Toke TV 96: States Want Their Own Pot Laws! Congressman Calls On DOJ To Reclassify Weed! Legalization Initiative In Mass.!
National Council of State Legislatures Passes Resolution “In Support of States Determining Their Own Marijuana and Hemp Policies”
The National Council of State Legislatures passed a resolution yesterday urging the federal government to amend the Controlled Substances Act and to refrain from interfering with state laws permitting the legal production and use of cannabis.
The National Council of State Legislatures is a bipartisan, non-governmental organization founded in 1975 to unite members of legislature’s from around the United States. The council works to improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures, promote innovative policy and communication among state legislatures, and to magnify their voice in the federal system.
The NCSL resolves “[S]tates and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety, health, and economic development of their communities.” Members passed the resolution overwhelmingly by a voice vote.
The vote represents a strong consensus among state lawmakers that the federal government should embrace, not impede the progress states have made to amend their marijuana laws, and encourages federal lawmakers to consider rescheduling marijuana in order for states to safely and effectively move forward in their reforms.
Currently 23 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws on the books, and half of all US states recognize industrial hemp. Four states plus Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use. There is no doubt states have recognized the failed efforts of marijuana prohibition and are eager to try out other policies. NORML commends the resolution adopted by the National Council of State Legislatures and will continue to advocate for the federal government’s compliance.
Lawmakers in Hallandale Beach, Florida have unanimously passed a measure that will establish an $100 fine for those caught possessing small amounts of cannabis. The vote comes just weeks after a similar proposal was approved in Miami-Dade, Florida’s largest county, and Miami Beach.
Under the new law, police will have the option of issuing a $100 fine to those caught possessing no more than 20 grams of cannabis, rather than arresting and prosecuting them. Under current law, the possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis is a misdemeanor which can result in a year-long prison sentence.
“[The measure] will allow police officers to focus their efforts on more serious forms of crime plaguing our streets, unclogging a criminal justice system too often bogged down with cases of minor marijuana possession,” saiys Hallandale Beach Commission Keith London, who introduced the measure.
The new law will go into effect on September 19th. Hallandale Beach Police Department announced that it will soon begin training officers on how the new measure works
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Arizona’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a group working to place an initiative to legalize cannabis on next year’s ballot, has announced Wednesday that they’ve collected over 50,000 signatures in just 10 weeks.
In order for the group to put their initiative to a vote, they must collect 150,642 signatures from registered Arizona voters by July of next year. The 50,000 in just 10 weeks puts them on track to reach this number nearly 6 months early. The group is, however, aiming for over 230,000 signatures, to account for those that are invalid.
If placed on the ballot and approved into law, the initiative would allow those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, as well as cultivate up to six plants. Cannabis retail outlets would also be allowed, with the measure establishing the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to handle licensing and regulations.
“Adults of all ages and political stripes want to vote for this in November 2016,” says campaign chairman JP Holyoak. “We are excited by the outpouring of support. This is the right initiative at the right time.”
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We read with interest the recent review of medical use of cannabinoids (1). As the authors attempt to emphasize, they focus on a heterogeneous collection of experiments that employed a range of treatments, including synthetic THC, CBD, and THC-mimicking drugs.
Lay readers might inappropriately generalize these results specifically to whole plant medical cannabis But few (only two) of these experiments were conducted using medical cannabis; most of the studies reviewed focused on outcome measures that do not address the plant’s potential advantages over a single, compound agent in pill form.
For example, the authors conclude that evidence of individual, synthetic cannabinoids to help nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy was low in quality. Within hours of the publication of the paper, mainstream media coverage applied these conclusions to medical cannabis per se, not just medical cannabinoids (2). In fact, as the authors emphasize, only 6 of the 28 studies assessing nausea and vomiting used THC, and none of these actually employed vaporized or inhaled botanical cannabis. The dependent measures were also not sensitive to the key advantage of medical cannabis for nausea: speed of onset. (Inhaled medicines can work within seconds. Sprayed extracts require at least a half hour while cannabinoids in pill form can take multiple hours.) The authors were generally careful about these caveats, but the disparate and inaccurate media coverage suggests that flagship journals in all fields now have to be even more diligent when cautioning readers about the inappropriate generalization of results. Despite increasing popularity, medical cannabis remains controversial and, apparently, newsworthy. As reviews of the effects of cannabinoids proliferate, authors, editors, journal staff, and journalists might welcome a reminder that cautions about interpretation need to be spelled out in more effusive, detailed, and thorough ways.
Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D.
University at Albany
Department of Psychology
Chair, NORML Board of Directors
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
Amanda Reiman, Ph.D.
Drug Policy Alliance
1) Whiting PF, Wolff RF, et al. Cannabinoids for Medical Use: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA, 2015: 313(24):2456-2473
2) Seaman, AM. Medical marijuana: good evidence for some diseases, weak for others. Reuters. June 24, 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/23/us-marijuana-medical-evidence-idUSKBN0P31WT20150623
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution Thursday urging the federal government to allow states to determine their own cannabis policies. It was supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75% of the states represented at the conference’s general business meeting.
The preamble to the resolution, introduced by New Hampshire State Representative Renny Cushing, notes that “states are increasingly serving as laboratories for democracy by adopting a variety of policies regarding marijuana and hemp,” and it highlights the fact that “the federal government cannot force a state to criminalize cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana or hemp — whether for medical, recreational, industrial, or other uses — because doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.”
The full resolution, which can be found by clicking here, states:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures believes that federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference and urges the administration not to undermine state marijuana and hemp policies.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures recognizes that its members have differing views on how to treat marijuana and hemp in their states and believes that states and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety, health, and economic development of their communities.
“State lawmakers just sent a message to Congress that could not be any clearer,” says Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It’s time to end the federal prohibition of marijuana and let the states decide what policies work best for them.”
The NCLS was formed in 1975, and consists of state legislators and their staff.
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As first reported by Marijuana.com, a Justice Department internal memo distributed to U.S. House Representatives last year misinformed members on the scope of a medical marijuana amendment they were voting on.
Last year, lawmakers approved 219 to 189 an amendment aimed at prohibiting the Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.
We have now learned that in the days before this vote, Justice Department officials distributed “informal talking points” incorrectly warning members that the amendment could “in effect, limit or possibly eliminate the Department’s ability to enforce federal law in recreational marijuana cases as well.” The realization came from a footnote contained in the memo stating that the talking points previously released were, “intended to discourage the passage of the rider but does not reflect our current thinking.”
The talking points seemed to have an effect on several members, who prior to the final vote on the amendment, argued against it claiming the “amendment as written would tie the DEA’s hands beyond medical marijuana.” Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) went on to claim, “The problem is that the way the amendment is drafted, in a state like Maryland which has medical marijuana, if we ever legalized it, the amendment would stop the DEA from going after more than medical marijuana.”
These statements coupled with the rest of the long debate that took place before the amendment, clearly signal that lawmakers on both sides of the argument believed the amendment to prohibit federal interference in states with medical marijuana.
However, in a very narrow interpretation of the amendment, the Justice Department memo claims that the restriction of federal funds for the use of interfering in state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs is strictly for states and state officials implementing the laws themselves. That is to say, the federal government would still be allowed to arrest and prosecute people who grow marijuana and operate dispensaries but the state officials issuing the licenses are protected from federal intrusion. This explains the continued action taken by the federal government against individuals in states with legal medical marijuana laws on the books.
The same amendment protecting medical marijuana states from federal intervention was passed again this year with a larger margin of support, 242-186.
Representatives Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Farr (D-CA) (sponsors of the medical marijuana amendment) requested last week the Department of Justice’s inspector general hold an internal investigation into the continued action taken by the federal government. They feel Congress has made it clear by passing the amendment two years in a row, federal funds should no longer be used to prosecute individuals acting in compliance with their state laws.
Currently 23 states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws. Check out our State Info page to check on your state’s current marijuana laws.
Chuck Rosenberg, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), says that “heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana”, the first sitting DEA chief to admit what most people have known for years.
The comment was made by Rosenberg during a conference with reporters on Wednesday morning. Rosenberg was clarifying comments he made last week, when he said that cannabis is “probably not” as dangerous as heroin.
Although most people understand that heroin is far more dangerous than the non-lethal cannabis plant, federal law still finds the two substances in the same category, with both being Schedule 1 controlled substances.
The comments are a direct departure from those of former DEA chief Michele Leonhart, who refused to answer whether cannabis is safer than heroin when pressed by lawmakers during a congressional hearing.
Although Rosenberg says he wants the DEA to enforce federal cannabis laws, he says that the agency should focus on “the most important cases in their jurisdictions”, which is typically “heroin, opioids, meth and cocaine, in roughly that order, and marijuana tends to come in at the back of the pack.”
Rosenberg was selected to head the DEA by President Obama in May.
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