Tags Posts tagged with "legalize marijuana"

legalize marijuana

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Democratic state legislators in the state of Connecticut presented a budget proposition this past Tuesday that involves regulating and taxing the use of marijuana for adults 21 and older. In the first year under the proposed system, those who are 21 and over would be able to buy controlled quantities of marijuana from existing medical marijuana dispensaries, and sales would be subject to a 25% tax in addition to the standard 6.35% state sales tax.

Once the state has licensed adult-use businesses, marijuana would be subject to an excise tax of $50 per ounce in addition to the standard 6.35% state sales tax on retail sales. Oregon and Nevada have adopted similar approaches, allowing early adult sales in medical marijuana businesses. An analysis of the plan believes it would generate roughly $60 million in marijuana tax revenue in the first full year and $180 million in the second year.

“The Democrats’ proposal to regulate marijuana for adults would generate significant new tax revenue in addition to creating jobs for residents and business opportunities for other local industries,” stated Sam Tracy, director of the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars in annual marijuana sales have been taking place in Connecticut each year, and the state has not received a dime in tax revenue. If the Legislature moves forward with this plan, the state could be bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue within just the next two years. This is not the only reason or the best reason to regulate marijuana for adult use, but it is one of several good reasons,” says Tracy.

“Regulating marijuana would come with several public health and public safety benefits in addition to the economic benefits. It would take marijuana out of the criminal market and ensure it is tested, labeled, and sold only to adults who show proof of age. It would also allow law enforcement officials to spend more time addressing serious crimes instead of enforcing failed prohibition laws. Most Americans recognize that marijuana is safer than alcohol, and they want to see it treated that way. Kudos to the Democrats for proposing a plan that would do just that and bring a variety of benefits to the people of Connecticut,” Tracy added.

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Justin Trudeau surprised many when he announced that he had used marijuana when he was a member of parliament, but those people were still supportive of his decision to legalize marijuana. On Friday, Trudeau announced in a policy speech that his Liberal government would bring the legislation up as soon as 2016 to legalize cannabis, which would make Canada “the G7 bloc of industrialized nations to do so,” although not all of the details have been worked out yet.

Two-thirds of Canadians support Trudeau’s decision to decriminalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana, according to a new Ipsos poll. This is the highest level of support that Canada has seen in the last thirty years even though the use of marijuana has declined. How they are going to do this, though, has not been released. It is going much further than just legalizing the plant, though; the country is planning on creating a market for the crop similar to Uruguay and some areas of the United States.

Approximately one million out of Canada’s population of 35 million smoke marijuana recreationally, according to a survey from 2014. Trudeau said in 2013 that he had smoked marijuana about five or six times in his life, including one time at a dinner party after being elected to parliament. In addition, he said that his brother Michael was facing charges for possessing a very small amount of marijuana before his dead in 1998, which influenced his choice to legalize marijuana.

“I’m not someone who is particularly interested in altered states, but I certainly won’t judge someone else for it,” Trudeau stated. “I think that the prohibition that is currently on marijuana is unjustified.”

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Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexican President, strongly opposed the legalization of marijuana on Wednesday. At the same time, the Mexican government called for a nationwide debate on the topic. He even stated that based on the debates on the topic that have been going on, there has been confusion everywhere, including his own household.

Mexico’s Supreme Court decided in November that cultivating, having and smoking cannabis for recreational use is legal because of the right to freedom, however, that ruling did not apply to the entire country, but just to four people involved in a specific case. According to Pena Nieto on Wednesday, one of his children asked him “Hey Dad, does that mean I can light up a joint in front of you soon?” The president responded by saying “No, don’t be confused.”

“I am not in favor of consuming or legalizing marijuana,” Pena Nieto stated in a prose announcing a child welfare program. “I am not in favor because it has been proven, demonstrated, that consuming this substance damages the health of children and youths. However, I am in favor of debate, so that specialists can give us some indication of where we should be going.”

