By Steve Elliott
Colorado Congressman Jared Polis on Friday gave a ringing endorsement to Measure 91, the ballot initiative which would legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon. Voters will decide the fate of the measure on Tuesday.
"The implementation of our new laws has gone smoothly overall, providing an excellent example for other states to follow," wrote Rep. Polis, who represents Colorado's Second Congressional District. "Our success has made it clear that when marijuana is regulated like alcohol, it can decrease crime, help fund schools and drug education programs, and keep money out of the hands of criminals and cartels.
"Voters in Oregon should look to our experience and success as they make their decision on Measure 91 on their ballot November 4th," Polis wrote in an op-ed which appeared in The Bend Bulletin on Friday.
"Violent crime is down in Denver," Polis wrote. "Fatal car crashes are in decline statewide. Marijuana arrests that mostly hindered low-income people and young men of color are no longer creating obstacles for employment, housing and education."
"I'm excited Oregon will soon decide whether to join Colorado and Washington in regulating marijuana like alcohol," Polis wrote. "More than ever, I believe it's time to change course on decades of failed marijuana prohibition and demonstrate viable, effective alternatives to address the realities of marijuana today."
Alaska and Oregon could make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it like alcohol; Washington, D.C. and two of Maine’s largest cities could make marijuana legal for adults; Florida could become 24th state to allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana
States, cities, and the nation’s capital will vote on marijuana policy ballot measures on Tuesday.
“From Alaska to Maine, there is a whole lot of enthusiasm for ending marijuana prohibition,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It’s not easy to overcome 80 years of prohibition and anti-marijuana propaganda. But public attitudes are clearly shifting on this issue, and it’s only a matter of time before that is reflected in laws nationwide.”
In Alaska and Oregon, voters are considering statewide ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. The initiatives — Ballot Measure 2 in Alaska and Measure 91 in Oregon — would remove all legal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older.
The measures would also establish a regulatory framework for licensed businesses to cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana to adults. If the initiatives are approved, Alaska and Oregon would be the third and fourth states to end marijuana prohibition.
By Steve Elliott
The Chilean government has granted permission to a nonprofit organization to grow 850 marijuana plants in a residential area of the capital city of Santiago.
The cannabis, which is being planted in La Florida, a district of the capital city, will be harvested next April and turned into oil which will be used as a painkiller for 200 cancer patients, reports Gideon Long at BBC News.
It's the first project of its kind with state backing anywhere in Latin American according to BBC. Much of the cannabis debate in the region has centered in Uruguay, which this year legalized marijuana, becoming the first nation in the world to do so.
In Chile, the authorities permit the use of cannabis only for medicinal purposes. "We don't want to get into a debate about the personal use of marijuana," said Mayor Rodolfo Carter of La Florida.
"Let's stick to the medical issue," Carter said. "This is about providing people who are suffering from cancer with a natural, healthier and cheaper treatment for their pain."
The local nonprofit Daya Foundation will oversee the project, which will be accompanied by a clinical study into the effectiveness of cannabis oil as a painkiller.
"Eventually, we want to make cannabis medicine available for everybody, even if they can't afford it," said Nicolas Dormal, cofounder of the foundation. "But for now, we will concentrate on these first 200 patients."
As the midterm election approaches, representatives of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) are hard at work educating voters about the need for drug policy reform in states with relevant initiatives on the ballot.
A pair of police chiefs, Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and sitting Police Chief Larry Kirk, are in Alaska, where voters are about to weigh in on an initiative to legalize, regulate and control marijuana (Measure 2). The two went to seven towns between them, from Anchorage to Kodiak, to educate voters on the public safety benefits of legalization.
In the meantime, a former prosecutor and a retired lieutenant sheriff are doing a similar tour of Oregon (Measure 91) and a former police officer and former Customs agent are speaking to Florida voters about medical marijuana (Amendment 2). These tours have included meetings with civic clubs, conversations with the media and debates with opponents.
Policy Experts and Advocates Testify in Favor of Directing Proceeds from Taxation to Communities Harmed by War on Drugs
Hearing Occurs Just Days Before Voters Decide on Marijuana Legalization at Ballot Box
D.C. Councilmembers Vincent Orange (D-At Large) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 3) on Thursday are holding a joint public hearing on legislation introduced in 2013 by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) that would establish a system which legalizes, taxes and regulates marijuana in the nation’s capital. Councilmember Orange chairs the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and Councilmember Evans chairs the Committee on Finance and Revenue.
The hearing specifically examined sections six through nine of the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013” (Council Bill #20-466), and took place Thursday at 11 a.m. in Room 500 of the D.C. Council Chambers located at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. in Washington, D.C. Advocates provided testimony in support of using the proceeds from legalization towards rebuilding the communities harmed by the war on drugs.
Six days to go: Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, former Multnomah County Sheriff Don Clark and former Denver Police Department Lt. Tony Ryan among the supporters of Measure 91
With only six days left before ballots are due, 30 law enforcement officials from across the western half of the United States have endorsed Oregon’s Measure 91 to regulate marijuana.
