Judith Lewis Mernit

Trumping Pot: Will State Legalization Laws Survive?

Last Wednesday the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York-based drug-reform nonprofit, held a media conference call meant to celebrate a successful election night. Voters in eight states had legalized cannabis for recreational purposes; in several more states ballot measures cleared the way for marijuana’s medical use. In California, where Proposition 64 passed with 56 percent of the electorate, voters had not only legalized marijuana but, in the words of the organization’s California State Director, Lynne Lyman, “eliminated nearly every marijuana violation on the books.”

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How the Plastics Industry Is Trying to Fool Voters into Ending Bans on Shopping Bags

When the tiny, picturesque community of Bisbee, Arizona, decided to ban single-use plastic bags in 2014, leaders in the plastics industry worried Bisbee had sparked a trend. Other Arizona cities—Kingman, Flagstaff, Tempe—were considering similar restrictions; soon, the bag makers feared, the whole state would fall. So they did what corporate lobbyists do in a reliably conservative state: They persuaded legislators and the governor to declare bans like Bisbee’s illegal.

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Big Corporate Money on California's Ballot Initiative Badly Distorts Direct Democracy

It’s been 105 years since California voters were granted, by a progressive governor and his forward-thinking allies, the right to make laws at the ballot box. We were not the first to gain the privilege; 11 states got there first. Today 24 states allow for direct legislation, which they exercise with varying degrees of intensity when the need arises.

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High Times: How Will Budtenders and Trimmigrants Fare If Pot Is Legalized?

Twenty years after legalizing the use of medical marijuana, California voters will decide whether to permit the use of recreational pot. This week, in a special series, Capital & Main looks at what will happen if Prop. 64 passes in November. "High Times: How Legalizing Marijuana Would Transform California" reports on how a legal cannabis industry will affect the environment, workers and the state’s economy.

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How Growing Pot Takes a Serious Ecological Toll

Twenty years after legalizing the use of medical marijuana, California voters will decide whether to permit the use of recreational pot. This week, in a special series, Capital & Main looks at what will happen if Prop. 64 passes in November. "High Times: How Legalizing Marijuana Would Transform California" reports on how a legal cannabis industry will affect the environment, workers and the state’s economy.

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How the Hedge Fund Billionaires Get Away With Obscene Tax Avoidance

Leo Hindery Jr. remembers the call he got the night before he was to testify before Congress, in September of 2007, to close a tax loophole enjoyed by private equity investors. It was from Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, the largest private equity management firm in the U.S.

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Federal Budget Deal Slashes Key Community Water Funds

Steven Meade doesn't hide his frustration. As treasurer of the Atlanta Water Association in Atlanta, Idaho, he has the unenviable task of coming up with money to fix his community's water-quality problems. And Atlanta has had its share. A century of gold mining that ended in 1963 leached heavy metals into the nearby Boise River. Then runoff from a 2001 forest fire clogged wells with toxic ash. Now the water agency's antiquated treatment system no longer cleans water to modern standards: Four times in the last five years it has run afoul of state law.

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