Not too long ago, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Interior Secretary, said that the government will soon begin a nationwide debate on the use of marijuana, with public sessions to be held towards the end of January. Some of these debates will be hosted at four regional forums, and may even be accessed from the internet.

The debate will be primarily focused on public policy, health and social impact. As of right now, Mexico has decriminalized the possession of minimal amounts of cannabis, but reformers would like to take it to the next level; they want to legal the recreational and medical uses of marijuana. Pena Nieto did not approve of activists’ claims that “legalization would reduce drug cartels’ incomes from the trade.”

“It isn’t valid, and I don’t agree, that this legalization would make it easier to fight organized crime, by reducing the illicit income and profits from this activity,” Pena Nieto said. “That would beg the question, should we put the health of Mexican children and youths at risk in order to combat organized crime?”

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One of the biggest social issues among the presidential campaigns is marijuana. All of the Republicans besides Rand Paul are under the same position as Reagan during his era. On the other side, the Democrats are fighting to be more lenient on the issue. The prominent marijuana supporter is Bernie Sanders. Not too long ago, he introduced a bill called, “The Ending Federal Prohibition on Marijuana Act of 2015.” The bill’s main purpose is to reschedule marijuana to make it legal on the federal level. Sanders and Paul have already teamed up as sponsors of the CARERS Act, but Sanders’s bill goes even further than that.

“Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill to remove cannabis from federal jurisdiction. His bid for the Democratic nominee for the 2016 election is being bolstered by his public endorsement of cannabis,” according to Jamie Rosen, CEO of Dr. Dabber.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is more focused on medicinal forms of marijuana. Clinton would like to reschedule it as well, but not as far as Sanders. She would reschedule it to a level where research would be allowed on medical marijuana. Even then, though, she will not interfere with states that vote to legalize marijuana.

“I would like to move it from what is called Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 so that researchers at universities, National Institutes of Health can start researching what is the best way to use it, how much of a dose does somebody need, how does it interact with other medications,” Clinton announced.

Clinton has barely approached the issue before; instead, she claimed that she would like to “wait and see” when asked how she feels about complete legalization. Clinton is known as a huge supporter of medical marijuana, but this is the first time that she has taken a clear stance on recreational marijuana. Since Rand Paul is not very supported in the Republican Party, Sanders seems to be the key to marijuana reform in the United States.

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When listening to Ian James, he sounds just like any other ordinary marijuana advocate. For instance, he criticizes the war on drugs, boasts about the economic and tax benefits that come with legalizing marijuana, and even argues that marijuana legalization would not hurt children because dispensaries would be selling to adults, not children. Even then, it seems that James – who is behind Tuesday’s ballot measure to legalize pot in Ohio – care more for his political convention than anything else he argues.

James’s statewide ballot initiative, Issue 3, has been constructed to “line the pockets of the investors he gathered to bankroll it—a brazen example of pay-to-play politics according to critics.” However, James is not like anyone else who has ever advocated legalizing marijuana before him. James is the CEO of a political consultant group specializing in ballot measures called The Strategy Network. Unlike marijuana activists of the past which have usually been the reason for some form of legalization in the past, James is a 30-year political member working for Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who is not exactly for the legalization of marijuana.

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There has been talk about Native American tribes looking to open a banking system that marijuana companies would be able to deposit their money into legally. Now, however, they are going a step further; the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska is looking into legalizing marijuana, but tribal experts fear that doing so would make the tribe lose money rather than gain. On Tuesday, the members of the Omaha Tribe will be voting on whether or not they should legalize marijuana for recreational and medical uses, as well as industrial hemp on its reservation.

The final decision, though, will come from the Tribal Council. The voting that will occur on Tuesday only serves as guidance on whether or not the council should take the issue up. According to CEO of the Winnebago Tribe’s economic development arm, Ho-Chunk Inc., it would be very hard for the tribe to manufacture and legalize the use of marijuana on its reservation even if the U.S. Department of Justice issued a memo just a year ago on that very topic. Morgan stated that the memo does not actually give tribes permission to legalize marijuana, but instead, gives them the capability to work with attorneys to do so.

