Political

Rhode Island: House Committee To Hold Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Bill

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Bill That Would Regulate and Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol

The Rhode Island House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Rep. Edith Ajello will join supporters of the measure at a pre-hearing news conference at 3 p.m. ET in Room 101 of the Rhode Island State House. Attendees will include Dr. David Lewis, founder of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University; Professor Andy Horwitz, director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Roger Williams University School of Law; and Beth Comery, a former Providence police officer.

H 7506 would allow adults 21 and older to possess of up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space, and establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities. It would also:

• Enact wholesale excise taxes of up to $50 per ounce of flowers and $10 per ounce of leaves applied at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store;
• Enact a 10 percent sales tax at the point of retail sales; and
• Require the Department of Business Regulation to establish rules regulating security, labeling, health and safety requirements.

WHAT: News conference prior to Rhode Island House Committee on Judiciary hearing on H 7506, which would regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol

Florida: Medical Marijuana Amendment Could Help Democrats

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Florida is the nation's largest swing-state politically, and Democrats there see the medical marijuana amendment on this year's ballot as a source of hope and high voter turnout in November's elections.

A constitutional amendment which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida, making it the first state in South to do so, has widespread public support, reports Michael J. Mishak of The Associated Press. The measure is particularly popular among young voters, a critical part of the Democratic coalition.

"I wish that it didn't take medical marijuana on the ballot to motivate our young voters to go and vote, because there's far too much at stake for them and their children," said Ana Cruz, former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. "But listen -- we'll take it any way we can get it."

The Florida Governor's mansion is up for grabs, as are a handful of competitive House seats. Florida could be a test case for whether increases in youth turnout in Washington and Colorado in 2012 -- when marijuana legalization initiatives were on the ballot -- was an anomaly, or part of a trend.

Activists plan to launch at least half-a-dozen legalization campaigns in battleground states in 2016.

"It's a smart move on Democrats' part, said Colorado-based Republican pollster David Flaherty. "It's going to help them, no doubt about it."

Maryland: 2 In 1 Day - 21st State To Allow Medical Marijuana, 18th State To Decriminalize Possession

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Gov. Martin O’Malley signs SB 923/HB 881, which would allow patients with serious illnesses to access medical marijuana; he will also sign SB 364 Monday, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill into law Monday making Maryland the 21st state in the nation to allow medical marijuana. He will also sign a bill Monday making Maryland the 18th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“We applaud Gov. O’Malley for signing these important bills into law,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The progress we’re seeing in Maryland is emblematic of what is taking place nationwide. Most Marylanders, like most Americans, are fed up with outdated marijuana prohibition policies and ready to start taking a more sensible approach.”

Senate Bill 923 and House Bill 881 are identical bills that allow state residents suffering from certain qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Possession limits and regulations governing cultivation and dispensary facilities will be determined by a state-sanctioned commission prior to implementation. The measure will officially go into effect on June 1.

Missouri: House Panel Passes Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil Bill

MissouriStateRepresentativeCalebJones(R-Columbia)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would allow epilepsy patients to use non-psychoactive CBD marijuana extracts to control seizures passed in the House General Laws Committee with a unanimous 11-0 vote on Tuesday.

The bill, called a "hemp bill" by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-Columbia), is intended to provide legal protection for people who find little help in conventional medicine, he said, reports Rudi Keller at the Columbia Tribune.

The bill allows adults or children with "intractable epilepsy" to get a cannabis extract which is high in non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main component responsible for the high, but which also has many medicinal benefits.

"This helps the children who need it the most and keeps out the outside influences out of the state of Missouri," said Jones, who chairs the committee and likes to say "out" a lot. "This is something that is very personal to me, and that is why I am doing it."

The cannabis oil must be 5 percent of more CBD and less than 0.3 percent THC, according to Jones' bill, which, according to many medical experts, will probably limit the effectiveness of the CBD. All of the dozens of cannabinoids found in marijuana work most effective in a synergistic fashion, potentiating each others' medical benefits in what Dr. Sanjay Gupta has called the "Entourage Effect."

