By Steve Elliott
It's Primary Election Day in Maryland, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur says marijuana should be legalized and taxed. None of the other candidates in the race, from either party, share that position.
"Marijuana prohibition makes our communities less safe and wastes valuable law enforcement resources," Mizeur said, reports Jayne Miller at WBAL-TV. "Why should we treat something less toxic and addictive any differently than alcohol or tobacco?"
Mizeur said she'd use the funds to help pay for education. "Legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana will provide Maryland with a dedicated revenue stream to make overdue and critical investments in early childhood education," she said.
Both other candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination said they support the Maryland Legislature's move this year to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, but neither Attorney General Doug Gansler nor Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is willing to support legalization.
"I do not support the legalization of marijuana at this time," Brown said. "The states of Colorado and Washington -- two states that have legalized it -- will provide an example of the socioeconomic challenges and pitfalls to marijuana legalization.
"We will learn from their experiences and assess whether addition changes to Maryland's law are warranted," Brown said.
By Steve Elliott
It's Hail Mary, but hold the Jane, according to Pope Francis, who just proved that there are definite limits to how cool the "Cool New Pope" is willing to be. Could he who is without sin cast out the stoners?
The Pope has been taking social media by storm, bringing the Roman Catholic Church into the 21st Century, and has garnered an enormous amount of good publicity in doing so, reports Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post. But he isn't willing to endorse the legalization of marijuana.
The Pontiff told members of a drug enforcement conference meeting in Rome on Friday that even limited attempts to legalize recreational drugs "are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects," reports the Associated Press.
"Let me state this in the clearest terms possible," the Pope said. "The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs. Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise." This dude sounds as bad as Nancy Reagan.
Pope Francis has frequently railed against the "evil" of drugs, and has met with recovering addicts on several occasions.
By Steve Elliott
Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Friday that states which have legalized marijuana "probably" wouldn't be treated well if he is elected President.
The governor was campaigning with New Hampshire GOP gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein when he was asked by Brinck Slattery, a Republican running for state representative: "I know that you have some ambitions for D.C., perhaps. If you were President, how would you treat states that have legalized marijuana?"
"Probably not well," Christie responded, walking away from the conversation, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. "Not well, but we'll see. We'll have to see what happens." Christie's statement was captured in a video shot by Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.
"It's one thing for Governor Christie to say he doesn't like what's happening in Colorado; quite another thing for him to threaten federal interference if he became President," Slattery said.
"Widely and generally speaking, that reflects his philosophy on marijuana, legalization and restrictions for medically based programs," said Michael Drewniak, Christie's press secretary, of the governor's comment.
Twenty-three states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, with New York being the latest; Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational use as well. Alaska votes on legalization in August.
Maine: Citizens for a Safer Maine Submit Petition Supporting Marijuana Legalization Ordinance In YorkSubmitted by steveelliott on Thu, 06/19/2014 - 15:24
Group submits more than 200 total signatures; 100 signatures of registered town voters are needed for the measure to be considered for the ballot
Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted more than 200 signatures to the York town clerk on Thursday in support of an ordinance making marijuana possession legal for adults. One hundred signatures of registered York voters are needed for the measure to be considered for the ballot.
The York Board of Selectmen can now hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance and place it on the ballot. If it does not act on the petition, supporters will have 30 days to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the local votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in order to trigger a general referendum.
“Adults should not be punished for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and our laws should reflect that,” said Sherry DaBiere, a York resident and realtor who submitted the petition. “Law enforcement has more serious crimes to deal with.”
“Marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol, and arresting adults for possessing it is a waste of time and resources,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “If voters approve these measures, law enforcement officials can use their discretion to stop punishing otherwise law-abiding citizens and saddling them with criminal records that can hurt them for the rest of their lives.”
By Steve Elliott
With less than three months until Election Day in Oregon, and as many as three separate marijuana legalization initiatives vying to appear on the ballot, a new poll shows 51 percent of voters support allowing adults to use, possess and grow cannabis.
The SurveyUSA poll released on Tuesday didn't ask voters which of the three measures they would prefer; instead it simply asked them whether they would support or pose allowing adults in Oregon to use, possess and grow marijuana for their personal use, while allowing the state to regulate and tax it, reports Thomas H. Clarke at The Daily Chronic.
Just more than half, 51 percent of those polled support marijuana legalization, while just 41 percent oppose it. There are no regional differences within the state on this question, according to the poll, but there are enormous age differences: younger voters support legalization by 48 points, while senior citizens oppose it by 24 points.
Democrats were more likely to support cannabis legalization, and Republicans were more likely to oppose it, according to the poll.
None of the three initiatives has yet qualified for November's ballot, but supporters of all three said they are optimistic that they will turn in more than enough signatures to qualify before the deadline on July 3.
By Steve Elliott
The Marijuana Policy Project is setting the stage for a 2016 marijuana legalization campaign in Massachusetts.
MPP, the Washington, D.C.-based group that organized and financed Colorado's Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in that state, has opened a ballot committee with Massachusetts campaign finance regulators, reports Paul McMorrow at CommonWealth.