The bad news is that many U.S. attorneys have not been willing to work with tribes to allow legalization. Morgan used federal raids of tribal hemp fields in California and Wisconsin as a main example of unwillingness; federal agents destroyed thousands of hemp and cannabis plants during the raiding. The Justice Department memo has given many tribes across the country to make attempts at joining in on the marijuana industry, according to Morgan. Again, though, some tribes have recently had the misfortune of discovering that they do not actually have the right to legalize marijuana.

“This is just one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen come out of D.C.,” Morgan stated. “Encouraging us to invest capital, and then coming in and destroying that capital and raiding the tribe doesn’t make any sense at all.”

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Is It OK to Smoke Marijuana On Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur is more strict than Shabbat in most cases (including today)

It is debatable whether smoking marijuana is allowed on other holidays. You would have to ask your Posek (the rabbi whose decisions you follow)

With Marijuana you have the added issue that there is a Jewish rule that you must keep the laws of the land unless they expressly contradict the Jewish covenant.

Thus, it is likely that Marijuana in the US is prohibited unless you have a medical Marijuana prescription for the state you are in.

Finally, there is the question of health impact. When rabbis in the 20th century were asked why they do not prohibit tobacco, they said that since the science was not definite, they could not rabbinicaly prohibit it.

It is arguable that if a rabbi was re-evaluating the matter of tobacco today, he would have to say it is prohibited because it is “poison”. My assumption is that Marijuana today is in the status of dilatability — if you believe the science that it has long-term negative impacts, then you would be prohibited from using it since you are not allowed to poison yourself.

Anything detrimental to one’s health, and certainly anything illegal, should be avoided all year long according to many answers we found. As to the theoretical issue of smoking on a fast day, on Yom Kippur the issue is most likely prohibited because of the fire involved.  Anyone else care to chime in?

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Michael Minardi is on an extremely difficult mission: to legal medicinal marijuana in Florida. This does not seem like to be too difficult since a ballot to legalize marijuana did not pass in 2014, but Minardi has different plans than those that were used a year ago. Minardi says the difference is that “We’re going to use science, and we’re going to use stats.”

Minardi is an attorney in West Palm Beach who won a case in March that argued medicinal marijuana was a necessity as his client was charged for the possession of pot. Former attorney Bill Wohlsifer and a current cannabis activist, Karen Goldstein, are working with him to try to form a corporation by the name of Sensible Florida. In addition, they are trying to start an associated group called Regulate Florida. Along with these plans, the three have also made an amendment to propose for the constitution of the state that would legalize recreational marijuana for all Floridians 21 or older. The regulations would be that they may buy an ounce, and with a license, grow six plants at their house.

“Realistically, it gives adults the choice to use cannabis for whatever and whenever they want,” Minardi stated. “It doesn’t allow for driving while on cannabis; it limits the age to 21 — much like the way alcohol is sold and regulated. It creates a licenses-regulated system of distribution to make sure we have the safety of the products and safety for consumers as a priority, much like they do in Colorado. Whenever any kind of product is regulated, it makes sure people are getting a safe product.”

During the summer, the Florida Division of Elections gave Minardi and his team permission to begin collecting signatures; overall, the team would need 683,149 verified voter signatures for the amendment to be placed on the November ballot in 2016. Last November, United for Care’s popular initiative to try to legalize medicinal marijuana, but the initiative fell short by only two percentage points. In 2014, a bill was filed in Miami that would allow Floridians 21 and older to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and licensed people to grow up to six plants. However, this bill also was shot down before any chance was given to it in the Legislature.

These Five States Could Legalize Marijuana in 2016

Nevada’s vote is set and advocates believe they can get similar measures on the ballot in four other states

This past Friday, Nevada lawmakers closed out without voting on a petition given by residents to legalize cannabis and regulate it the saw way as alcohol. That means the initiative is going on the ballot in 2016, making Nevada the first state to officially be voting on legalizing marijuana in the next election.

