Tags Posts tagged with "Cannabis Legalization"

Cannabis Legalization

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Proposal Aims For Medical Marijuana Legalization In North Carolina

A recent proposal aims to legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina. The bill lays out the development of a medical marijuana supply system and aims to create a program administered by the UNC system called the North Carolina Cannabis Research Program. The program would conduct studies to determine the safety and efficacy of cannabis as medical treatment and then develop guidelines for the appropriate physician administration and patient use of medical cannabis.


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Industrial Hemp Project At The University Of Minnesota

University of Minnesota students may do double-takes this summer if they spot what looks like marijuana plants growing on the agricultural testing fields at the St. Paul campus. However, the dark green foliage with jagged leaves will actually be industrial hemp, a close look-alike and cousin to marijuana that’s useless for getting high but potentially valuable for certain foods, cosmetics, and oil.


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Texas One Step Closer To Decriminalizing Marijuana

Texas is one step closer to eradicating the criminal penalties associated with minor marijuana possession. The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee recently put its seal of approval on a proposal (House Bill 81) that would allow police all over the state to simply slap those people caught in possession of up to an ounce of weed with a small fine instead of dragging them to jail. The state currently deems this offense a Class B misdemeanor, which carries the potential for marijuana offenders to serve up to six months behind bars.


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Nearly 1.8 million people in Massachusetts voted in favor of legalizing cannabis. However, did they really mean to do that? It is a crazy sounding question to present about a simple yes-or-no ballot proposition, but such are the mental gymnastics now being played by a pair of Massachusetts legislators. They are doing it for a governor who has made his distaste for legalization well known. Massachusetts voters approved legalization in November, approving Question 4 by nearly seven percentage points, despite opposition from nearly every major state politician. Since then, possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and over has been made legal, but elected officials have done everything they can to undo or delay much else.

Several legislators called a special holiday session to delay the opening of recreational cannabis shops by six months. In January, a key state senator introduced legislation to sharply reduce the amount of marijuana adults can possess and grow at home, also to delay the first legal, over-the-counter sale by two years. Now, state Senator Patricia Jehlen and Rep. Mark Cusack are open to making more changes to the voter-approved law, changes due by June. Possible changes could include raising the tax rate, giving local municipalities more leeway to limit the number of cannabis retail stores and messing with plant and possession limits.

As they explained to the Boston Globe, they can justify doing this because the voters weren’t quite sure what they were doing with their ‘yes’ votes. Jehlen stated, “I don’t think the voters were expressing deep engagement with every single sentence. But I think the idea of allowing people to own and use and grow marijuana legally, that is what is our mandate, to protect that.” Cusack argued, “I think the will of the voters is they wanted recreational marijuana, not that they sat there and read every word of the ballot measure before they voted for it. It was really: Do you want it or do you not?”

Like other legalization measures in other states approved last fall, Question 4 set clear basic rules on cultivation, possession and when they could expect sales. Whether Cusack and Jehlen tinker with bureaucratic minutiae or make fundamental changes remains to be seen, Jehlen, says that reducing the number of plants allowed “would be an error,” but to suggest that voters didn’t quite comprehend what they were doing is condescending.

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America’s legal Cannabis may be the big winner on election day with pot currently on the ballot in nine states. States that are having a hard time with budget deficits will definitely welcome the change considering legal markets are predicted to surpass $22 billion by 2020. The following five states: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will vote on recreational cannabis for adults. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota are voting for medical cannabis. Advocates believe the cannabis laws will pass in Florida and California and possibly several other states as well.

“Legalization of cannabis is one of the greatest business opportunities of our time.”

“It’s well established that the majority of Americans now believe that the responsible use of marijuana by adults should not be a criminal offense,” stated Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The Pew Research Center released two national surveys in mid-October that confirmed 57 percent of U.S. adults say pot should be legal compared to 60 percent that were opposed a decade ago. Following the legalization of recreational use of weed in Colorado and Oregon 3 years ago; support for legalization reached an all-time high. The latest Gallup Poll reflected support for legalizing cannabis is at 60 percent reaching record heights. Tax revenue generated from legal sales surpasses predictions

It is way too early to officially rate the general impact to society in states where marijuana has been legalized. A recent report from the Drug Policy Alliance states that it has been “so far, so good” in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C. They reported less cannabis arrests, young people smoking weed did not increase significantly and traffic fatality rates have remained stable.

