue. We've really never engaged it before, it's one that is not being taken up by a lot of think tanks or policy organizations or even public policy schools around the country. So, why Brookings and why now? And the answers a simple one. Marijuana is public policy it's not a punchline it's not the taboo that it used to be it's not the plant that has been vilified in a lot of ways rightly or wrongly for a period of time. But, it's a matter of public policy at the state and the federal level at the international level. And, it's one that touches on areas of policy that are important to everyone in a variety of ways. It first looks like an issue that is just about getting high or just about access to drugs but the reality is much more complex this is something that touches on issues of public health, public safety, agricultural issues, it touches on issues of taxation, banking regulation, veterans issues, healthcare issues, doctor patient privilege, science in the broadest sense, the integrity of science, government's role in science, federalism issues are a significant part of this debate and the list goes on. All of those other things I just mentioned are things that Brookings has been looking at for 100 years. But, they haven't been looking at it through the lens of marijuana until about 4 years ago. And, for the class that I spoke to earlier today this will be a little bit of a rehashing but how I got involved in marijuana policy is an odd little course. An odd little path. As Barry had mentioned my research focuses mainly on presidential politics really in executive branch politics I do all of that sexy working political science on bureaucratic organization and personnel and process what really is a page turner. That said Presidential Pork is a page turner buy it. The but, I wasn't looking at this as a policy area in any significant way in any real way. I knew about marijuana legalization as an average voter not as a walk, not as a researcher. And, in September/October of 2012 one of my colleagues came down to my office and said you know you ask a lot of questions about administration and this and that he said have you ever thought about doing research on marijuana? And I said absolutely not, not even a little bit and he said well you know I think there's an outside chance either Washington or Colorado is going to legalize marijuana in November and if one of them happens to do it they're going to get all of the types of questions you ask about a variety of issues thrust upon those states or that state. He said so take a look at it read up on it and see what you think. And the more I read up on it the more intrigued I was. These were unprecedented policy reforms it was taking a substance that the federal government and the united nations says is an illegal substance illegal in all cases under all circumstances and making it legal at the state level. And, not just for medical purposes but for anyone 21 years and older to go in and to buy this for personal use. With that comes a very serious need for government to be set up and then to work. And, that's our bread and butter at Brookings effective policy we don't take a position on any marijuana ballot initiative I don't take a position on any of the initiatives either, I've never had occasion to vote for one the states that I've lived in that had ballot initiative processes never entertained it while I lived there they still haven't. And, so I never actually cast a vote on it either. I approach it from this perspective, if a state chooses to make these reforms they ought to get it right. Voters say or a legislature says this is the reform we want. Well then let the voters' voices be heard and let that policy reflect the goal of the legislatures or the public or both so that's where my work proceeds from. And, along the way I worked a lot on the politics of marijuana legalization some of the implementation challenges that states face some of the processes by which Colorado and Washington and later Oregon and Alaska and in some ways Washington D.C. setup recreational systems. I've also become curious about medical marijuana writing a lot about rescheduling and writing a lot about the systems as they exist in the 25 states in the District of Columbia that have full-fledged medical marijuana systems. It's, but all along the way I realize that history was part of this conversation but not part of the conversation I was having so I had the opportunity to write this book. Brookings press is doing a series of short histories on a variety of topics some of them boring some of them non-traditional some of them a little exciting and they thought marijuana would be an interesting way to kick off this book series and I was happy to oblige. And, so as I mentioned marijuana a short history begins around the turn of the 20th Century looking at how the plant was used how it was viewed and how it began to evolve from a public policy sense. Now there are some references earlier in the book to more historic times to the founding, where the founding fathers, many of our founding fathers grew hemp it was a requirement to grow hemp in the Virginia colony right after colonists came to the U.S. Because of its versatility. There are examples from ancient China and even from the British monarchy of royals using medical marijuana to cure or to deal with certain ailments but that's a very minor part of the book most of it focuses on public policy reform in the U.S. and what's happened over time and it's a very interesting story. There's a lot of ideas about how marijuana reform has played out how marijuana as a policy went from something that was used as a medicinally quite openly it was something that appeared in the U.S. pharmacopoeia until the 1940's. It was something that was not as taboo as it eventually