Yesterday Maine State Representative Diane Russell held a press conference to officially announce her new proposal to legalize cannabis, which she will be pushing in the 2014 legislative session which begins in January – the state’s Legislative Council will decide tomorrow whether or not the proposal should be taken up as an “emergency bill”, which would allow it to pass into law at a much quicker pace.
This new proposal will be similar to measures Russell filed in 2011, and again this year, which would have legalize cannabis use, possession and state-licensed retail outlets, in addition to allowing adults to grow a small amount of their own cannabis. The proposal would impose a 10% sales tax and 15% excise tax on cannabis, similar to Colorado, with the revenue going towards public school construction, addiction treatment and the prevention of underage sales and usage, among other programs.
During the press conference Russell announced a new group supporting her proposal, called A Maine Approach Coalition.
If lawmakers don’t act this session on legalizing cannabis, activists are already planning a statewide ballot initiative to do just that.
The post Maine Lawmaker Announces 2014 Proposal to Legalize Cannabis appeared first on The Joint Blog.
On Thursday, November 21st, the Maine Legislative Council will be voting on whether or not to allow the introduction of LR 2329, a measure sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) which would legalize the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana by individuals over the age of 21 in addition to establishing retail outlets to sell marijuana and marijuana products.
It is extremely important that we cross this first hurdle at the Legislative Council tomorrow. We have a very real chance of passing this legislation if it is introduced. This is why we are asking all Maine residents to please take a minute of your time to contact the members of the council and urge them to support the introduction of this legislation.Maine: Click here to contact the Legislative Council in support of LR 2329
Final language will be released soon, but you can see an overview of the legislation below. NORML believes this legislation presents a smart approach on marijuana for the state of Maine. It would allow anyone over the age of 21 to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, cultivate up to 6 plants, and purchase marijuana from established retail outlets. It also has key provisions in place that ensure individuals with several years residency in Maine and experience as a current medical marijuana dispensaries or caregiver are given priority on business licenses, explicitly leaves the current medical marijuana law in place for patients, and directs tax revenue to help low income patients be able to afford their medicine.LR 2329: An Act To Align Maine’s Marijuana Laws with the Guidelines
Governing Taxation and Regulation Issued by the Federal Government
LR2329, “An Act to Align Maine’s Marijuana Laws With the Guidelines Governing Taxation and Regulation Issued by the Federal Government” is presented in light of the remarkable shifts in culture, events and momentum clearly moving Maine toward a model that regulates and taxes marijuana in a similar manner to the way we do alcohol. The Portland voter initiative answered the question for many, “Is Maine ready?”
Now, it’s time for a responsible, pragmatic policy. In short – a Maine approach. Here are some key elements of the bill, as well as the context or rationale where appropriate:
-The policy is focused on the responsible adult market and does not rewrite, recreate or in any way restrict the medical marijuana laws already on the books. Patients will continue to be able to procure medicinal marijuana from their current registered caregiver or registered dispensary provider without disruption. Further, the taxation structure currently in place for patients will remain in place going forward. The bill creates an entirely new chapter of law.
-The bill does allocate 5% of the excise tax revenue to a new fund to help low-income medical marijuana patients afford their medication.
-Adults over the age of 21 are allowed to possess, purchase, and consume cannabis.
-The department will be set up under what is currently BABLO – Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations. This department already oversees tightly regulated products and is most capable of overseeing the start-up of a similar set of rules for running a vice business.
-There are four types of licenses: Retail, Cultivation, Products and Testing. The cultivation licenses are divided up into tiers, allowing people to start small and scale up as appropriate to a maximum cultivation facility of 10,000 square feet – or, roughly a quarter of an acre. This addresses concerns about putting “the little guy” out of business.
-To obtain a license under the bill, applicants must have been a resident of Maine for a minimum of two years. This ensures that Maine people benefit from the industry directly.
-There will be a 10% sales and 15% excise tax with a minimum excise tax of $1.50 per gram.
