Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) on Monday announced plans to introduce legislation reinforcing steps taken by Oregon to legalize and provide a clean start for certain marijuana offenses.
The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015, to be introduced on Tuesday, creates a pathway for the following two groups of federal marijuana offenders to expunge – or clear the criminal record of – their marijuana offense: those who were federally charged for activity that was state legal at the time; and those whose offense was the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.
“The penalties of failed prohibition policies should stop ruining people’s lives," Rep. Blumenauer said. "The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015 follows Oregon’s lead to provide a pathway for expunging certain federal marijuana crimes.”
“People who were caught up in the federal criminal justice system for a marijuana offense that was legal under state law at the time should not carry around a drug record," Blumenauer said. "I support legalizing marijuana at the federal level to put a stop to any state-federal conflicts once and for all, but it is also important that we create pathways for expungement for those who should never have been charged in the first place.”
By Steve Elliott
In the first complete round of compliance checks of retail marijuana retail stores, 19 Washington recreational retail marijuana businesses sold marijuana to an underage investigative aide. Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) enforcement officers, working with underage investigative aides, checked each retail marijuana business for sales of marijuana to minors.
The checks essentially represent an 88 percent no-sales-to-minors compliance rate. Since the compliance checks were publicly announced, the shops which got caught selling to minors are pretty much the picture of bumbling ineptitude.
“Our goal is 100 percent compliance,” said WSLB Board Chair Jane Rushford. “While perfect compliance is always a challenging goal, it is clearly in everyone’s interest that our licensees be vigilant about preventing underage sales.”
The 19 businesses will be cited for selling marijuana to minors. The individuals who sold the marijuana will be referred to their respective prosecuting attorney’s office for potential criminal prosecution.
The WSLCB and local authorities regularly conduct compliance checks of area businesses licensed to sell alcohol and marijuana. The checks, conducted at every open marijuana retailer across the state (157 locations) from mid-May until the end of June, were the first marijuana compliance checks.
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 reported Wednesday that it raised $53,011 in the second quarter of 2015 in support of a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine.
“Mainers are clearly excited about the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition,” said campaign manager David Boyer. “Most people agree that it’s time for our state to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy, and that’s exactly what we’re proposing. Regulating marijuana and taxing it like alcohol just makes sense.”
Maine residents accounted for more than 90 percent of the 190 total contributions that were made to the committee during the three-month period. The largest contribution, $50,000, was made by the Marijuana Policy Project, which has more than 200,000-plus supporters around the nation, including approximately 4,000 in Maine.
“The campaign is in full swing,” Boyer said. “In addition to raising thousands of dollars, we have already collected several thousand signatures. If we can maintain this momentum, I’m confident we will have what it takes to qualify for the ballot and run a strong campaign in 2016.”
The campaign is in the process of collecting the 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters that are needed to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is supporting a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateMaine.org.
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
Just-released marijuana tax data from the Colorado Department of Revenue shows that schools in the state received more money from the state's cannabis excise tax in the first five months of 2015 than they did all year in 2014.
"It sounds very encouraging," said state Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), reports Ricardo Baca at The Cannabist. "Voters wanted the school capital construction program to benefit, and despite some bumps in the road at the beginning, it looks like what was intended is coming to fruition."
Recreational marijuana is taxed three ways in Colorado: the standard 2.9 percent sales tax, a special 10 percent special cannabis sales tax, and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers.
The excise tax money grew from $2.5 million in March to $3.5 million in May. It brought it $13.6 million through May 2015, more than the $13.3 million it drew in all of 2014. The two main reasons for the jump are more marijuana stores opening and a one-time tax-exempt transfer which benefited the shops.
Recreational marijuana sales stayed roughly the same in Colorado between March and May, totaling $42.4 million in March and $42.5 million in May. May's medical cannabis sales in Colorado totaled $32.4 million, their highest since October 2014.
By Steve Elliott
Travelers at Portland International Airport in Oregon can legally board airplanes with up to an ounce of marijuana for in-state flights under the state's new law legalizing recreational cannabis, UPI reported on Thursday.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is not focused on finding marijuana, but rather on security and safety issues, according to airport officials, UPI reported. If TSA agents at Portland International Airport find marijuana, local police will be notified to ensure it is within the legal weight limit (up to an ounce), the passenger is of legal age (21), and the boarding pass indicates an in-state flight. If all that checks out, the passenger is free to go.
"Traveling across state lines [with marijuana] is still a federal crime," said Steve Johnson of the Port of Portland. "However, if someone is flying within the state to another destination in the state, traveling with recreational marijuana is allowable if they meet all the legal requirements."
