While marijuana has recently been decriminalized in Washington, DC and Philadelphia, New York continues to arrest people for pot in record numbers – this despite the election of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who promised to end the controversial policy.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson believes marijuana is “potentially an actual cure” for the Ebola virus. And his medical director at Cannabis Sativa, Inc. predicts it “will help the survival of this deadly disease.”
A new poll conducted by the University of Delaware finds 56% support for legalizing marijuana, with just 39% opposed. Earlier this year, Rep. Helene Keeley, Sen. Bryan Townsend, and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry sponsored legislation to reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana from a criminal charge to a civil fine. This is a strong step in the right direction.
Under current Delaware law, possessing even a small amount of marijuana is a criminal offense, carrying up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,150. And the effects of a conviction don’t stop there. A criminal record can make it difficult to find a job, obtain educational opportunities, or even find adequate housing.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have replaced the threat of jail for possession of marijuana with a fine. If you are a Delaware resident, ask your state representative and senator to make the same modest reform, and then ask your fellow Delawareans to call for this long overdue reform, too.
As reported by Iowa Watchdog, in May, Governor Terry Branstad signed into law the Medical Cannabidiol Act. The law allows for residents of Iowa to possess small amounts of cannabidiol if a neurologist certifies that the non-psychoactive oil derived from marijuana plants is necessary for the treatment of a child with intractable epilepsy.
On Tuesday, the Administrative Rules Review Committee of the Iowa State Legislature gave final approval to the procedures by which the Iowa Department of Public Health will address the new law.
Beginning on January 30, 2015, after filing the appropriate paperwork and being approved by IDPH, a parent or primary caregiver of a child diagnosed with epilepsy will be able to receive a specific form of identification that will allow them to possess up to 32 ounces of cannabidiol.
They will not, however, be able to obtain the actual oil. In fact, cannabidiol will remain illegal to produce or sell in the state of Iowa. Moreover, in Colorado and Oregon, the states where the oil is legal, it is illegal to sell to nonresidents. Therefore, even if an approved resident from Iowa were able to buy the oil in one of the states where it is legal, transporting the substance across state lines remains a federal crime.
“That’s the reality of the situation,” Deborah Thompson, policy advisor for IDPH, told Iowa Watchdog. “There are still some very fundamental barriers to parents getting the oil.”
According to state Rep. Rob Taylor, R-West Des Moines:
“It was a very limited bill. All it did was give citizens of Iowa who possess and are registered with the state safe harbor under Iowa state law. Meaning we wouldn’t prosecute them if they have cannabidiol,” Taylor said.
When asked what purpose it served to create an approval process of a substance that Iowans will not be allowed to legally obtain, Taylor stated, “It’s one more tool in their toolbox for families dealing with a very, very disturbing disorder.”
According to Reason, William Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, called for flexibility in interpreting anti-drug treaties.
“How could I, a representative of the government of the United States of America, be intolerant of a government that permits any experimentation with legalization of marijuana if two of the 50 states of the United States of America have chosen to walk down that road?”
When asked about the federal government’s position on the regulation and taxation of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, Brownfield described a clearly prescribed policy:
“The deputy attorney general’s words were that the federal government will not intervene in the application of the laws of Washington and Colorado on marijuana legalization, but will monitor and hold them responsible for performance in eight specifically designated areas…. We have a national interest to ensure that this does not cause undue harm….”
“The United States of America reserves the right and can at any time it chooses enforce the law against marijuana and cannabis cultivation, production, sale, purchase, and consumption in Washington state and Colorado. The deputy attorney general in a public document has asserted that for now we will not do that unless it crosses the line in eight specifically identified categories in those two states.”
Although there is a long way for the federal government to go in terms of completely eliminating its prohibitionist attitude, those associated have been compelled by the political circumstances in the U.S. to accept that there is value to alternative policies. This is a good sign for countries that have been pressured by the U.S. to mimic and help enforce American prohibition.
