USA Wrap: Supreme Court, Massachusetts, Texas


Title:  How the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Sports Gambling Will Pave the Way for Marijuana Legalization

Author: Paste Magazine

Date: 14 May 2018



The Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling today, paving the way for states to legalize sports gambling. This will have massive reverberations across the country, and not just when it comes to betting on sports. This case is a distillation of the tension between state and federal governance in America. Sports gambling was illegal in the United States thanks to the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that made Nevada the only state where someone could wager on the results of a single game.

The Supreme Court today decided that federal law violated the 10th Amendment, which was the founders’ failsafe as a way to guard against unforeseen circumstances. Effectively, the 10th Amendment means that the states have powers which are not expressly delegated to the federal government, and because the constitution doesn’t say anything about gambling on sports, seven of our nine justices agreed that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act doesn’t line up with our constitutionally stated principles. This is where marijuana legalization comes into play.

The United States federal government has declared marijuana to be a schedule one narcotic—meaning that it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Other schedule one narcotics include peyote, ecstasy and heroin—proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the utter insanity of this position. The list of states who have defied this classification is longer than those who adhere to it.

Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, California, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine have legalized it for recreational use, while Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Arkansas, Hawaii, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maryland and Florida have legalized medical marijuana. Eventually, a court will have to choose who gets to take the lead on this issue, and it’s difficult to see how banning marijuana is a power explicitly given to the federal government.


Title: State Marijuana Laws Dodge Supreme Court Bullet

Author: Marijuana Moment

Date: 14 May 2018



A ruling in a U.S. Supreme Court case about sports gambling on Monday has positive implications for marijuana legalization.

The case, Murphy v. NCAA, centered on whether the Constitution’s anti-commandeering doctrine prevents the federal government from forcing states to keep prohibitions of certain federally banned activities on their own lawbooks.

Specifically at issue was whether a New Jersey ballot measure that legalized betting on sports and subsequent actions by state legislators are invalidated by a congressionally approved law banning states and local governments from licensing or otherwise authorizing gambling on team sports.

The Supreme Court voted 7-2 on Monday to overturn the federal gambling prohibition.

If the justices had ruled the other way, state marijuana laws could have been in greater jeopardy of federal intervention.

In that instance, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service, “the federal government may be able to regulate other areas like recreational marijuana…by freezing existing state laws in place, instead of through direct federal regulation.”

Ironically, the case was brought to the Supreme Court by then-Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has repeatedly said he thinks the federal government should intervene in state marijuana laws. He cheered the ruling on Monday, calling it “a great day for the rights of states and their people to make their own decisions.”



Title:  Gov. Baker On Stalled Opioid Legislation, Marijuana Legalization

Author: WGBH

Date: 14 May 2018



The legislative session on Beacon Hill is approaching its end and lawmakers still have a few major bills to pass before they break for summer and shift their attention towards campaigning for re-election. The three branches have to come together and compromise on the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Amid a sexual assault scandal, a leadership struggle that rocked the Senate, and criminal justice overhaul legislation that has consumed much of lawmakers’ attention, some legislative priorities have fallen to the wayside. One of these priorities is the governor’s second major piece of opioid legislation, which has stalled since he first introduced the bill last fall.

WGBH’s Morning Edition Host Joe Mathieu spoke to Governor Baker in his office at the Statehouse about the legislation and how the introduction of recreational marijuana could factor into his plan to move forward with his campaign against opioids. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: Governor Charlie Baker joined us last year on WGBH’s Morning Edition for a special broadcast about combating the opioid epidemic. At the time, he had just filed legislation that would build on progress made under the state’s opioid law passed two years ago. The new bill includes proposals to expand access to treatments and education, create coaches for those in recovery and allow for involuntary treatment for those considered a danger to themselves. The bill has since been redrafted. It’s been through committee but there’s no clear timeline from here.

I sat down with the governor in his office on Friday and asked him if he was losing patience.

Governor Charlie Baker: Well, I can’t speak to what people outside this building are saying, because I’m paying more attention to what people who are affected by this disease are saying, and what folks here who are working with us on it are saying. If you look at Massachusetts, we’re one of the only states in the country that in 2017 saw a decline in deaths and prescriptions and a leveling off of overdoses, and that was because of many of the elements of the legislation we got passed [in 2016]. We’ve added 1,100 treatment beds. We’ve increased state spending by about 60 percent, and we’ve added significant sums to our Mass Health program and our substance abuse programs to help people battle this epidemic. We have recovery coaches that we’ve embedded in certain hospital ERs to see if they can help get people into treatment that’s proven to be actually quite effective — that’s one of the reasons why we would like to make recovery coaches a fundamental part of the way we deal with long-term treatment for people dealing with addiction.

That’s one of the major elements of the bill that is moving currently through the legislature, and I’m certainly anxious to see the legislature get this done. But I’m also aware of the fact that there are a lot of points of view on this thing, and I think those points of view need to be heard before we sign something.

JM: Are you losing patience?

CB: Look, in a perfect world, you know, something like this would get done, and get done sort of quickly. But I recognize and understand that there are 140 members of the House and 60 members — excuse me, 160 members of the House, and 40 members of the Senate, and on this issue they all have a point of view. I mean, in the end, the last piece of legislation we got passed took a while but it was voted unanimously, and it made a big difference. And for me, on this stuff, of course I’d like it to happen quickly. But I also recognize and appreciate the fact that, you know, making legislation sometimes takes a while.

JM: Has your opinion evolved at all on the marijuana issue, and I ask you that because these two frequently come together in conversation. … Either in a bad way, if they say, “Well gosh, we’ve got an opioid crisis we have no time to be selling pot around here,’ or, ‘[Marijuana] could be an alternative therapy.’ That’s the medicinal aspect. We’re on the threshold of recreational marijuana becoming our reality as well, at least on the retail level. Are you worried about it, or has your mind changed in one way or another?

CB: Well, I still think it’s fair to say that the evidence is overwhelming that opioids, heroin, fentanyl, are the big public health crisis here in the commonwealth. And I also know based on conversations I’ve had with people who have used medicinal marijuana to deal with anxiety and nausea typically associated with cancer treatment, that for them the CBD element of marijuana has been very helpful. With respect to recreational marijuana, I think the jury’s going to be out until we actually implement it and see how it goes. The voters voted for it. I think the Cannabis Control Commission has been moving aggressively to get this program up and off the ground by July 1. I appreciate the fact that they are taking a tiered approach to this and going what I would describe as sort of with an incremental way of approaching this. But if you talk to the folks in Colorado and Washington, which are the two states that look the most like Massachusetts and have had this legal recreationally for the longest period of time, they’ll both tell you that recreation legal recreational marijuana is a handful.

JM: Thanks for having us in the office and talking with us on WGBH radio.

CB: Happy to do it, Joe. Look forward to doing it again once we sign the bill.



Title: Texans need new strategy to pass marijuana legalization, advocate says

Author: Star Telegram

Date: 12 May 2018



“The states that have referendums on this issue are the states where the marijuana issue has no longer been an issue,” Sloan said. “The lawmakers don’t want to decide this issue. We’ve tried everything. We’ve signed petitions, brought forward four bills, rallied in Austin, packed the legislature with people advocating for legalization, and nothing’s worked.”

To a large round of applause, Sloan said it’s now time to vote for candidates who will let the people participate in a state ballot initiative on the marijuana question.

Because “lawmakers in Texas will put this off for as long as they can,” Sloan said.

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