Passengers with marijuana who don't meet the legal requirements will be given the option to store the cannabis in a safe place (like a car), give it to someone 21 or older who is not traveling, or surrender it to law enforcement to be "destroyed" (yeah, right, probably a joint at the time, man).
Oregon's legalization law, which took effect July 1, prohibits taking weed out of the state since it's still illegal federally. That includes taking it across the state line to Washington, where it is also legal.
New Report Finds Major Fiscal Benefits, Decrease in Violent Crime, No Increase in Youth Marijuana Use or Traffic Fatalities – And Massive Drop in Marijuana Arrests
Popular Support for Marijuana Legalization Remains Strong in Washington; Only Dark Cloud Remains Uncertain Fate of Medical Marijuana
By Steve Elliott
As several states consider marijuana legalization initiatives, all eyes are on the initial outcomes of Washington’s marijuana law. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to pass laws taxing and regulating marijuana.
Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of retail marijuana sales in Washington. Adult possession of marijuana became legal on December 6, 2012, 30 days after the passage of I-502, the voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older. A year-and-a-half later, the first retail marijuana store opened its doors, on July 8, 2014.
A new report by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) highlights data on public safety, youth marijuana use, and the economy before and after passage of I-502. Since adult possession of marijuana became legal 18 months ago, the state has benefitted from a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests and convictions, as well as increased tax revenues.
By Steve Elliott
Senate Bill 460, to allow the limited sale of recreational marijuana at licensed medical marijuana dispensaries beginning October 1, passed the Oregon Legislature with a Thursday vote in the House.
The measure, which had already clerared the Senate, passed the House on a 40 to 18 vote, reports Larry Meyer at The Argus Observer. Recreational marijuana sales would otherwise have had to wait until the Oregon Liquor Control Commission got the rules in place sometime next year, leaving customers to buy it through the black market.
Noting that cannabis sales won't be taxed until January, Democratic Rep. Andy Olson said it will take time to get a tax structure in place. The "tax holiday" will help encourage consumers to get their marijuana from a licensed dispensary, wheere it will have been lab tested, rather than on the black market.
State Rep. Cliff Bentz, a Republican from Ontario, Oregon, was one of the 18 "no" votes on SB 460. Bentz said he's "long suspected" that many medical marijuana patients are faking; he cluelessly claimed that this measure "puts the state's blessing" on that.
Bentz also voted against another successful resolution which asked the U.S. Congress to take marijuana off the schedule of controlled substances and allow the cannabis industry access to the federal banking system.
By Steve Elliott
If cannabis and alcohol are both legal for adult consumption, it would only make sense that it's OK to consume both of them socially in a bar -- wouldn't it?
That's the thinking behind a campaign underway in Denver to ask voters about allowing marijuana use in bars and other places that only allow adults over 21, reports Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press.
Activists need about 5,000 signatures in order to qualify the question for this November's ballots.
The initiative would allow bars to permit cannabis use as long as customers bring their own stash and obey clean-air laws. That translates to either bringing marijuana infused edibles, or smoking outside on the patio, the way tobacco is regulated now. Outside smoking sites couldn't be publicly visible.
"Marijuana's now a legal product for adults in Denver, and it's really time that we give adults a place to use it legally and socially," said Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which led the 2012 Amendment 64 campaign to legalize recreational cannabis in the state.
"We shouldn't be requiring that you sit at home if you choose to use marijuana as an adult," Tvert said.
Recreational cannabis consumption is illegal in Colorado if used "openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others." But the law doesn't bar use in private, 21+ clubs; the Denver measure would just clarify what qualifies as a private club.
By Steve Elliott
A bill simplifying the tax scheme for marijuana was signed into law by Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday. HB 2136, which the Legislature approved last week, also significantly loosens the rules on buffer zones that have kept recreational I-502 marijuana shops away from many dense commercial areas.
As originally approved by voters, I-502 taxed recreational marijuana at three tiers: producers (growers), processors (curing), and retail. Under the new scheme, the three-level tax system has been collapsed into one 37 percent point-of sale tax, reports Bryan Cohen at Capitol Hill Seattle. According to Ian Eisenberg, proprietor of Capitol Hill recreational marijuana shop Uncle Ike's, his customers won't see much of a change in pricing due at 37 percent tax.
I-502 originally stated recreational marijuana stores can't be located within 1,000 feet of parks, schools, and other public gathering places. Localities could soon have the power to bring that buffer down to 100 feet under HB 2136
The 1,000-foot buffer greatly restricted permitted locations for marijuana retail; it was written as an attempt to placate federal officials, who have released guidelines under which the Obama Administration won't go after state-legal pot shops, including just such a buffer zone. There are specific penalties for selling marijuana within 1,000 feet of schools under federal sentencing guidelines.