There is; however, strong data on the total sales and tax revenue generated by this flourishing phenomenon. As per a recent report from the ArcView Market Research and New Frontier; sales from legal cannabis went up last year on a national level from $4.6 billion in 2014 to $5.7 billion. Recreational sales went up to $1.2 billion by the end of 2015, up from $374 million in 2014.

The report predicts heavy sales growth this year, with retail sales hitting $7.1 billion, up about 26 percent from 2015. By 2020, the report says, legal market revenue are forecast to surpass $22 billion.

“Legalization of cannabis is one of the greatest business opportunities of our time and it’s still early enough to see huge growth,” stated Troy Dayton, CEO of The ArcView Group, in the report.

The legal marijuana business has also created tens of thousands of jobs nationwide.

“We’re seeing a massive transformation from an illicit economy worth tens of billions of dollars into a legal economy that will probably be worth even more than that,” stated Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that supports the legalization of cannabis.

Looking at the numbers

Tax income collected in Colorado ($121 million), Washington ($427 million) and Oregon ($40 million) have surpassed initial prediction. The report stated Cannabis tax revenue in Colorado was three times the amount that of alcohol and 14 percent more than casino revenue and they predict it will overshadow cigarette tax dollars by 2020.

The extra income is only a needle in the haystack according to Joe Henchman, vice president for legal and state projects at the Tax Foundation.

California; do or die

The focus is on California as voters there are asked to approve Proposition 64; the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Medical cannabis has already been legalized there. This would allow individuals to grow marijuana at home and give municipalities the authority to allow recreational weed store-fronts. This election may be a significant factor in making it impossible for Congress to keep ignoring the issue. According to the most recent polls, Prop 64 is expected to pass.

Gallup noted, “If recreational marijuana use becomes legal in California this year, many other states will likely follow, because the Golden State often sets political trends for the rest of the U.S.”

Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, believes this election will be “a tipping point” that makes it impossible for Congress to keep ignoring the issue. “If all nine initiatives were to pass, we’d have approximately 62 percent of the US population living in a state where medical or adult-use cannabis access is legal. That’s huge,” she said.

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Virginia Senator Tim Kaine had a prime-time talking slot at the Democratic National Convention. For the first time, he was going to speak to a mass audience since being announced as Hillary Clinton’s running mate. After many hypotheses about the all the more energizing veep hopefuls — Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Tom Perez — Clinton picked Kaine as a sheltered, vital political move. The swing state of Virginia will more likely than not swing to support Clinton now.

Kaine’s standard foundation accreditations are solid: He’s a white person from a preservationist express, he’s a Harvard Law graduate, and he serves on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Forces Committees. Also, he plays the harmonica. For those for immigration change, he’s a great person. Political observer Samantha Bee has favored him as a mobile, talking, Spanish-talking embrace. For the cannabis-loving voter, however, Kaine is not the first choice.

In March, when he partook in a nearby high school political gathering, Kaine reacted to an inquiry concerning cannabis decriminalization with this: “I wouldn’t vote for a law at the federal or state level that would decriminalize marijuana.”

Kaine’s home state of Virginia stays one of only a handful few states with zero medical cannabis legalization. Despite everything, it directs unforgiving, 1980s-style punishments for marijuana ownership. For a first-time offense, the ownership of up to half an ounce of weed leads to 30 days in prison. In a 2014 meeting with WMRA radio, Kaine explained his convictions.

“I’ve never been a legalization fan,” he said. “Just for a whole series of both health and sort of crime-related reasons, I think it would not be a good idea.”

Kaine is, however, an advocate of sentencing reform, particularly for low-level marijuana offenses.

“I think, often, for sentences for marijuana and marijuana usage, I think some sentences are too strict,” Kaine said in the same radio interview. “These are often if they’re nonviolent crimes, I think it could be handled in a different way on a sentencing standpoint.”

