Sen. Krueger Supports Prospect of Legal Marijuana in New York in 2015

According to the Huffington Post, the state of New York may see the regulation and taxation of marijuana for legal recreational use as early as 2015.

Sen. Liz Krueger

State Sen. Liz Krueger (D) will reintroduce the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act during the next legislative session, which begins in January. Sen. Krueger’s bill would allow the establishment of retail marijuana dispensaries, which would be regulated by the State Liquor Authority. The bill would also place an excise tax on all marijuana sales. Adults would legally be able to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants at home for personal use.

New York decriminalized the possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana over 30 years ago, and earlier this summer, became the 23rd state in the country to allow the legal use of medical marijuana. However, irrespective of these laws, New York, and especially New York City, remain plagued by a disproportionate number of low-level marijuana arrests amongst black and Latino communities.

In fact, since 2010, New York City has averaged between 30,000 and 50,000 marijuana arrests each year. Moreover, during the period between 2002 and 2012, 87 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession in the city were either black or Latino.

As stated by Krueger in an interview with Metro, “The real motivation for this bill comes from the fact that we have spent decades attempting to do prohibition and a war on drugs that has actually done nothing and is particularly ruining the lives of young people of color and having them go into the criminal justice system and come out with the kind of citations that limit their access to financial aid for college and exposes them to a criminal justice system that frankly I do not believe they should have been exposed to in the first place, for simply using a drug that is proved to be less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco.”

Although Krueger does not use marijuana herself, and does not encourage the use of marijuana to anyone else, she recognizes that marijuana prohibition is a failure.

“It is a win-win to decriminalize marijuana and regulate it and tax it.”

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Marijuana Policy Project Launches ‘Consume Responsibly’ Campaign, Battling Industry Stereotypes

As reported by The Washington Post, the Marijuana Policy Project, in partnership with marijuana industry leader Medbox, Inc., is now launching a $75,000 public education campaign to counter what communications director, Mason Tvert, describes as decades of “exaggeration, fear mongering, and condescension.” The campaign will launch at noon in Denver, Colorado in front of a billboard aimed at tourists.

The outdoor ad reads, “Don’t let a candy bar ruin your vacation. With edibles, start low and go slow.”

Consume Responsibly Ad

The ad is an allusion to the case of Maureen Dowd, a New York Times columnist who got sick from eating a marijuana edible on a visit to Denver to cover the topic of marijuana.

Ensuring the safe use of edible marijuana products has proven troublesome in Colorado since legal sales began in January. Many people have more experience smoking marijuana than consuming it in edible form, and because the effects have a slower onset with edibles, it is harder for inexperienced users to self-regulate. The headlines ridiculing legal pot advocates, as well as Dowd’s experience, have been enough for the industry to promote moderation with edible pot forms.

“So far, every campaign designed to educate the public about marijuana has relied on fear mongering and insulting marijuana users. Like most Americans, Ms. Dowd has probably seen countless silly anti-marijuana ads on TV, but she has never seen one that highlights the need to ‘start low and go slow’ when choosing to consume marijuana edibles,” Tvert stated.

The campaign will begin in Colorado, featuring print ads, online ads, and literature to be distributed at retail locations urging responsible consumption and directing people to ConsumeResponsibly.org, which is patterned after the alcohol industry’s “Drink Responsibly” campaign. It will present information about products, laws, and the effects of marijuana. The campaign will eventually expand to Washington, where marijuana is also legally taxed and regulated.


Rally for Medical Marijuana Bill Held at Pennsylvania Capitol

Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to the Capitol from their summer recess Monday, while medical marijuana supporters rallied for Senate Bill 1182, or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. This bill would allow doctors to recommend extracted oil, edible products, ointments, and other marijuana-based products to patients with debilitating medical conditions.

Sen. Daylin Leach

Senate Bill 1182 co-sponsors, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware), said their bill could be sent to the floor next week.

“We are so close. We are closer than we have ever been,” stated Senator Leach. “If this runs in the Senate, we get more than 40 votes, and we are promised it will run next week in the Senate. We have counted in the House. There are 203 members. We have counted about 160 yes votes,” he said.

