Marijuana Legalization Push Gets Voice On Capitol Hill
The cannabis industry has flexed its muscles in 15 states where it's legal to smoke marijuana for medical purposes. Now the industry is ready to go to work in Washington. A new trade group called the National Cannabis Industry Association is an attempt to bring together sellers, growers and manufacturers and to promote pot on Capitol Hill. "Our intent is to be the go-to organization in Washington for this industry," said Aaron Smith, the group's executive director.
For the past five years, Smith worked as the California director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "There's been a lot of enthusiasm. It's pretty clear that the medical marijuana industry is becoming recognized more and more by the mainstream as a fully legitimate part of the economy." Even though California voters last month rejected a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for all adults, it was just a matter of time before the drug was fully legalized.
"Legalization is looking inevitable," he said. "It didn't happen in 2010, but it's likely to happen in 2012. It's going to be relatively soon we're going to see states move from medical marijuana into broader legal markets. And the federal government needs to catch up. Frequently the American people are ahead of the Congress." But Smith will have a hard time finding many marijuana advocates in Congress. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted 400-4 to back a resolution sponsored by California Republican Rep. Wally Herger that calls on authorities to get tougher with those who cultivate marijuana on federal land.
New Jersey reaches medical marijuana agreement
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) -- New Jersey moved on Friday to implement a law legalizing medical use of marijuana for critically ill patients.
An agreement between Republican Governor Chris Christie and the law's Democratic sponsor is designed to avoid the fraud and the criminal use of the drug which critics say have affected some 15 other U.S. states where it has been legalized.
The accord resolves a dispute that delayed implementation.
In a change to previous regulations, the agreement allows for six treatment centers -- up from two originally proposed by Christie -- that would be allowed to dispense and grow medical marijuana. Home delivery and satellite locations for the centers will not be permitted.
It also stipulates certain "debilitating conditions" for which medical marijuana can be prescribed but only after conventional therapies have been exhausted.
The agreement preserves an earlier proposal that prescribed marijuana should have a maximum 10 percent of THC, the main substance in the cannabis plant that affects mental function.
It also requires physicians to have an ongoing relationship with the patient for whom the drug is prescribed.
"This is a reasonable and fair resolution that will keep implementation of the program on track without unnecessary delay," said Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, the primary sponsor of the law that was signed by former Governor Jon Corzine.
Governor Christie said the pact will speed relief for patients suffering serious illnesses.
"We are protecting the interests of all residents of New Jersey by preventing some of the abuses we have seen in other states," he said in a statement.
Prop. 19 pot measure 'very important' to voters
But the people most interested in it were opposed to it, according to a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.
According to the survey of 2,003 California voters who reported participating in the Nov. 2 election, 38 percent said they were most interested in Prop. 19, an enthusiasm level more than double that for any other proposition.
The problem for cannabis enthusiasts: 51 percent of those who said the outcome of Prop. 19 was "very important" voted no on it. Only 18 percent of those who found its outcome very important supported it. Others ranked it less highly.
"While it wasn't a vocal opposition, the opposition harkened back to what (former President Richard) Nixon called 'the silent majority,' " said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the opposition to Prop. 19. "It was very important to a small segment of the population but not to a lot of people."
However, when asked if they supported the legalization of marijuana, voters were equally split: 49 percent thought it should be legalized, and 49 percent thought it shouldn't.
"But there was some wariness about the way (Prop. 19) was written," said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California. Overall, two-thirds of the voters said the wording on all the ballot initiatives was "too complicated or confusing," according to the survey.
While the poll found that 60 percent of Latinos and 58 percent of voters between 35 and 54 opposed Prop. 19, it was supported by 62 percent of voters under 34 and 55 percent of independents.
"It's not a matter of if (marijuana is legalized), it is a matter of when," said Dan Newman, a consultant who advised sponsors of Prop. 19.
On another issue, while much pre-election pundit chatter nationally foreshadowed an "enthusiasm gap" among Democratic voters, that appears to be "less of the case in California," Baldassare said. An October poll from the University of Southern California found that 39 percent of GOP supporters ranked their enthusiasm a "10" on a scale of 1 to 10 compared with a finding that 35 percent of Democrats were that enthusiastic.
Wednesday's PPIC survey found that 46 percent of overall voters were "more enthusiastic" about voting this year. Republicans (54 percent) were more likely than Democrats (44 percent) or independents (40 percent) to feel catapulted to the polls.
Anticipating that gap, Democratic operatives in California tried to rally base supporters by warning them they would get smothered by the spending of GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who poured $144 million of her own money into her campaign.
"We stressed that when we went out to talk to funders and others - we needed them to step up," said Salazar, who also was a spokesman for an independent expenditure campaign that supported Gov.-elect Jerry Brown and was largely funded by labor organizations.
Baldassare attributed voter enthusiasm to the competitive gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, provocative propositions, Whitman's record contributions and the continuing popularity President Obama enjoys in California - contrary to his national approval ratings. "People here wanted to support him," he said.
The poll found that 53 percent of Californians, including 54 percent of independent voters, approve of the way Obama is doing his job.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/
CA Cities Bringing Cannabis Growing Into The Light
Cannabis growing even in a state like California is something that has remained in the shadows but that is going to have to change if legalization is ever to become a reality. There are cities in northern CA that are working to bring cannabis growing out into the open, like Oakland, Berkeley, and Eureka. On Monday, Oakland will begin the application process for four permits to run industrial scale marijuana farms within city limits. In Berkeley, a successful ballot measure to allow medical pot cultivation in industrial zones has would-be growers scrambling to score scarce real estate. Farther north, the Sonoma County wine country town of Sebastopol passed an ordinance Tuesday allowing for the creation of two large gardens for medical marijuana dispensaries, and two more “collective” gardens where patients could grow their own.
As can be imagined, the DEA is keeping a close eye on the situation but to what end remains to be seen. Oakland City Council member Rebecca Kaplan, who co sponsored that city’s cultivation ordinance, said the DEA had contacted her office but only to request copies of the regulations and background materials. She said the agency advised her that they were conducting research into the ways various cities were handling medical marijuana regulation. This is truly a real milestone in American history and the battle to legalize marijuana so with this we are one step closer to full blown legalization but should the DEA get involved then of course we can never guarantee what could happen.
Prop 203 Wins, Medical Marijuana coming soon to Arizona!
Election Day wasn't totally a lost cause for marijuana measures after all. In a squeaker, Prop 203 came back to win by 4.421 votes, making Arizona the 15th state to legalize medical cannabis.
The vote was too close to call until the final tally was posted at AZ Election Results last night. The final tally is 835,735 votes (50,13%) for and 831,314 (49.87%) against.
"Although there are still about 10,000 votes left to be counted, our lead of more than 4,000 votes makes us 100 percent confident in announcing Arizona is now the 15th medical marijuana state!" said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
Prop 203 allows patients with debilitating conditions (or their caregivers) to possess five ounces of marijuana per month, and non-profit dispensaries to be established and regulated by the state (similar to nearby New Mexico). Home growing is permitted for patients who live 25 miles or more from a dispensary.
Marijuana Possession only an infraction soon!
Next year under California state law, possession of under one ounce of Marijuana is nothing more than simple ticket. The maximum cost for possession of under one ounce will be a fine of $100 with no criminal record or arrest required.
Under the law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, SB1449, possession of less than an ounce will no longer be a misdemeanor or go on a person's criminal record. Instead, it will be an infraction, similar to a speeding ticket. That has some people wondering whether the infraction will go on a person's driving record and affect insurance rates.
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