New Jersey State Assemblywoman Linda Stender and State Senator Nicholas Scutari have announced that they will file companion measures next week which would alter the state’s medical marijuana law, which is one of the strictest in the nation (currently only one dispensary is open in the entire state, which has a waiting list hundreds deep). In addition to legalizing marijuana food items, such as medicated brownies, the measure would ease restrictions on those under 18 who are attempting to become a patient.
Congressman Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington State, recently became the 16th lawmakers to join as a cosponsor for H.R. 1523, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, a federal measure which would require the government to respect states that legalize marijuana, whether for medicine or recreation. The measure has bipartisan support, and has garnered more attention and political support than any such measure before it.
The Ohio Ballot Board – as well as Ohio’s attorney general – has given final approval to an initiative drive aimed at legalizing medical marijuana, as well as hemp. The initiative is sponsored by the Ohio Rights Group, who collected the 1,000 necessary signatures to get an initiative put before the board. Now that the initiative has been approved, the group will need to collect roughly 385,000 valid signatures in order to qualify for the general election ballot. The group has until July 6th to make this year’s ballot, but can continue collecting aiming for the 2014 ballot if they miss that deadline.
As expected, New Hampshire’s full Senate has voted, 18 to 6, to approve a measure which legalizes the possession and state-licensed sale of medicinal marijuana. The proposal – House Bill 573 – has already passed the House, but will be sent back for final approval, given that the Senate approved an amended version which removes a provision allowing patients to grow their own. House leaders are expected to ask the Senate to come to a compromise, such as allowing patients to cultivate marijuana until dispensaries are up and operating.
Today Nevada’s Senate Finance Committee approved Senate Bill 374 – which would legalize medical cannabis dispensaries – with a unanimous vote . The measure has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee (which was also unanimous), and now heads towards a full Senate vote, where its passage would send it to the Assembly for consideration.
In Nevada, the possession and usage of medical marijuana is a constitutional right, approved by voters in 2000. However, the law doesn’t allow for any safe access points for patients to obtain their medicine.
A Seattle City Council committee has approved a proposal which would make Seattle the first city in the U.S. to establish zoning regulations which would explicitly allow for recreational marijuana retail outlets and cultivation centers.
Under the proposal, marijuana retail outlets, as well as large-scale cultivation centers, would be authorized, though limited in their size and location.
Licensed cultivators would be limited to 45 plants per household. Larger grow-operations would be limited to a location no larger than 50,000 square feet, and, as with retail outlets, would be limited to certain parts of the city.
South Carolina State Representative Todd Rutherford attempted this afternoon to add an amendment into a controlled substances bill which would have legalized medical cannabis in the state. The amendment would have authorized the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to license farmers to cultivate cannabis, which would be distributed to patients who receive a recommendation from their physician.
New polling conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosney Research has found that an incredible 63% of voters in Oregon support legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana, with only 34% being in opposition. Of the 63% in support, a surprisingly high 51% consider themselves to be “strongly in favor” of such a move.
In addition, the polling found that 57% would vote in favor of a 2014 initiative modeled after last year’s narrowly failed effort, Measure 80. Proponents of Measure 80 have stated that they plan to run initiatives aiming for the 2014 ballot, unless the state’s legislature approves legalization this year.
The stars are lining up.
House Majority Leader John Boehner – the most powerful Republican in the U.S. in terms of legislation – has indicated that he’ll work towards hemp legalization, something that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has already been working towards. McConnell, to the surprise of many, is the prime sponsor of legislation filed in the Senate to end hemp prohibition.
In addition, Patrick Leahy, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a committee hemp legalization would be required to go through, has signaled that he’ll support a proposal to legalize hemp. This is huge.
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is urging jurors in San Diego to Ronnie Chang of marijuana distribution charges. Chang was the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary before being raided 2009: Prosecutors are attempting to charge him based on federal law. The case is likely to be decided this fall.
In response, Mayor Bob Filner is asking jurors to commit jury nullification, the process of finding someone “not guilty” of a crime, even if they technically committed it, based on it being unjust.