However, although they have gathered enough votes in the House, there is still concern from the Senate that House leadership may block the bill before reaching the floor.

According to Rachelle Yeung, legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project, “We know that there is overwhelming support amongst Pennsylvania voters for medical cannabis, and it’s time for their legislators to step up and really represent the will of the people.”

Sen. Folmer thanked the crowd on the Capitol steps for their grassroots efforts and reassured that they were very close, and that things were looking good.

Following the rally, the group that organized it, Campaign for Compassion, continued their educational efforts by handing out informational packets on medical marijuana and talking to their representatives.

“Hopefully, they will learn this is something Pennsylvania needs and they will stand up and do what is right and put the political horse trading to the side,” said Christine Brann, a Campaign for Compassion ambassador.

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NFL Players Association Approves Terms of New Drug Policy, Although Still Oppressive

According to The Denver Post, late Friday, the NFLPA unanimously approved the terms of a new drug policy that includes the implementation of testing for Human Growth Hormone — a performance enhancing drug — as well as an increase in the threshold for testing positive for marijuana.

The agreement with the NFL and NFLPA opens up the possibility for players suspended on drug policy violations to return to the field. Cleveland.com reported that Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns receiver, will have his suspension reduced from a season-long ban to 10 games once the new drug policy is finalized and formally approved.

“This is a historic moment for our players and our league,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said in a statement. “We have collectively bargained drug policies that will keep the game clean and safe, but also provide players with an unprecedented level of fairness and transparency. Players should be proud of their union for standing up for what was best for the game.”

Although the threshold for a positive test for marijuana will increase to 35 ng/ml from the previous 15 ng/ml, the new marijuana threshold is a standard much lower than those used in most other sports. The threshold for a positive test for marijuana should have increased to the 150 ng/ml limit — used by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which conducts Olympic athlete testing — that was originally suggested.

Moreover, the new terms of the drug policy still prove draconian given the chronic pain endured by most NFL players and the fact that, by most measures, the use of medical marijuana to relieve pain is far less harmful than the prescription painkillers that players currently rely on.

As former player Nate Jackson recently stated in a New York Times op-ed, “Virtually every single player in the NFL has a certifiable need for medical marijuana.”

In this case, the fact that players are still not permitted to use medical marijuana is inexplicable — even when 15 teams are based in states where medical marijuana can be recommended legally and most, if not all, players have a very legitimate need for it.


SSDP 2014

Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s annual conference will feature keynote speeches, breakout sessions, an awards ceremony, the student Congress, breakfast with executive director Betty Aldworth, an alumni gathering, a dance party and Lobby Day on Capitol Hill.


Hempstalk

Playing with the Woodstock name, the 10th Annual Portland Hempstalk bills itself as “Two Days of Hemp & Music.” The solid band lineup includes Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, John Sinclair, John Trudell & Bad Dog and Los Marijuanos.


Help End Marijuana Prohibition In Rhode Island

resident, please join us at these upcoming events to learn how you can help end marijuana prohibition in 2015.

Cannabis Caucus, 8 p.m., Thursday, September 18: Regulate Rhode Island hosts an evening of music, activism, and conversation this Thursday at Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence 02903. Check out the Facebook event page for more details.

Regulate RI coalition strategy meeting, 1 p.m., Saturday, September 27: Our coalition meets regularly to coordinate efforts and discuss collaborative projects. Please join us at 143 Prairie Avenue, Providence, 02905 at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Public forum on marijuana policy, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 18: Save the date! We’re organizing a public forum on regulating marijuana like alcohol with experts from around the state and country at Brown University on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Volunteering opportunities, September – October: Leaders at the State House need to know their constituents support ending the failed policy of prohibition by responsibly regulating marijuana. Help us collect signatures from supporters in key legislative districts in September and October by emailing Jared Moffat at jmoffat@mpp.org to get involved.

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Madison Police Chief Urges End To Marijuana Prohibition

Chief Mike Koval

In an interview last week, Madison, Wisconsin Police Chief Mike Koval called marijuana prohibition a failure and advocated regulating and taxing the substance in order to pay for treatment programs that focus on more dangerous drugs.

