An update from Show-Me Cannabis, an organization working to reform cannabis policies in the State of Missouri:
We weren’t expecting an announcement about this until the bills are actually introduced next week, but it looks like the word is out. Missouri Representative Rory Ellinger will be introducing a bill to lower the maximum penalty on possession of under 35 grams of cannabis to a $250 fine and recommend a suspended imposition of sentence.
This bill would essentially extend the decriminalization reforms passed in Columbia in 2004 (and the reforms that will likely pass in Saint Louis this spring) statewide.
Sponsored by State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, and co-sponsored by a bipartisan assortment of twenty additional legislators, House Bill 1661 was filed yesterday in Washington State.
This bill would allow individuals in the state who have been charged with a misdemeanor involving cannabis possession to have it removed from their record. Essentially, this would apply the one ounce (28 grams) decrim from Initiative 502 retroactively to those already convicted. However, rather than applying to just an ounce, it’s allowing people to remove charges from RCW 69.50.4014, which is for possession of up to 40 grams.
House Bill 699, if passed, would legalize cannabis in the State of Hawaii. Possession of an ounce or less would no longer be a crime, and the state would license growers and sellers to sell cannabis in retail outlets. The state would garner a 15% tax from these sales, and would begin accepting and processing the applications for licenses on July 1st, 2014.
This bill is one of a dozen cannabis-related measures being discussed in Hawaii.
Although a huge uphill battle is yet to be fought, the politics in Hawaii has setup the perfect situation to move the conversation forward. 57 percent in the state support legalizing cannabis (a 20 percent increase in 7 years), and the Speaker of the House supports legalization.
During the bill’s initial hearing, which took place yesterday, the opposition was filled with predictably ridiculous rhetoric and propaganda.
The simple existence of synthetic marijuana should send a loud message to the public and elected officials. When our policy pushes people to a chemically-laced alternative to a non-lethal plant, simply so that they don’t face arrest for the safer substance, we have a fundamentally flawed law.
For those who may be unaware, synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to by the brand names of Spice and K2, is a mix of dried flowers/herbs which is sprayed with a mix of chemicals that are designed to artificially stimulate the body and brain in a fashion similar to cannabis.
It doesn’t work.
Still, people have continue to use it, despite its potential health risks. In 2010, over 11,000 people were sent to the emergency room over the use of synthetic marijuana. Miscellaneous 78 percent of those were under the age of 30.
Chris Williams, a former medical cannabis provider in Montana, has been sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Williams, who was indicted by the feds on charges that could of put him in prison for life, ended up being convicted of eight charges after a September trial in which he was not allowed to use Montana’s medical cannabis law as a defense (a real “fair trial”).
Initially, Williams faced a mandatory sentence of more than 80 years in prison.
A new bill was introduced by Washington State Representative Roger Goodman (Democrat – 45th District) and others. It includes controversial language that would restrict commercial drivers from having any amount of THC in the system, or risk losing their commercial license for at least one year.
While this might sound like a good idea on the surface, one only needs to remember that Washington State voters passed I-502, which makes it illegal to drive with more than 5 nanograms.
Rep. Goodman tried to introduce a DUI bill a few years back that would have implemented an 8 nanogram limit, but quickly withdrew it after heated debate and lack of science behind proving impairment.
This was the big issue that surrounded the 502 debate, with patients and other activists warning that the standards were not appropriate for a state that allows for the medical use of cannabis, especially when most patients would test well over that limit just from their regular use.
In an interview with Fox news, Goodman stated he has heard about the concerns “as to how reliable this 5 nanogram is. There is not much science behind it so I’m expecting challenges in the future.
Ending with over 300,000 valid signatures from Washington State residents, Initiative 522 has officially qualified for the general election ballot in November (unless legislators vote to pass it during the current legislative session).
If passed, the measure would establish mandatory labeling of foods produced through genetic engineering. It would set up legal, monetary penalties for companies who don’t abide by the new requirements.
The initiate is being spearheaded by Chris McManus, the Campaign Manager for Label It WA (the sponsor of the measure), and his wife Leah.
Prior to working on this initiative, Chris and Leah were county coordinators for the non-profit political committee Sensible Washington, working towards a repeal of cannabis prohibition. The duality between the movement to force labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and the movement to reform our cannabis policies, is clear. As cannabis inevitably becomes legal across the nation, and as big corporations try and sink their teeth into the new industry, changing society’s mindset (and laws) as it regards to genetically modified ingredients is vital.
We here at TheJointBlog may not share the same opinion as everyone else, but when it comes to legal cannabis we would much prefer the option of knowing if the cannabis we’re buying contains GMOs, and if given the choice, we’d rather buy some without.
Initiative 522 is a major step in giving us that option.
According to a new poll administered by the respected Reason Foundation, 72% of Americans believe that the federal government should not arrest people who use cannabis in states that have voted to legalize it, such as Colorado and Washington. On top of this, 68% feel that the federal government should leave growers alone in these states, and 64% oppose the feds going after those who are selling legally under state law.
The poll, which asked a plethora of questions, most unrelated to cannabis reform, found that 53% believe that cannabis should be treated the same as alcohol.
The poll surveyed 1,000 adults, and has a 3.8% margin of error.
California’s Harborside Health Center, featured on Discovery Channel’s Weed Wars and boasted as the largest medical cannabis safe access point in the country, has release a Dr. Seuss inspired video, titled The Haag.
The video, which was sent out in a press release, uses Dr. Seuss style animation and rhyming to summarize the current travesty of our medical cannabis policies, as well as the attacks on Harborside’s clinic, which has faced continual attempts to be shut down. The title is in reference to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, who has been one of the guiding forces in attempting to close the dispensary.
“We could’ve made a documentary that showed how stressed out and worried we are, how petrified our families are, not to mention our employees…Being in the cross-hairs of the feds is scary as hell. But one of the powerful lessons that cannabis has to teach us, one of the healing properties of the plant, is the sense of humor that it brings out in us–the childlike quality that should be a part of our adult lives and is often lost in our modern and hectic world. Cannabis can help restore this and that is the spirit in which ‘The Haag’ was made”, said Dr. Andrew DeAngelo, Director of Harborside, in the press release.
Arizona’s first medical cannabis dispensary, Arizona Organix, will host an open house for the public on February 2nd. A tour will be offered, and being a qualified patient isn’t necessary.
The Glendale access point, opened just a couple months back, is hoping to teach the public about the benefits of medical cannabis, show how it’s helping patients in the state, and display how a legal access point is run. In a state where there’s still substantial controversy over cannabis, even for medicinal use, an access point opening their doors to the public is likely to help break through a lot of stigmas.
Arizona Organix is requiring that people RSVP for a tour, though there’s no limit on participants.
Arizona Organix Open House Information: AZ Organix, 5301 W. Glendale Ave. February 2nd, 8 A.M. to 10 A.M. Must RSVP to 623-937-2752 or firstname.lastname@example.org