Political

Maryland: Governor Vetoes Popular Bill Intended To Fix Marijuana Decrim Law

LarryHogan(GovernorMaryland)[KatherineFrey-TheWashingtonPost]

Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland calls on state lawmakers to override veto of SB 517, which would remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced late Friday afternoon that he has vetoed a widely supported bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia, including potential jail time.

SB 517, introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates. The measure would also have designated public marijuana consumption a civil offense punishable by a $500 fine.

Maryland adopted a law last year that decriminalized possession of a small amount of marijuana, but it did not include marijuana paraphernalia. That leaves the state in the unusual position of having decriminalized marijuana itself, but marijuana paraphernalia is still a crime.

Gov. Hogan’s letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller announcing the veto and explaining his reasoning is available at http://bit.ly/1ellF1e.

Ohio: Attorney General Looking At Drafting His Own Medical Marijuana Proposal

MikeDeWineAmericanFlag[USElectionAtlas]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Things are getting crazy in Ohio. One recreational marijuana legalization proposal, which appears headed for the ballot, would hand over control of all growing in the state to just 10 companies. And now Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said he has staff looking into a medical marijuana proposal which they'd draft themselves.

The proposal would be "very limited" and "tightly controlled," DeWine told Alan Johnson at The Columbus Dispatch. A Republican who opposes recreational cannabis legalization, DeWine wouldn't commit to saying he supports legalizing medical marijuana.

But the Attorney General did grant that there are people who definitely could use it; he said he's having his staff work up a proposal before consulting with state lawmakers.

Staffers are reviewing medical marijuana systems in other states to see if it's possible to set up rules that can't be exploited by recreational pot users, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said on Friday, reports Jeremy Pelzer of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Specifically, Tierney said staffers are investigating methods of administration such as ointments or pills, which don't involve smoking.

Tierney said it's still "far too early" to say if or when DeWine will take such a step. The Attorney General still has "grave concerns" about full marijuana legalization, according to Tierney.

Illinois: Senate Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

IllinoisMarijuana[KTRS]

Measure Will Be Sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for His Signature

HB 218 replaces the threat of jail time and a criminal record with a civil penalty — a $125 fine, similar to a traffic ticket — for possession of a small amount of marijuana

The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved a bill 37-19 to remove criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives in April, will now be sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

HB 218, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), makes possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a $125 fine. Individuals will no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense will be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

“Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for individuals who commit serious crimes,” Rep. Cassidy said. “The possibility of jail time should not even be on the table when it comes to simple marijuana possession. Criminalizing people for marijuana possession is not a good use of our state’s limited law enforcement resources.”

U.S.: Senate Panel OKs Medical Marijuana For Veterans

USArmyMarijuana(PTSD)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 18-12 to approve an amendment to increase military veterans' access to medical marijuana.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the must-pass Senate version of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, if signed into law, would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from spending money to enforce a prohibition on V.A. doctors filling out medical marijuana recommendation forms in states where the drug is legal.

“This is a historic moment," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). "Passage of the amendment was the right thing to do for our veterans.

"We should not be preventing access to medicine that can help our wounded warriors deal with serious conditions, such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries,” Blumenauer said. “Today’s passage coupled with the narrow defeat of my amendment to the MilCon-VA appropriations bill in the House signals there is real movement and bipartisan support in reforming outdated federal marijuana policies. We are now in a good position to be able to advocate for inclusion of this policy in a final appropriations bill.”

Louisiana: Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bill Reforming Marijuana Possession Law

LouisianaMapMarijuanaLeaf

Measure Would Allow Second Chance for First-Time Offenders and Save Millions of Dollars

Bill Heads to Full Senate

Lawmakers in Louisiana on Wednesday took a major step forward when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to reform the state’s harsh marijuana possession law. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last 20 years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the War On Drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

U.S.: Bernie Sanders Leaves Door Open For Marijuana Legalization

BernieSandersSmiles[420Magazine]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday hinted at support for marijuana legalization, saying police didn't focus on arresting people for pot when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont, indicated an openness to legalization during an online question and answer session on Reddit.com.

"I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana [when I was mayor]," Sanders said. "Our police had more important things to do."

Sanders, who describes himself as a socialist, is running for the Democratic nomination for President. He said he supports decriminalizing cannabis in Vermont, and is watching the situation in Colorado "very closely."

"Colorado has led the effort toward legalizing marijuana and I'm going to watch very closely to see the pluses and minuses of what they have done," Sanders said. "I will have more to say about this issue within the coming months."

Sanders, who announced in April that he's running for President, has acknowledged using marijuana when he was younger, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. He has been an outspoken critic of the War On Drugs, telling Time magazine in 2014 that he had "real concerns" about American drug policy.

Oregon: Call To Action - Protect Grants Pass Medical Marijuana Patients and Growers

GrantsPassMarijuanaCultivationBan2015

The Grants Pass City Council is considering an ordinance to ban all sun-grown and greenhouse-cultivated medical marijuana. This harmful ordinance is expected to be presented on May 20 at the city council chambers at 6 P.M.

