By Steve Elliott
An opposition campaign to Oregon's Measure 91 marijuana legalization initiative is taking shape -- and it's being funded with taxpayer money.
You'd think voting on a public policy initiative wouldn't require tax money to advocate one side or the other; after all, the voters are supposed to be able to decide for themselves on questions like cannabis legalization, without having to fund the "no" sign of things. But a taxpayer-funded tour will usher notorious anti-pot zealot Kevin Sabet on a 13-city tour around the state, reports Kate Willson at Willamette Week.
Sabet, on his taxpayer-funded tour, will be spreading ridiculous "reefer madness" myths and outright lies about cannabis around Oregon. Do you feel as if you're getting your money's worth, Oregon taxpayers?
A recent poll showed eight of 10 Oregonians believe it's a matter of when, not if, marijuana is legalized. Many of them believe that will happen on November 4, when pot legalization initiative Measure 91 appears on the ballot.
Measure 91 enjoys support from donors and middle-of-the-road endorsements, including from a retired Oregon Supreme Court judge and the City Club of Portland; it's similar to measures that voters in Colorado and Washington approved two years ago. New Approach Oregon, the pro-Measure 91 campaign, has already spent $1.1 million, and the group announced this week it'll be spending an additional $2.3 million on TV ads.
The economic impact of legalizing marijuana in Oregon is difficult to estimate because the potential market will depend in large part on what kind of policies would be adopted if a proposed ballot measure passes in November, according to an Oregon State University sociologist who studies the issue.
“Marijuana is already a serious economic force in Oregon,” said Seth Crawford, an expert on the policies and market structure of marijuana in Oregon. “When you consider the proposed excise tax and additional revenue from income taxes, it could become a sizeable income stream for the state.”
Oregon voters will decide in November whether to legalize recreational marijuana production and use. Policymakers are trying to determine the economic impact of legalizing marijuana and Crawford’s research was recently cited in an economic report commissioned by backers of the ballot initiative, as well as by the state legislative revenue office.
If marijuana is legalized in Oregon, the state could net anywhere from $35 million to $105 million in new tax revenue per year, Crawford estimated in research published earlier this year in the Humboldt Journal of Social Relations.
Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries Jeremy Rockliff has been exposed for misleading the public over the extent of poppy industry concerns about a medicinal cannabis trial and potential industry in Tasmania, Greens Health spokesperson, Cassy O’Connor MP, said on Wednesday.
“When Mr Rockliff came out on 3rd of July this year in support of the Health Minister’s rejection of a medicinal cannabis trial in Tasmania, he cited concerns expressed by the poppy industry as a reason for the trial’s rejection,” O’Connor said. “We now know, as a result of Right to Information requests of three government agencies, that Mr Rockliff was misrepresenting the industry and using a fallacious argument to support the Health Minister’s unpopular and poorly argued rejection of a medical cannabis trial in Tasmania.”
“Since then, a number of poppy industry leaders -– including Mr Rockliff’s own father -– have stated that they can see no conflict between the existing world class Tasmanian poppy industry and medicinal cannabis in Tasmania, and indeed that there is enormous potential for Tasmania to establish a medicinal cannabis industry building on that strong reputation,” O'Connor said.
“The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has expressed a similar view," O'Connor said. "They can see no issue for the established poppy industry in Tasmania but do see the potential medicinal cannabis has as a regulated crop for Tasmanian farmers.
Similar proposals are also likely to appear on ballots in Lewiston and York
The South Portland City Council on Monday voted unanimously to place a measure on the November ballot that would make private marijuana possession legal for adults within city limits.
Citizens for a Safer Maine collected more than 1,500 signatures to get the measure in front of the council, which had the options of adopting it or placing it on the ballot. Just 959 valid signatures of registered city voters were required. A similar measure has qualified for the ballot in Lewiston, and Citizens for a Safer Maine is in the process of collecting the final signatures needed to place one on the ballot in York.
The South Portland initiative would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to privately possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It would remain illegal to consume or display marijuana in public. The measure also includes a statement in support of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.