became but it was something that was part of the medical sciences that said if we were to base medical value based on what was done in the 1800's probably 3/4 of us would be dead. And so that's not to say that there is certain medical value because it used to be used but there began a transition in how this plant was viewed. Starting around the turn of the century there were arguments in place I'm convinced by several of them that drug control, drug regulation in general was an opportunity for the United States to expand the administrative power of the state. That gave way to marijuana as a revenue producer the federal government was taxing marijuana through pharmacists in order to attract revenue. At a time when world wars were coming and the income tax that had just recently passed wasn't really producing as much revenue as the United States had hoped. The government which was increasingly having expectations about domestic policy demands from the public needed to pay for those demands. And, drug control was one way to do it. Then the 1930's came and a institution which effectively is now called the DEA but went through several names over the course of 100 years found in it an advocate in some ways a radical named Harry Anslinger. And, he began what would be a multi decade long role in leadership for a drug prohibition agency in the United States. He was effectively J. Edgar Hoover's peer with a portfolio on drugs. And, he began to racialize this issue in a variety of ways he tied marijuana use to the jazz movement which was a very kind way of saying this is what blacks do. He never used the word blacks trust me even before testimony before congress. He also began to vilify Mexican immigration claiming that the influx of Mexicans into this country for responsible for a lot of drug problems, a lot of violent crime and a lot of other serious challenges that the country faces. Luckily we don't deal with any politicians these days who worry about the crimes cause by Mexican immigration but trust me 80 years ago this was the thing politicians talked about. So, began this process in the 1930's and 1940's and 1950's of increasing penalties for the use and the possession and cultivation and production of marijuana as well as other drugs. And, this became a worldwide issue eventually becoming something for the attention for the international community. And, in the early 1960's the U.N. passed the single convention which was the first significant and broad based attempt to control drugs throughout the world. There were treaties previously targeting specific drugs like opium but this was the first broad based reform and as nations ratified this treaty there was an expectation to bring domestic drug laws in line with that. There was some resistance at first as you would imagine there's resistance at taking orders from an international community. But, in the United States there was a domestic policy situation around drugs that really was timed perfectly for the passage of the single convention and that was the 1960's. And, a counter culture movement within the United States pitted against a war that really began to create a divisiveness in American politics about what young people were doing. The way in which they engaged with drug use which for the first time was truly becoming something recreational. It's important to remember in the 1940's and 1950's most people had no experience with marijuana. Most people had not used it, most people had not most people were not users most people had not even experimented with it. It was the great unknown and the only information that was coming through was really through advocacy organizations mostly prohibitionists in nature and through the government and what they were and the information they were putting out. And, that information was being put out in a significant way and it was scaring people frankly. Now, it's not to say that every time the government scares people that's necessarily unfounded there are certainly public health and public safety and other public policy concerns around drug use. But, this became a real rallying call for the drug policy community within the government. And, in 1970 the controlled substances act was passed. By president Nixon in part to comply with the single convention but we have evidence written and otherwise that Richard Nixon saw this as a political gain. He was able to pit the counterculture movement against his own political values, mainly law and order efforts. In order to score political points to look like he was being tough on crime hard on drugs and to try to win reelection in 1972 he was successful for a variety of reasons the passage of the controlled substances act was probably not chief among them but it was all part of a broader electoral strategy for president Nixon. President Nixon, ever the, for whatever you think of him he was a magnificent politician and was a political strategist second to none. And, he really saw an opportunity in engaging with this issue and again as people were fearful of this plant of this substance of what it would do to really humanity if drug use became widespread. He found a way to create an uproar or rather to further the us versus them mentality. The Nixon years of course were not the last. In which we had drug warrior presidents. We have had them all the way up through and including the current president. People who are hard on drug use. Over the years the drugs of choice to target have changed a little bit. Certainly president Obama has been lax on enforcing marijuana policy in the United States as he has confronted other drugs like the opioid crisis, heroin, fentanyl issues. But, it is a common issue for presidents to united around and that is continuing the drug war. And, I don't use the drug war necessarily in a