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Says He Opposes Bill To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Wednesday emphasized that he is against any effort to legalize marijuana in the state, weeks after a state senator introduced a bill that would make sale and possession of cannabis legal.

"I'm not going to do that on my watch," the GOP governor told a crowd of about 500 at Winston Churchill Elementary School, reports Brent Johnson at The Star-Ledger. "I'm just not. I don't think it's the right thing to do for our state."

State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) last month introduced a bill that would regulate the cultivation, possession and sale of recreational marijuana, providing new tax revenue for the state.

"It's time to update our archaic drug laws and get real about the detrimental effects they are having on the lives of residents in New Jersey," Scutari said.

A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll released on Wednesday showed that nearly 60 percent of New Jersey adults believe alcohol and tobacco are more risky than marijuana. But residents are still split on whether to legalize, with 48 percent in favor of allowing adults to buy small amounts, and 47 percent opposed.

Christie, who has his eye on the White House in 2016, has long said he is against relaxing the marijuana laws because that would "the wrong message" to kids.

U.S.: Rev. Sharpton's National Action Network Convention To Address Failed Drug War

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President Obama, AG Holder, NY Gov. Cuomo, NYC Mayor DeBlasio and DPA’s Art Way to Speak at National Action Network (NAN) Convention April 9-14

Convention to Address Major Civil Rights Issues, Including the Failed Drug War and Mass Incarceration

President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio will all join Reverend Al Sharpton at his National Action Network’s annual national convention being held April 9-12 in New York, NY.

The conference is being billed as the largest civil rights convening of the year bringing the nation’s top activists, political strategists and leading academia together to create an action plan for a civil rights agenda. Participants will address key policy issues such as jobs, voter ID and immigration; which will be key in this midterm election year.

The conference is also focusing on the failed drug war and mass incarceration. A panel called “Up in Smoke: Banning of Menthol, Legalization of Marijuana & Criminalization of African Americans” will address racial justice and the war on drugs.

"We are at a critical point where momentum to end the drug war and mass incarceration is gaining traction,” said Art Way, Senior Policy Manager, Colorado, of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It's not time to let up, it's time to ramp up."

South Carolina: Democrats Will Ask Voters For Opinions On Medical Marijuana On June Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The South Carolina Democratic Party will ask voters on the June primary ballot whether they support legalizing medical marijuana, in a non-binding referendum. Party leaders made the announcement to push a medical marijuana bill currently in the Legislature.

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Richland), who is sponsoring a medical marijuana bill in the Legislature, said state Democrats are putting the question on the ballot so the Republicans who control the State House can see for themselves what voters think of the issue, reports Seanna Adcox at the Associated Press.

Rutherford said patients who are authorized by a physician as suffering debilitating illnesses such as cancer and glaucoma should be able to use cannabis medicinally.

"While this may be the first year we are talking about medical marijuana in South Carolina, we are lagging behind the rest of the nation," Rutherford said during a Wednesday news conference, reports Cassie Cope at The State.

The advisory question on medical marijuana is one of five asked on South Carolina's Republican and Democratic primary ballots on June 10. Two others on the Democratic ballot have to do with gambling.

Republican voters, meanwhile, will be asked about abortion and eliminating the state income tax.

Oregon: Grassroots Cannabis Campaign Gathering Signatures

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Two cannabis legalization measures in Oregon are gathering signatures around the state. Initiative Petitions 21 and 22, the Oregon Cannabis Amendment and The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, are in the race for the July 3 signature deadline. Initiative 21 would end criminal penalties for cannabis, while Initiative 22 regulates and taxes cannabis, including hemp for industrial and agricultural uses.

"The people of Oregon stand with Initiatives 21 and 22 and they demonstrate this by getting involved," said campaign director Jersey Deutsch of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH). "This is because our legislation puts an end to cannabis prohibition, ensuring no one in Oregon will be criminalized for cannabis again."

Currently CRRH has more than 20 staff members, 3,000 volunteers, and 6,000 independent Oregon donors, making them second only to Oregon United for Marriage with the largest volunteer campaign in the state.

