By Steve Elliott
Delegates of a regional federation of unions in Northwest Oregon met a two-thirds majority vote to recommend that statewide labor organizations support the New Approach Oregon measure to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older.
"The Northwest Oregon Labor Council is proud to recommend support for the New Approach measure," said Jeff Anderson, first vice president of the council and executive secretary of UFCW 555. "The measure would create more family-wage jobs in Oregon, keep workers safe by retaining current workplace drug laws and generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue for crucial public services like education and police."
Officials with the New Approach campaign were happy with the news.
"It's rare to win support from Oregon workers so early in a campaign," said New Approach campaign manager Dan Mahr. "This reflects the fact that the New Approach measure will improve the lives of workers in all corners of the state."
The recommendation from the "union of unions" comes a week after the New Approach Measure qualified for the ballot. The Northwest Oregon Labor Council is the largest central labor committee in the state, representing more than 50,000 workers in 100 union locals.
By Steve Elliott
Colorado is successfully regulating marijuana, according to a report released on Thursday by the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management.
“The state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy,” according to the report authored by John Hudak, a Brookings fellow in Governance Studies. “In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state.”
“This report reflects what is actually happening on the ground here in Colorado," said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who co-directed the 2012 Colorado initiative campaign. "The state is proving that regulating marijuana works. It explains why the new law is experiencing just as much public support now as it did when voters approved it in 2012.
Broad Coalition Comprised of Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Immigration, Racial Justice, Human Rights Organizations
A diverse coalition of more than 80 civil rights, immigration, criminal justice, racial justice, human rights, libertarian and religious organizations are joined by notable figures such as Michelle Alexander in calling for an end to the War On Drugs in the name of protecting children both in Latin America and here in the United States.
The supporters of the letter -– which include the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Center for Constitutional Rights, Institute of the Black World, Presente.org, Students for Liberty, United We Dream, William C. Velasquez Institute, and the Working Families Organization -– are notable for their diversity in cause and focus, yet this issue unites them all.
In their letter of support for new policies, the coalition states:
"In recent weeks, the plight of the 52,000 unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S. border since last October, many of whom are fleeing drug war violence in Central America, has permeated our national consciousness. The devastating consequences of the drug war have not only been felt in Latin America, they are also having ravaging effects here at home. All too often, children are on the frontlines of this misguided war that knows no borders or color lines."
Need for Emergency Access is Clearer than Ever with Recent Deaths
Patients, Families, and Advocates Thank Cuomo and Urge His Continued Leadership and Action to Ensure Critically Ill Patients Receive Immediate Access to Medicine
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday called for swift implementation of New York’s recently passed medical marijuana law. Since the medical marijuana bill was signed into law on July 7, three children who suffered from severe seizure disorders have already died.
These deaths have made even clearer what we already knew – the 18-month or longer timeline for implementing New York’s medical marijuana law is simply too long for some patients who face life-threatening or terminal illnesses.
The Governor’s letter follows Monday’s meeting between the Governor’s office, the Department of Health, patients, and advocates from across New York State. In his letter, Governor Cuomo acknowledges the importance of expediting the implementation process, as well as exploring any options that might provide immediate relief for patients from across the state who are in pain and suffering.
“I applaud the Governor for recognizing the urgency around implementing New York’s medical marijuana law, so that patients can obtain access to potentially life-saving medicine,” said Wendy Conte of Buffalo, whose daughter recently died following a severe seizure. “We are looking to the Governor now for his continued leadership to ensure that our children receive the medicine that they need.
By Steve Elliott
Members of Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration this week met with about a dozen medical marijuana advocates as some New York lawmakers called on Cuomo to speed up the process of making cannabis available to patients in need.
Meeting with the advocates on Monday were Deputy Secretary of Health Courtney Burke and Howard Zucker of the New York Department of Health, reports Jon Campbell at PressConnects. Last week, bill sponsors wrote to Gov. Cuomo, urging him to consider different ways to get medical marijuana to terminally ill patients more quickly.
Under New York's new medical marijuana law, the Department of Health has 18 months to get the state's system up and running.
The purpose of Monday's meeting was to keep the lines of communication open with advocates as the state begins to implement the program, Westchester County resident Kate Hintz, whose daughter Morgan, 3, suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy.
"I'm pleased that they have opened a dialogue with advocates and parents, such as myself," Hintz said. "I think that there are ways that we can safely and efficaciously provide medicine sooner than an 18-month time period."
