Supermajority Support From Democrats & Republicans in Iowa & New Hampshire
New polling data reveals that voters in early presidential primary states overwhelmingly support ending federal prosecutions of people acting in accordance with state marijuana laws.
Among respondents, 71 percent in Iowa and 73 percent in New Hampshire agree that "states should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference." Just 13 percent of Iowans and 15 percent of New Hampshirites think that "the federal government should arrest and prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws."
"Politicians running to become our next president should take note of just how uniformly voters in these key states want to end federal marijuana prohibition," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, which commissioned the poll. "Candidates who say they would send in the DEA to shut down legal, taxpaying marijuana businesses are effectively announcing that they're out of the mainstream and out of touch with the voters they need support from in order to get elected.
"That type of rhetoric is just not going to score any points in 2016," Angell said.
The new data shows that support for letting states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference is especially high among Democrats and independents in both states, although there is at least 60 percent support across all demographics, including Republicans, 2012 Mitt Romney voters, people older than 65 and those who identify as very conservative.
It took a year to happen, but on Sunday, August 16, history was made as the Brownie Mary Democrats of California received by unanimous vote of the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party, their statewide organizational charter.
"BMDC now joins only four chartered statewide organizations in representing the interests of its members to the Democratic Party," said Lanny Swerdlow, RN, president of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Riverside County.
"I would like to thank all of you who took a minute and sent the California Democratic Party an email of support for the BMDC application," Swerdlow said. "Although there was no opposition of any kind to the application, the 66 supporting emails were duly noted and indicated to the Party the widespread support for marijuana law reform and for the Democratic Party to take a leading role in bringing marijuana prohibition to an end.
"Not only was there no opposition, but when approval of the application for the Brownie Mary Democrats of California was announced as part of the consent calendar, hundreds of people gave it a spontaneous round of applause which they had not really done for much of anything else that was announced as part of the consent calendar," Swerdlow said. "It seems Democrats like marijuana or at least ending marijuana prohibition.
By Steve Elliott
The National Conference of State Legislatures on Thursday passed a resolution demanding that federal laws "be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies."
For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75 percent of the states represented at the conference's general business meeting.
The preamble to the resolution, introduced by New Hampshire State Rep. Renny Cushing, notes that “states are increasingly serving as laboratories for democracy by adopting a variety of policies regarding marijuana and hemp,” and it highlights the fact that “the federal government cannot force a state to criminalize cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana or hemp — whether for medical, recreational, industrial, or other uses — because doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.”
The resolution states:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures believes that federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference and urges the administration not to undermine state marijuana and hemp policies.
By Steve Elliott
A 26-year-old Georgia man was arrested Friday after police found a pound of marijuana during a traffic stop. Richard Relliford was unable to convince the cops that he was just heading home planning to salad, according to a Facebook post from the St. Mary's Police Department.
The police Facebooked a photo of the marijuana in a sandwich bag with a message:
"Look, If we have said it once, we have said a zillion times! No matter how hard you try to convince us this green leafy stuff is salad and you're just coming back from the store going to make a chef salad, Well Sous Chef UP! A SALAD THIS IS NOT!!!"
"Officers encountered Richard Relliford during a traffic stop, a 26 year old St. Marys resident, who had recently obtained this 1 pound bag of marijuana. He went to jail, as this is still illegal in Georgia!!!"
"Stay Safe Out There---Criminals Are A-FOOT!!" the Facebook post read.
The post generated more than 140 Likes and sparked a conversation about drug reform in the comments section.
"And I was going to offer up some ranch dressing!" commented Facebook user Lisa Toal. "Too funny!"
"Normal bag of cabbage?" chimed in Richard Ghiloni. "No says I."
Head of the Drug Enforcement Administration Says 'I'm Not An Expert'
By Steve Elliott
It's progress -- of a sort.
The new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration admitted on Tuesday that heroin "probably" is more dangerous than marijuana, an admission his predecessor, the embattled Michele Leonhart, would not make, reports Steven Nelson at U.S. News.
Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said federal DEA agents aren't prioritizing marijuana enforcement, but he's not ordered them off it.
"If you want me to say that marijuana's not dangerous, I'm not going to say that because I think it is," Rosenberg claimed. "Do I think it's as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I'm not an expert."
"Let me say it this way," he added. "I'd rather be in a car accident going 30 miles an hour than 60 miles an hour, but I'd prefer not to be in an accident at all."
Rosenberg's predecessor, Leonhart, claimed comparisons of marijuana to crack cocaine or heroin would be "subjective" and claimed cannabis is an "insidious" drug.
"This is not a matter of opinion," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "It's far less harmful than heroin and it's encouraging that the DEA is finally willing to recognize that."
Senator Chuck Schumer Joins NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in Sponsoring the CARERS Act, a Bill that Would End Federal Prohibition of Medical Marijuana
New York Patients and Families Applaud Schumer for His Support
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday added his name to the Senate’s sweeping medical marijuana bill. The CARERS Act, introduced in March by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Rand Paul (R-KY), would end federal prohibition of medical marijuana, and remove barriers for research, veterans, and banking.
