Political

Rhode Island: Lawmakers Introduce Legislation To Legalize, Regulate And Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol

RhodeIslandLegalCannabis

State Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston) and State Rep. Scott Slater (D-Providence) on Thursday introduced legislation that would end marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

They discussed the proposal at a news conference in the House Lounge of the State House, where they were joined by Dr. Daniel Harrop, M.D., vice chairman of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, and Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat.

“It’s time to regulate and tax marijuana in Rhode Island and treat it similarly to how we treat alcohol,” said Sen. Miller, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services. “Marijuana prohibition is an ineffective and wasteful policy, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer. The Legislature is perfectly capable of creating a system that will work for Rhode Island.”

The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space. It would create a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities and direct the Department of Business Regulation to create rules regulating security, labeling, and health and safety requirements. It would also establish wholesale excise taxes at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store, as well as a special sales tax on retail sales to consumers.

U.S.: For First Time, Most Authoritative Survey Finds Majority Of Americans Support Legal Marijuana

LegalizeIt[CafePress]

The General Social Survey — ‘widely regarded as the single best source of data on societal trends’ — finds 52% think marijuana should be made legal; only 42% think it should remain illegal

For the first time, the General Social Survey has reportedly found that a majority of Americans support making marijuana legal, reports the Washington Post

The survey, which is “widely regarded as the single best source of data on societal trends,” according to its website, found 52 percent think marijuana should be made legal and only 42 percent think it should remain illegal.

National polls released last fall by Gallup and the Pew Research Center found similar results.

“Americans are tired of laws that punish adults for using a substance that is undeniably safer than alcohol," said Morgan Fox, communications manager for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Hopefully their elected officials are paying attention and preparing for the inevitable. The failures of marijuana prohibition are too obvious to ignore forever, which is evidenced by the growing support for ending it.

“Marijuana has been a relatively prominent part of American culture for decades, and that’s never going to change," Fox said. "Either we continue to force it into the underground market or we start regulating it and treating it like other products that are legal for adults. Federal and state officials who are clinging to marijuana prohibition need to get over it and allow society to move forward.”

New Hampshire: House Committee Approves Measure Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Bill that would replace potential jail time with a civil fine receives bipartisan support in House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

The New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Thursday approved a bill 12-3 that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure will now go to the full House for a vote.

“Nobody should face time in jail simply for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Matt Simon, Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We’re glad the committee members agreed, and we hope the rest of their colleagues in the Legislature will, too. This is a commonsense reform that is long overdue.”

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for third or subsequent offenses. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

The House passed a nearly identical bill last year by a vote of 215-92, but the Senate refused to consider it.

New York: Advocates Call NYPD's Statement Linking Marijuana and Shootings 'Reefer Madness'

BenjaminBratton(NYPDCommissioner)[AMNewYork]

Drug Policy Alliance: The Real Way to Address Violence Related to Marijuana is through Legalizing and Regulating It

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton this week gave a press conference about the rising number of shootings in NYC. Incredibly, Bratton went on to blame marijuana, of all things, for the increase in violence.

“Commissioner Bratton’s claims today about marijuana are straight out of the tired old drug war handbook and frankly, are ridiculous," said gabriel sayegh, managing director of policy and campaigns at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "What evidence is Bratton relying on in making these statements? Hasn’t he heard that correlation does not equal causation?

"Marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance in the U.S. and in New York and, therefore, is far more likely to be found on New Yorkers than any other drug," sayegh said. "It appears that finding marijuana on the scene of a violent crime is enough for Bratton to assert a causal link.

"Using that rationale, we can make other causal links to violence – for instance, if police find a cell phone at the scene of a violent crime, then certainly the cell phone must cause that crime," sayegh said.

Colorado: Sensible Asset Forfeiture Proposal Fails In Senate

AssetForfeiture[FreedomWorks]

Advocates Reminded of the Often Undeserved Sway of Law Enforcement

This week an asset forfeiture reform proposal died in Colorado’s Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 006 aimed to join other states and the recent federal effort to curb the intrusive, arguably unconstitutional and financially distorted incentive practice of civil asset forfeiture.

State law provides people due process protections from state authorities seizing their property. However, local and state police often circumvent state law by turning seized assets over to federal authorities who then liquidate those assets and return the proceeds to local law enforcement.

SB 006 would have provided constitutional protections in the case of joint state and federal asset forfeiture proceedings -- requiring a conviction, mandating a pre-trial hearing and only allowing forfeiture proceedings for assets valued over $50,000. The bill attempted to deter frivolous and subjective forfeiture efforts by law enforcement.

The Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Criminal Defense Institute, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and many local lawyers, victims and like-minded civilians testified in favor of the bill.

Utah: Medical Marijuana Bill Moving Forward

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Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee, Heads to Senate Floor Next Week

Utah is the latest 'red' state to consider medical marijuana. Utah's Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would allow for the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The bill is expected to go to the Senate floor early next week.