By Steve Elliott
An ordinance which would impose fines and even possible jail time for growing medical marijuana in unincorporated parts of Riverside County, California will get a public hearing on September 23 before the Board of Supervisors decides whether to enact it into law.
The 5-0 decision by the board on Tuesday came after a protest by medicinal cannabis advocates outside the County Administrative Center in downtown Riverside, reports Jeff Horseman at The Press Enterprise. Supporters carried signs reading "Respect Patients' Rights!" and "Help Keep Marijuana Safe!"
Growing marijuana for any reason remains illegal in Riverside County, despite the fact that California voters approved the medicinal use of marijuana back in 1996. Riverside County also bans medical marijuana dispensaries, leaving patients with no safe access.
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries is sponsoring the ordinance to crack down on marijuana grows in the county. Jeffries claimed "hundreds" of marijuana crops are growing in his district, and he fears they are connected to "drug cartels."
Jeffries claimed his goal isn't to punish legitimate medical marijuana patients. He noted his ordinance would impose $10 fines for anyone who grows six or fewer plants, indoors or outdoors. The current first-offense fine for growing any amount of marijuana is $100.
"I do not want public safety resources spent going after a handful of plants," Jeffries claimed.
By Steve Elliott
The New York Times this week, in what is widely seen as an epochal event, called for marijuana legalization in an editorial. But The Times drug tests its own employees, including for cannabis, despite its strong stance against marijuana prohibition.
The online dispensary-finding company WeedMaps has just launched a petition on Change.org which calls out the newspaper for its hypocritical policy.
"Whether we're going to continue testing for marijuana or not, I don't know," Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal said last night on MSBNC. "If they ask me, I'll stop."
Drug policy experts believe the petition stands a good chance of impacting the newspaper's drug testing policy, at least to the extent of convincing them to remove marijuana from the list of substances on the test.
"If The New York Times believes it is wrong to discriminate against people for using marijuana, then they should stop doing so. Full stop," said Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority. "Forward-thinking companies in the emerging legal marijuana industry, such as WeedMaps, are leading the way toward a post-prohibition approach to hiring and human resources by focusing on job performance and not on the content of their employees' urine.
By Steve Elliott
As Floridians get ready to vote on medical marijuana in November, months of campaigning by both sides hasn't moved the numbers at all. A new poll shows 88 percent support for medicinal cannabis, the exact same level of support shown in May.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute's numbers are significant, reports Dan Sweeney at the Sun Sentinel, because two well-funded opposition groups have formed since the May poll -- "Don't Let Florida Go To Pot," a disinformation campaign from the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Drug Free America Foundation, and Vote No On 23, a project of Drug Free Florida.
As a constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida, needs 60 percent of the vote to pass in November.
An incredible 95 percent of voters age 29 and younger support the measure in the new poll.
Notorious anti-pot activist Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, claims the amendment would result in an explosion of medical marijuana dispensaries, shady doctors authorizing it for almost any ailments, and access for minors. But supporters say the amendment is specific about ailments that can be treated with marijuana, and that there are already state laws in place which would require parental consent before minors could be authorized.
By Steve Elliott
The Senate delegations from Colorado and Washington are seeking clarification from the Obama Administration on the regulations which will impact the legal marijuana trade in those two states.
Democratic Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall of Colorado and Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington on Monday wrote a letter to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Attorney General Eric Holder, calling for "a clear, consistent and uniform interpretation and application" of federal marijuana laws in relation to their home states, reports Jonathan Topaz at Politico. The letter warns about the current uncertainty surrounding federal cannabis laws.
"We believe the federal government should support Colorado and Washington state's effort to establish a successful regulatory framework in a way that achieves greater certainty for local officials, citizens, and business owners" in the marijuana industry, the senators wrote.
The uncertainty regarding the implementation of federal cannabis laws "may undermine our states' ability to regulate the industry adequately," the senators said.
All four Democrats said they look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to ensure lawful and successful implementation of marijuana legalization in their states.
Less than a week after qualifying for the ballot, the New Approach Oregon campaign to regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older has won three major endorsements.
The endorsing organizations are:
• The Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens, the oldest grassroots senior advocacy organization in the state.
• The Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, which represents more than 1,300 criminal defense attorneys in Oregon.
• Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), whose 100,000 supporters include police officers, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, FBI agents and DEA agents.
