Marijuana and Cannabis Legislation
In an era of 24-hour cable news, non-stop talk radio, and a never ending list of politically flavored blogs, it is easy to be overwhelmed by it all. Planes are going down over Russia, bombs are being dropped in Gaza, and back at home, Republicans and Democrats bide their time bickering over gay marriage and contraception coverage.
It's enough to make people want to just tune out altogether, and unfortunately, they are in droves. This manufactured apathy for all things "political", trickles down from global, to national, to state, and ultimately to local politics; and can have dire real-world consequences in the community.
The city of San Jose, in northern California's Bay Area, is realizing this sad reality the hard way when it comes to medical marijuana. There, as in many Californian municipalities, the local City Council has turned a tuned-out public against its own best interests when it comes to weed.
Kids suffering from severe seizure-causing conditions and diseases will be able to access medical cannabis soon thanks to a law signed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday.
Illinois already has a medical cannabis program in place, but seizures did not qualify a patient for a medical cannabis recommendation. Will the new bill, children as well as adults will have increased access to the plant.
In an unprecedented move earlier this year, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to drastically reduce the sentencing recommendations for non-violent convicts of drug-related crimes.
Just this past Friday, in a move that received shockingly little press, that same U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to apply the same guidelines to eligible inmates already serving time behind bars. Though no inmates will see an early release thanks to the new legislation until November of 2015 at the earliest, experts says that as many as 46,000 currently incarcerated prisoners will be eligible to apply for an expedited sentence.
The U.S. House voted yesterday to allow access to banking for state-legal medical and recreational pot businesses. Currently, most banks turn away dispensary and recreational shop accounts due to marijuana remaining federally illegal. Those with accounts are forced to handle large amounts of cash as banks aren't issuing credit cards or other normal banking services.
Boston Public Library Flickr edited by Toke of the Town.
As we reported back in June, Maryland state Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican, is spearheading a move that would block the decriminalization of limited amounts of marijuana in Washington D.C.
But many, including D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray see it as a shot to D.C.'s home rule and Democrat-controlled city council. Now Gray is urging all D.C. residents to boycott Maryland's beaches and resort towns.
Minnesota state capitol.
Lawmakers in other states are now turning to Minnesota's new cannabis law as a model for their own legislation, despite the law's restrictions on eligibility and usage.
Over the past few weeks, legislators in both Pennsylvania and Georgia have turned to the Minnesota law, which passed in May, as a starting point for bills in their own states. But while the Minnesota law makes medical marijuana legal, it's limiting, offering only certain kinds of cannabis for certain patients.
In January of this year, The Washington Post conducted a poll of Washington D.C. residents which found that 8 in 10 polled said they were in favor of either decriminalization, or straight up legalization, of weed in the nation's capital.
In March, the City Council voted to decriminalize cannabis possession, knocking the punishment down from a year in jail, to a $25 fine. The District's medical marijuana program is expanding, and much like in Colorado, none of these things are leading to the reefer madness we've been warned about for decades.
But with legalization talk being passed around the tightest circles in the nation's capital, leave it to local Congressional Republicans to try to halt the inevitable progress of reform.
At precisely 2:51 a.m. on Friday, June 20, the New York State Assembly passed the Compassionate Care Act, which (when the bill passes the senate, as it is widely expected to, when it is taken up around 10 a.m.) will make New York the 23rd state in the union where medical marijuana is legal...as long as you don't smoke it. Seriously: Patients will need to use a vaporizer, pills or other extraction method. The use of joints, bongs and pipes--anything you light up--is strictly verboten.
Under the new law, physicians will have to go through a certification and registration process before they can prescribe the drug legally. Patients, likewise, will need to be certified by a doctor, and they will have to register with the Department of Health, which will provide an ID card proving one's certification, but they will be free to carry up to 30 days supply of medical pot.
A proposed law to begin strict, statewide regulation of marijuana dispensaries would allow edibles and concentrates (wax, honey oil, dabs, shatter) to be sold legally in California dispensaries.
An earlier version of the bill proposed by Sen. Lou Correa would have banned concentrated cannabis products, often blamed for home-lab explosions triggered by butane extraction processes. Medical marijuana advocates have been dead set against the legislation.
The New York State Legislature has just more than three days to approve a bill that would legalize medical marijuana across the state, before the legislative session ends on Thursday, June 19. If it doesn't pass--and it hasn't passed the last sixteen times it has been introduced--it will be back to the drawing board.
Activists who have pushed to pass the bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, remain stubbornly confident this will be the year--it is, after all, the furthest the bill has made it through the legislature since it was initially introduced in 1997. But Governor Andrew Cuomo is not bending over backwards to help move the legislation along. To the contrary, on Monday, Cuomo enumerated a laundry list of changes he wants to see implemented before he will support the bill to the Daily News.