The endorsers include former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, former Multnomah County Sheriff Don Clark, former Denver Police Department Lt. Tony Ryan and Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Stephen Downing.
The Yes on 91 campaign announced their support as part of a press conference today featuring former U.S. Attorney Kris Olson; former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Bill Riggs; 30-year law enforcement veteran Paul Steigleder; and Partnership for Safety and Justice director Cassandra Villanueva.
“Marijuana prohibition has a disproportionate and disparate impact on people of color and youth -- fueling their existence and penetration in the criminal and justice systems,” Villanueva said. “It is not an effective use of taxpayer dollars or reflect the value of Oregonians.”
Minnesota: Seriously Ill Residents Excluded From State's Medical Marijuana Program Question CandidatesSubmitted by steveelliott on Wed, 10/29/2014 - 23:54
Patients Call on Gubernatorial Candidates to Tell Voters Whether They Support Expanding the Law
Patients, family members, and supporters to announce which candidates have signed a statement in support of expanding the law at a new conference Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the State Office Building
Seriously ill Minnesotans who have been denied access to the state’s limited medical marijuana program are calling on gubernatorial candidates to publicly state whether they support expanding the state’s medical marijuana law.
A group of patients, family members, and advocates will announce which candidates have signed the statement at a news conference on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CT in Room 181 of the State Office Building. They will also explain why Minnesota’s medical marijuana program must be expanded to include all of the medical conditions and methods of administering medical marijuana that were approved by a bipartisan majority of the Minnesota Senate but left out of the final legislation.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of Minnesotans suffering from truly debilitating conditions who will not be allowed to access medical marijuana under the new law,” said Patrick McClellan, a medical marijuana patient advocate. “Whoever is elected governor must be ready to work with the legislature to expand it to include all seriously ill Minnesotans who could benefit from medical marijuana.
"Voters deserve to know which candidates are committed to doing that,” McClellan said.
Historic Bipartisan Majority in Favor of Reforming U.S. Drug Laws and Letting States Set Their Own Marijuana Policies
Ideologically Diverse Representatives – From Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) – Named 2013-14 “Champions of Reform”
Drug Policy Action on Wednesday released the 2014 Drug Policy Reform Congressional Voter Guide, which grades members of Congress on how they voted on seven key drug policy reform votes in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013 and 2014.
The guide is designed not just to educate voters on which members of the U.S. House of Representatives support drug policy reform – but also to send a firm message to elected officials that they will be held accountable for supporting draconian policies that exacerbate the worst harms of the Drug War. Clear bipartisan support now exists both among the American public and in Congress for ending the Drug War and letting states set their own marijuana policies.
The voter guide examines historic votes on a wide range of issues, such as whether to bar the DEA from undermining state medical marijuana laws and whether to allow banks to accept deposits from marijuana businesses. The voter guide also summarizes decisive steps taken over the last two years by congressional lawmakers and officials in the Obama Administration toward advancing drug policy reform.
Council committees will hear testimony on provisions regarding licensing and regulations for cultivation facilities and adult retail marijuana stores, as well as a dedicated fund for marijuana business taxes and fees
The Washington, D.C. Council will hold a joint committee hearing Thursday on a bill that would make possession of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.
The Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance and Revenue will hear testimony regarding sections 6, 7, 8, and 9 of B20-466, the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013, which was introduced last year by Councilman David Grosso.
Those sections would amend District code to establish the regulatory infrastructure for the production and sale of marijuana and marijuana products in D.C. They would also create a dedicated fund, which would consist of excise taxes, license fees, and all other revenues received by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration from marijuana-related activities.
Crowdsourced Videos Feature Comedians and Actors Showing How Easy it is to Vote in Oregon and End Marijuana Prohibition
A new get-out-the-vote video campaign has been launched by Drug Policy Action, a related organization of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), an organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. The series of videos, entitled "In the Time It Takes,” show how easy it is to vote and to support Measure 91, a measure on the November ballot that would regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older.
In the videos, supporters of Measure 91, including actor Tate Donovan and comedian Rob Cantrell, demonstrate something that can be done in the same amount of time it takes to vote for measure 91 and mail a ballot in Oregon. From the mundane to the ridiculous, each “In the Time It Takes” video emphasizes the fact that it only takes a minute to fill out and mail a ballot. Drug Policy Alliance and the local Yes on 91 campaign are counting on this new initiative to rally younger voters to get out and vote.
By Steve Elliott
Three medical experts on Friday, Monday and Tuesday testified in federal court that the federal government's war on marijuana defies science, and is thus unconstitutional.
Decades of medical studies prove cannabis isn't the danger the government has claimed it is, the experts told a federal judge, reports David Downs at SF Gate.