Executive Director Rob Kampia opened a ballot referendum committee with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance on Tuesday. The committee, called the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts, allows MPP to begin raising and spending money in the state.
MPP plans to put a cannabis legalization question on the ballot for the Presidential election year; it also plans on waging 2016 legalization campaigns in Arizona, California, Maine, Montana and Nevada. Alaska will vote on legalization in August, and Oregon will vote either this year or in 2016.
The Marijuana Policy Project spent $2 million in Colorado getting Amendment 64 approved; it passed by 10 percentage points, running more than five points ahead of President Obama in the state.
"We're going to be spending the next year working to build a coalition," said Mason Tvert, MPP's director of communications. "We really want to replicate the Colorado process, and not just the winning part.
By Steve Elliott
With the first stores selling recreational marijuana expected to open in July, a dark cloud looms over implementation of cannabis legalization measure I-502 in Washington state: Attorney General Bob Ferguson's legal opinion that municipalities can ban the supposedly legal pot shops. Now, a lawsuit has been brought by a man who was denied a license to sell marijuana in central Washington.
At least 10 counties and cities in the state have already banned marijuana businesses, reports Kirk Johnson at The New York Times. Sixty-nine more municipalities, and 12 counties, have instituted moratoriums on pot businesses, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center.
A man who was denied a license to sell marijuana in the central Washington town of Wenatchee, right in the middle of apple-growing country, is challenging the right of local governments to ban cannabis businesses, and also raising the possibility that the law legalizing marijuana could come under "sharp legal scrutiny," as the Times puts it.
Plaintiff Shaun Preder has been told by Wenatchee that he won't be getting a license to sell marijuana, because pot is still illegal under federal law. Wenatchee apparently believes it needs the federal government's permission before issuing any business licenses.
By Steve Elliott
A lawsuit was filed on Monday in Denver District Court by activist attorney Robert J. Corry, Jr., seeking to permanently end Colorado's marijuana taxes on the grounds that paying them violates a citizen's Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination -- since marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Corry goes beyond that, accusing Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock of violating the federal "Kingpin" statute (the federal law against operating "continual criminal enterprises") for collecting taxes on a federally illegal substance, reports Denver Direct.
The complaint was filed on behalf of an unnamed licensed medical and recreational marijuana store, as well as the "No Over Taxation" issue committee, which worked against Proposition AA, a marijuana tax issue approved by Colorado voters last year. Also signing onto the complaint were Kathleen Chippi, Larisa Bolivar, Miguel Lopez and William Chengelis.
Corry is seeking a refund of all marijuana tax monies collected by Colorado, as well as unspecified damages.
In the event that the suit is successful, it could be the basis for overturning all regulations regarding marijuana in Colorado, on the same grounds. As long as marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, states can't require people to give any information about themselves in order to buy or distribute it, Corry claims.
By Steve Elliott
If you're driving in Washington state this summer, something odd may happen. While you're at a stoplight, you may encounter people waring orange vests, with signs saying "Paid Voluntary Survey," and they may ask you if you want to take blood, saliva and breath tests for marijuana. They'll give you 60 bucks if you say yes.
These government-hired survey teams have already begun asking hundreds of Washington state motorists to provide breath, saliva and blood samples, reports Mike Lindblom at The Seattle Times, and they'll be asking questions, too.
The voluntary roadside surveys are a federally funded project to give police and safety agencies a better idea of how many Washingtonians drive high, according to officials. National agencies are working with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, which is in hurry-up mode to get the data before retail marijuana stores open in Washington later this summer.
That way, officials say they'll have a baseline from which to measure any "safety effects" of cannabis legalization, according to commission spokeswoman Jonna VanDyk. The findings might be used to help local law enforcement decide how much time to spend on marijuana DUI patrols, VanDyk said.
The roadside surveys began last Friday and continued over last weekend in Spokane and Yakima counties. Kitsap and Whatcom counties will follow, likely this weekend, and maybe King and Snohomish counties as well, VanDyk said.
By Steve Elliott
The board of directors of the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based company formerly known as Endocan Corporation, which specializes in cannabis and cannabinoid formulation-based health and wellness solutions, has selected the new name OmniCanna Health Solutions, they announced on Tuesday.
"OmniCanna Health Solutions was chosen by the Board as a direct reference to the latin 'omnis' meaning 'all' and Canna in relation to 'cannabis and cannabinoids'," said Dr. Dorothy Bray, president of OmniCanna Health Solutions, Inc. "The 'health solutions' completes the full meaning and general mission of the Company to provide the wellness solutions using the full spectrum of legal cannabis and cannabinoid extract based products," Dr. Bray said.
The company's website has been changed accordingly to www.omnicanna.com .
According to the company, the name change began with appropriate regulatory filings with the Office of the Nevada Secretary of State, and the next steps are underway with FINRA for a symbol change to match the new name. The new symbol will be announced in the near term.