The Current reported that a debate on the ordinance to make marijuana legal in South Portland will be held next week on Wednesday, October 22, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the South Portland High School, 637 Highland Avenue.
The South Portland School Department and Social Studies Department have arranged the event to give concerned residents the opportunity to educate themselves on the issues surrounding the referendum in South Portland prior to Election Day on November 4. If the referendum passes, it will allow residents to use and possess up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as allow the possession of paraphernalia.
Those participating in the debate include David Boyer, the Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, who will be arguing in favor of the passing of the ordinance, South Portland Police Chief, Edward Googins, who will be arguing against the passing of the ordinance, and Susan Sharon, of Maine Public Radio, who will be moderating the debate.
Please support the South Portland referendum by attending the debate and encourage friends, relatives, and neighbors to do the same!
We’re celebrating “Croptober’ with a baker’s dozen of outdoor pot shots courtesy of the Mendo Dope crew in Northern California.
According to the Washington Post, President Obama plans to nominate top lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union, Vanita Gupta, to head to the civil rights division of the Department of Justice.
Gupta is a longtime civil rights lawyer and deputy legal director of the ACLU, as well as the director of the Union’s Center for Justice.
She stated in a New York Times op-ed about ending mass incarceration:
“Those who seek a fairer criminal justice system, unclouded by racial bias, must at a minimum demand that the government eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, which tie judges’ hands; rescind three-strikes laws, which often make no distinction between, say, armed assault and auto theft; amend “truth in sentencing” statutes, which prohibit early release for good behavior; and recalibrate drug policies, starting with decriminalization of marijuana possession and investment in substance-abuse prevention and treatment.”
According to administration officials, Gupta will be appointed acting head of the civil rights division Wednesday by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Bangor Daily News reported that South Portland and Lewiston, Maine voters, on November 4, will decide whether to make marijuana legal for the use and possession of up to an ounce for citizens 21 years of age and older.
David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said he believes South Portland will pass the ordinance.
“Prohibition has been a failure,” he said. “It’s done nothing to stop the flow of marijuana into the communities.” He added that “58 percent of Americans are ready to move forward with a more sensible marijuana policy,” citing a 2013 Gallup poll. “It’s illogical to punish adults for a substance that’s less harmful than alcohol,” Boyer also stated.
South Portland Police Chief, Edward Googins, on the other hand, vehemently opposes the ordinance.
“This issue for me as a police chief is that the initiative is not a good thing for our community or anywhere else,” Googins said. According to the chief, marijuana is more dangerous because it “continues to create and perpetuate other problems in society.” “Claims that marijuana is safer than alcohol are so bogus it’s not even funny,” he also stated.
The fact that Chief Googins believes that alcohol is safer than marijuana demonstrates just how misguided the opposition really is. In reality, studies show alcohol to be more toxic, more addictive, and more harmful to the body. The use of alcohol is also more likely to result in violence and injures than marijuana. Overall, the negative impact on the consumer, as well as on the community at large, is more significant when it comes to alcohol consumption; all the more reason to give responsible adults the option to legally use the safer substance.
According to the Tucson Weekly, Arizona Rep. Ethan Orr is looking at Colorado’s recent marijuana venture and the taxes, licenses, and fees that have brought the state more than $7 million so far.
As reported by the Arizona Republic, the Arizona revenue projections released last Tuesday to the legislature’s Finance Advisory Committee predict that the state will end this budget year with a $520 million deficit and possibly up to a $1 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year of 2016.
“Given the massive budget shortfall we’re facing, we need to look at revenue and I think this is a logical place we need to look,” Orr said. “I think it’s time to have an intelligent conversation about it (legalization).”
Orr also said that lawmakers should consider his proposal before supporters in the effort to make marijuana legal take their measure before voters in 2016.
Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, commends Rep. Orr for demonstrating leadership on the issue.
“While we are not yet familiar with the details of Rep. Orr’s bill, we would likely support any well-written proposal to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol,” Tvert stated.