pejorative way it usually is but there are drug crisis in this country and there are government institutions that battle against them. And, so it's important to understand that we have individual players throughout history who have had a significant impact on this issue. But, everyone in government has really joined hands to continue this kind of policy effort for better or for worse. But, along the way changes began starting in the 1970's you started to see members of congress start proposing legislation to legalize medical marijuana. All of these bills failed. You started to see states changing their mind about how they were going to handle marijuana specifically. You had Oregon is the first state to decriminalize marijuana in the 1970's in 1975 the Alaska supreme court ruled because the privacy protection in the state constitution Alaskans had a constitutional right to grow marijuana on their property. The most progressive reform oriented legal decision on marijuana up to that point. Later on efforts began at the state level to legalize medical marijuana. All of them failing for quite some time until 1996 when California passed their medical marijuana law. They passed it. It received more votes on election day 1996 then president Clinton did in his reelection. And, so began America's experiment with legal medical marijuana. That of course was followed by a number of states in 1998, 2002 and moving forward to do the same. To legalize medical marijuana some states actually setting up institutions to dispense that marijuana California was not among them. They had no regulatory system really until this year to deal with medical marijuana in states. Then in 2012 as I mentioned at the outset of the talk Washington and Oregon became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana by ballot initiative. In that year both states passed a recreational marijuana with about 55% of the vote out performing president Obama in his reelect as well. And, those systems came with fairly rigorous regulatory programs around them. And, setting up a dispensary system in Colorado two year prior they regulated for the first time their medical marijuana program. The old adage was that there were more dispensaries in Denver than there were Starbucks. I am told by members of the Colorado government that that is not a phony statistic. These were wholly unregulated dispensaries we have some of those in Anarbor that was the way Colorado functioned for quite some time for really 10 years. From passage of medical in 2000 until the regulatory bill was passed in 2010. They were followed by more states Oregon and Alaska, the District of Columbia which is has sort of legalized marijuana but because of some odd congressional action has what is effectively a legal home grow system but no commercial program for recreational marijuana. And, this year we have five states who will be voting on recreational marijuana initiatives and four states that will be voting on medical marijuana initiative so we have a lot of progress if you are a pro-reform individual or regress if you do not like marijuana reform over the past 30 to 40 years. And, that train keeps on moving in that direction. There are a lot of reasons for this I talked a little bit about this before so again my apologies for the repeat. But, two serious forces are acting on this. First, is exposure and the reform movement around medical marijuana has tracked somewhat closely with reforms around same-sex marriage in the United States as people were exposed to gay couples marrying they realized that gay marriage was not a contagion. That you couldn't catch being gay that a marriage of a couple across the street from you did not negatively impact your marriage. And, so people began to change their minds. As people came out of the closet in people's families, in people's circles of friends, in people's employment situations they realized this was not the harm that many people thought it was. So, exposure to individuals who were LGBTQ made it easier for people to accept gay marriage as a policy and as a part of American life. That's not true universally but generally. Public opinion shifted dramatically for those of you who voted in 2004 you remember how many state constitutional amendments were on the ballots that year to ban same-sex marriage. And, then to imagine that 10 years later the supreme court would issue a ruling legalizing it nationwide is actually jarring in terms of how quickly policy changed. Given what public opinion was then and what it is today. Marijuana moves in a similar way when people were exposed to marijuana, marijuana use, medical marijuana programs, recreational marijuana programs their seeing that the what opponents of these measures said would happen are not happening. It's not to say that these programs don't come with problems. That they don't come with failures. That they don't come with issues. That there are not important and meaningful ways to reform the reforms. But, when naysayers paint one picture and the outcome is very different it's very challenging then, to maintain that support or in this case maintain that opposition to marijuana reform. And, so that has moved public opinion when you look at polling and the book touches a little bit on the evolution of polling. In the early 1990's about 30% of the American public supported recreational marijuana legalization. It's 60% now. That's a huge shift in 25 years in public opinion. That doesn't happen by accident but something else happens too and it's generational replacement. The oldest individuals in our society are those most opposed to marijuana reform about 35 to 38% of people over the age of 65 think recreational marijuana should be legalized. For millennials for the 18-25 demographic that support stands at 80%. So, as