By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana advocates are fighting proposed changes to Michigan's driving laws that would allow police to check a driver's saliva for the presence of drugs during a traffic stop.
The Michigan House Judiciary Committee on Thursday heard testimony on a three-bill package of legislation concerning "drugged driving" and make driving under the influence of a controlled substance subject to the same testing as drunk driving, reports Brian Smith at MLive.com.
Michigan law already allows for blood, breath and urine testing for driving impairment. House Bill 53895 would add saliva testing through a mouth swab. The Los Angeles Police Department are already using saliva tests at DUI checkpoints in a pilot program.
The changes would "put a new tool in our toolbox" for dealing with impaired driving, Sgt. Dwayne Gill, legislative liaison for the Michigan State Police, told the House panel. Sgt. Gill claimed the cops wouldn't immediately use the tests until the science behind them was proven.
"It's forward-thinking," Gill claimed. "These tests have not been proven to be reliable in Michigan yet, but we are looking to have pilot testing in the future on some of these tests."
But medical marijuana advocates told legislators they are worried about saliva testing because of questions surrounding the accuracy of the tests.
By Steve Elliott
The campaign manager of Florida's medical marijuana ballot drive has expressed outrage after a woman last week was abruptly visited by Child Protective Services on an anonymous tip that she had been giving marijuana to her son, who suffers from a rare form of severe epilepsy.
Renee Petro, the advocate in question, wasn't administering any cannabis to her 12-year-old son, Branden, reports Chris Joseph at Broward Palm Beach New Times. But that didn't stop CPS agents coming into her home to interrogate Petro's 9-year-old daughter and the nurse who helps take care of Branden.
"This is exactly why Floridians need teo pass Amendment 2 in November," said Ben Pollara, campaign manager with United For Care, the main organization backing the ballot initiative. "And why we need everyone's support to get word out about stories like Renee's and her family's."
Petro gives Branden his prescribed medications, as well as legal hemp oil. Since she hadn't actually broken the law, her experience could be considered even more egregious than that of Cathy Jordan, the wheelchair-bound activist with Lou Gehrig's disease who was raided by police after a tip last year when a neighbor spotted some marijuana plants on the property of Jordan and her husband Robert. (Jordan's charges were dropped by the State Attorney's office in Manatee in April 2013.)
Legislators, Former Police Officers, and Health and Legal Experts Voice Support for Bill That Would Regulate and Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol
State legislators, former police officers, and health and legal experts joined representatives of several organizations at a Wednesday news conference to voice their support for a bill that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol in Rhode Island. The House Committee on Judiciary was scheduled to hold a hearing on the measure later Wednesday.
Speakers at the event included the bill's sponsor, Rep. Edith Ajello (D-Providence); Dr. David Lewis, founder of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University; Professor Andy Horwitz, director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Roger Williams University School of Law; and Beth Comery, a former Providence police officer.
A bipartisan group of 29 sponsors, including House Minority Leader Rep. Brian Newberry (R-North Smithfield), is supporting H 7506, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act. The bill 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.
By Steve Elliott
Support among New Jersey residents for decriminalizing marijuana is higher than ever before, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released on Tuesday.
An overwhelming majority, about 66 percent, of residents believe penalties for marijuana use should be reduced, according to the poll. That number is up from 58 percent in 2011 and 40 percent in 1972, reports Andrew George at NJ Biz. Sixty-five percent said penalties should be eliminated altogether.
Twenty-nine percent of residents said they oppose marijuana decrim.
Outright legalization of marijuana is supported by 49 percent, with 48 percent opposed.
Back in 1972, just 34 percent of adults wanted to get rid of penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana, while 56 percent did not, reports Matt Friedman at The Star-Ledger.
The poll comes about a month after state Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) introduced a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol in New Jersey.
Bill That Would Regulate and Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol
The Rhode Island House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.
Rep. Edith Ajello will join supporters of the measure at a pre-hearing news conference at 3 p.m. ET in Room 101 of the Rhode Island State House. Attendees will include Dr. David Lewis, founder of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University; Professor Andy Horwitz, director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Roger Williams University School of Law; and Beth Comery, a former Providence police officer.
H 7506 would allow adults 21 and older to possess of up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space, and establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities. It would also:
• Enact wholesale excise taxes of up to $50 per ounce of flowers and $10 per ounce of leaves applied at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store;
• Enact a 10 percent sales tax at the point of retail sales; and
• Require the Department of Business Regulation to establish rules regulating security, labeling, health and safety requirements.
WHAT: News conference prior to Rhode Island House Committee on Judiciary hearing on H 7506, which would regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol
By Steve Elliott
Florida is the nation's largest swing-state politically, and Democrats there see the medical marijuana amendment on this year's ballot as a source of hope and high voter turnout in November's elections.
A constitutional amendment which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida, making it the first state in South to do so, has widespread public support, reports Michael J. Mishak of The Associated Press. The measure is particularly popular among young voters, a critical part of the Democratic coalition.