“Voters will have the chance to take a bite out of marijuana prohibition in South Portland this November,” said Marijuana Policy Project Maine political director David Boyer. “This is a great opportunity to have an open and honest public dialogue about this important issue. In particular, we hope to continue the conversation about the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.
Oregon's leading drug addiction expert kicks off $2.3 million marijuana ad campaign
Largest ad buy so far for 2014 Oregon ballot measures
Oregon's leading drug addiction expert appears on Monday in the first TV spot in a $2.3 million advertising campaign to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older.
The advertising buy made by the Yes on 91 campaign is the largest so far for a 2014 Oregon ballot measure.
The first TV advertisement features Richard Harris. As the former director of Addictions and Mental Health Services for the state of Oregon, he held the highest position in the state for directing drug treatment and addiction programs. He is volunteering with the campaign.
The ad, in which Harris calls marijuana "a pretty benign drug," will run on television stations throughout Oregon. The Yes on 91 campaign also has several ads running on pre-roll online. (You can view the Harris ad, which is on YouTube, at the bottom of this article.)
"Criminalizing marijuana ruins lives and wastes resources," Harris said. "Instead of sending people to jail and turning them into hardened criminals, we should treat marijuana as a public health issue and create a system that raises money for prevention programs and mental health programs.
"Right now, there is no state appropriated money in Oregon for drug and alcohol prevention programs, including for marijuana, but Measure 91 would change that," Harris said.
First Time in New Mexico History People will Vote on Marijuana Reform
The Santa Fe City Clerk on Monday announced the Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the city's citizen initiative process setting the stage to give voters in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a vote on reducing marijuana penalties.
The Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign, headed by Drug Policy Action and ProgressNow NM, submitted close to 11,000 signatures in 52 days, more than twice the number needed to qualify for the ballot. The initiative now goes before the City Council where the governing body has two options, vote for the ordinance change outright or send the initiative to the people for a vote.
Not only will this be the first time in history that New Mexico's voters will cast their ballots on reforming marijuana laws, it is the first time that the people of Santa Fe brought forth an issue via the City’s citizen initiative process. The Santa Fe city charter permits voters to petition their government for changes to city ordinances, including those relating to marijuana.
The South Portland City Council will consider a citizen-initiated measure at its meeting Monday night that would make private marijuana possession legal for adults. The council can enact the proposed law or place it on the ballot.
Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted more than 1,500 signatures to place the measure in front of the council. Just 959 valid signatures of registered city voters were required.
Citizens for a Safer Maine qualified a similar measure for the ballot in Lewiston, and it is in the process of collecting the final signatures needed to place one on the ballot in York.
The initiative would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It would remain illegal to consume or display marijuana in public.
The measure also includes a statement in support of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.
“This is a common-sense proposal,” said Marijuana Policy Project Maine political director David Boyer. “Adults who are of legal age to use alcohol should not be punished simply for consuming a far less harmful substance.
"We hope the council members will agree law enforcement officials’ time and resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes,” Boyer said.
WHAT: South Portland City Council hearing on a citizen-initiated measure that would make private marijuana possession legal for adults
WHEN: Monday, August 18, 7 p.m. ET
WHERE: South Portland City Hall, 25 Cottage Rd., South Portland
By Steve Elliott
Canada's ban on medical marijuana edibles and body creams is unconstitutional, a B.C. Court of Appeal judge ruled on Thursday.
The judge instructed Parliament to recraft the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act to allow medicinal cannabis patients to use products made from cannabis extracts, including creams, salves, oils, brownies, cakes, cookies and chocolate bars, reports CBC News.
The court challenge came from the case of Owen Smith, who was charged with marijuana trafficking for baking cannabis cookies and producing topical cannabis creams for a Victoria medical marijuana club in 2009.
Smith was caught baking more than 200 marijuana cookies for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, and had a supply of cannabis-infused cooking oils and some dried marijuana in his apartment when he was arrested.