Oregon Rewrites Marijuana Criminal Code to Reduce Most Felonies to Misdemeanors and to Make Prior Convictions Eligible to be Cleared
Law Goes Beyond Other Legalization States to Reduce Harsh Marijuana Sentences and Allow for 78,319 Prior Marijuana Convictions to Potentially be Cleared
Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday signed H.B. 3400, an omnibus bill to implement Measure 91, the marijuana legalization initiative adopted by voters last November. The bill was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives this week.
Measure 91 legalized possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 and older and regulated commercial production, manufacturing, and retail sales of marijuana. Legalization for personal use took effect July 1, 2015.
As of that date adults 21 and older can legally possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana at home and up to 1 ounce of marijuana outside the home. They may also grow up to four plants at home, as long as they are out of public view. The regulatory structure for commercial retail sales will not be up and running until next year.
In addition to addressing the implementation of Measure 91, H.B. 3400 contains broad sentencing reform provisions that extend well beyond the elimination of criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana and cultivation of up to four plants. The new law reduces most marijuana felonies to misdemeanors or lesser felonies with significantly reduced sentences.
Hemp Public Relations on Tuesday announced that they are refusing all multi-million dollar offers to provide their expertise to Governor Chris Christie’s presidential campaign. For good measure, Hemp Public Relations has issued a lifetime ban on Christie for all company events.
“Governor Christie has publicly said as president, he would "crack down" on states that have ended prohibitions on marijuana," said Ryan McCormick, cofounder of Hemp Public Relations. "We feel that anyone who would threaten to subvert the will of the people and claim that their own personal ideology trumps that of the people is an affront to the very foundation of America.
"For this reason, Hemp Public Relations will refuse to work or assist the Christie campaign in any capacity for any amount of money,” McCormick said.
Hemp Public Relations helps individuals and businesses in the marijuana industry to achieve greater visibility in the public eye through the media. The company is founded by Mark Goldman and Ryan McCormick, public relations professionals who are the creators of New York based Goldman McCormick PR (www.goldmanmccormick.com) and Legal PR Team (www.legalprteam.com).
Oct. 1 early start bill passes in Oregon Senate; Oregon police to stop arresting people for some marijuana crimes
By Steve Elliott
The day before adult use of marijuana becomes legal in Oregon, leaders of the state’s drug reform movement said they plan to expand their work to change how Oregon approaches drug policy.
“Thanks to Oregon voters, we have made history and become national leaders in drug reform,” said Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner of the Yes on 91 campaign to legalize marijuana. “But there’s still a lot to do, and this is just the beginning.”
Johnson has been advocating for an earlier start to regulated sales for marijuana, and the Oregon Senate today passed a bill, 23-6, that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to start selling marijuana to adults 21 and older on Oct. 1. Another bill that reduces marijuana-related criminal penalties is making its way to the governor’s desk.
Johnson said marijuana should no longer be classified as a drug as dangerous as heroin, that more money should be devoted to marijuana-related research, and that “we should focus more on helping people and less on incarcerating them.”
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a strong advocate for changes to federal drug laws and a leader of the Oregon campaign to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, discussed his efforts to reform outdated marijuana policy at the federal level.
The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2016 (CCHI 2016) and ALOTOFFUN Productions invites everyone to a free concert and political rally at MLK Civic Center Park in Berkeley, California, on Saturday, July 11 from 11:30 AM to 7 PM.
This event will be the official kick-off of the CCHI 2016 campaign to thoroughly end Cannabis Hemp prohibition in California. The organization is seeking backing and volunteers to help with this effort.
This special event continues the effort to mobilize and inform the public about qualifying the CCHI 2016 for the Nov. 8, 2016 California ballot.
This special informational event is being held on Saturday, July 11, from 11:30 AM to 7PM. For more info: www.rallyforcchi2016.com
The CCHI 2016 signature drive will begin begin in late Fall 2015 in which the CCHI 2016 will have 180 days to gather 600,000 signatures from registered Californian voters to qualify for the Nov 8, 2016 ballot.
Full text of the CCHI can be found at:
This event is free and donations are kindly accepted.
Musical acts Include: psychedelic rock, reggae, Grateful Dead, soul and funk.
Legendary SF 60's band, Sopworth Camel will headline with Gigantis, Island of Black and White, Clear Conscience and many other musical guests participating. For a complete list: www.rallyforcchi2016.com.
Speakers in support of qualifying the CCHI for the 2016 ballot include:
Ross Mirkarimi: Sheriff of San Francisco
Longtime proponent of Cannabis legalization, is scheduled to speak between 3-4 p.m (schedule permitting).