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The Chicago City Council on Wednesday voted to decriminalize possession of marijuana with an overwhelming 43-2 vote. The measure was backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Under the new ordinance, police officers in Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, can issue a written violation for possession of 15 grams or less of cannabis, rather than making an arrest, reports Reuters. People who are caught with under half an ounce of marijuana will now face fines between $250 and $500, instead of being arrested.
The measure will help raise revenue for the city, according to supporters, as well as saving money on enforcement and incarceration and freeing up police to pursue more important matters. Unfortunately, officers would still have the authority to arrest people, even for small amounts of marijuana, rather than ticket them. Does anyone really believe that a few rabidly anti-pot assholes in the police department won’t give the whole force a bad name?

On Tuesday, the District of Columbia Department of Health announced the four prospective medical marijuana dispensary operators whose scores were high enough to be granted licenses from the city. Herbal Alternatives, Center City Care, Metropolitan Wellness Corporation, and Takoma Wellness Center — which will be owned and operated by a rabbi — will be the four entities licensed to dispense marijuana to qualifying patients later this year.
“Today’s announcement comes as welcome news for patients in D.C. who have waited a long time for the District’s medical marijuana program to get up and running,” said Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project. “Congratulations to the operators of these four dispensaries, who will be at the forefront of one of the nation’s safest medical marijuana programs right here in Congress’ back yard.”

Cafe Vale Tudo

“Medical marijuana will soon be growing just blocks from the White House and Congress…”
~ Bill Piper, Drug Policy Alliance

Announcement Comes As Obama Administration Escalates Attack On Medical Marijuana Patients And Caregivers In California, Colorado And Other Medical Marijuana States

A nearly 15-year fight in the nation’s capital to allow patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation has reached a crescendo, with the city naming six locations that will be allowed to grow medical marijuana legally under local law (including a company owned partly by celebrity talk show host Montel Williams).

Photo: Prohibition’s End

​Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin on Thursday signed S. 17, a bill authorizing up to four dispensaries where registered patients can buy medicinal cannabis, augmenting the state’s already-existing medical marijuana law.

Vermont joins Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Arizona and Delaware on the list of states that explicitly allow cannabis dispensaries. Washington, D.C., is also in the process of implementing a program that will allow five marijuana dispensaries in the nation’s capital.

“This is a great day for a lot of patients throughout the state that, until now, have been unsure how to go about obtaining medicine their doctor has recommended,” said Dan Riffle, legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project.

Graphic: Medical Marijuana Blog

​Maryland on Tuesday removed criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed SB 308 as promised. The bill allows seriously ill patients to avoid prosecution when charged with marijuana possession, and also creates a commission to study medical marijuana laws and make recommendations on how Maryland can institute such a program.

This is the first time since 2003 that additional protections were considered, and it’s an important step toward protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest and ensuring they have safe access to their medicine, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Photo: John Doe Radio

​Maryland will soon become the 16th state to remove criminal penalties for the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The Maryland Legislature has passed an affirmative defense bill abolishing criminal penalties for patients who use cannabis to relieve the effects of debilitating medical conditions.

After the House of Delegates approved an amended version of the bill over the weekend, the Senate on Monday approved those amendments, sending the bill to the desk of Governor Martin O’Malley. Aides to the Governor have indicated publicly he would sign a medical marijuana defense bill.
“With the passage of this bill, the General Assembly has let seriously ill patients know they are not criminals for seeking relief from their pain and suffering,” said Senator David Brinkley, the primary sponsor of the Senate bill. “It will also establish a framework to build on in moving forward with more comprehensive solutions so that some day soon patients will be able to obtain their medicine in dignity and not on street corners. I thank my colleagues in both chambers for today’s compassionate vote.”

Graphic: Patients for Medical Cannabis

​After a nine-year effort, one Maryland lawmaker may finally succeed this year in his quest to reduce criminal penalties for medical marijuana use.

Sen. David Brinkley (R-Frederick County) is one of the lead sponsors of a bill that would allow medical marijuana users to be found not guilty on criminal possession charges and would establish a study at a research university regarding the use of medicinal cannabis in general, reports Meg Tully at The Frederick News-Post.
The Maryland House of Delegates gave the bill a preliminary OK on Saturday. If the House acts — as scheduled — to vote on it Monday, then Brinkley said he thought the bill would become law.

Photo: Small Business Support

​The Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee approved a bill, SB 308, on Thursday which would allow patients who use marijuana to treat medical conditions to use a medical necessity defense in court.

The bill would also create a panel to advise the Legislature on the best practices for creating a medical marijuana program for Maryland in 2012.
The Senate passed the bill by an overwhelming 41-6 vote on March 24, and will need to approve the bill again because of amendments made by the Judiciary Committee. Thursday’s committee vote was the biggest obstacle advocates faced in their effort to remove criminal penalties for medical marijuana users.
Sponsors of the measure had originally hoped to pass a comprehensive medical marijuana law that would have established dispensaries throughout the state and protected patients from arrest, but that plan was derailed when the Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene voiced concerns over the cost of implementing it.

Photo: The Georgetowner
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Wednesday approved final regulations for medical marijuana in the District of Columbia.

​More than 12 years after D.C. voters overwhelmingly passed a medical marijuana ballot initiative, seriously ill residents of the District of Columbia will finally be able to begin using cannabis to treat certain medical conditions.

On Wednesday, Mayor Vincent Gray approved the final regulations on the licensing, distribution, and use of medical marijuana in the District. The full regulations will be published officially on April 15. The City Council has 30 days to review the regulations, but they will go into effect immediately on that date.

Graphic: Hemp Beach TV
HB 291 would create a panel which will make recommendations to the Maryland Legislature on how to safely and effectively implement a well-regulated medical marijuana program

Panel of Experts to Advise Legislature on State Medical Marijuana Policy

​By an overwhelming vote of 105-29, the Maryland House of Delegates on Monday passed HB 291, a bill that would create an 18-member panel to advise the Legislature on the best way to create a medical marijuana program in 2012.

HB 291 was amended from an earlier version of the bill, which would have set up a comprehensive medical marijuana program, protecting state-registered patients from arrest and allowing state-regulated dispensaries to provide patients with medicinal cannabis.
The bill, sponsored by the only physician in the General Assembly, Del. Dan Morhaim, was amended after Health Secretary Josh Sharfstein advocated a “yellow light” approach to medical marijuana.