-The revenue allocations include, but are not limited to: public school construction, addiction treatment services, youth marijuana prevention, Drugs for the Elderly, research, underage sales prevention, increased number of Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), Fund for a Healthy Maine, liquor and marijuana inspectors, etc.
-One of the key requirements from the DOJ was to avoid diversion, either to minors or to out-of-state locations where cannabis remains illegal. Further, they seek to stop rewarding cartels and drug dealers. The best way to meet both of these concerns is to ensure supply meets demand. If there is too much supply, the product will be diverted. If there is too much demand, dealers will step in. By extrapolating market data, we have estimated the production capacity should be a total of about 400,000 square feet to meet demand. We have authorized the bureau to allocate licenses at their discretion based on the number of applicants.
-Colorado is experiencing difficulties in setting up its regulatory structure because they did not set aside revenue for the process, and their licensing fees have not met the revenue needs. LR2329 gives discretion to the bureau to determine the cost for setting up the program, and adjusting application and licensing fees to ensure they have adequate resources to do so responsibly.
-Youth prevention is a big issue for the Coalition, but also for addiction counselors and law enforcement. The bill includes restrictions on advertising, strict guidelines against furnishing to minors, security requirements for farmers, and the creation of a funded Youth Marijuana Prevention advisory council. The Council’s primary objective will be to reduce youth consumption of marijuana throughout Maine.
-The bill authorizes “home grow,” a popular expectation for individuals – and a check against industrial marijuana. Municipalities may sell twist tie tax stamps to adult consumers who must attach the tie to the plant demonstrating they have the right to grow it. This does a few things. It allows individuals 21+ to do so while providing an easy way for law enforcement to know whether the plant in question is legal. Further, it ensures revenue for the state. The home cultivation license would prohibit the licensee to sell their product. We also outlined specific notifications that must be presented to the licensee, ensuring they are aware of their obligations and responsibilities under the law.
-At every opportunity, we have worked to protect the civil liberties of individuals who naturally fear reprisal from the federal government should policies change.
-There is no referendum in this bill.
A new Marquette University Law School Poll has found that 50% of those in Wisconsin are in support of legalizing recreational cannabis, with only 44% opposed to such a move. This is the first poll to ever find that more Wisconsins support cannabis legalization than don’t, and flies in contrast to what many state lawmakers said during the last legislative session, claiming that the state’s voters “aren’t ready” for legalization.
Despite such strong support for recreational legalization in a state known for being politically conservative, advocates are continuing to fight for bringing medical cannabis to their state; last session a proposal to legalize cannabis for medical purposes stalled in committee, but the sponsors of the measure will be filing a new measure in the upcoming legislative session.
Those in Wisconsin should take this opportunity to contact their lawmakers – which they can look up by clicking here – to urge them to support the legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes.
The post Even in Wisconsin, a Majority Supports Cannabis Legalization appeared first on The Joint Blog.
A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, and by the National Institute of Health, has found that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – one of the prime compounds in cannabis – can potentially stop organ transplant rejections from taking place.
The study, which found that the higher the dose of THC, the higher the chance of protecting against rejection, also found synthetic cannabinoids to share a similar protective ability.
“This data supports the potential of this class of compounds [cannabinoids] to be used as therapies to prolong graft survival in transplant patients”, the study concludes.
According to researchers – although this study is one of the most detailed of its type – these findings aren’t particularly new; Cannabinoids were reported to have effects on immune responses as early as the 1970s, states the study.
The study was conducted by researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia.
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By Johnny Green, TheWeedBlog.com
The story of Weldon Angelos is one that every marijuana reform supporter should know. Weldon Angelos is currently serving a 55 year prison sentence for selling $350 worth of marijuana while having guns in his home in 2004. A lot of people don’t know that possessing a firearm while selling marijuana results in huge federal penalties.
If you get caught possessing a firearm during a drug transaction, federal law requires a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for the first offense, and 25 years for each subsequent offense. Also, there is no parole for federal offenses. These rigid guidelines are way to harsh, and don’t allow any flexibility when it comes to sentencing. In Oregon we have minimum sentencing for some offenses (not marijuana), and they are horrible public policy.