"Volunteers join our campaign because they believe we must put an end to prohibition and criminalization, while ensuring citizens of all ages are free of cannabis related felonies," Deutsch said. "CRRH will continue the fight to end cannabis prohibition by mobilizing Oregon supporters, educating community members, fighting for patients, training and empowering volunteers, growing the campaign, and pushing legislation forward."

Sign the Petitions: I-21 and I-22: http://cannabistaxact.org/sign-petition/

New Hampshire: Majority Of Granite State Adults Support Legalizing Marijuana, Regulating It Like Alcohol

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New Granite State Poll Shows Growing Majority of New Hampshire Adults Support Making Marijuana Legal and Regulating It Like Alcohol; Three Out of Five Support the Decriminalization Bill Currently Moving Through the State Legislature

UNH-WMUR survey finds 55% think marijuana possession should be legal — up from 53% in 2013 — and 61% support HB 1625, which would reduce the penalty for possession of limited amounts of marijuana to a $100 civil fine

The annual WMUR Granite State Poll released Wednesday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows a growing majority of New Hampshire adults support making marijuana legal and regulating it like alcohol.

The survey found 55 percent percent support making possession of small amounts of marijuana legal in New Hampshire — up from 53 percent in 2013 — and 67 percent approve of marijuana being sold in licensed retail outlets and taxed at levels similar to alcohol if marijuana possession becomes legal.

"Marijuana prohibition has been an ineffective and wasteful policy," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Voters are increasingly becoming fed up with it, and they're ready to replace it with a more sensible system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol."

Minnesota: Medical Marijuana Bill To Receive Hearing And Vote Thursday In Senate Committee

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Doctor, patients, and advocates will testify at Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing hearing on SF 1641, which would allow people with specific debilitating medical conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

The Minnesota Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing will hold a public hearing and vote on Thursday on a bill that would provide legal access to medical marijuana for people with specific debilitating medical conditions. The hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. CT in Room 15 of the State Capitol.

Dr. Burak Gezen, a Chicago physician who specializes in geriatric and palliative medicine, will testify in support of the measure, along with several patients and their family members. Among them will be Angela Garin of St. Paul, whose son suffers from a rare seizure disorder, and Patrick McClellan, a Bloomington man with muscular dystrophy. Both are featured in television ads that began airing across Minnesota last week in support of the bill.

"Most Minnesota voters believe people suffering from debilitating conditions should have legal access to medical marijuana," said Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. "We hope that will be reflected in the votes of the committee members."

U.S.: Atty. Gen. Holder Says It's Unclear Whether Feds Can Force States To Outlaw Marijuana

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Despite Recent Pledge to Work with Congress, Refuses to Initiate Process to Reschedule Marijuana

Team Established to Review Nonviolent, Low-Level Drug Offender Candidates for Clemency

Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday appeared before the House Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing in which he stated that federal law does not always trump state law, declined to initiate the process to reschedule marijuana and reaffirmed his commitment to granting clemency to low-level nonviolent drug offenders with unduly harsh sentences.

Under questioning by Rep. Jason Smith (R-Missouri), who asked the Attorney General whether federal law trumps state law when the two are in conflict, Holder said that while federal law is supreme in many matters, it is “an interesting question” whether the federal government can force a state to criminalize a particular behavior.

“I am hopeful that as public opinion continues to shift in favor of marijuana reform, the White House will one day have the courage to take a larger role in the push to legalization,” said Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) Executive Director Major Neill Franklin (Ret.). "Until then, states remain the innovators, exercising their constitutionally protected police powers to lead the charge toward sensible change that at least the administration has the good sense to follow."

Minnesota: Medical Marijuana Proposal To Receive House Floor Vote Wednesday

PatrickMcClellanBloomingtonMN

As lawmakers prepare for vote, second TV ad hitting Gov. Mark Dayton for obstructing the medical marijuana proposal will begin premiering tonight across Minnesota

The Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to hold a floor vote Wednesday on a proposal that would allow people with serious illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

Specifically, the House will vote on an amendment offered Tuesday by State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) that would add the medical marijuana program to a broader health policy bill, HF 2402. Unlike the medical marijuana bill currently being considered in the legislature, HF 1818, Rep. Garofalo's proposal would prohibit smoking and home cultivation of medical marijuana.