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The United States’ most left sided candidate in the presidential race recently supported the cannabis legalization act in California, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act; bringing success to the “Let’s Get It Right, California” campaign.
“You’ve got a pretty good ballot initiative coming up in November,” Sanders said to people in California when talking about cannabis policy a few weeks ago. Sanders put down the fact that young people have criminal records for marijuana while those working on Wall Street were never put away after ruining the economy. Recently, Sanders only reiterated that, but louder.
“I do not live in California,” the Vermont senator said at a rally. “But if I lived in California, I would vote ‘yes’ to legalize marijuana.”
Out of all the presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders is the largest supported of marijuana law reform. He claims that he is going to remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and would let states decide whether or not they would like to legalize. His competition for being the nominee is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Although Clinton would also allow states to decide, she would move marijuana to Schedule 2 of the federal list instead of completely removing it.
The probable nominee for the Grand Old Party, Donald Trump, has taken different positions on marijuana, but the most recent decision is that he would allow states to choose what they want. However, he did say that legalization in Colorado is causing issues, ironically, as Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper states that legalization is working for Colorado.
The people of California will be able to vote on marijuana legalization this autumn because of the “Let’s Get It Right, California” campaign supporting the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act legalizes up to an ounce of marijuana in public and six plants to grow for adults 21 or older. Adults would eventually be able to buy marijuana in stores like the ones in Colorado and Washington.

 

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During 2015, Christopher and Lindsey Pate, husband and wife, bought fifteen acres of land in Central Oregon, where they planned to grow cannabis to sell for recreational uses. These plans came to an end in December when Deschutes County decided to ban recreational marijuana in unincorporated areas. This includes the land that the Pates bought.
Highlighting the changing nature that Oregon has been going through since voters legalized cannabis in 2014, the county’s commissioners, after setting up meetings and hearing from many groups and individuals, decided last week to allow cannabis to be grown and sold.
As another sign of the changes in Oregon, voters in Grant County, which is a very conservative part of Oregon, as well as Klamath County in the south will choose in Oregon’s primary election this week on whether or not to reimplement the county’s ban although proponents of marijuana were able to gain enough signatures. Oregon is one of four states that allow recreational marijuana for those 21 or older.
After Oregon voters had been elected to legalize cannabis, the state decided to allow cities and countries to get rid of cannabis production and sales where more than fifty-five percent of voters did not approve of legalization. According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, over a hundred cities and counties have “opted out” since then. The Deschutes County Commissioners stated that they struggle with the proposal of putting the prohibition back into play.
“I think that we have a responsibility to do what we can to find a balance, somewhere in the middle of a very divisive issue,” Commissioner Tammy Baney stated right before the commissions voted to overturn the ban. “Whether we like it or not, this (marijuana) is something that is here.”
There were definitely people against the idea of legal cannabis in Deschutes County, but they are going to have to deal with marijuana, as Baney indicated.

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A new study by a large automobile safety organization shows a connection between legalized cannabis and fatal traffic accidents. The survey from the AAA foundations for Traffic Safety discovered that after recreational marijuana was legalized in Washington, the amount of deaths by car accidents have doubled. AAA discovered the effect on driving habits was wrong about nine months from the passage of the bill in December 2012, so they compared the statistics of 2012 with those of 2013 and 2014.

AAA discovered that in 2013, forty-nine drivers involved in a fatal car accident had cannabis in their system. That number increased to 106 drivers in 2014, growing from eight percent to seventeen percent of all fatal car accidents. Some of these drivers also had alcohol or other drugs in their system. In 2014, thirty-one percent of all traffic deaths across the country had one or both drivers inebriated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated.

In the fall, Massachusetts voters are going to vote on a ballot measure that will legalize cannabis for recreational use. A new poll found that voters are not sure of the issues. Peter Kissinger, President, and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said that the study on the impact of Washington’s cannabis legalization and safety is very revealing for what could come for other states legalizing marijuana.

“The significant increase in fatal crashes involving marijuana is alarming,” Kissinger said.

Mary Maguire, public affairs and legislative director for AAA Northeast, stated that the study should be concerning for other states thinking about legalizing the drug.

“The major takeaway of this study is we want to create awareness among drivers that marijuana can impair safety,” said Maguire. “Driving is already a demanding task and when you add a drug that impairs our ability to perform that task effectively, it’s concerning.”