“There is no question that Mr. Angelos committed a crime and deserved to be punished. But 55 years?” Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said, according to Fox News. “Mr. Angelos will be in prison until he is nearly 80 years old. His children, only 5 and 6 at the time of his sentencing, will be in their 60s. American taxpayers will have spent more than $1.5 million locking him up.”
Mr. Angelos lost his original appeal, and his case was denied by the United States Supreme Court. The only option now is a pardon by the Obama Administration. A 114 person coalition is asking for exactly that. An ex-FBI director, former judges, prosecutors, scholars , politicians, and celebrities have signed a request asking for the Obama Administration to step up. I’d go one step further and urge federal lawmakers to reform mandatory minimum sentencing in addition to a pardon for Mr. Angelos.
The post Insanity: A Fifty Five Year Prison Sentence For $350 Worth Of Marijuana appeared first on The Joint Blog.
A new study published by the National Institute of Health has found that activation of the body’s cannabinoid receptors – something which cannabis does naturally – has the potential to help manage weight, including the potential to treat obesity.
According to the study, “Apart from its significant weight-loss efficacy in DIO mice, compound 4 [a cannabinoid receptor agonist] displays also clean 163 off-target profiles and is currently under development for treating obesity and the related metabolic syndrome.”
Although the study didn’t specifically use cannabis, it can be assumed that cannabis will similarly (and likely more effectively) treat obesity, given that it activates the body’s cannabinoid receptors, while also supplying the body with hundreds of other useful compounds.
The study can be found in full by clicking here.
The post New Study Finds Cannabinoid Receptor Activation May Treat Obesity appeared first on The Joint Blog.
Three Utah doctors, including a neurologist from the University of Utah, have announced their support for allowing medical cannabis extracts (such as tinctures) and oils to be used by children who suffer from seizures.
In a letter sent to the state’s Controlled Substances Advisory Committee, pediatric neurologist Dr. Francis Filloux said that liquid forms of medical cannabis high in cannabinoids are a promising option for treating children with epilepsy. He says that refusing to legalize the substance would be “making the decision to limit access of our children to a potentially life-improving therapy”.
State Representative Gage Froerer, a Republican from Huntsville, will be introducing a measure in the upcoming legislative session which would legalize medical cannabis extracts for children with epilepsy. His proposal would allow cannabis products such as cannabis oils to be imported and exported in the state, as long as they have relatively low levels of THC.
Advocates in Utah should be contacting their lawmakers – which they can look up by clicking here – and urge them to support this commonsense move towards allowing children with epilepsy to use a natural, nonlethal and nonnarcotic treatment to their condition.
The post Utah Doctors Endorse Legalizing Medical Cannabis For Children’s Epilepsy, Legislation Forthcoming appeared first on The Joint Blog.
John Hanger is currently pursuing the Democratic nomination in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race and has made marijuana law reform a central plank in his platform. He has released a three step plan for marijuana law reform that advocates for medical marijuana and decriminalization immediately upon taking office in 2015 and to move to full legalization by 2017.
At the press conference, NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri stated, “Hanger is the only candidate who isn’t afraid to openly discuss and campaign on a platform that calls for widespread reform of Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws. Since the start of his campaign, John Hanger has been a passionate and outspoken advocate of ending Pennsylvania’s war on marijuana and moving the state towards a smarter approach.”
In an interview with NORML conducted earlier this year, John Hanger stated his belief that marijuana law reformers can elect the next governor. “We can win this issue in May 2014, by my winning that primary,” Hanger said, “It will shock the political establishment and accelerate the changing of the laws by years in Pennsylvania and around the country. I believe Pennsylvania is seen as a bellwether. If marijuana reform can win in Pennsylvania, it can win anywhere.”
VOTER NOTE: Since the Republicans are running current governor Tom Corbett for reelection, there will only be a Democratic primary in this election which will be held in May 2014. To vote in this primary, you must be registered Democrat. You can change your party affiliation, then change it back, at any time by sending in a new voter registration application and marking “Change of Party” where given the option. More information on Pennsylvania voting can be found here.