generational replacement happens as older individuals in our society die and as people turn 18 and become voting age eligible. You're replacing let's say 38% support with 80% support and that can lead to very rapid transitions in a public opinion on this issue. And, so all of this points toward to continue I don't think all 5 states who have ballot initiatives for recreational legalization California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine and Massachusetts will pass this year if you talk to the people running the campaigns they will agree with that they don't think they're all going to pass but several of them have a real opportunity to do so. On the medical side I would be surprised if Florida's initiative didn't pass. I think it's a little harder in North Dakota, Arkansas and Missouri which have them on the ballot. But, the march is clear toward broader drug policy reform in the United States. You have two presidential candidates who have talked a bit about marijuana reform drug policy in general but marijuana reform too. And, after not wanting to talk about it and then somewhat talking about it and then more openly talking about it. You have two presidential candidates now who are in favor of continuing what I'll call the Obama doctrine on marijuana policy and that is a hands off decision. What PA people and political scientists will call enforcement discretion to say it still exists as an illegal substance in the United States but we're not spending really any money to enforce the controlled substances act. As long as you comply with this set of demands that the Federal Government puts out. And, I think one can question whether those set of demands are actually required in order for enforcement not to happen. But regardless Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton believe that states should be able to do what they want in this area as long as they're protecting from children getting access to marijuana from engaging with drug cartels and for drugs crossing borders and things like that. So, that's significant you had 12 years ago presidential candidates not even wanting to discuss if they ever experimented with marijuana. You had a presidential candidate say that he tried it but didn't inhale marijuana and he was slammed for that. Now you have a president who has admitted he has smoked marijuana and tried cocaine. And, you have two presidential candidates who claim they've never tried any illegal drugs. And, are willing to let states continue to legalize medical and recreational marijuana. That's a dramatic transition among political elites. Among elected officials but again if you go back to the 2004 or 2000 or the 92 or 96 elections. You could not imagine that in 2016 presidential candidates would A, be willingly talking about this issue and B, have the positions that they have today. That said we have a really serious problem in this country with marijuana policy it's one that people in the reform community hate to admit although they're eager to talk about it. But, marijuana policy in the U.S. is completely broken it's totally inconsistent you have a federal government that speaks out on both sides of its mouth on a variety of issues. And, what it creates is a system that in some ways is untenable it's unlikely to exist as it is in the future. As someone who studies public policy and specifically this public policy I like to see policy consistency I like to see a system that's working well there's one system that actually is consistent and that's prohibition. Now, there are certainly arguments to say that the way drug laws through most of the 20th Century were enforced were not consistent that is true. Communities of color find drug crimes particularly marijuana crimes enforced against them at much higher rates even though usage rates are at parody. But, a policy in which the federal government says this is illegal in all situations and the states say this is illegal in all situations is consistent it makes sense. You might not like it but it is a system that is setup to work. The system we have now is not setup to work. You have states defying the federal government in the most explicit of terms there is no gray area in the controlled substances act. Marijuana is a schedule one substance it is illegal in all circumstances, it has no medical value according to the federal government, it can't be used safely in any medical procedure in the United States according to the law. And, it has a high risk of abuse potential according to the controlled substances act. That's the trifecta of prohibition for marijuana but the federal government will tell you that if you live in Colorado and you have anxiety you can go to a Doctor who can issue you a recommendation not a prescription because if you write the word marijuana on a DEA approved prescription pad you lose your prescribing rights. But you can go to a doctor who can write you a letter and you can bring it to a dispensary and you can go and in and you can get your marijuana. In Colorado and Washington and Oregon and soon in Alaska you can do that if you don't have a medical condition and you just want it. That is a violation of federal law it's a violation of international law and it creates serious problems about the integrity of federalism in the United States. What's most interesting to me is when you look at advocates of marijuana reform many of them are liberal not all of them but many of them are liberal. These are the same people who are irate if a state passes abortion restrictions. They are irate if a state is unwilling to embrace Obamacare. They are irate if a state tries to prevent gay individuals from getting a marriage license. Why? Well, because there's a federal law that is clear on those issues or in the case of same-sex marriage a