A Seattle City Council committee has approved a proposal which would make Seattle the first city in the U.S. to establish zoning regulations which would explicitly allow for recreational marijuana retail outlets and cultivation centers.
Under the proposal, marijuana retail outlets, as well as large-scale cultivation centers, would be authorized, though limited in their size and location.
Licensed cultivators would be limited to 45 plants per household. Larger grow-operations would be limited to a location no larger than 50,000 square feet, and, as with retail outlets, would be limited to certain parts of the city.
For example, retail outlets wouldn’t be allowed near schools and residential neighborhoods. Large cultivation centers would be limited mostly to industrial zones.
Although the regulations – which are expected to be approved by the full city council – are seen by many cannabis reform advocates as too restrictive, it’s still a historic occurrence that a city as large as Seattle is showing a willingness to embrace recreational marijuana.
Those interested can find the proposal in its entirety by clicking here.
The post Seattle Council Committee Approves Regulations for Recreational Marijuana appeared first on The Joint Blog.
South Carolina State Representative Todd Rutherford attempted this afternoon to add an amendment into a controlled substances bill which would have legalized medical cannabis in the state. The amendment would have authorized the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to license farmers to cultivate cannabis, which would be distributed to patients who receive a recommendation from their physician.
Unfortunately, the amendment was removed, with those opposed arguing not against its merit, but that it was irrelevant to the bill.
Representative Rutherford has stated that he’ll continue to work towards legalizing medical marijuana in the state, and will likely file legislation in the near future.
“Its time for legalization has come and gone”, stated Rutherford, “South Carolina just needs to get on board.”
The post Lawmaker Working to Legalize Medical Cannabis in South Carolina appeared first on The Joint Blog.
New polling conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosney Research has found that an incredible 63% of voters in Oregon support legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana, with only 34% being in opposition. Of the 63% in support, a surprisingly high 51% consider themselves to be “strongly in favor” of such a move.
In addition, the polling found that 57% would vote in favor of a 2014 initiative modeled after last year’s narrowly failed effort, Measure 80. Proponents of Measure 80 have stated that they plan to run initiatives aiming for the 2014 ballot, unless the state’s legislature approves legalization this year.
Last month DHM Research released polling which also found a majority of Oregonians to be in favor of legalization. The poll found that 81% believe that, regardless of their personal views, legalization is inevitable.
The results of these polls are exciting, and should serve as a source of inspiration to activists throughout the state.
The post New Polling Finds that 63% of Oregon Voters Support Legalizing Marijuana appeared first on The Joint Blog.
A Michigan traffic safety law that prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle by persons who possess any presence of THC in their blood, regardless of whether or not they are behaviorally impaired by the substance, may not be strictly applied to state-qualified medical cannabis patients. So decided the Michigan Supreme Court on Tuesday in the case People v Koon.
In a unanimous opinion, the Court determined that legal protections extended to state-qualified patients under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, enacted by voters in 2008, supersede the state’s zero tolerance, internal possession law. As a result, the Court determined that state prosecutors must establish that authorized patients charged under the statute are actually impaired by their cannabis use in order to gain a DUI criminal conviction.
According to the syllabus of the Opinion:
“The MMMA [Michigan Medical Marihuana Act] does not define what it means to be ‘under the influence,’ but the phrase clearly contemplates something more than having any amount of marijuana in one’s system and requires some effect on the person. Thus, the MMMA’s protections extend to a registered patient who internally possesses marijuana while operating a vehicle unless the patient is under the influence of marijuana. The immunity from prosecution provided under the MMMA to a registered patient who drives with indications of marijuana in his or her system but is not otherwise under the influence of marijuana inescapably conflicts with MCL 257.625(8) [the state's zero tolerance per se DUI law], which prohibits a person from driving with any amount of marijuana in her or system.”
The state’s zero tolerance per se drug law remains applicable to non-patients. Under such laws, motorists are guilty per se (in fact) of a criminal traffic safety violation if they engage in the act of driving while detectable levels of certain controlled substances or, in some cases, their inert metabolites (byproducts) are present in the defendants’ blood or urine. Proof of actual impairment is not a requirement for a conviction under the law.
To date, ten states — Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin — have enacted legislation imposing zero tolerance per se thresholds for the presence of cannabinoids and/or their metabolites. (State-authorized medical cannabis patients in Arizona and Rhode Island are exempt from prosecution under these per se statutes unless the state can provide additional evidence of psychomotor impairment.)