"I wish that it didn't take medical marijuana on the ballot to motivate our young voters to go and vote, because there's far too much at stake for them and their children," said Ana Cruz, former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. "But listen -- we'll take it any way we can get it."
The Florida Governor's mansion is up for grabs, as are a handful of competitive House seats. Florida could be a test case for whether increases in youth turnout in Washington and Colorado in 2012 -- when marijuana legalization initiatives were on the ballot -- was an anomaly, or part of a trend.
Activists plan to launch at least half-a-dozen legalization campaigns in battleground states in 2016.
"It's a smart move on Democrats' part, said Colorado-based Republican pollster David Flaherty. "It's going to help them, no doubt about it."
Maryland: 2 In 1 Day - 21st State To Allow Medical Marijuana, 18th State To Decriminalize PossessionSubmitted by steveelliott on Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:43
Gov. Martin O’Malley signs SB 923/HB 881, which would allow patients with serious illnesses to access medical marijuana; he will also sign SB 364 Monday, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense
Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill into law Monday making Maryland the 21st state in the nation to allow medical marijuana. He will also sign a bill Monday making Maryland the 18th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
“We applaud Gov. O’Malley for signing these important bills into law,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The progress we’re seeing in Maryland is emblematic of what is taking place nationwide. Most Marylanders, like most Americans, are fed up with outdated marijuana prohibition policies and ready to start taking a more sensible approach.”
Senate Bill 923 and House Bill 881 are identical bills that allow state residents suffering from certain qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Possession limits and regulations governing cultivation and dispensary facilities will be determined by a state-sanctioned commission prior to implementation. The measure will officially go into effect on June 1.
By Steve Elliott
A bill which would allow epilepsy patients to use non-psychoactive CBD marijuana extracts to control seizures passed in the House General Laws Committee with a unanimous 11-0 vote on Tuesday.
The bill, called a "hemp bill" by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-Columbia), is intended to provide legal protection for people who find little help in conventional medicine, he said, reports Rudi Keller at the Columbia Tribune.
The bill allows adults or children with "intractable epilepsy" to get a cannabis extract which is high in non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main component responsible for the high, but which also has many medicinal benefits.
"This helps the children who need it the most and keeps out the outside influences out of the state of Missouri," said Jones, who chairs the committee and likes to say "out" a lot. "This is something that is very personal to me, and that is why I am doing it."
The cannabis oil must be 5 percent of more CBD and less than 0.3 percent THC, according to Jones' bill, which, according to many medical experts, will probably limit the effectiveness of the CBD. All of the dozens of cannabinoids found in marijuana work most effective in a synergistic fashion, potentiating each others' medical benefits in what Dr. Sanjay Gupta has called the "Entourage Effect."
By Steve Elliott
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Wednesday emphasized that he is against any effort to legalize marijuana in the state, weeks after a state senator introduced a bill that would make sale and possession of cannabis legal.
"I'm not going to do that on my watch," the GOP governor told a crowd of about 500 at Winston Churchill Elementary School, reports Brent Johnson at The Star-Ledger. "I'm just not. I don't think it's the right thing to do for our state."
State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) last month introduced a bill that would regulate the cultivation, possession and sale of recreational marijuana, providing new tax revenue for the state.
"It's time to update our archaic drug laws and get real about the detrimental effects they are having on the lives of residents in New Jersey," Scutari said.
A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll released on Wednesday showed that nearly 60 percent of New Jersey adults believe alcohol and tobacco are more risky than marijuana. But residents are still split on whether to legalize, with 48 percent in favor of allowing adults to buy small amounts, and 47 percent opposed.
Christie, who has his eye on the White House in 2016, has long said he is against relaxing the marijuana laws because that would "the wrong message" to kids.
President Obama, AG Holder, NY Gov. Cuomo, NYC Mayor DeBlasio and DPA’s Art Way to Speak at National Action Network (NAN) Convention April 9-14
Convention to Address Major Civil Rights Issues, Including the Failed Drug War and Mass Incarceration
President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio will all join Reverend Al Sharpton at his National Action Network’s annual national convention being held April 9-12 in New York, NY.
The conference is being billed as the largest civil rights convening of the year bringing the nation’s top activists, political strategists and leading academia together to create an action plan for a civil rights agenda. Participants will address key policy issues such as jobs, voter ID and immigration; which will be key in this midterm election year.
The conference is also focusing on the failed drug war and mass incarceration. A panel called “Up in Smoke: Banning of Menthol, Legalization of Marijuana & Criminalization of African Americans” will address racial justice and the war on drugs.
"We are at a critical point where momentum to end the drug war and mass incarceration is gaining traction,” said Art Way, Senior Policy Manager, Colorado, of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It's not time to let up, it's time to ramp up."
By Steve Elliott
The South Carolina Democratic Party will ask voters on the June primary ballot whether they support legalizing medical marijuana, in a non-binding referendum. Party leaders made the announcement to push a medical marijuana bill currently in the Legislature.