The Republican lawmaker's proposal comes as medical marijuana advocates are working to develop a legislative compromise on HF 1818. Gov. Mark Dayton continues to refuse to support the measure, which would actually provide patients with legal access to medical marijuana, because law enforcement associations oppose it. In March, the governor proposed alternative legislation that would fund medical marijuana research, but would not provide patients with access to medical marijuana or protect them from arrest and prosecution.

D.C.: Proposal To Expand Access To Medical Marijuana Introduced In DC Council

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Bill would permit physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from any condition for which it provides medical benefits

A proposal is expected to be introduced in the Washington, D.C. Council on Tuesday that would expand access to medical marijuana in the nation's capital.

The measure, to be introduced by Councilwoman Yvette Alexander (who chairs the D.C. Department of Health), and by Councilman David Grosso, would permit doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from any condition for which it provides medical benefits. Patients would then be allowed to apply to the Department of Health for acceptance in the District’s medical marijuana program.

"This is a sensible measure that would provide relief to countless District residents who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We have one of the most well-regulated systems in the country, but currently it is not meeting the needs of the community. The community supports improving the law, and that's what this bill would do."

Under current law, only patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, or glaucoma are eligible for the program. The proposed legislation would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other debilitating conditions for which medical marijuana has been found to be an effective treatment.

Maryland: Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana Bill, Set To Become 21st MMJ State

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HB 881 will protect patients from arrest and prosecution, approve physicians, license growers and distributors

The Maryland House of Delegates on Monday voted 125-11 to adopt HB 881, a medical marijuana bill that greatly improves upon the unworkable law that was adopted by the state last year. If signed by Governor Martin O'Malley, HB 881 will protect patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution.

Qualified patients will be able to obtain their medicine from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTC), which will rely on licensed growers for their supply. Patients will be required to get approval from physicians who are approved by the state and must obtain an identification card before they will be eligible to access an MMTC.

"We're excited to welcome Maryland as the 21st medical marijuana state," said Mike Liszewski, policy director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), who testified before House and Senate committees. "This bill is a vast improvement over the current law in Maryland and will provide patients with needed protection from arrest and prosecution, and give them a means to safely and legally obtain medical marijuana."

HB 881 was sponsored by Maryland House Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore) and co-sponsored by nearly half of the House. A broad coalition including ASA, industry stakeholders, and Stop the Seizures, a group of parents of children suffering from seizure disorders, worked tirelessly to pass HB 881.

New Hampshire: Senate Committee To Hold Tuesday Hearing On Medical Marijuana Access Bill

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HB 1622 sponsor Rep. Donald ‘Ted’ Wright will join medical marijuana patients and advocates for a pre-hearing news conference at 10:30 a.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building

The New Hampshire Senate Health, Education, and Human Services Committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday regarding a bill that would provide licensed patients with legal access to medical marijuana through growing their own, while the state develops a system of regulated cultivation and distribution.

Rep. Donald “Ted” Wright (R-Tuftonboro), who is sponsoring HB 1622, will join medical marijuana patients and advocates at a pre-hearing news conference at 10:30 a.m. ET in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building. The committee hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET in Room 103.

"My weight is down to around 60 pounds, and I have no appetite without cannabis," said Clayton Holton, a Dover-based medical marijuana advocate suffering from muscular dystrophy, who will not be attending the hearing because he is no longer able to travel. "Where is the compassion for patients like me who are literally wasting away because of these delays?"

HB 1622 would allow licensed medical marijuana patients or their designated caregivers to possess up to two mature marijuana plants and twelve immature plants or seedlings. Patients and caregivers would be required to report their cultivation locations to the Department of Health and Human Services, and they would lose their ability to cultivate once an alternative treatment center opens within 30 miles of their residence.

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