supreme court ruling which acts as federal common law that is clear on these issues. But, for marijuana there is also a federal law that's clear on these issues. But, states opting out of the controlled substances act tends to work for a lot of people. The problem goes deeper than that though. This disjoint between federal law and state reforms creates a ton of unintended consequences. And, they're problematic for people who are concerned with public safety, they are concerns, they raise concerns for people who are interested in legal integrity. But, it's also a problem for patients, for consumers, for dispensary owners. If you're a dispensary owner in Colorado, you have to pay a lot in taxes if you're a business owner anywhere you pay a lot in taxes. But, under the federal system you can't write off any business expense on your federal taxes. Why? Because you're trafficking a schedule one illegal substance. So if you talk to dispensary owners in a lot of these states this is true for medical or recreational marijuana dispensaries. If you talk to dispensary owners they'll be three or four years in and their tax burden is over 100% of their revenue. Well, that's not tenable. You have to have a really good supply of cash to keep a business going when your tax rates are that high relative to the income that you're bringing in. You don't have access to banking you have very clear federal financial regulations that say if you're a drug dealer you can't have a checking account or a savings account or qualify for a business loan. Well, here's the problem. The federal government says if you own a dispensary you're a narco trafficker and a criminal. But also it's ok to have that dispensary. Just keep it open make sure kids aren't buying from you don't deal with cartels and you can have this business. Well, one of those things must be right but they both can't be right. You know, there's a dispensary a medical marijuana dispensary in Washington D.C. called Takoma Wellness Center. Takoma Wellness Center you walk in it looks like a blend of like a chiropractor's office and a massage parlor, I mean I guess that's a wellness center. And, the guy who owns it is this really nice middle aged guy named Jeff. Jeff is a rabbi and he and his wife opened a medical marijuana dispensary in Washington D.C. eight miles from the White House. Right up the street from the department of justice. And, Jeff is not what you would expect from the average American narco trafficker. He doesn't look the part. He's a holy man. He's someone who believes deeply in what he's doing but he can't get a checking account. Every time he applies for one he says they'll keep it open for about 30 days and then they realize what he's doing and it's shut down and his assets are frozen. That's not how policy is supposed to work. The federal government is not supposed to say to someone you can have a business but you can't enjoy any of the benefits that the government affords you for that business. Like I said it's true for banking it's true for taxes. I was talking earlier to one of your faculty members and I said you know here's another inconsistency. I flew here from Washington D.C. yesterday. I live in Virginia I cannot legally purchase marijuana anywhere in that state and I also can't go and legally purchase medical marijuana from the District of Columbia but let's say I did live in Washington D.C. And, I went to my doctor and I said I have terrible anxiety. Let's say I have a really bad fear of flying. Which I actually used to have. Well, anxiety is something you can get medical marijuana for in some jurisdictions D.C.'s among them. So I can, I would say to them I would like my medical marijuana so I can use it when I fly to calm my nerves. Great, the problem is I can't use it on the plane, I can't carry it on a plane that breaks a bevy of federal laws. And, so I would not be able to get my prescription in Washington D.C. get on a Delta flight fly here without breaking state and federal laws. And also both D.C. airports are actually in Virginia so you commit a crime driving to the airport both federal and state laws are violated. And then, as you bring the substance onto the plane you're also committing a federal crime and so that's a challenge that's a problem. So, you have to leave your marijuana at home. But, if I go to my doctor and I say I have a horrible fear of flying I need Xanax or I need Ativan standard anxiety pills or tranquilizers they'll say sure, write out a script hand it to me and then I can take a Xanax before I leave and then I can carry my prescription bottle with me on the flight to Michigan and back again without violating any laws. Well, the challenge there is you have a government that is approving medical marijuana systems which implicitly says that marijuana is medicine. You also have a DEA and a FDA that say it's not medicine under any circumstances. But, if you're a patient who depends on this how do you justify how does a government justify saying you can bring that medicine with you on a plane but not that medicine with you on a plane. I'm not making subjective judgement about whether you should or should not be able to use marijuana for medicine but if a government says you can. You should also be afforded all of the policy benefits that come to you if you have a real prescription a regular prescription. A DEA approved prescription written out on a pad from a doctor. There are a variety of challenges that this creates that the federal government is not really in the business of fixing. There's very little movement in Congress beyond a few writers attached to appropriations bills but there's full fledge legislation and Congress that tries to fix some of these things that try to make marijuana policy more consistent in the United States. And members