Patients who depend upon compassionate growers will be harmed the most by this proposal, according to activist Alex Rogers. "This proposed ban not only hurts Grants Pass OMMP participants, but could lead to the slippery slope of more and more cities and counties following suit and passing their own bans," Rogers said.

PATIENTS AND CONCERNS CITIZENS NEED TO MEET AT 5 PM, WEDNESDAY MAY, 20, AT 101 N.W. A ST. GRANTS PASS (@6TH ST.)

In the meantime, call the mayor and city council members and tell them that you oppose any ban of medical marijuana gardens; this will only hurt patients and push people into the illicit, underground market:

Darin Fowler, Mayor 541-660-3696
Roy Lindsay, Ward 541-291-0346
Dan DeYoung, 541-479-8777
Rick Riker, 541-479-7333
Lily Morgan, 541-476-6168
Dennis Roler, 541-479-4272
Ken Hannum, 541-659-4579
Mark Gatlin, 541-441-7674
Jim Goodwin, 541-761-5733

Washington: Save Medical Marijuana -- You Can Now Get R76 NO Signature Sheets At Any FedEx

R76NO.orgVolunteerYourTime,Talent,andDonateToday!

Medical marijuana dispensaries are slated for extinction in Washington state, thanks to the passage of SB 5052 by the Legislature. But the R76 NO campaign would head off 5052 at the pass, essentially nullifying the law through the voter referendum process.

The R76 NO campaign, representing as it does a way out of the death sentence imposed upon the medical marijuana community in Washington as we've known it for the past 17 years, is gaining a lot of support statewide, but one recurring question has been where supporters can get signature sheets so that they can help the referendum qualify for the November ballot. Due to the untiring efforts of Washington activist Don Skakie, medical marijuana supporters can now go to any full service FedEx location in the state and get printed, double-sided, 11x17 Referendum 76 signature sheets for just 12 cents each.

According to Skakie, all you have to do is ask for File Retrieval Code 2EE4248 under Account Discount #0589281101 to print the signature sheets. "We have been given permission to use this account from the Georgetown Cultural Arts Center," Skakie said. "YOU MUST PAY FOR THESE COPIES, but the activity will benefit the Center by helping them meet their annual minimum purchases to keep their account open at these prices. Go and do great things!"

U.S.: Leading Neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart Challenges Lawmakers About Drugs And Addiction

CarlHartPhD

Award-Winning Author of High Price Has Pivotal TED Talk Released on 90th Anniversary of Malcolm X’s Birth

Ebony.com Covers Hart’s Special Telephone Town Hall About Drugs, Families, and What We Really Need to Do to Ensure Community Safety

Carl Hart, PhD, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, whose work has redefined how people are discussing addiction, on Tuesday released two more groundbreaking and deeply compelling talks, one before a TEDMED audience in Northern California; and another a special Telephone Town Hall attended by hundreds of advocates, policymakers, faith leaders and medical professionals, and covered by Ebony.com, the African American news and lifestyle site.

Texas: House Approves Flawed Medical Marijuana Bill; Will Go To Governor For Signature

TexasMedicalMarijuanaPolicyReform[ProgressTexas]

Bill is intended to allow access to low-THC marijuana extracts for qualifying seizure patients; House fails to pass amendment to fix major problem

The Texas State House on Monday approved a bill 96-34 intended to allow qualifying patients with intractable seizure conditions to access a marijuana extract containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC. SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it requires doctors to engage in conduct that is prohibited by federal law.

SB 339 previously passed the Senate on May 7. It now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott.

“On a certain level, the legislature should be commended for acknowledging the medical value of marijuana, and it is an historic vote in that sense,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Lawmakers missed several opportunities to amend the bill in ways that could have provided real relief to countless Texans. Not a single patient will be helped by this legislation.”

SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia. Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations and certifications are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.

Texas: House Approves Flawed Medical Marijuana Bill; Will Go To Governor For Signature

TexasMedicalMarijuanaPolicyReform[ProgressTexas]

Bill is intended to allow access to low-THC marijuana extracts for qualifying seizure patients; House fails to pass amendment to fix major problem

The Texas State House on Monday approved a bill 96-34 intended to allow qualifying patients with intractable seizure conditions to access a marijuana extract containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC. SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it requires doctors to engage in conduct that is prohibited by federal law.

SB 339 previously passed the Senate on May 7. It now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott.

“On a certain level, the legislature should be commended for acknowledging the medical value of marijuana, and it is an historic vote in that sense,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Lawmakers missed several opportunities to amend the bill in ways that could have provided real relief to countless Texans. Not a single patient will be helped by this legislation.”

SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia. Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations and certifications are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.

Oregon: Politicians Poised To Dismantle Oregon's Medical Marijuana System - CALL TODAY

Measure91StopSenateBill964

Politicians in Salem are poised to pass a bill at 5 p.m. on Monday that would partially dismantle Oregon’s medical marijuana system and ban state-regulated marijuana businesses. The Senate Committee on Implementing Measure 91 is planning to slip this by quickly, without any public testimony.

