Democrats seek to give states say over marijuana, levy tax
Category: Legalization | Posted on Tue, February, 5th 2013 by THCFinder
(Reuters) - The states would be free to decide whether to legalize marijuana without running afoul of federal law but would require purchasers to pay federal taxes on its sale under legislation being proposed by two Democratic lawmakers.
The proposed bills in the House of Representatives aim to offer a new federal policy toward pot, amid a growing movement to legalize it for personal use, whether recreational or medical.
Representatives Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jared Polis of Colorado, both Democrats, planned to introduce the legislation on Tuesday.
One bill would end a federal ban on marijuana and give states jurisdiction over its use and regulate it in a similar way to alcohol sales, while the other would levy a federal tax, the congressmen said in a statement.
The Democrats' bills likely face a hurdle in the House where Republicans hold a majority and control what legislation moves forward. A similar, bipartisan effort by other representatives failed to gain traction in 2011.
Washington state and Colorado voted to legalize the drug in 2012 but now face questions on how to implement their laws while U.S. authorities still consider pot illegal. Illinois is also considering acting on the issue.
Eighteen states, including California and Oregon, plus the nation's capital city already allow sales for medical use to help certain patients cope with pain and other chronic conditions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state laws.
Last year's votes have buoyed those who support easing access to the drug, which U.S. health officials say is the most commonly used illegal drug. Polls show most Americans support legalizing pot.
Critics say that despite widespread use and acceptance, the drug carries health risks, especially for youth. They question whether the drug, derived from the cannabis plant and usually smoked, has benefits for medical use.
Advocates on both sides of the issue are waiting anxiously to see how federal authorities will act as Washington state and Colorado move forward.
Bill legalizing marijuana to be introduced in Pa.
Category: Legalization | Posted on Fri, February, 1st 2013 by THCFinder
Pennsylvania will soon have the chance to go the route of Colorado and Washington.
State Sen. Daylin Leach has proposed legislation to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Pennsylvania. The Democratic senator, who represents Montgomery and Delaware counties, cited safety concerns, crime and potential tax revenues as reasons for bringing the proposal, which comes in the wake of votes to legalize marijuana in Colorado and Washington.
“We would never, in a rational society, starting from scratch, have the policy we have now,” Leach said in an interview Monday. Prohibition, he added, creates a black market in which buyers don’t know what they’re getting — which can lead to especially harmful outcomes if the marijuana is laced with other, more dangerous drugs, such as PCP.
In addition, he argued that there is no reason to punish people who make bad health decisions.
“These are people who have done nothing to anybody, except they have decided to ingest an intoxicant,” Leach said.
However, even if pot were to become legal in Pennsylvania, Penn students wouldn’t have free reign to smoke. Marijuana usage is prohibited by University policy — and would remain so under the change.
“Regardless of state laws, institutions that receive federal funding (such as financial aid) must adhere to federal laws,” Julie Lyzinski, director for the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives, said in an email. Because using marijuana is banned by federal law, “regardless of Pennsylvania law, marijuana will remain illegal and against University policy at Penn.”
Read more: http://www.thedp.com
Ending Marijuana Prohibition in 2013
Category: Legalization | Posted on Wed, January, 30th 2013 by THCFinder
Unless people have been hiding under a rock this past couple months, they know that more than 55 percent of voters in Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana on November 6. As a result, many people have grand expectations of how we're going to get closer to ending marijuana prohibition in the U.S. this year.
Here is what I think we can reasonably accomplish by the end of 2013:
1. Decriminalize Marijuana in Vermont: Gov. Pete Shumlin (D), a strong supporter of decriminalizing marijuana, partially campaigned on the issue and easily won re-election on November 6 with 58% of the vote. The Vermont Llegislature is poised to pass the bill he wants, so this legislation could become law by this summer.
2. Legalize Medical Marijuana in New Hampshire: Incoming Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) is a strong supporter of medical marijuana, so we expect her to sign a medical marijuana bill similar to those vetoed by former Gov. John Lynch (D) in 2009 and 2012.
3. Build Support for Legalization in the Rhode Island Legislature: We successfully legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized marijuana possession in Rhode Island in 2009 and 2012, respectively. There is now considerable momentum to tax and regulate (T&R) marijuana like alcohol, so we need to ensure that Rhode Island's state legislature becomes the first to do so.