The move comes just days before New York State is expected to announce the names of five companies that will be allowed to produce medical marijuana in New York. New York’s medical marijuana program is expected to become fully operational in January 2016.
New York patients expressed their gratitude for Senator Schumer’s support.
“Chuck Schumer sided with patients and their families yesterday when he agreed to co-sponsor the CARERS Act,” said Kate Hintz of North Salem, N.Y., whose daughter Morgan suffers from a severe seizure disorder. “I’m proud to be from a state where both Senators – Gillibrand and Schumer – have recognized the importance of medical marijuana.
"Families, like mine, should be able to use medical marijuana when a doctor recommends it without having to worry about federal interference," Hintz said. "I hope the rest of our leaders in Washington will follow the lead of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, act quickly to pass the CARERS Act, and help relieve patient suffering.”
Public Service Ads By Award-Winning Creative Audio/Music House Designed to Educate the Public and Reform Harsh Sentencing Laws
After witnessing first hand the effects of the nation’s draconian marijuana laws, Howard Bowler, president of the award-winning audio post/music production company HOBO, is responding the only way he knows how -- through the power of sound. The company is launching a TV, radio and Internet public service campaign targeting states where measures to legalize marijuana are on the ballot.
HOBO’s creative team wrote and produced the ads that are available for free to any broadcast outlet and organization interested in this issue. All of the spots can be customized for local markets. Several regional radio spots have already been produced with input from the organization Regulate Rhode Island.
Click here to check out one of the radio spots entitled: "Master-Peace Theater.”
“The more I learned about the origin of prohibition, the more I realized these laws have a complex political history, are not based on science or health and yet their social impact is huge,” Bowler said. “Last year alone 700,000 people were arrested on marijuana related charges. That’s more than for all violent crimes combined.
By Steve Elliott
A proposal to legalize the recreational use of cannabis has been introduced in the Italian parliament, and has gained the support of more than 200 lawmakers.
The Intergrupo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale, a cross-party committee of lawmakers, agreed on a provisional text to legalize the consumption, growing, production and sale of cannabis under certain conditions. "The text was signed by 218 members of parliament, and not just the usual backers of such measures," reports Antoine Sander at Politico.
The bill would make it legal to possess up to 15 grams of marijuana, to cultivate up to five plants, and to smoke it in private, and would allow its sale in government-licensed shops, reports The Courier Mail of Brisbane.
Cannabis clubs, with a maximum of 50 people, could cultivate marijuana as a group and then share the harvest, with strict prohibitions on selling it to the general public.
Sponsored by Benedetto Della Vedova, a junior minister of foreign affairs, the bill was supported by 217 other members of Italy's two chambers of parliament, which have more than 900 lawmakers in total.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Wednesday announced that former Assistant Attorney General Will Luzier will lead the campaign in support of a 2016 ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.
Luzier, a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general, served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention from 2008 until April 2015. Previously, he served as chief of staff and general counsel to a state senator.
“Marijuana prohibition has been just as big of a failure as alcohol prohibition, and Massachusetts deserves better,” Luzier said. “Regulating marijuana like alcohol will replace the underground market with a tightly regulated system of licensed businesses.
"Marijuana should be sold by responsible Massachusetts companies, not violent criminals and cartels,” Luzier said.
The campaign also announced that Jim Borghesani has been hired to serve as communications director.
Borghesani held top communications positions in the offices of the Massachusetts governor and the Suffolk County district attorney, and he has worked for many clients in the private sector. He is a former reporter at the Patriot Ledger and the Boston Business Journal.
“Adults who consume marijuana responsibly are no more deserving of punishment than adults who enjoy a cocktail responsibly,” Borghesani said. “Regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol makes sense.
By Steve Elliott
Oregon House lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill 52-4 setting up the state's legal marijuana market after voters approved legalization under Measure 91 last November. The bill, HB 3400, now heads to the Oregon Senate.
The bill creates regulations for both medical and recreational cannabis, including a compromise allowing local jurisdictions to "opt out" of legalization, reports Sheila Kumar at the Associated Press. Members of a House joint committee charged with implementing Measure 91 had previously been unable to agree on the issue of local control, stalling the measure for weeks.
Counties or cities that voted against Measure 91 can choose to ban cannabis sales if at least 55 percent of their residents opposed the ballot measure in last November's election. Other counties would have to put banning pot sales to a vote.
"I did not support Measure 91," said clueless Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer). "I am voting for this bill because it allows local jurisdictions to prohibit the sale of this drug."
The bill also creates a marijuana tracking system, so bureaucrats can trace weed from seed to sale in order to keep it out of the black market. The Oregon Health Authority would be in charge of creating and maintaining a database tracking the path of marijuana to market.
The bill requires grow sites to register and submit information on how much cannabis is processed and transferred every month.