“Voters will have the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition next year and replace it with a policy that actually makes sense,” Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), released in a statement. “Law enforcement officials will be able to spend their time addressing more serious crimes, and adults will no longer be punished simply for using marijuana.”

If voters allow the initiative, Nevada will then become the fifth state—after Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska—to have a legalized cannabis market. But chances are it won’t be the only state contemplating that option. Here are the four different states that cannabis law reformers are saying will have legalization votes on the ballot in 2016:

California: Groups like Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance are working hard on crafting the language for a ballot program in the Golden State. Concerns like production limits and whether cultivating from home is allowed can divide voters and established medical cannabis businesses. For supporters, framing the program for success is really important given California’s influence as a regulatory laboratory.

“California was the first state to adopt a medical marijuana law and it inspired states around the country to adopt similar laws,” Tvert says. “It’s a state that carries a lot of weight nationwide. It’s a massive population center and it’s a very diverse state.” While California is congested with liberal politicians, California also has traditional strongholds that have mobilized on ballot program in the past. If a program passes there, supporters will trumpet it as evidence that legalization has wide bipartisan appeal.

Arizona: As of right now, legalization has taken root in Western liberal coastal states and libertarian mountain states. Traditional voters, which put liberals as the minority in Arizona, are less likely to back recreational marijuana. However they are moving down that path. A recent poll from progressive firms SKDKnickerbocker and Benenson Strategy Group discovered that 61% of people in the US support legalization nationwide, as well as 71% of Democrats and 48% of Republicans. Last year, Gallup found that 51% of individuals in the US support legalization, down from 58% the year before. “The federalism argument is starting to see traction,” stated by the Drug Policy Alliance’s Malik Burnett.

Young Republicans are driving the charge, with 6 in 10 of them leaning towards those who want to make pot legit. Generally speaking young voters  turn out in a presidential election year like 2016. “That only bodes positive for the initiative,” Burnett stated.

Maine: In 2012, Ron Paul won the most of the Republican delegates in the state of Maine, a state which is next door to where Mitt Romney was governor. Which is to say: the libertarian vein runs deep. Voters in two Maine cities have also proved willing to legalize cannabis in large historic votes in recent years. The state’s largest city, Portland, and South Portland, voted to make it legal for adults to have in their possession a minimal amount of marijuana. The vote in Portland commenced in 2013, making it the first area on the East Coast to pass such regulations.

The smaller city of Lewiston voted against a similar situation last year. However Tvert states that the most important result of the city-level campaigns is that people in the state of Maine are thinking about legalization and at least hearing the arguments from their their point of view. “There’s been an ongoing public dialogue,” he states. “I’ve always believed that the more people learn about marijuana and the fact that it’s not as dangerous as they’ve been led to believe, the more likely they are to support treating it that way.”

Massachusetts: Voters in Massachusetts also have marijuana fresh in their minds. In 2012, residents voted to legalize medical marijuana, after decriminalizing the drug in 2008; both measures passed with over 60% of the vote. In 2014, more than a dozen districts in the state supported non-binding ballot measures indicating support for legalizing marijuana, and the state legislature has heard testimony on a legalization bill.

As a conclusion, supporters are focusing their efforts in the Commonwealth. Organizations are getting ready to spend money and mobilize signature-gatherers once they have settled on the choice of words for the ballot. It will not be a cakewalk. Some state lawmakers have shared views of skepticism that the people there are prepared to legalize recreational cannabis while their market for medical pot is still building up, despite the state’s liberal bent. “I’m not sure people in the state are ready for that and I’m certainly not sure I’m ready for that,” a Democratic lawmaker said to the Boston Globe.

Legalization advocates, of course, are betting that they can convince a majority of people heading to the polls that the time is right. “In any state we’re up against 80 years of marijuana prohibition and efforts to demonize marijuana,” Tvert says. “Our goal remains the same and that’s to educate voters.”