“This is the first time a senior organization in Oregon has endorsed a marijuana regulation measure,” said Steve Weiss, board president of the Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens. “I’ve seen how medical marijuana can transform seniors’ lives, but when you are sick and in need of effective medicine, getting a medical marijuana card can be difficult, and without legalization, almost no research is done on it, making it hard for people to estimate the proper dosage.”
By Steve Elliott
Germany's Administrative Court of Cologne on July 22 ruled that some patients suffering from chronic pain should be allowed to grow their own cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
Five patients suffering from chronic pain and other conditions had brought the complaint to the court after German's Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) refused them permission to grow their own medical marijuana at home, reports the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines.
The court said that BfArM had to reconsider three of the rejected requests. While the plaintiffs all had permits to buy and use marijuana from a pharmacy for therapeutic purposes, they wanted to grow their own because they couldn't afford the price of cannabis produced by the Dutch company Bedrocan, and their health insurance did not cover it.
The court rejected the other two patients' requests, the first because the judges didn't believe that the patient could keep the medical marijuana away from unauthorized people, and the second because they didn't think the plaintiff had exhausted all other treatment options, reports DW.
The court stressed that it's necessary to assess whether patients met the requirements to grow their own medicinal cannabis on a case-by-case basis.
By Steve Elliott
A three-page bill introduced on Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives would amend the Controlled Substances Act, which criminalizes marijuana, to exempt cannabis plants with extremely low levels of THC, the substance that makes people high, but contain higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which has shown promise in fighting seizures.
If passed, it would be the first time since 1937 that federal law officially allows any medical marijuana use. A handful of patients have, for years, been allowed to use federal medical marijuana in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, which began in the 1970s.
"No one should face a choice of having their child suffer or moving to Colorado and splitting up the family," said bill sponsor Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania). "We live in America, and if there's something that would make my child better, and they can't get it because of the government, that's not right."
Eleven states this year have passed laws loosening regulation of high-CBD, low-THC marijuana strains. Perry said that once Congress members and their staffs are educated, he expects the bill to attract "overwhelming" support. "In a time of inevitability in Washington, D.C., this is something where we can show some progress," he said.
By Steve Elliott
In yet another sign of the inevitability of cannabis law reform in the United States, The New York Times has called for marijuana legalization.
"It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol," The Times Editorial Board wrote in the Sunday edition of the newspaper.
The Times Editorial Board reached that conclusion, the op-ed piece notes, "after a great deal of discussion." One would love to have been a fly on the wall, as the tectonic plates of journalistic history worked themselves into a new configuration. The decision was, the Board wrote, "inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws."
With more than 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, and with the negative results of those arrests falling disproportionately on young African American men, the social costs of cannabis prohibition are just too steep to continue, according to The Times.
"Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults," the editorial states.
The Times announced a series of articles in the coming days by members of the Editorial Board, along with supplementary material that will examine the questions surrounding marijuana legalization.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana advocates in Wichita, Kansas on Thursday turned in petitions with nearly twice as many signatures as they need to put decriminalization on the November ballot.
City officials in Wichita said they may have questions and concerns about the wording of the measure, but they have no immediate plans to go to court to try to block the initiative, reports Dion Lefler at The Wichita Eagle.
Organizers Esau Freeman and Janice Bradley went to Wichita City Hall at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday and presented City Clerk Karen Sublette with a thick sheaf of papers. According to the advocates, those papers contain the names and signatures of more than 5,800 people in favor of decriminalizing possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
They need 2,928 valid signatures of registered Wichita voters to put the issue on the ballot.
"We didn't verify every single one, but we're pretty confident with what we have," said Bradley, who added that an intern with the Peace and Justice Social Center had checked a large sample of the signatures.
The petition has garnered support from at least two state legislators and the Community Voice, a newspaper focused on Wichita's black community.
To End the War On Drugs by LEAP Speaker Dean Becker Features More than 100 Experts on Drug Policy
Together with the James A. Baker III Institute of Public Policy at Rice University, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) will be hosting a press conference this Tuesday on Former Air Force Security Policeman Dean Becker’s new book To End the War on Drugs, after which they will distribute copies of the book to the White House, every Member of Congress, every Justice on the Supreme Court and governors nationwide.
“Through his interviews with so many differently situated individuals, Dean Becker captures the complete picture of the drug war, giving us a better understanding of the far-reaching nature of its effects and the depths of its failures,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of LEAP, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs. "Every politician in America should read this book."