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On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Special Senate Committee On Marijuana published a report studying the probable “policy ramifications” of legalized cannabis for recreational use. That will be a decided by voters on the ballot in November. While stating that the committee had not taken “an official position” on the legalization measure, the report talks about a bunch of reasons as to why cannabis legalization may have a negative impact on the state and has not spoken on the good parts of legalization.

According to the report, there are worries that cannabis legalization may increase the amount of younger people taking marijuana, the amount of people driving under the influence, and that there will not be enough tax revenue to make up for the social downfalls. Other issues touched upon were edible cannabis products shown to be attractive to the youth, the black market still staying in place after legalization and that high THC will make marijuana more “addictive” today than it was before.

To stop the youth from being able to smoke marijuana and stop addiction, from which about 1 in 9 smokers suffer from, according to the report, the committee believes there should be heavy rules on marketing and advertising, including a law that would ban celebrity ads. If the people of Massachusetts were to legalize cannabis on the ballot, the report said that there should be a higher tax rate than the current bill, home growing should not be allowed, there should be a limit on THC in the body while driving and that there should be a cap on THC allowed in edibles, along with other restrictions.

Proponents of cannabis legalization in Massachusetts state that they are not shocked by the report’s hesitant tone. Powerful elected officials in Massachusetts have been critical of cannabis recently. For instance, the state’s largest leaders, Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as well as Attorney General Maura Healey, have been telling voters not to support the November legalization initiative.

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This week, New Mexico’s Senate thought about a bill that would have allowed voters to choose whether or not they support legal cannabis. As a result, the arguments became centered around Colorado, the lawmakers’ home state. As Sen. William Sharer fought against the measure, he referenced Denver’s crime rate, which has gone up since recreational cannabis was legalized it in 2012. In the end, the bill did not pass, 24-17.

Cannabis policy experts, as well as officials from Colorado, warn people to be careful when going over the impacts of cannabis, which are being debated by the United States Supreme Court often. This week, justices are going to meet up to discuss a lawsuit over cannabis set forth against Colorado by contiguous states. However, there is one thing that legalization supporters, opponents, as well as neutrals in Colorado assent on; Denver’s crime rate rising has nothing to with cannabis.

“Crime is up,” Sonny Jackson, Denver police spokesman, stated, ” but I don’t know if you can relate it to marijuana.”

Colorado voters legalized recreational cannabis in 2012 and since then, the amount of crimes in Denver has gone up by almost forty-four percent, annual figures the city reported to the National Incident-Based Reporting System show. Before, cops have stated that the system may not have the right number of crimes counted and instead cite the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, which indicates a 3.5% growth over the same time. Both of these increases can be adjusted when population growth is considered.

However, despite the counting system, cannabis has not had much of a contribution to the measurement. In 2012, city safety officials started following crimes they believed were associated with cannabis. During the first year of their study, Denver tracked 223 offenses, 172 of which were related to the cannabis industry, which was limited only to medical cannabis at the time.

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A group composed of lawmakers from Connecticut have come together in a strong effort to stop prohibition in The Constitution State. Juan Candelaria, a representative from New Haven recently stated that he and a rabid group of nine activists submitted a brand ned proposal in the General Assembly calling for the legalization of recreational cannabis. As a result, the proposal would make a fully legal marijuana industry that would allow adults 21 or over to buy cannabis from dispensaries throughout the entire state without any worries of law enforcement officers standing by waiting to incarcerate them.

Albeit Candelaria is under no impression that his goal to legalize marijuana, similar to the one currently going on in Vermont, will be simple, he will be doing his best to at the very least encourage leadership to allow a public hearing on the issue. But the lawmaker has not given any signal as to what he may be ready to do in order to keep his current proposal from ending up like one that was discarded immediately last year. However, he was never given the chance to be chewed on by the leaders of the committee. Even then, supporters of this legislation say that they will lean on Connecticut’s debt of more than $500 million as a key incentive.

“I think the fiscal situation the state finds itself in is fertile ground for discussing the legalization of marijuana,” co-sponsor of the bill, Representative Ed Vargas, said to the Hartford Courant.

It makes sense to put a price on cannabis that will result in a huge amount of tax revenue from a state that is facing large deficits. For instance, Colorado was the first state to allow cannabis to be cultivated and distributed for capitalism and is now selling more than $1 billion worth of marijuana products annually.

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