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Richland), who is sponsoring a medical marijuana bill in the Legislature, said state Democrats are putting the question on the ballot so the Republicans who control the State House can see for themselves what voters think of the issue, reports Seanna Adcox at the Associated Press.
Rutherford said patients who are authorized by a physician as suffering debilitating illnesses such as cancer and glaucoma should be able to use cannabis medicinally.
"While this may be the first year we are talking about medical marijuana in South Carolina, we are lagging behind the rest of the nation," Rutherford said during a Wednesday news conference, reports Cassie Cope at The State.
The advisory question on medical marijuana is one of five asked on South Carolina's Republican and Democratic primary ballots on June 10. Two others on the Democratic ballot have to do with gambling.
Republican voters, meanwhile, will be asked about abortion and eliminating the state income tax.
Two cannabis legalization measures in Oregon are gathering signatures around the state. Initiative Petitions 21 and 22, the Oregon Cannabis Amendment and The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, are in the race for the July 3 signature deadline. Initiative 21 would end criminal penalties for cannabis, while Initiative 22 regulates and taxes cannabis, including hemp for industrial and agricultural uses.
"The people of Oregon stand with Initiatives 21 and 22 and they demonstrate this by getting involved," said campaign director Jersey Deutsch of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH). "This is because our legislation puts an end to cannabis prohibition, ensuring no one in Oregon will be criminalized for cannabis again."
Currently CRRH has more than 20 staff members, 3,000 volunteers, and 6,000 independent Oregon donors, making them second only to Oregon United for Marriage with the largest volunteer campaign in the state.
"Volunteers join our campaign because they believe we must put an end to prohibition and criminalization, while ensuring citizens of all ages are free of cannabis related felonies," Deutsch said. "CRRH will continue the fight to end cannabis prohibition by mobilizing Oregon supporters, educating community members, fighting for patients, training and empowering volunteers, growing the campaign, and pushing legislation forward."
Sign the Petitions: I-21 and I-22: http://cannabistaxact.org/sign-petition/
New Hampshire: Majority Of Granite State Adults Support Legalizing Marijuana, Regulating It Like AlcoholSubmitted by steveelliott on Wed, 04/09/2014 - 23:44
New Granite State Poll Shows Growing Majority of New Hampshire Adults Support Making Marijuana Legal and Regulating It Like Alcohol; Three Out of Five Support the Decriminalization Bill Currently Moving Through the State Legislature
UNH-WMUR survey finds 55% think marijuana possession should be legal — up from 53% in 2013 — and 61% support HB 1625, which would reduce the penalty for possession of limited amounts of marijuana to a $100 civil fine
The annual WMUR Granite State Poll released Wednesday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows a growing majority of New Hampshire adults support making marijuana legal and regulating it like alcohol.
The survey found 55 percent percent support making possession of small amounts of marijuana legal in New Hampshire — up from 53 percent in 2013 — and 67 percent approve of marijuana being sold in licensed retail outlets and taxed at levels similar to alcohol if marijuana possession becomes legal.
"Marijuana prohibition has been an ineffective and wasteful policy," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Voters are increasingly becoming fed up with it, and they're ready to replace it with a more sensible system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol."
Doctor, patients, and advocates will testify at Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing hearing on SF 1641, which would allow people with specific debilitating medical conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it
The Minnesota Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing will hold a public hearing and vote on Thursday on a bill that would provide legal access to medical marijuana for people with specific debilitating medical conditions. The hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. CT in Room 15 of the State Capitol.
Dr. Burak Gezen, a Chicago physician who specializes in geriatric and palliative medicine, will testify in support of the measure, along with several patients and their family members. Among them will be Angela Garin of St. Paul, whose son suffers from a rare seizure disorder, and Patrick McClellan, a Bloomington man with muscular dystrophy. Both are featured in television ads that began airing across Minnesota last week in support of the bill.
"Most Minnesota voters believe people suffering from debilitating conditions should have legal access to medical marijuana," said Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. "We hope that will be reflected in the votes of the committee members."
Despite Recent Pledge to Work with Congress, Refuses to Initiate Process to Reschedule Marijuana
Team Established to Review Nonviolent, Low-Level Drug Offender Candidates for Clemency
Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday appeared before the House Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing in which he stated that federal law does not always trump state law, declined to initiate the process to reschedule marijuana and reaffirmed his commitment to granting clemency to low-level nonviolent drug offenders with unduly harsh sentences.
Under questioning by Rep. Jason Smith (R-Missouri), who asked the Attorney General whether federal law trumps state law when the two are in conflict, Holder said that while federal law is supreme in many matters, it is “an interesting question” whether the federal government can force a state to criminalize a particular behavior.
“I am hopeful that as public opinion continues to shift in favor of marijuana reform, the White House will one day have the courage to take a larger role in the push to legalization,” said Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) Executive Director Major Neill Franklin (Ret.). "Until then, states remain the innovators, exercising their constitutionally protected police powers to lead the charge toward sensible change that at least the administration has the good sense to follow."