“Shenna Bellows has been at the forefront of the fight for marijuana legalization even before beginning this campaign,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “During her tenure leading the Maine ACLU, Shenna has demonstrated she has the skill and determination to fight for sensible reforms and has proven to be a vocal and articulate leader in calling for the end of marijuana prohibition. We believe she will be invaluable in the United States Senate to help move the country away from our failed war on marijuana and towards a new, smarter approach.”
“We need to end the war on drugs and reform our criminal justice system, and we cannot afford to wait. The United States incarcerates more people in total and more people per capita than any other country in the world, and the racial disparities are alarming,” Shenna Bellows wrote in a recent op-ed, “Even in my home state of Maine, which is the whitest state in the union, blacks are 2.1 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. Government spends billions of dollars each year enforcing counterproductive drug laws, which are truly the New Jim Crow. The economic and human rights costs are enormous.”
While we have long had support for marijuana law reform in the House of Representative, support in the Senate has long been harder to come by. In a recent interview with ThinkProgress, Ms. Bellows has made clear she looks to kickstart the movement for rational marijuana policy in the upper chamber of Congress.
“Right now on the Senate side, there doesn’t seem to be a leader who has the courage to move that forward,” Bellows said. “I would be that leader.”
You can donate to the NORML PAC to help elect pro-reform candidates nationwide here.
A proposal in Mexico to legalize medical cannabis, to further decriminalize cannabis possession, and to decriminalize cannabis cultivation, was officially introduced yesterday at a press conference in Mexico City.
“Seventy thousand dead, 26,000 disappeared and an incalculable number of internally displaced are more than sufficient reason to look for an alternative model,” says Congressman Fernando Belauzaran of the Party of the Democratic Revolution.
The proposal would modify the Mexican Criminal Code and the Mexican General Health Law, establishing a framework for the production and distribution of cannabis to those with a medical need; the measure would also raise the legal limit of cannabis that any adult can possess from 5 grams, to 30.
In addition, under the proposed law, an individual found growing cannabis wouldn’t be penalized, so long as the plants don’t produce over 300 grams.
Congresswoman Esthela Damian, a supporter of the measure, says that its goal is to ensure “the health and wellbeing of the Mexican people.” She added that they had taken Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s words seriously when he said his government was open to discussion on the issue of legalization of marijuana in October of last year.
“We hope that [Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's] offer to open the debate on this issue was more than just words,” said Damian, referring to a recent comment by the president, who claimed in October that the government is open to discussing the issue of legalization
We’ll keep you updated as this proposal moves forward.
The post Bill to Legalize Medical Cannabis Introduced in Mexico appeared first on The Joint Blog.
Most New York state voters support regulating the adult use of cannabis, while a super-majority endorse legalizing the plant for therapeutic purposes, according to a recently released Quinnipiac University poll.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents support “allowing adults in New York State to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” Only 39 percent of respondents opposed the idea.
Respondents most likely to favor legalization include those age 18 to 29 (83 percent), Democrats (65 percent), those age 30 to 49 (61 percent), and men (63 percent). Support is significant lower among women (51 percent), Republicans (39 percent), and those over the age of 65 (38 percent).
On the issue of legalizing cannabis for therapeutic purposes, voter support rose to 88 percent — with the issue receiving super-majority support from respondents of every age and political affiliation.
In separate questions, only 13 percent of respondents say that they believe that cannabis is “more dangerous” than alcohol, and fewer than half believe that it is a ‘gateway’ to other illicit substance use.
The survey possesses a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.
Legislation to legalize the possession, cultivation, and retail sale of the plant — the “Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act” — is pending in both the New York state Senate and the Assembly. Separate legislation to allow qualified patients to possess and purchase cannabis for therapeutic purposes also remains pending.
In January, Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who had previously expressed opposition to allowing for the medical use of cannabis — announced plans to use his executive powers to revive a dormant research program that would allow for the use of government-grown marijuana in select hospitals. However, efforts to reestablish similar programs in other states have not been effective.
The move, which was introduced by Senator Cisco McSorley, came as an amendment to a synthetic cannabinoids ban bill – Senate Bill 127.
The proposal would designate over 100 synthetic cannabinoids as Schedule I substances; supporters of the amendment argued that cannabis doesn’t belong on Schedule 1 along with dangerous, chemical alternatives. The vote came along party lines, with no Republican voting in favor.
The bill now moves to the Senate.
The post New Mexico Senate Committee Votes to Remove Cannabis as a Schedule 1 Substance appeared first on The Joint Blog.
A citizens initiative to legalize cannabis in the European Union is underway, with advocates needing to collect 1 million signatures from 7 member states within a 12 month period.