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“You don’t have to smoke marijuana to be part of the marijuana movement.”

When I start a discussion with people about marijuana law reform, my conversation normally begins with the same blanket statement – “You don’t have to smoke marijuana to be part of the marijuana movement.”  Starting a discussion in this way immediately eliminates the bias of an argument for whether it is ok to “get high” and helps people realize that the issues about legalization go much farther than whether you do or do not agree with someone’s decision about cannabis consumption.

Americans need only ask themselves a few simple questions to figure out which side of the fence they belong on.  First, do you honestly believe there are NO medical benefits derived from the plant?  Second, do you believe that marijuana is more harmful than cocaine and should be considered as dangerously addictive as heroin?  And finally, do you feel that all people who use cannabis, including hemp farmers, are criminals?

If you answered “NO” to either (or all) of these three questions – and you should have – than you are a part of the movement.  Even the Attorney General, the person in charge of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and chief law enforcement officer of the United States government is part of the movement.

In an interview with Katie Couric for Yahoo global new, US Attorney General, Eric Holder, stated that while the current drug policies may have been set with “good intentions”, they are clearly a violation of civil rights.  Furthermore, he points out the disproportionate amount of people of color and Hispanic decent who have their futures tarnished with drug charges when statistics show that cannabis consumption knows no boundaries on race or ethnicity.

Holder’s statements are not new.  He has been a supporter of rescheduling marijuana under the basis that a Schedule 1 narcotic classification is reserved for dangerous and highly addictive drugs that have no medicinal use.  Although Holder proposes a very solid argument against the current drug policy, he said that the “jury is still out” in regards to his position for decriminalization on a federal level.  With that said, in April earlier this year, Holder declared his stance on legalization to be “cautiously optimistic”. Reschedualization is a debatable topic in the movement with many arguing for complete un-schedulization (aka legalization), however, the discussion of rescheduling marijuana by the US Attorney General is considered a victory and represents tremendous progress along the path to end cannabis prohibition.

Support for the argument to reschedule cannabis can be found in an increasing number of reports scientifically proving the medical benefits of cannabis.  There is also evidence that it is safe enough to aid in the treatment of children suffering from seizures and cancers.  Additionally, the US Government – the same people who claim that the plant has no medicinal purposes – is trying to patent the medicinal purposes!

Furthermore, if marijuana was as addictive as heroin, why would the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) , one of the world’s leading research centers in the field of addiction and the largest mental health and teaching hospital for addiction in Canada, make a public declaration that it supports full legalization of marijuana with the condition of high regulation by the Canadian government?

In the press release for the CAMH report Dr. Jurgen Rehm points out that by not heavily regulating cannabis, it forces people to turn to the black market where they must associate with criminals and could be more easily introduced to other drugs. Dr. Rehm argues that exposure to the criminal drug culture may lead to more serious substance abuse and/or a criminal record that may hinder a person’s ability to find gainful employment.  And he is right.  If marijuana was in fact legal, it is not likely that the budtender in a legal dispensary would offer to throw in a crack rock or offer to do a line of cocaine with you just for stopping by.

Even US President, Barack Obama, has admitted to using marijuana when he was a child and said he believes it is not any more dangerous than alcohol.  Imagine where the country would be today if President Obama had been arrested and sent to jail for possession of marijuana when he was younger.

Although the new Attorney General is yet to be named, there is a positive buzz in the DOJ as President Obama named Ms. Vanita Gupta as the head the DOJ Civil Rights Division.  Ms. Gupta is a known cannabis supporter making her opinions very public with the CNN column she wrote in September 2014.  She said, “it’s time for states to end the costly criminalization of marijuana and recalibrate sentencing laws so that the punishment actually fits the crime”, and I couldn’t agree with her more.  I know exactly where I stand on the issue of marijuana prohibition; the real question is do you? What side of the fence are you on?  From where I am standing, the grass is definitely greener!

 

 

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