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Marijuana legalization effort begins in California

Category: Legalization | Posted on Thu, September, 25th 2014 by THCFinder
california-mj-legalizationSAN FRANCISCO -- A national marijuana advocacy group took steps Wednesday to begin raising money for a campaign to legalize recreational pot use in California in 2016, a move with potential to add a dose of extra excitement to the presidential election year.
 
The Marijuana Policy Project filed paperwork with the California secretary of state's office registering a campaign committee to start accepting and spending contributions for a pot legalization initiative on the November 2016 state ballot, the group said.
 
The measure would be similar to those passed in 2012 by voters in Colorado and Washington, the first U.S. states to legalize commercial sales of marijuana to all adults over 21.
 
California, long the national leader in illegal marijuana production and home to a thriving, largely unregulated medical marijuana industry, is one of the 21 other states that currently allow marijuana use only for medical reasons. The drug remains illegal under federal law.
 
"Marijuana prohibition has had an enormously detrimental impact on California communities. It's been ineffective, wasteful and counterproductive. It's time for a more responsible approach," Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Rob Kampia said. "Regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol just makes sense."
 
The Washington, D.C.-based group also has established campaign committees to back legalization measures in Arizona, Massachusetts and Nevada in 2016.
 
Voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia will weigh in on marijuana legalization in November.
 
In 2010, California voters rejected a ballot initiative seeking to legalize recreational pot. The measure, just like the medical marijuana law the state approved in 1996, was the first of its kind. But along with opposition from law enforcement and elected officials, Proposition 19 faced unexpected resistance from medical marijuana users and outlaw growers in the state's so-called Emerald Triangle who worried legalization would lead to plummeting marijuana prices.
 
Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert predicted no such divisions would surface this time around.
 
Citing his group's experience in Colorado and the advantage of aiming for a presidential election year when voter turnout is higher, Tvert said legalization supporters would use the next two years to build a broad-based coalition and craft ballot language that addresses concerns of particular constituencies.
 
"Obviously, it's a whole different landscape in California, where it will cost probably as much or more to just get on the ballot as it did to run a winning campaign after getting on the ballot in Colorado," he said.
 
League of California Cities lobbyist Tim Cromartie, whose group opposed the state's 2010 pot legalization initiative and until this year fought legislative efforts to give the state greater oversight of medical marijuana, said Wednesday that it was too soon to say what kind of opposition, if any, would greet a 2016 campaign.
 
Lynne Lyman, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said her group expects to play a major role in the legalization effort and already has started raising money. Lyman said the goal is to have an initiative written by next summer. She estimated that a pro-legalization campaign would cost $8 million to $12 million.

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Legalizing Marijuana Could Yield Over $3 Billion In Tax Revenue Per Year

Category: Legalization | Posted on Wed, September, 24th 2014 by THCFinder

The marijuana industry, legal and black market, is enormous. I have read reports that the marijuana industry in California is over 1 billion dollars a year. That’s billion, with a b. And to be honest, I personally think that’s a low ball estimate. The marijuana industry nationwide is multiple billions of dollars. How many billions? No one knows for sure. I think it’s easily tens of billions, but could be even hundreds of billions. We won’t know for sure until marijuana is legalized nationwide, which according to United States Representative Earl Blumenauer, could happen in the next five years.

A recent study was released by Nerd Wallet, which estimated the tax revenue from such a move to be around 3 billion dollars annually. There’s a lot of factors that go into such a calculation. For starters, what would marijuana be taxed at? It’s logical to conclude that different states would have different tax rates. For instance, Oregon is going to have considerably lower taxes if/when Measure 91 passes this November compared to Washington and Colorado. Other states could be lower than Oregon, while other states could potentially be higher than Washington. Only time will tell. NORML had the following to say about Nerd Wallet’s study:

Based on existing market projections, California would gain the largest amount of annual tax revenue ($519,287,052) were commercial cannabis production and sales to be legalized for adults. Other top tax revenue generating states include: New York ($248,103,676), Florida ($183,408,640), Texas ($166,303,963), and Illinois ($126,107,360).

Washington, which began allowing retail cannabis sales this summer, is estimated to reap some $119,000,000 in annual tax revenue, according to the study’s projections. Colorado, which has allowed retail cannabis sales since January 1, 2014, is estimated to gain some $78,000,000 in annual revenue.