Advocates of the initiative – which was approved by the government in November – officially began their signature gathering campaign this week. If advocates are successful in gathering enough signatures, the measure would be put to a vote next year.
According to the group behind the initiative (Weed Like to Talk), it “aims at making the EU [European Union] adopt a common policy on the control and regulation of cannabis production, use and sale.”
In addition to legalizing cannabis possession, the proposal would legalize cannabis cultivation, as well as cannabis retail outlets.
The effort marks one of the most far-reaching attempts at cannabis law reform in European history.
The post Citizens Initiative Underway to Legalize Cannabis in the European Union appeared first on The Joint Blog.
A new study being published in next month’s issue of the journal Atherosclerosis, and published online early by the National Institute of Health, has found that activation of the body’s cannabinoid receptors – something done naturally by cannabis – may provide a potential treatment option for atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis, also known as vascular disease, is a fairly common disorder that occurs when substances such as fat or cholesterol build up in the walls of arteries, forming plaques. Over time, this process can block the arteries and cause severe problems throughout the body.
According to the study; “A fully active ECS [endocannabinoid system] is present in human macrophages and macrophage-derived foam cells. Selective activation of CB2R [type-2 cannabinoid receptor] reduces CD36-dependent oxLDL accumulation and modulates production of inflammatory cytokines, thus representing a potential therapeutic strategy to combat atherosclerosis.”
The study – which can be found by clicking here – is one of the first to detail how cannabinoid receptor activation may provide an effective treatment option for those with atherosclerosis.
With a 67 to 29 vote, Washington State’s House of Representatives has given approval to House Bill 2149, a proposal to drastically alter the state’s medical cannabis law. The measure now moves to the Senate, where its passage will send it to the governor for consideration.
Under the proposed law, medical cannabis patients will be forced to join a mandatory patient registry in order to be provided with any legal protection, a move that advocates of medical cannabis have denounced, claiming it to be an invasion of privacy, as well as a safety risk, given it will establish a list – including individual addresses – of those participating in a federally illegal program.
House Bill 2149 would also drastically reduce the amount of cannabis a patient is allowed to possess and cultivate. Under current Washington State law, a qualified patient, or their caregiver, can possess up to 24 ounces of cannabis, and can cultivate up to 15 plants; House Bill 2149 would, without any legitimate reason, reduce the limit to 3 ounces, and 3 plants.
The proposal would also do-away with collective gardens entirely, establishing a system where only those already licensed with the Liquor Control Board (to sell recreational cannabis) can receive a license to also distribute medical cannabis; this means that there would be no stand-alone medical cannabis safe access points, and medical cannabis would fall under the same hefty tax rate (25% at three different levels) as recreational cannabis.
Representative Cary Condotta, a Republican from East Wenatchee, opposed the bill, saying it was premature because the recreational system isn’t up and running yet; he adds that the impact on medical cannabis patients should be looked at more closely.
“Right now, you’re taking everything away from them — you can’t give it back,” he said during the floor debate of the bill. “I’m a little concerned we’re moving a little too quickly without a program to integrate.”
Those in Washington State who oppose this measure should contact their district’s senators – which can be looked up by clicking here – urging them to oppose this unnecessary, unasked for and regressive proposal.
The post Washington State House of Representatives Approves Proposal to Gut Medical Cannabis Law appeared first on The Joint Blog.
Washington State’s House of Representatives has unanimously approved Second Substitute House Bill 1888, a proposal to explicitly legalize hemp cultivation.
In Washington, the cultivation of hemp was technically decriminalized through the passage of Initiative 502; however, the initiative failed to establish any specific regulatory system for hemp, and it set the limit for the THC found in hemp at 0.3%, a common number for pending hemp legislation across the country, but a number that many farmers and advocates have argued is unreasonably low.
Second Substitute House Bill 1888 would raise the minimum THC allowed in hemp to 1%, the number recommended by the North American Industrial Hemp Council.
In addition, the proposal, according to an official analysis, would:
- Authorizes the Director of the Department of Agriculture (Director) to issue licenses for the growing of industrial hemp.
- Requires the Director to establish a fee to administer the industrial hemp program.
- Designates industrial hemp as an agricultural product which may be grown, produced, possessed, and commercially traded pursuant to the requirements of the act.
- Creates an industrial hemp account in the State Treasury that is funded by licensing fees.
- Authorizes the Washington State University to undertake research regarding industrial hemp production in this state.
The proposal, which is sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, now moves to the Senate, where its passage will send it to Governor Jay Inslee for consideration.
The post Washington State Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Hemp Legalization Legislation appeared first on The Joint Blog.