The comments came during an interview with the State Journal Wednesday about data showing African Americans in Madison were arrested or cited for marijuana offenses at about 12 times the rate of whites in the city.

Koval called efforts to enforce laws against marijuana an “abject failure” and said the same about the broader war on drugs. “We’ve done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement, that it’s time to reorder and triage the necessities of what’s more important now,” Koval said.

Referring to the states of Washington and Colorado, which have legalized the drug for recreational use and sale at state-regulated stores, he said it was time for Wisconsin to consider doing the same.

Under current Wisconsin law, possession of any amount of marijuana can earn you six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A subsequent offense is a felony punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and three and a half years in prison.

Chief Koval is just one example of a growing movement of law enforcement professionals who are breaking rank with many of their colleagues and calling for an end to the war on marijuana users.


Washington’s Retail Marijuana Sales See Major Increase in August

Washington’s Retail Marijuana Sales See Major Increase in August

by Ibrahempovic

Washington’s legal marijuana sales in August reached $6.9 million, more than doubling July’s total of $3.2 million in retail sales.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board recently released marijuana sales data ranging from the start of recreational sales on July 8 (when Washington went legal) to September of this year, and the data shows legal weed is on the rise.

The increase in sales reflects both an increase in retail shops, an increase in supply, increase in buyers, and of course, eight extra days to buy legal weed.

Likewise, Washington is seeing a correlated increase in legal weed tax dollars. August’s sales have thus resulted in over $1.7 million in tax dollars for the state, compared to the $804,890 tax total in July.

Through one week of sales, September has reached nearly $2 million in sales, putting the month on pace to surpass August’s total and hit over $8 million worth of marijuana sales for the month.

Given the state’s excitement toward legal pot, this summer’s figures are no surprise. Amid the celebration of the state’s new law, the only notable negative side effect has been that dispensaries quickly run out of product to sell. And August’s ridiculous increase over July’s numbers is clearly not an anomaly: the September numbers show that we can expect increased returns as the recreational marijuana program continues.

In Colorado, the results are similar. The state’s Department of Revenue doesn’t disclose the total sales in raw figures, but their sales tax documents show that the program is helping to pad Colorado’s coffers. In July 2014, medical and recreational marijuana sales resulted in over $6 million in tax transfers and distributions.

Colorado license and application fees alone netted the state just over $1.3 million, with $910,000 coming from medical marijuana applications and $469,000 from recreational licenses and application fees. Recreational cannabis sales in the state have also risen since January 1.

Given most of the taxes from Colorado and Washington’s marijuana sales go to funds to support the state and items such as children’s drug education programs, legalized pot seems to be a win-win.

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Marijuana Policy Clear Winner In New Hampshire Primary Election

Tuesday’s primary election in New Hampshire produced remarkably positive results for those of us who care about reforming the state’s marijuana laws.

The New Hampshire Senate has been the biggest roadblock facing reformers since the House first approved a decriminalization bill in 2008. This year, with four out of 24 senators retiring, the balance of power finally appears to be tipping in our favor. Here are a couple of examples:

– In Senate District 15, reform advocate Dan Feltes (D-Concord) won by a large margin Tuesday against a candidate who was wishy-washy on marijuana policy. Feltes is now very likely to replace a retiring senator who has been, at best, a fair-weather friend on medical marijuana.

– In Senate District 12, a reform advocate won a close race against a prohibitionist. Former Rep. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua), who voted for ending marijuana prohibition in 2012, defeated a current representative who has voted against both medical marijuana and decriminalization. Avard will face incumbent Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Nashua), whose record has been inconsistent on marijuana policy, in November.

Finally, although Andrew Hemingway did not win the nomination for governor, he did receive a respectable 37%, despite being outspent by 10:1. In the final debate, Hemingway made a strong case for decriminalization, and eventual primary winner Walt Havenstein took an open-minded position, saying “I’m in favor of at least looking at that … I certainly would consider it.”

Many more races will be decided on November 4. We will post a general election voter guide soon.