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Graphic: anewscafe.com

​A Colorado state senator said Thursday he wants to impose a special tax on medical marijuana.

Sen. Chris Romer (D-Denver) said he plans to amend a bill creating regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries to include a provision placing an excise tax on medicinal cannabis, similar to the excise tax that already exists for alcohol, reports John Ingold at The Denver Post.
If approved by lawmakers, that provision must be put before the voters, due to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Romer wants to use the expected revenue — which he estimates at about $10 million to $15 million a year — to fund drug education programs for teens, substance abuse treatment centers, and medical care for veterans and the poor.
The state senator claimed he was concerned that the state’s booming medical marijuana industry could create increased recreational marijuana use among young people.

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​Colorado should pay to defend medical marijuana growers and dispensaries in court if federal authorities arrest them in the future, a state senator said Sunday.

The provision was part of a plan unveiled yesterday by State Senator Chris Romer, reports Jessica Fender at The Denver Post.

Romer, a Denver Democrat, is proposing legislation to regulate the booming medical marijuana industry in Colorado. He wants to use a state database to track growers and their plants for health, safety, and law enforcement purposes, he told a crowd at a medical marijuana health fair.

Most hemp farmers across the country got a big boost when the United States Department of Agriculture released its first round of industrial hemp regulations earlier this week; the new rules took effect today, October 31.

“I applaud the USDA for moving forward on hemp rulemaking and recognizing hemp production as an agricultural activity,” Senator Cory Gardner said in a statement after the regulations were announced. “Legalized hemp has the potential to be a major boon to agricultural communities across Colorado, giving farmers another viable and profitable option for their fields.”

But for farmers in states like Colorado, where hemp has been an established crop for almost five years, the new rules might not seem so progressive.

The push for federal cannabis banking legalization took another baby step on July 23 when the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs heard a bill that would allow financial institutions to serve companies connected with cannabis, which is still federally illegal.

Introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the SAFE Banking Act would protect banks and other financial outfits from federal charges if they provide accounts, loans and other services to pot businesses as well as ancillary enterprises that work with cannabis-focused enterprises, such as real estate agencies, accountants and other business vendors.

Senators Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren just reintroduced their States Act today, April 4, in hopes of guaranteeing states the right to choose their own marijuana policy. The two may seem an odd pairing, but Democrat Warren represents Massachusetts, where recreational cannabis is now legal, and Republican Gardner has pushed the feds before to observe Colorado’s laws regarding marijuana.

Representatives Earl Blumenauer and David Joyce have introduced the bill concurrently in the House, and the measure is expected to be heard by a House committee within weeks, according to House Rules Committee chairman Jim McGovern, who’s bullish on its chances.

Senator Cory Gardner’s shot at protecting states with legal marijuana programs was blocked on December 18, when his states’-rights amendment was sent into the rafters by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.

Colorado’s Republican senator has been pushing for more guaranteed protection from federal encroachment on state-legalized marijuana industries and consumers, as well as for any banks that want to provide services to them. On December 17, he attached an amendment to the First Step Act, a set of legislative reforms to the federal prison system, that would have done just that.

On December 17, Senator Cory Gardner introduced an amendment to a federal prison reform bill that would protect a state’s right to legalize marijuana and determine how to regulate it within its borders.

Republican Gardner first helped introduce the legislation as its own bill, in a bipartisan effort with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren known as the States Act. Despite gaining considerable attention over the summer, including an expression of support from President Donald Trump, the bill gained only ten co-sponsors after its introduction in June.

An amendment attached to a federal finance bill that would have provided the legal marijuana industry with banking protections was stifled on Thursday, June 21, by a U.S. Senate committee. The measure, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, would have shielded financial institutions and banks that open accounts for state-legal pot businesses from federal prosecution.

Even as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, is working with the office of Colorado Senator Cory Gardner to craft legislation designed to protect states that have legalized cannabis sales from federal interference, the organization is making a new push to have marijuana removed from the Controlled Substances Act, a process known as de-scheduling.

Exhibit A: In recent weeks, NORML submitted over 10,000 written requests that marijuana be de-scheduled to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which had asked for comments in conjunction with a review of cannabis’s international classification currently being conducted by the World Health Organization.

In a story of strange political bedfellows, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is working with the office of Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner on an upcoming bill that would prevent the federal government from interfering with the marijuana system here and in other states that have legalized.

As noted by NORML political director Justin Strekal, Gardner has confirmed that he’s teaming up with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, “to craft legislation that would reduce the tension between federal prohibition and states that have moved forward with legalizing marijuana for medicinal or adult use. And we’re working with a number of offices to make sure the language is going to be right and palatable to a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate.”

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