Senate Bill 259, from Sen. Mark B. Madsen, would create a state registry of medical marijuana patients who could possess and use marijuana. The bill would also direct the state of Utah to issue licenses for cultivators, processors, and dispensaries to qualified patients.

“I am one step closer to legal access to my medicine,” said Christine Stenquist, a medical marijuana patient and executive director of Drug Policy Project of Utah. “Our elected leaders have an opportunity to help sick patients find relief and there is no excuse not to.”

“If medical marijuana can advance in Utah – with significant support from Mormons in and out of the legislature – it can advance anywhere in the U.S.,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Medicine is medicine, regardless of one’s politics, faith or views about drugs.”

U.S.: Sen. Ted Cruz Says He Supports States' Rights To Legalize Marijuana

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At least these days, both major political parties in the United States are smart enough to jockey for position on the marijuana issue rather than running away from as they did in the recent past. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Thursday told attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference that he supports states’ rights to legalize and regulate marijuana, notwithstanding federal law.

Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity asked Sen. Cruz whether it was a good or bad idea for Colorado to legalize and regulate marijuana, to which he replied:

“Look I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the laboratories of democracy.’ If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I personally don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.”

A video of the exchange is available at http://bit.ly/1aqXrAC .

Sen. Cruz is the latest Republican presidential hopeful to take such a position. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) have also said they think the federal government should not interfere in states that legalize marijuana.

“Marijuana policy reform is, at its heart, a conservative issue," said Don Murphy, a former Republican state legislator from Maryland now serving as a federal policies analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "This is a matter of Federalism, the 10th Amendment, and state autonomy, which are core conservative priorities.

Israel: 'We Can Become A Cannabis Superpower,' Says Green Leaf Party

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Running up to the March 17 elections, Israel's Green Leaf Party on Wednesday announced a comprehensive economic study showing higher than expected revenues of about NIS 3 billion per year for the state if the cannabis market is regulated by law.

The study, conducted by the head of military budgets, Elad Daudi, an expert military economist, is based on data from a study published by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, along with data from Colorado, reports Israel's Cannabis Magazine.

The new study shows economic benefits both from stopping prosecution of marijuana consumers, and from the expected tax to the state treasury which would result from a legal cannabis market. According to the study, NIS 700 million would be saved by the state on enforcement expenditures, courts, arrests, etc., with at least NIS 2.2 billion from revenues from all taxes.

Further, those amounts don't include the expected revenues once the new market is fully reopened. The cannabis industry is expected to quickly product about 10,000 new jobs. The exportation of medical cannabis overseas alone is expected to result in NIS 2 billion per year in state revenues.

D.C.: Marijuana Officially Becomes Legal For Adults In Nation's Capital On Thursday

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Law approved by voters in November allows adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana in the Washington, D.C.

A voter-approved law making marijuana legal for adults in Washington, D.C. will officially take effect on Thursday, February 26, at 12:01 a.m. ET.

“This is a major milestone on the road to ending marijuana prohibition in the United States,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “This development in our nation’s capital embodies the broader movement taking place throughout the country.

“If the President can brew and drink beer in the White House, adults should be allowed to grow and consume a less harmful substance in their houses,” Capecchi said. “Alcohol is no longer the only authorized social lubricant in town. A safer alternative is legal for adults.”

Initiative 71, which was approved 70-30 by D.C. voters in November, allows adults 21 years of age or older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana; grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes (of which no more than three can be flowering at a time) and possess the yield of those plants in the location where it was grown; and transfer without payment (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to other adults 21 years of age or older.

It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public.

Vermont: House Bill Introduced To Regulate And Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol

ChrisPearson(VTHouse)

H. 277 mirrors the Senate bill, introduced last week, to establish a legal market for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older

State Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Vermont. Nine co-sponsors have signed on to H. 277, which mirrors S. 95, the Senate bill introduced last week by Sen. David Zuckerman (P-Chittenden).

“There is a lot of support among legislators and the public for ending marijuana prohibition in Vermont,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is part of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. “It is never too soon to replace a failed, antiquated policy with a more sensible, evidence-based approach.

"If it’s the right thing to do, the right time to do it is now,” Simon said.

H. 277 and S. 95 would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana; grow up to two flowering marijuana plants and seven non-flowering plants in a secure indoor location; and possess the marijuana yielded from those plants at the same location. It would remain illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive while impaired by marijuana.

Alaska: Wasilla Bans Pot Brownies; Says Smoking Weed Still Illegal If It Pisses Off The Neighbors

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Well, nobody can say the Wasilla City Council wasn't ready when marijuana legalization came along, no sir. Less than three hours before recreational cannabis became legal across the state, the council on Monday banned making pot brownies at home.

The city, known for its lax rules on everything from ATVs to big box stores, suddenly got all into restricting personal freedom and passed what for now look to be the strictest local laws covering recreational marijuana use in Alaska, reports Zaz Hollander at .