The epochal cultivation trial, U.S. v. Schweder in the Eastern District of California, in which U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller is allowing a hearing on a defense motion to declare marijuana's Schedule I classification as unconstitutional, has national implications.
Defense witnesses Gregory Carter, M.D., and Carl Hart, Ph.D., testified in Sacramento on Friday, and Philip Denny, M.D., testified on Monday and Tuesday. Government witness Bertha Madras, Ph.D., a former deputy drug czar under President George W. Bush, argued in that marijuana isn't medicine.
Madras compared cannabis to heroin, saying that humans no longer smoke opium poppies for pain relief. But while more than 22,000 Americans will die from prescription drug overdoses this year, with opioid pills killing more than any other prescription, cannabis has no lethal overdose level and zero recorded deaths from overdose in history.
By Steve Elliott
Millions of dollars in state tax revenue would be generated if Alaska's voters decide in next week's election to legalize marijuana sales to adults, according to a comprehensive report released on Monday by the Marijuana Policy Group, made up of Colorado researchers and economic experts.
The first year of recreational cannabis sales in Alaska would generate about $7 million in state taxes, according to the group, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. Legal recreational sales of marijuana would account for about 22 percent of total demand in that first year, about four metric tons, according to the report.
"Previous studies incorrectly assume that all demand will quickly shift to regulated markets," the researchers noted. "In our experience, such assumptions are naive." That conclusion would certainly jibe with the legalization experience in Washington state, where scant supplies have driven prices past $30 a gram and have driven many consumers back to the black market.
"If retail prices increase significantly, then most heavy users will avoid this supply mode and buy marijuana from black or grey market sources as possible," the researchers wrote.
Adult Alaskans use nearly 18 metric tons of marijuana, according to the researchers, a demand which is now satisfied through the state's black market, as well as a network of medical marijuana caregivers and home cultivators.
By Steve Elliott
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) has said he plans to vote for Measure 91, which would legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon, which would make him the first sitting U.S. Senator to support legalization.
"I lean in support of it," Sen. Merkley told Talking Points Memo's Sahil Kapur last week. Reporter Jeff Mapes reported on Sen. Merkley's stance earlier this month, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.)
"I think folks on both sides of the argument make a good case," Merkley said. "And there is concern about a series of new products -- and we don't have a real track record from Colorado and Washington.
"But I feel on balance that we spend a lot of money on our criminal justice system in the wrong places and I lean in favor of this ballot measure," Merkley said.
A Merkley staffer said her boss had stopped short of officially endorsing the ballot initiative, reports Courtney Sherwood at Reuters. "The senator has not endorsed the ballot measure, but he has said he will vote for it," said Courtney Warner Crowell, Merkley's deputy communications director.
Mobile Billboard Highlights the Relative Safety of Marijuana Compared to Alcohol
Billboard satirizing ‘Reefer Madness’-style propaganda calls Question 2 ‘[a] safer marijuana policy for Lewiston’ because it would allow adults to use a substance that is ‘Less toxic! Less addictive! Less scary than ALCOHOL!’
Backers of the initiative to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older in Lewiston unveiled a Halloween-themed mobile billboard Tuesday that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.
The orange and black billboard, which will run through Halloween, satirizes “Reefer Madness”-style propaganda and calls Question 2 “[a] safer marijuana policy for Lewiston” because it would allow adults to make the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol, if that is what they prefer. It features a screaming face and reads, “MARIJUANA: LESS toxic! LESS addictive! LESS scary than ALCOHOL!”
Facts regarding the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol are available at http://www.MarijuanaIsSafer.org .
Question 2 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would remain illegal to use marijuana in public.
The measure also expresses support for ending marijuana prohibition in Maine and regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.
Anne Armstrong, Rhode Island’s Compassion Party’s write-in Gubernatorial candidate, seems almost like a normal Rhode Island mother, bustling about her living room, readying for a French TV News interview.
She speaks and dresses with unpretentious New England charm; you wouldn’t know just by looking at her that just last month, she was a viral video star, covered by CNN, AP, broadcast networks and Huffington Post. It’s hard to imagine that the woman gently mixing tiny doses of cannabis oil into a baking dish with coconut oil has an international cult following.
Armstrong on Tuesday gave hope to many of her followers who are in desperate life-or-death need of medical cannabis, by filing and serving a Constitutional complaint against Rhode Island’s cannabis ban and medical exemption restrictions. The candidate says those restrictions are catching the most gravely ill patients in chokepoints that threaten human life directly, while not even achieving any real purpose.
Ask Armstrong’s media outreach coordinator why he volunteers for her, and he points to the tiny dose of cannabis oil on the counter.
“See that stuff? Anne saved my friend’s life with that oil,” said activist Alan Gordon, who is also a plaintiff in the legal action along with unnamed female cancer patient "Jane Doe," who relies upon the cannabis oil to live. Gordon said Rhode Island law bans him from growing medical cannabis for patients in life-or-death need because he was once felonized for cultivation in Georgia.