The company has also hired the accounting firm, Turner, Stone and Company, LLP to review and audit the Company's financials. "The OmniCanna Health Solutions name change will have no effect on the Company's share structure, corporate organization, business model operations, or corporate governance," according to a Tuesday release from the company.
By Steve Elliott
The Drug Policy Alliance on Tuesday released an official statement on marijuana-infused products -- "edibles" -- which it says "are an important part of the burgeoning marijuana market." The DPA recommends laboratory testing, labeling, and regulation of the products.
The statement applies to cannabis-infused foods, drinks, tinctures, "or any other product infused with marijuana that is often consumed orally," according to the DPA.
"For many consumers, these products are a better option than smoking," the statement reads. "Infused products are also vital to people who use marijuana for medical reasons, because their effects last longer and can be manufactured with doses that meet patients' needs in a reliable way. However, proper regulation is necessary to ensure reliability and safety."
According to DPA, the products should be regulated and tested to ensure safety, quality and reliability of information. DPA recommends labeling edibles "with detailed information to ensure that consumers are informed about what they are consuming and educated on how to safely consume, and that all edibles should be kept away from children."
DPA is advocating for four main principles when it comes to cannabis infused products.
1. Edibles must be kept away from children.
2. Edibles must be clearly labeled.
By Steve Elliott
Local marijuana legalization campaigns were launched in three Maine towns were launched on Monday by the group Citizens for a Safer Maine. Supporters in Lewiston, South Portland, and York hope to change municipal ordinances to remove all penalties for cannabis possession by adults.
The petition drive was launched in Kennedy Park in Lewiston on Monday afternoon, reports Tim Goff at WCSH. The ordinances would allow those 21 or older to possess and use marijuana on private property; public use would still be illegal, as would operating a vehicle while under the influence.
"It is illogical," said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "We have bigger fish to fry. There's violent crimes going on, there's property crimes and that is where our police resources should be spent."
"It's just a simple issue of freedom," agreed former state Rep. Stavros Mendros. "I'm not a big fan of marijuana. I think smoking it is a bad idea personally, with all due respect. I think it is dumb, bad for your health, but then again, so is being fat and no one is throwing me in jail for that, so you know it is about letting people live and have the freedom to live the way they want to live."
By Steve Elliott
Denver would just love to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. It has historically been a popular city for conventions; the Mile High City's scenic vistas and tourist attractions make it a fun place to visit. But that "High" thing is the hang, you see: Denver is also the poster child for legal recreational marijuana since Colorado voters approved Amendment 64.
"Well, big deal," you may be thinking. "The voters expressed their will at the ballot box; isn't that how American democracy works?" Not so fast, Grasshopper. While a majority of Americans now approve of cannabis legalization, just 36 percent of Republicans agree with that position.
That means an overwhelming two-thirds of GOP members are against legalizing pot.
Denver, undeterred, is still trying to sell itself as the perfect site for the RNC, reports Jon Murray at The Denver Post. But when RNC staffers visited the Mile High City in April -- precursor to a larger scouting mission that started today -- the lunch topic turned to marijuana. And the GOP visitors had plenty of questions.
By Steve Elliott
The Hershey Company is suing a Colorado company which makes marijuana edibles, claiming the packaging of TinctureBell's products is so similar to those made by the Pennsylvania-based chocolate and candy company that consumers can't tell the difference.
The trademark infringement lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Denver, claims the Ganja Joy bars made by TinctureBell look too much like Almond Joy bars made by Hershey, reports Daniel Wallis at MSN.
Besides the alleged trademark infringement, Hershey's lawsuit claims TinctureBelle "also creates a genuine safety risk with regard to customers, including children, who may not distinguish between Hershey's candy products and defendants' cannabis" and might eat the cannabis-infused candies by mistake.
Voters in Colorado approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational cannabis for adults, back in 2012.
Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper tightened the rules on edibles and concentrates, as media hype increased around sensationalistic press accounts such as Maureen Dowd's ill-advised consumption of an entire 16-dose candy bar. (Dowd was fine, other than the horribly misleading column she wrote about it.)
The group Citizens for a Safer Maine on Monday will launch campaigns in support of local ballot initiatives that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults in Lewiston, South Portland, and York.
Supporters of the Lewiston measure, including former Maine state Rep. Stavros Mendros (R-Lewiston) and Lewiston Republican Committee Vice Chair Luke Jensen, will hold a news conference at noon in Kennedy Park, at the corner of Park Street and Pine Street, across from Lewiston City Hall, to discuss the initiatives and the initiative processes.
"Adults should not be punished simply for using a substance that is less harmful than alcohol," said David Boyer, Maine political director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "If voters approve these measures, law enforcement officials can use their discretion to stop arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana possession."
Mendros and Jensen are two of 10 Lewiston residents who initiated the petition, along with Lewiston City Council Member Leslie Dubois and Lewiston School Board Member Matt Roy.
"Marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol," Roy said. "It's time to rely on facts and not conjecture."
WHAT: Launch of campaigns in support of ballot initiatives that would make marijuana possession legal for adults in Lewiston, South Portland, and York