Public testimony is crucial because politicians need to know why this bill is so bad for Oregon. New Approach Oregon is asking that you please take a moment right now to call a few state senators and tell them them the public should have the right to be heard before the medical marijuana system is drastically changed. Phone numbers are below.

"We voted to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana, NOT to have politicians push it into the criminal market and make it harder for medical marijuana patients to get life-saving medicine," said Measure 91 Chief Petitioner Anthony Johnson of New Approach Oregon.

Senate Committee on Implementing Measure 91:
Sen. Ginny Burdick (D): 503-986-1718
Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D): 503-986-1704
Sen. Jeff Kruse (R): 503-986-1701
Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R): 503-986-1950
Sen. Lee Beyer (D): 503-986-1706

Senate Democratic Leadership:
Senate President, Peter Courtney: 503-986-1600
Senate Majority Leader, Diane Rosenbaum: 503-986-1700
Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Arnie Roblan: 503-986-1705
Senate Majority Whip, Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward: 503-986-1717
Senate Majority Whip, Mark Haas: 503-986-1714
Senate Assistant Majority Leader, Michael Dembrow: 503-986-1723

California: Referendum Suspends Medical Marijuana Cultivation Ban In Santa Cruz County

ResponsibleCultivationSantaCruzThankYouForYourSupport!

The first successful Santa Cruz County voter referendum in 13 years has suspended an ordinance adopted by the County Board of Supervisors to ban all commercial cannabis cultivation. The ban was adopted on April 14, and was to go into effect on May 15.

Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz (RCSC) circulated the referendum and after only 21 days filed 11,210 signatures with the county, with 7,248 valid signatures required to qualify the referendum for the ballot.

The ordinance was suspended when the Santa Cruz County Clerk Elections Department confirmed on May 11 that the referendum petitions contained more than the minimum number of signatures. The county has 30 calendar days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, from the date the petition was filed, May 7, to verify the validity of the signatures.

As provided in the California Elections Code, 500 randomly selected petition signatures will be verified initially. For this referendum, 71.1 percent of the randomly selected signatures must be valid to qualify the referendum for the ballot based on the random sample count alone.

As of 4 pm on Friday, May 15, the Clerk's office had processed 266 signatures and found 73.6 percent of them to be valid. Based on this trend, the referendum will most likely qualify for the ballot when the remaining 234 randomly selected signatures have been checked.

If the validity rate at that point is below 71.1 percent, all of the signatures must be verified. To reach the minimum 7,248 required, an overall validity rate above 64.7 percent must be maintained in a full count.

Utah: Governor Open To Legalizing Medical Marijuana

UtahGovernorGaryHerbert[TrentNelson-SaltLakeTribune]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Utah Governor Gary Herbert on Thursday said he would be open to legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, providing science shows it can benefit patients and "tight regulations" can control distribution.

"I'm open to the idea of medical marijuana and the discussion of how it can be used as a medicine based on science, and making sure we have good, collaborative efforts so we can answer the questions that are out there," Gov. Herbert said, reports Robert Gehrke at The Salt Lake Tribune.

The governor's position has noticeably softened since the recent legislative session, when he expressed "concerns" about a bill sponsored by state Sen. Mark Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs) which would have created a state-licensed system of medicinal cannabis growing facilities and dispensaries for patients with a doctor's authorization.

At that time, Gov. Herbert had claimed Madsen's bill could lead to a "slippery slope" towards legal recreational use. Madsen's bill failed in the Senate by a single vote; he's said he will reintroduce it next year.

The governor's comments represent progress, according to Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, a libertarian think tank. "Even during the legislative session, it became clear that the governor was backtracking his initial opposition to medical cannabis, so we expected this to happen and are encouraged to see him becoming more open-minded to it, just as many legislators are," Boyack said.

Oregon: Call To Action - Medical Marijuana Is Being Undermined By SB 964

OregonMarijuana

In a scenario which is becoming sadly familiar, another state (hello, Washington!) is using the pretext of recreational marijuana legalization in an attempt to shut down medical marijuana facilities.

Some politicians in Salem want to undermine Oregon voters by making it easy to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, according to New Approach Oregon. If Senate Bill 964 passes, city councils and county commissions could arbitrarily shut down medical marijuana facilities — without a vote of the people.

"That’s not the policy Oregonians voted for when passing Measure 91 with more than 56 percent of the vote," reads an email from New Approach Oregon. "We promised to protect medical marijuana patients who depend on local dispensaries to get life-saving medicine."

But Senate Bill 964 would partially dismantle Oregon’s medical marijuana program. It would invite expensive lawsuits that could disrupt implementation of Measure 91. It would feed the criminal market.

SB 964 is sponsored by Democratic Senator Ginny Burdick and Republican Senator Jeff Kruse.

Both The Oregonian and the Register-Guard have published editorials calling for a public vote, as Measure 91 allows.

Call To Action

Please send emails to the Senate and House Democrats right now.

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