of Congress, House members and Senators are scared to death of it. A lot of people look at the Obama presidency, a lot of marijuana reformers look at the Obama presidency and say this guy's been great. And I think for some of them that's probably an accurate view. He's certainly been the most progressive president on marijuana policy in our history. That's a very low bar to clear. But, it's true he is. He's also someone who has really failed in terms of showing leadership on this issue. He is someone who could do much more. He could try to enact, try to push more bank regulations to try to fix the banking issue. He could try to push the IRS to use some of their discretion to ease tax burdens on marijuana enterprises. He could also work with Congress to get something done. He's not working with Congress to address marijuana policy he's barely working with Congress to deal with drug policy at large. Especially with the opioid crisis. Even though there's quite a bit of support in Congress to do this. Though here are more gains in that area than around marijuana policy. And, so what he has done is he has helped create, he has helped foster this schizophrenic system around marijuana policy that again is just untenable. Is not something the marijuana industry is going to allow rather, it cannot sustain moving forward with the current status quo. The two presidential candidates are not going to make things better they have, Clinton at least has outlined a little bit on her website about what she would do on marijuana policy. Trump has said in public statements about continuing the status quo. So you talk to people from the marijuana industry and they'll say thank God we're so afraid of what a presidential transition might be. Because current marijuana policy in the United States is a bunch of broken pieces that are taped together with duct tape. Well, the next president can unravel all of that duct tape. All of this exists because of a memo from the department of justice. That's the only thing that's really allowing these systems to continue to exist. Well, that memo is the equivalent in some ways of an executive order. It exists with some force of law but it can be undone instantly. The next attorney general can come in and issue something in exactly the opposite direction. Probably at the guidance of the president. I can't imagine a memo comes out of the DOJ without White House approval that would change public policy that dramatically. So, the marijuana industry and patients and consumers around the country went into this election cycle really holding their breath. And oddly they're happy with Clinton and Trump as nominee's. There aren't many segments of society that will tell you that but for them they know moving forward they're at least going to get the status quo. Maybe they'll get a little bit more movement from the next president but they'll at least get the status quo and not move back in time. They shouldn't be happy with that. They should want more consistency and a lot of them want fixes to this problem. But, one of the challenges that exists with policy is twofold. One, you get satisfied with the status quo when you start working within it and then the movement for more significant change sort of lightens. The other challenge of course this came up in the class I was speaking to earlier today is that when you are a reformer and you get a victory in this case passing marijuana reform legislation or an initiative. You think our work is done here perfect we're all set. The problem is, for this policy area the passage of the legislation or the passage of the initiative is just the first tiny step toward what this policy is going to look like. As many of you know who are public policy students implementation is where all of the action is. And, most of these ballot initiatives and most of this legislation leaves tremendous discretion to the executive branch agencies who will ultimately regulate this issue. And, so if you get your initiative passed and then let others do the work for you the system looks very different than the system that you might have wanted. The system that you thought you would have and that has happened in a variety of states. And, it's monied interests who know enough to get to the table during the implementation process but it's not advocates. Now, there has been a transition in the marijuana reform community over the past 15 years toward more professionalization. That means that they understand how to run a ballot initiative and they also understand what comes next. And, the importance of engagement with what comes next. So, when you look at ballot initiatives in the past especially many of them that failed. These were people who just threw their initiative out there and hoped for the best. Where they message that initiative in a very in a singular way. And, they weren't running this like a real campaign ballot initiatives are real campaigns they take money they take organization they take skills. You need publicists. You need communications advisors. You need designers. You need T.V. crews to help you. You need photographers. You need a lot of people to help. You need political strategists, social media specialists. Previous campaigns didn't think in those terms. And, a lot of them failed and in fact the only reason the California initiative passed in 1996 is because an outside national organization came in and helped collect the signatures that needed to be collected. You can imagine how many need to be collected in a state the size of California to run a ballot initiative it is tremendous. The backers who were mostly out of the Castro district of San Francisco were not prepared to collect enough signatures. They were not in any position to. It took professionalization to come in and do this. And