He was acquitted in April; 2012 after the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Canada's medical marijuana regulations were unconstitutional, because patients were denied access to edible products and other derivatives.
Supreme Court Justice Robert Johnston ruled that allowing dried cannabis flowers alone was arbitrary, and did little to further any legitimate state interest.
Health Canada currently allows patients suffering from debilitating illnesses to access dried marijuana flowers for medicinal purposes. They can get the cannabis through Health Canada-approved growers, or can get permission to grow it themselves.
By Steve Elliott
It was a short-lived triumph. The approval of medical marijuana that had been granted by Norfolk Island's government was overturned on Thursday by the Australian Commonwealth.
The island's administrator, former Liberal MP Gary Hardgrave, vetoed the decision made by Norfolk Island authorities, reports Sam Ikin at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Hardgrave said the license issued to THC under section 7A of the Dangerous Drugs Act's 1997 provision, which was included for the purpose of establishing an industrial hemp industry on Norfolk Islasnd. "There is no reasonable prospect of a hemp industry being established on Norfolk Island in the near future and Tascann's proposal to cultivate cannabis for medical treatments is fundamentally different to, and inconsistent with, that purpose," Hardgrave said in a prepared statement.
The Australian Government has a range of obligations under international law regarding the cultivation and trade of illicit drugs," Hardgrave said. "The licence issued to Tascann may not adequately address these obligations and it was issued without consulting the relevant federal authorities."
"This smacks of U.S. meddling and is a further instance of monopoly medical marijuana with GW being the only provider globally," Mark Heinrich of Australia told Hemp News early Thursday. "In Australia we believe Novartis has been meddling and lobbying the Feds to force this outcome."
By Steve Elliott
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin on Wednesday announced she wants to work with lawmakers in the next session of the Legislature to legalize cannabidiol oil (CBD) on a limited, medically supervised, trial-only basis.
CBD is a component of the marijuana plant; unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it does not produce a high. The compound has shown effectiveness in quelling seizures in toddlers with epilepsy and other conditions. The CBD oil isn't smoked; it is not considered a recreational drug.
"I do not support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana," Fallin said, reports Laura Noland at KFOR-TV. "Nor do I support a broadly defined 'medicinal' marijuana use that makes it easy for healthy adults and teenagers to find and buy drugs."
"I do support allowing potentially life-saving medicine to find its way to children in need," the Republican Governor said. "I am very interested in allowing limited, heavily supervised use of non-intoxicating CBD to be delivered on a trial basis to sick children in Oklahoma."
Rep. Jon Echols is preparing to lead a legislative study of allowing medical trials for CBD in treating children affected by severe seizures. Echols said he decided to take on the issue when his niece was told CBD may help with her medical condition.
By Steve Elliott
Despite falling 47 signatures short of getting a marijuana decriminalization petition on the ballot in Wichita, Kansas, supporters aren't giving up.
Interim City Attorney Sharon Dickgrafe on Tuesday told the Wichita City Council that it could not legally put the issue on the ballot as a ballot petition, but the council then voted for city staff to work with the marijuana petitioners to address the language of a ballot petition that could be carried for a signature election, probably for a vote next spring when city elections are held, reports Kelsey Ryan at The Wichita Eagle.
But supporters also plan to fight the Wichita elections office on the signature count done last week during the primaries, and still hold the goal to meet the county deadline later this month to get the issue on the November ballot.
Initiative leader Esau Freeman said there have been concerns over two missing pages of signatures that were turned over to the county, with 2,928 valid voter signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot.
At least one of the missing pages contained the signature of his wife, Freeman said. He said petition gatherers weren't allowed to observe the counting, which was done by the Sedgwick County elections office.
"[Kansas Secretary of State] Kris Kobach says we have open and fair elections, but I think the first case of voter fraud has been perpetrated by the Sedgwick County election office," Freeman said.
By Steve Elliott
A 48-year-old woman in Chile has become the first legal medicinal cannabis patient in Latin America after being granted special permission by the Institute for Public Health due to having both systemic lupus and breast cancer.