Colorado and Washington are the only two states that are currently generating tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales. Those revenues keep climbing, with no end in sight. Below is an infographic from Nerd Wallet that gives a state-by-state breakdown:

legalizing marijuana tax revenue by stateSource: http://www.theweedblog.com/


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Washington, D.C., Voters Strongly Support Marijuana Legalization

Category: Legalization | Posted on Fri, September, 19th 2014 by THCFinder
wa-dc-mmj-legalizationWashington, D.C., voters appear to be ready to legalize marijuana, according to a new poll that puts support at 65 percent.
 
The NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll's finding that district voters support legalization by amost a 2-1 margin “is the highest support ever for a marijuana legalization ballot initiative,” Adam Eidinger, chair of D.C. Cannabis Campaign, the group backing the legalization measure, said in a statement. “It vindicates the work of this campaign so far, but we still have more work to do turning out the vote come Election Day.”
 
On Nov. 4, D.C. voters will decide Initiative 71, which would legalize adult marijuana use, possession of up to two ounces, and home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for personal use. The sale of marijuana would remain illegal. The D.C. Council is considering a separate bill that would allow the regulation and taxation of marijuana.
 
The new poll suggests D.C. will join Washington state and Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana. Just days before Washington state voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, Public Policy Polling found 53 percent support for the measure. The day before Colorado voters approved marijuana for recreational use by adults, PPP found 52 percent support.
 
“Voters are relating to the message that legalization will end D.C.’s rampant discrimination when it comes marijuana enforcement," said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement.
 
According to the Washington Lawyers' Committee, arrest statistics from 2009 to 2011 revealed that nine out of 10 people arrested for drugs in Washington were black, though blacks make up just slightly more than half of the city's population. Yet government surveys show that blacks are no more likely than whites to use the drug.
 
A marijuana activist criticized The Washington Post for editorializing against legalization.
 
"At the very moment this Washington Post poll was in the field, the paper's own editorial board was circulating a 'Reefer Madness'-style, error-laden screed urging D.C. voters to reject legalization," Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell told The Huffington Post. A Sunday Post editorial urged D.C. voters to "reject the rush to marijuana."
 
"It looks like that didn't work," Angell said of the editorial. "No matter how hard prohibitionists try to spread scare stories about legalization, poll after poll confirms that this is a mainstream issue supported by a growing majority of the public."
 

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New York Could Legalize Recreational Marijuana In 2015

Category: Legalization | Posted on Tue, September, 16th 2014 by THCFinder
legalize-mj-by-2015The state of New York could legalize marijuana for recreational use as early as 2015.
 
State Sen. Liz Krueger (D) will reintroduce the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act during the next legislative session, which begins in January, her office confirmed to The Huffington Post on Monday.
 
"We're definitely introducing the bill next session," Brad Usher, Krueger's chief of staff, told HuffPost. "We've received a variety of feedback since we first introduced it last December and we're working on amending it, so we're looking to see what we can learn from Colorado and Washington when we reintroduce it."
 
Krueger's bill would permit the opening of retail marijuana dispensaries, which would be regulated by the State Liquor Authority. The bill would establish an excise tax on all marijuana sales, and adults would legally be able to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants at home for personal use. Krueger introduced a similar bill in 2013 that also aimed to legalize the possession, use and sale of limited amounts of recreational marijuana, but the bill never made it out of committee.
 
Usher said that many of the changes to the measure for reintroduction in 2015 relate to how the tax is structured, as well as clarifying who would be able to work in the state's marijuana industry.
 
New York is not a referendum state, which means that if next year's measure gets through the legislature and is signed into law, it will immediately go into effect and will not require a vote by New Yorkers. Colorado and Washington, both of which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, did so through voter-approved ballot measures.
 
"In some ways, not having a referendum makes it harder," Usher said. "With referendum, you only need 50.1 percent support to win, but getting a bill through to law will probably require broader support to address the risk-averse character of some elected officials."
 
One such official might be Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who has not made it clear whether he would support a bill that legalizes marijuana for recreational use. In January, Cuomo said that Colorado-style legalization in New York is "a nonstarter for me."
 
Earlier this summer, New York became the 23rd state in the country to legalize medical marijuana. Moreover, the state decriminalized the possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana more than 30 years ago. Even so, New York, and especially New York City, remain plagued by an inordinate number of low-level marijuana arrests.
 

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Pennsylvania moves toward medical marijuana legalization

Category: Legalization | Posted on Mon, September, 8th 2014 by THCFinder
mj-legalization-coming-to-pennsylvaniaAs the Pennsylvania state Senate is set to reconvene on Sept. 15, a hotly contested national issue sits near the top of its agenda: medical marijuana.
 