Five additional states impose non-zero-tolerant per se thresholds for cannabinoids in blood: Montana (5ng/ml — law takes effect on October 1, 2013), Pennsylvania (1ng/ml), Ohio (2ng/ml), Nevada (2ng/ml) and Washington (5ng/ml). Most recently, Colorado lawmakers approved legislation stating that the presence of THC/blood levels above 5ng/ml “gives rise to permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence.” State-qualified patients in Colorado, Montana, and Nevada are not provided legal exemptions from these statutes, although legislation is presently pending in Nevada to do so.
Such caution is similarly expressed by the United States National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, which acknowledges: “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”
A 2013 review of per se drugged driving laws and their impact on road safety found “no evidence that per se drugged driving laws reduce traffic fatalities.”
The Beach Boys perform "Lady Liberty" live at the Farm Aid concert in Austin, Texas on July 4, 1986. Farm Aid was started by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985 to keep family farmers on the land and has worked since then to make sure everyone has access to good food from family farmers. Dave Matthews joined Farm Aid's board of directors in 2001. For more information about Farm Aid, visit: http://farmaid.org/youtube Farm Aid's performances are donated by the artists in order to raise funds and raise awareness for family farmers. They've raised their voices to help — what can you do? From: farmaid Views: 574 4 ratings Time: 04:06 More in Music
The Beach Boys perform "Rock 'n Roll to the Rescue" live at the Farm Aid concert in Austin, Texas on July 4, 1986. Farm Aid was started by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985 to keep family farmers on the land and has worked since then to make sure everyone has access to good food from family farmers. Dave Matthews joined Farm Aid's board of directors in 2001. For more information about Farm Aid, visit: http://farmaid.org/youtube Farm Aid's performances are donated by the artists in order to raise funds and raise awareness for family farmers. They've raised their voices to help — what can you do? From: farmaid Views: 1091 7 ratings Time: 03:51 More in Music
The Beach Boys perform "Surfin' USA" live at the Farm Aid concert in Austin, Texas on July 4, 1986. Farm Aid was started by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985 to keep family farmers on the land and has worked since then to make sure everyone has access to good food from family farmers. Dave Matthews joined Farm Aid's board of directors in 2001. For more information about Farm Aid, visit: http://farmaid.org/youtube Farm Aid's performances are donated by the artists in order to raise funds and raise awareness for family farmers. They've raised their voices to help — what can you do? From: farmaid Views: 1497 8 ratings Time: 02:40 More in Music
The stars are lining up.
House Majority Leader John Boehner – the most powerful Republican in the U.S. in terms of legislation – has indicated that he’ll work towards hemp legalization, something that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has already been working towards. McConnell, to the surprise of many, is the prime sponsor of legislation filed in the Senate to end hemp prohibition.
In addition, Patrick Leahy, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a committee hemp legalization would be required to go through, has signaled that he’ll support a proposal to legalize hemp. This is huge.
A national farm bill is going through the legislature which overhauls (mostly technical stuff) the nation’s farm industry. An amendment to end hemp prohibition – introduced by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and cosponsored by McConnell and others – has been introduced into the bill. This may very well be the path of legal hemp, and could make it a reality by the end of the year, maybe by the end of the summer.
At this point, it’s absolutely vital for individuals to contact members of the U.S. Congress and Senate – as well as the president – urging them to support hemp legalization (you can look up your district’s and state’s elected officials by clicking here). When you do, consider pointing to recent congressional research (which can be found by clicking here) which finds that America imports over $400 million worth of hemp products, yet absurdly maintains the illegality of its cultivation. The same research indicates that the hemp market consist of over 25,000 various products.
When contacting your elected officials, make a special point to contact Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat who is the majority leader of the Senate. His support, or at least acceptance, of hemp legalization is crucial. Despite his Republican counterpart working towards such a move, Reid has remained silent on the issue. Those can contact Reid by clicking here.
Regardless of how this all plays all, it’s exciting and inspiring that so much movement is being made to finally right a decades-long mistake.
The post America Could Legalize Hemp This Year, Action Needed appeared first on The Joint Blog.
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is urging jurors in San Diego to Ronnie Chang of marijuana distribution charges. Chang was the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary before being raided 2009: Prosecutors are attempting to charge him based on federal law. The case is likely to be decided this fall.
In response, Mayor Bob Filner is asking jurors to commit jury nullification, the process of finding someone “not guilty” of a crime, even if they technically committed it, based on it being unjust.