professionalization has really amped up so now what the marijuana advocate/activist used to look like is no more. Although, I will say as someone who speaks at a lot of drug policy conferences you do see the person dressed in a full suit of marijuana leaves or marijuana leaf print suits which I can't imagine how much that costs. But, and you see people who are really not doing much service for their cause. But, for the most part marijuana advocates dress like I do right now. And, because they realize if you're going to be taken seriously you have to have dress like you're going to be taken seriously. You have to communicate like you're being taken seriously. And, there's still an important space for the grass roots die hard grower but in order to be successful again in a space that is now public policy. And not just a one off hobby you need to play the game of politics and the marijuana reform community has done a very remarkable job in improving the way they have approached these questions. Like I said there's still, there are still odd behaviors whenever you go to these conferences you get swag bags that are filled with insane things. That I'm sure a lot of people will use but my the last one I got a branded lighter NORML which is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. NORML branded rolling papers, filters and Febreze. So that when I needed to go back into work after my smoke break. Which I don't take, I could Febreze myself and no one would know I was getting stoned in the alley because certainly they wouldn't know based on my work performance. So, these are the types of things that I think are unhelpful for the marijuana community but these things exist. But, that said there are a lot of people who are again playing the game of politics having national lobbyists, having state level lobbyists working with the right communications individuals to get this done. A perfect example of this is what happened in Washington D.C. and I'll wrap up on this point and open it up to questions. Washington D.C. decided they were going to have a legalization initiative in 2014. So one of the first things you want to do for, it's true for any campaign it's certainly true for initiative campaigns. Is you do some polling. You figure out who's supportive who's not supportive where you might make inroads where you need to make inroads and what aggregate levels of support are. When you look at a town like Washington D.C. majority minority a lot of young white liberals it seems like the right recipe for legalization. The first polls they ran support was well under 50%. Shocked the backers, absolutely shocked. So then you start to drill down into the sub-demographics of these polls to understand who supports this who doesn't. So, they look across the demographic makeup and who is what group was among the most vehemently opposed groups for marijuana reform? It was older black women. Women 50 and older. Now, in a lot of cases you know individuals who are older again are predisposed against. Women have lower support for marijuana support than men do. But, this tracked a little differently than you were expecting for women or for people 50 and up. So, they did focus groups to figure out what was going on and a very interesting thing came to the surface in talking to we'll call them black mothers and grandmothers. They didn't see marijuana prohibition as the problem. A lot of people did. If you were a young black male in Washington D.C., you certainly see police enforcement of marijuana laws as the problem. They saw marijuana as the problem. They saw the substance getting into their communities and causing the problems. And not the enforcement of the laws around that substance. So, what did they do? One effort would have been to say we don't have the black female vote let's close up shop. We're never going to win if we can't convince these people. Instead they convinced those people. They went into churches in southeast D.C. and started to talk about criminal justice reform. In D.C. this was true. in Colorado this was true. In Washington this was true for the first time they approached these initiatives by saying one message isn't going to work. When I tell a rural guy who's prepping for the end of the world in eastern Colorado why he should support marijuana reform. That's probably a different message than I'm going to tell a college student at UC Boulder. And, that's a different message that I'm going to use against for soccer moms who are concerned mostly about marijuana getting into schools because it's not there now trust me. And, how you talk to the black community. How you talk to the Latino community. How you talk to men is different than how you talk to women. And, so for the first time these movements started to do what every political campaign does. Target voters do micro-targeting and better understand how voters are going to be responsive to different messages under different circumstances all around the same issue and that's a level of professionalization that this movement never had. And, once it got it, it started to more effectively march toward legalization and professionalization like that doesn't go away. Even though there's resistance against that. You know, old timers who are marijuana advocates hate to see the suit and tie type take over the movement. But, it wasn't until the suit and tie type took over the movement that they started having real success on the ground. And, so that's something that tends not to wither. And, is part of the reason I think a significant part of the reason why the United States continues to march toward greater more expansive marijuana reform in the future. So, I'm at five o'clock Bonnie's waved at me that I need to wrap it up and I do questions so thanks for listening to me for an hour.
[ Applause ]