The bipartisan Senate Bill 1182, titled the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, passed the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee unanimously on June 27. When state senators return from their summer recess, the bill will go up for a vote in the Appropriations Committee, after which it could be voted on by the general body.
 
Currently, 23 states and Washington, D.C., have some form of legalized marijuana for medical use. Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania all have pending medical marijuana legislation that could act as decisive issues going into the 2014 midterm elections.
 
“We are planning on hopefully moving out of appropriations on Sept. 15 and on to a full Senate floor vote on Sept. 16 ... and get it over to the House as soon we can,” state Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County) and one of the bill’s sponsors said. “We have the votes, but we just need to get through the political process, and that can be very slow because our system of government is never really meant to be fast.”
 
While it remains unclear if the state legislature will pass the bill, Pennsylvanians increasingly favor medical marijuana. According to a poll by Quinnipiac University taken in March 2014, 85 percent of Pennsylvania voters support some form of medical marijuana. But even with public support and momentum in the state legislature, the governor is likely to veto any legalization legislation.
 
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett stands opposed to broad medical marijuana legalization and has only voiced support for limited access for children with severe seizure disorders. Corbett’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
 
As a result of resistance in the governor’s office, advocates such as Folmer believe that “we need to get it out with super majority votes,” which could override a veto from the governor.
 
“The bill gives people an alternative to some of these other medications that are out there that are either not working, or people just don’t like the side effects,” Folmer said. “It’s probably one of the best pieces of medical cannabis bills in the country, and it could be used as model legislation.”
 
While the legislative debate has focused on the medical side of cannabis, legalization could affect the quality of recreational marijuana as well.
 
“At Penn especially, when people sell bud they have no idea how old it is, they have no idea what strains it is, they have no idea if it is sativa or indica, and I think that is a problem,” said a College senior who has a medical marijuana card in his home state of California and who preferred to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. “A card offers you a lot of information because it no longer is a black market thing.”
 
If the bill were to pass in Pennsylvania, he thinks smoking would be less stigmatized. “At Penn, it is fine if you smoke, but there are stereotypes of people who smoke,” said the senior — who got his first prescription at 18 for a shoulder injury, but has primarily used it for recreational purposes.
 

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Alaska marijuana legalization initiative: Supporters, opponents rally

Category: Legalization | Posted on Mon, September, 1st 2014 by THCFinder
alaska-mj-legalization
With two months left to sway Alaska voters, the dueling groups in support and opposition of a ballot measure to legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana in Alaska are ramping up their campaigns, and Friday they offered glimpses of what’s to come in the weeks leading to the general election.
 
The group backing the initiative -- the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska -- gave insight into an upcoming advertising campaign and a new website to be unveiled in early September.
 
Meanwhile, opposition group “Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2” said new constituency groups were in the formation stages, and touted recent endorsements by businesses and organizations.
 
The campaigns are setting their sights on Nov. 4, the day Alaskans will cast their votes on Ballot Measure 2. The initiative would legalize recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 and older and levy a tax of $50 per ounce of pot. Should it pass, the eight-page initiative would leave much of the regulation-making process in the hands of the state. The state would have nine months to craft these regulations, including labeling and health and safety guidelines and security requirements for marijuana businesses.
 
Summer polling shows Alaskans split on whether to legalize. Public Policy Polling data released in early August showed that of 673 voters polled, 44 percent were in favor of the initiative, 49 percent opposed and 8 percent unsure.
 
Those numbers show a slight decrease in support since May, when PPP showed 48 percent in favor, 45 percent opposed, and 7 percent unsure.
 
Deborah Williams, deputy treasurer of Vote No on 2, said the August poll was evidence that public support for the initiative is wavering.
 
Campaign to Regulate spokesperson Taylor Bickford disagreed. “We aren’t concerned at all. Our internal polling tells a different story,” he said.
 
Bickford said Friday, with the primary election in the books, the Campaign to Regulate is now looking to mobilize the volunteer base it has assembled during the summer -- “hundreds, if not thousands,” of Alaskans, he said.
 
A new campaign, “Talk it up Alaska,” will encourage supporters to do exactly that -- talk to their friends and family about why they support regulating marijuana.
 
“It’s often hard for people to talk about this issue,” Bickford said.
 
A major component of the new campaign is a new website, TalkItUpAlaska.org. That website will provide supporters with a comprehensive resource database. It’s set to go live in early September, he said.
 
Read more: http://www.adn.com

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