"I feel like I am burning up inside," Cecilia Hayder said, reports NBC News. "Everything hurts. I don't have the strength to take a step, and I often have to use a wheelchair. My body rejects opiates so cannabis is the only thing that works for me."
Heyder, a mother of two, will be treated with Sativex, extracted from cannabis, with equal amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Sativex isn't considered to be psychoactive, as the CBD mediates the effects of the THC. Although she's already permitted to take Sativex, a new law will have to be rushed through Chile's Congress to allow the public health system to pay for it.
That process will take at least two more months; with Sativex costing more than $3,000 monthly, Heyder simply cannot afford the stuff without government help.
"I am very happy and grateful to the parliamentarians, she said. "But I don't see why my case had to become so emblematic for this to change. Too many people have suffered because of this taboo."
Citizens for a Safer Maine on Friday will submit its final batch of petitions in support of a citizen initiative to make private marijuana possession legal for adults 21 years of age and older within Lewiston city limits.
The group has collected more than 1,250 total signatures, and just 859 valid signatures of registered city voters are needed to qualify for the ballot. The city clerk has 10 days to certify the petition. Then it must submit it to the city council for consideration at its next regular meeting, at which time council members can enact the measure or refer it to city voters.
“I hope council members will join us in supporting this commonsense measure,” said David Boyer, spokesperson for Citizens for a Safer Maine and Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “If they don’t enact the measure, it should be placed on the November ballot for Lewiston voters to decide.”
Citizens for a Safer Maine has qualified a similar measure for the ballot in South Portland, and it is in the process of collecting the final signatures needed to place one on the ballot in York.
“Law enforcement officials have better things to do than punish adults for using a less harmful substance than alcohol,” said Boyer. “If the council or voters approve this measure, we expect police to respect the decision.
"Police can refrain from citing adults they find in possession of marijuana, just as they can refrain from citing someone they find driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit,” Boyer said.
Drug Policy Alliance Kicks Off “Legalization Ends Discrimination” Campaign
Campaign Sets Stage for Washington DC to be First Jurisdiction to Legalize Marijuana in Racial Justice Context
The Washington, DC Board of Elections on Wednesday ruled that Initiative 71, an measure reforming DC’s marijuana laws, has enough valid signatures in order to qualify for the November ballot. One month ago, the DC Cannabis Campaign submitted 57,000 signatures, more than twice the number needed to qualify for the ballot.
According to an ACLU report released last year, Washington, DC has the highest arrest rate for marijuana possession in the country, with blacks more than 8 times as likely as white to be arrested, despite similar rates of use.
“It is clear from the number of signatures the campaign was able to submit that citizens want a major change in DC’s marijuana laws,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, DC policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The policies of prohibition in the District have been borne on the backs of people of color for decades; District residents can put an end to this discrimination.”
By Steve Elliott
A panel of marijuana producers and industry watchdogs started work on Friday to figure out how to make edible cannabis products more identifiable to children even when removed from packaging -- a challenge some edible pot makers say can't be achieved.
Colorado currently requires edible marijuana to be sold in child-safe packages which note that the contents contain marijuana, that the product can make consumers sick, and that it shouldn't be consumed before driving, reports Kristen Wyatt at The Associated Press.
But the Colorado Legislature tightened the rules earlier this year after reports of children accidentally ingesting marijuana treats. Lawmakers passed around platters of chocolate chip cookies, noting with alarm that those infused with marijuana looked just like regular cookies.
"We've heard so many stories of people consuming marijuana not knowing it was marijuana," claimed Rachel O'Bryan, an attorney and leader of Smart Colorado, an anti-marijuana group. "Without a stamp or clearly visible difference, these products are deceptive."
Edibles makers said they aren't trying to fool anybody, but that actually requiring the products themselves not to look like other foods is taking it too far.
"It works for some products, but others, it's going to be extremely hard and more than likely impracticable," said Julie Berliner, owner of SweetGrass Kitchens, which makes cannabis cookies.