On a 4-2 vote, the council limited marijuana use within city limits to private proprty smoking, or consuming medibles if they were made outside Wasilla. Even smoking marijuana at home is still illegal, if it bothers the neighbors.

The new regulations ban making "edibles, concentrates or extracts" at home.

Within Wasilla, it's also now illegal to transport more than 2 ounces of cannabis inside one vehicle. State law allows up an an ounce per adult, but doesn't limit totals.

The new Wasilla regulations prohibition marijuana clubs and require that the use of cannabis "cease immediately" if other residents or neighbors are "disturbed." Wait, I thought they already took a vote on this?!

"This is a first step," claimed Stu Graham, the newest member on the city council who also proposed most of the regulations. "This is a building block."

West Virginia: Senate Leaders Introduce Medical Marijuana Bill

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Legislation would allow people with debilitating medical conditions to access and use medical marijuana without fear of arrest

West Virginia Sen. Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Ripley) on Monday introduced a bill that would allow state residents with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, to grow and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

The bill, known as SB 546, would establish a state-regulated system of medical marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to licensed patients. The legislation is cosponsored by Senate Minority Leader Jeffrey Kessler (D-Glen Dale) and Senate Majority Whip Daniel Hall (R-Oceana), has been introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources.

“Marijuana has proven effective in treating a number of serious medical conditions and is far safer than many currently prescribed medications,” said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “No one deserves to be treated like a criminal for using marijuana to treat a serious medical condition.

“West Virginians deserve the chance to use this medicine if their doctors think that it will help,” Simon said. “It's time to stop criminalizing patients for using a treatment option that can dramatically improve their quality of life.”

Maryland: House Committee Hearing Set For Tuesday On Bill To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

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House Judiciary Committee to consider bill at 1 p.m. that would make marijuana legal for adults, establish regulations for cultivation and sale

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing in the General Assembly on Tuesday, February 24, to consider a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Supporters of the bill, including representatives of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland, are expected to testify.

The hearing will take place in Room 101 of the House Office Building at 1 p.m. ET.

HB 911, the Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015, sponsored by Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City), would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes.

The bill requires the Maryland Comptroller to establish rules and regulations for the operation of cultivation facilities, product manufacturers, retailers, and safety compliance labs. It also creates an oversight commission to monitor marijuana businesses and advise the comptroller on regulatory issues.

WHAT: House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015 (HB 911)

WHEN: Tuesday, February 24, 1 p.m. ET

WHERE: Maryland House Office Building, Room 101, 6 Bladen St., Annapolis

WHO: Sara Love, ACLU of Maryland
Eric Blitz, Libertarian Party
Tim Lynch, Cato Institute

U.S.: Earl Blumenauer, Jared Polis Introduce Bills To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

JaredPolisEarlBlumenauerFederalLegalization

U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) on Friday introduced two bills that together would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level.

Representative Blumenauer’s legislation, H.R. 1014, the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015, creates a federal excise tax on non-medical marijuana sales and moves this quickly growing industry out of the shadows. Representative Polis’s legislation, H.R. 1013, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, removes marijuana from the schedule set by the Controlled Substances Act; transitions marijuana oversight from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and regulates marijuana like alcohol by inserting into the section of the U.S. Code governing “intoxicating liquors.”

More than 213 million people live in a state or jurisdiction that allows some form of legal use of marijuana. Twenty-three states currently allow for medical marijuana, while four states -- Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska--and the District of Columbia recently legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana. Eleven additional states have passed laws allowing the use of low-THC forms of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions.

Colorado: MPP Calls For Boycott of Holiday Inn After Hotel Operator Files Federal Lawsuit To Shut Down Marijuana Legalization

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Suit filed Thursday by New Vision Hotels Two, LLC claims its Frisco Holiday Inn location — which sells alcohol, a more harmful substance than marijuana — would lose business if a state-licensed marijuana retail store opens across the street

If you enjoy legal cannabis, you may want to avoid giving your business to Holiday Inn.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on Friday called for a nationwide boycott of Holiday Inn after a hotel operator in Colorado filed a federal lawsuit intended to shut down the state’s marijuana regulatory system.

New Vision Hotels Two, LLC is the primary plaintiff in a suit filed Thursday that claims its Frisco Holiday Inn location would lose business if a state-licensed marijuana retail store opens nearby. The operators of the hotel, which sells alcohol — a more harmful substance than marijuana — on its premises, say the presence of a marijuana business will hurt the hotel’s image and deter visitors.

In messages to its approximately 200,000 email subscribers and 414,000 combined followers on Facebook and Twitter, MPP urged supporters of legalizing and regulating marijuana to stop staying at Holiday Inn hotels until the lawsuit is dropped. It also launched a Change.org petition targeting New Vision Hotels and Holiday Inn’s parent company, InterContinental Hotels Group.

The petition is online at http://chn.ge/1w4Fqls.

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