4. Increase Support for Legalization in California, Maine, and Oregon: There will be a sincere effort to pass T&R bills through the legislatures in these three states. Should they fall short, MPP and its allies will pursue statewide ballot initiatives in November 2016, at which time all three will be expected to pass.
5. Build Our Base of Support Online: People have said that the Internet is marijuana legalization's best friend, and this could not have been more evident than it was last year. Campaigns mobilized their supporters, organizations raised funds, and the public was able to follow the progress in real time. Prohibitionists, who have depended on the government for its largess for years, are now at a disadvantage. Private citizens simply do not want to donate to them, and most information about marijuana is now reaching the public without being run through their filter.
6. Continue the Steady Drumbeat in the Media: National and local media outlets are covering the marijuana issue more than ever before. Communicating to voters through news coverage is the most cost-efficient way to increase public support for ending marijuana prohibition, so we need to keep the issue in the spotlight.
7. Build Support for Medical Marijuana in Congress: There are already approximately 185 members of the U.S. House who want to stop the U.S. Justice Department from spending taxpayer money on raiding medical marijuana businesses in the 18 states (and DC) where medical marijuana is legal. We want to reach 218 votes on this amendment, thereby ensuring the amendment's transfer to the U.S. Senate for an up-or-down vote.
8. Build Support for Ending Marijuana Prohibition in Congress: Last year, the first-ever bill to end the federal government's prohibition of marijuana attracted 21 sponsors. Our goal is to expand the number of sponsors to more than two-dozen during the 2013-2014 election season.
Looking outside our borders, we're also seeing progress in Colombia, Uruguay, and Chile, which have all been steadily moving away from marijuana prohibition. Although this is good news, most members of the U.S. Congress do not care much about what South American countries think on marijuana policy, so we should temper the wonderful developments south of the U.S. border with limited expectations of what will happen in our nation's capital.
Ultimately, the U.S. is the primary exporter of prohibition around the world. If we can solve the problem here, the rest of the world will have far more freedom to conduct their own experiments with regulating marijuana.
Will States Lead the Way to Legalizing Marijuana Nationwide?
Category: Legalization | Posted on Mon, January, 28th 2013 by THCFinder
When citizens of Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana in November they created a conflict, because pot remains illegal under federal law and anyone who lights up is committing a federal crime and could theoretically still be arrested for it. After Colorado passed the referendum, Governor John Hickenlooper said the implementation of the law in his state would be a “complicated process” and he warned residents not to “break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”
While it seems unlikely that the federal government will make much of an effort to arrest pot users in Colorado or Washington—Obama has said he has “bigger fish to fry”— the tension between federal and state laws on marijuana remains. Just last week, an appeals court rejected a suit that sought to lower the classification of medical marijuana under federal drug laws.
That court ruling threw the issue back to Congress and the Drug Enforcement Agency, which should start a serious reconsideration of national policy toward marijuana. The federal government should start by reclassifying medical marijuana, legalizing it outright, or at least dialing down the penalties. And it should begin to have the sort of serious discussion about legalizing recreational marijuana that is now occurring in the states.
Read more: http://ideas.time.com/
Marijuana Legalization Would Promote Drug Use, DEA Contends
Category: Legalization | Posted on Wed, January, 23rd 2013 by THCFinder
WASHINGTON -- Recent state efforts to legalize marijuana pose a challenge for the Drug Enforcement Administration because they would increase marijuana's availability and promote drug use, the DEA said in a filing released Wednesday.
"Recently, efforts to legalize marijuana have increased. Keeping marijuana illegal reduces its availability and lessens willingness to use it," the DEA said in a financial statement for fiscal year 2012 made public on Wednesday. "Legalizing marijuana would increase accessibility and encourage promotion and acceptance of drug use."
The Justice Department is currently weighing how to respond to the legalization of recreational marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has acknowledged the country is "in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana," while President Barack Obama said pot users in Washington and Colorado would not be a priority for federal drug enforcement.
The DEA eradicated over 10.3 million marijuana plants in fiscal year 2009 and 10.3 million in fiscal year 2010, according to DEA data. That number has risen nearly every year since fiscal year 2004, when the DEA eradicated just over 3.2 million plants. Numbers aren't yet available for fiscal year 2011 or fiscal year 2012, but the department had 13,867 kilograms of marijuana in evidence at the end of September and disposed of 4,614 kilograms of the substance over the course of the year.
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