“Someone should not be going through this stage of prosecution for trying to help people to have access to medical marijuana”, Mayor Filner told reporters, “[I]t’s time, like with Prohibition, to step back and say this was a stupid thing to do…and juries ought to take the lead in saying that to the federal government.”
This call-to-action is one of the first instances of a mayor urging jurors to nullify a medical marijuana charge.
The post San Diego Mayor Urges Jury to Nullify Charges Against Dispensary Owner appeared first on The Joint Blog.
This past legislative session in Washington State we wrote several times about a measure – House Bill 1661 – which would have allowed those with a past marijuana misdemeanor to have it cleared, or “vacated”, from their record. The measure garnered intense support from within the cannabis community, and was filed by a large bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, led by State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (who we did a Q&A with in February). After successfully passing through its initial two committees, the measure eventually stalled before reaching a full House vote. However, Representative Fitzgibbon has let us know that he’s continuing the effort, and is making it one of his top priorities in the next session.
“After the dust settles from the implementation of I-502 I think that legislators will be more interested in helping people who have a misdemeanor marijuana conviction have a second chance so they don’t have an unnecessary roadblock standing in the way of getting housing, jobs, and education”, Representative Fitzgibbon told us this morning.
Essentially this legislation would apply the 1 ounce decriminalization brought forth by Initiative 502, and would apply it retroactively, allowing individuals to remove a marijuana possession charge from their record, instantly reopening some of the lost opportunities associated with such a charge, such as the potential loss of student loans.
Fitzgibbon let us know that the measure would have had a “really good chance” of passing the House if it would have been scheduled for a vote, something House Majority Leader Frank Chopp failed to do. Those in Washington State should feel urged to contact him, which they can do by clicking here.
In addition, residents should be looking up and contacting their district’s legislators, asking them to support the compassionate move of allowing those with a marijuana possession misdemeanor – something voters have decided shouldn’t be a crime – to have it removed from their record.
We applaud Representative Fitzgibbon for working towards this needed improvement, and hope that other state officials decide do the same.
The post Legislator Continues Push to Pass Marijuana Expungement Bill in Washington appeared first on The Joint Blog.
Join NORML and our friends at the Marijuana Majority in our efforts to build support for marijuana law reform at the local level by contacting your mayor and urging their support for rational marijuana policies.
Mayors are on the front lines of the war on cannabis and can see the devastation it is causing at the local level. It is time our local politicans take a stand and say enough is enough, it is time to stop wasting precious law enforcement resources, stop allowing the revenue from marijuana sales to flow into the hands of criminal elements, and stop enforcing a prohibition on a plant that is safer than tobacco and alcohol. Please take a moment of your time today to click the link below and encourage your mayor to join the majority of Americans who want to see marijuana legalized.
We are at a pivotal moment.
Support for legalization is the highest it’s ever been and it’s still growing.
Now, Washington and Colorado have taken the first step toward ending prohibition for good.
But the feds still have reefer madness and are threatening to stand in the way of these states.
Thankfully, mayors across our nation are taking action.
They see the harm of these laws first-hand, and they are calling for change.
Is your mayor one of them?
Want to see what politicians, celebrities, academics, and more have already spoken out against marijuana prohibition? Click here to check out Marijuana Majority’s webpage.
Los Angeles voters were tasked with deciding between three different medical marijuana measures, and Measure D was the only proposal that won the majority of their support, with well over 60% (votes are still being counted, but given the logistics of the results thus far, the race can be called as passed). Measure D was crafted by the city’s council, and supported by the mayor and city attorney. Advocates of medical marijuana have urged voters to approve Measure F, which would have allowed for an unlimited number of dispensaries, so long as they met certain requirements such as testing for contaminants – the measure failed with nearly 43% voting in favor. Measure D limits the numbers of dispensaries in the city to 135 – those open prior to 2007 – and sets arbitrary, absurd regulations such as requiring access points to close by 8PM.
Although there is sure to be further legal challenges, this measure, for better or worse, will clear up some of the confusion surrounding the city’s fluctuating medical marijuana industry, which has seen, just over the past couple years, the city’s council ban dispensaries, before quickly repealing the ban after advocates garnered enough signatures to put a repeal on the ballot.
The vote comes a day after California’s Senate voted to finally protect dispensary owners and operators from prosecution.
The post Los Angeles Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Measure D appeared first on The Joint Blog.