Conference Uses Christian Ideals to Argue for New System
The New England Conference of United Methodist Churches, a group representing 600 congregations in six Northeastern states, on Saturday voted in favor of Resolution 15-203, which uses Christian principles to call for an end to the War on Drugs.
The resolution begins:
“In the love of Christ, who came to save those who are lost and vulnerable, we urge the creation of a genuinely new system for the care and restoration of victims, offenders, criminal justice officials, and the community as a whole. Restorative justice grows out of biblical authority, which emphasizes a right relationship with God, self and community. When such relationships are violated or broken through crime, opportunities are created to make things right.”
It goes on to detail how the Drug War has failed to achieve its intended goal of reducing drug abuse and has resulted in numerous unintended consequences such as the creation of violent and dangerous underground markets, countless lost lives from gang violence and unregulated products, increased dangers posed to law enforcement, prison overcrowding, the rapid spread of needle-borne illnesses due to a lack of sterile syringes, and the disparate impact that these laws have had on poor communities of color.
Maine state lawmakers on Monday decided they will not place a measure on the ballot to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use. LD 1380, sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland), was defeated in the House 45-98 and in the Senate without a recorded vote.
State senators on Monday unanimously killed another pro-legalization bill, LD 1401, sponsored by another Portland Democrat, Rep. Mark Dion, reports Mario Moretto at the Bangor Daily News.
“The legislature’s failure to act should not be mistaken for waning public interest in marijuana policy reform," said David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is in the process of placing a citizen initiative on the 2016 ballot that would end marijuana prohibition in Maine. "Elected officials have always followed the citizens’ lead on this issue.
"Maine voters will still have the final say, and we expect they will say it’s time to end marijuana prohibition," Boyer said.
“Marijuana prohibition is a counterproductive and antiquated policy," Boyer said. "Most people are just fed up with it at this point. It’s time to regulate marijuana, tax it, and start treating it similarly to alcohol.”
For more information on The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, visit http://www.RegulateMaine.org.
Graphic: The Smoking Bud
Behavior Research Center’s latest Rocky Mountain Poll finds 53% support making marijuana legal for adults; just 39% are opposed
An independent poll released on Wednesday shows a majority of Arizona residents support ending marijuana prohibition.
The Behavior Research Center’s latest Rocky Mountain Poll found 53 percent of Arizonans support making possession of a small amount of marijuana legal for personal use. Just 39 percent are opposed.
Support outpaced opposition in all three of the geographical areas that were surveyed: 53-38 in Maricopa County; 47-43 in Pima County; and 58-38 in Rural Arizona. The survey of 701 Arizonans was conducted from April 29-May 15 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.
“Arizonans are fed up with the failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is supporting a statewide ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. “They do not think adults should be punished just for consuming a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.
"It’s time for a more sensible approach, and that’s what our initiative proposes,” Holyoak said.
The campaign has collected more than 15,000 signatures since launching its petition drive three weeks ago. It must gather more than 150,000 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot.
Votes Come in Wake of Recent Forced Resignation of DEA Head and Growing Public Pressure to End Drug War and Mass Incarceration
Legislators Tuesday night voted by a simple voice vote to end the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection programs, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. The House also passed three amendments that cut $23 million from the DEA’s budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses.
Representatives debated four amendments to prohibit the DEA and Justice Department from undermining state marijuana laws -- and those votes will happen on Wednesday.
“Congress dealt a major blow to the DEA by ending their invasive and offensive bulk data collection programs and by cutting their budget," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The more the DEA ignores commonsense drug policy, the more they will see their agency’s power and budget come under deeper scrutiny.”
Three amendments cutting the DEA’s budget passed by voice vote:
• Rep. Ted Liew's (D-CA) amendment shifted $9 million from the DEA’s failed Cannabis Reduction and Eradication program to the VAWA Consolidated Youth Oriented Program ($4 million), Victims of Child Abuse Act ($3 million), and deficit reduction ($2 million).
Members of the public now have unprecedented access to data about Washington state's legal cannabis industry through the Cannabis Transparency Project (CTP).
The CTP is an open source web application for processing and visually representing information released by the state as part of the Washington State Marijuana Traceability System database via a public records request, the Cannabis and Social Policy Center, in conjunction with the Cannabis Commodities Exchange, announced on Friday.
"The idea is to encourage transparency and legitimate trade practices in the industry by providing a user-friendly interface so that anyone can navigate through and discuss this large amount of data," said project developer Will Farley, CTO of CCX.
Farley said he hopes other developers will contribute to the project, so that this open resource can become "a powerful tool to inform the public about cannabis."
"This amount and type of data regarding cannabis has never been available for comprehensive analysis before," said CASP Executive Director Dr. Dominic Corva. "For the first time, for example, we can examine evidence for potency clustering and differentiation across dozens of cultivars. There are many, many other questions that can be answered using this information."
After using the system for a few days, CASP Affiliate Researcher Dr. Jim MacRae emphatically said, "In one week with this tool, I've been able to generate more meaningful insight into the state of cannabis potency testing in Washington than I was able to in three weeks using the tools I traditionally use.