Dedicated to promoting positive legal, social, and political change in support of cannabis and the many adults who use it.

Miami-Herald: Vote Yes On Florida Medical Marijuana Initiative ‘For Humanitarian Reasons’

The Weed Blog - Sun, 02/14/2016 - 03:14
Florida voters are going to see a medical marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot for the second election cycle in a row. The 2016 version is different than the 2014 version in a handful of ways. The 2014 initiative lost by just 2 percent. An improved initiative, lessons learned from the 2014 campaign, and a

Vermont Governor’s Statement On Senate Committee Passage Of Marijuana Legalization Bill

The Weed Blog - Sat, 02/13/2016 - 22:37
There are half a dozen states that have a shot at legalizing recreational marijuana via citizen initiative in 2016 in my opinion – California, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Maine, and Massachusetts. There are also states that could legalize via legislative action, which has never happened before. The three states that seem to be in play from

Nevada Health Official Predicts Medical Marijuana Patient Numbers Will Quadruple Soon

The Weed Blog - Sat, 02/13/2016 - 22:29
Nevada has had a medical marijuana program for awhile now, but it wasn’t until recently that there were state licensed dispensaries. There have been some dispensaries operating in the shadows for years, but now dispensaries are fully regulated and operating with the full permission of the State of Nevada. With safe access points opening up

2016 SoCal Medical Cannabis Cup: How Cannabis Will Save The NFL

The Weed Blog - Sat, 02/13/2016 - 22:13
After participating in a panel at the 2016 SoCal Medical Cannabis Cup, former NFL players Kyle Turley, Nate Jackson and Eben Britton sat down with HIGH TIMES editor-in-chief Dan Skye to discuss how pot can help football players recover from a wide range of injuries, including concussions.

Florida Medical Marijuana Campaign Needs 478 More Donors This Month

The Weed Blog - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 18:30
I received the following message from the Florida medical marijuana campaign. If you are able to help, please do: Johnny, We need 478 more donors this month to stay on target. Unlike the No on 2 campaign, we don’t have a billionaire who can drop $6 million at any minute. They didn’t have to pay

California NORML Opposes Medical-Only Marijuana Tax

The Weed Blog - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 18:00
A bill to impose a new 15% state excise tax on retail purchases of medical marijuana has been proposed in the California legislature (SB 987 by Sen. McGuire).  The tax would be in addition to the current 7.5+% sales tax plus various local business taxes assessed by some localities. “At this time when providers already

Another Vermont Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill

The Weed Blog - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 17:31
The Vermont Senate Committee on Finance approved a bill (6-1) on Friday that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and regulate marijuana for adult use. The bill was approved by the Senate Committee on Judiciary on January 29, and it will now be considered by the Senate Committee on Appropriations. 241 would make it

NORML’s Legislative Round Up February 12th, 2016

NORML Blog - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 17:05

We’ve got news from all levels of government this week! International, federal, state, and local law reform changes are all being considered. Keep reading below to see if any pending reforms would affect you or your community!

International:

Tim Faron, leader of one of Great Britain’s main political parties, called for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use this week. He also announced that his party would be imminently releasing a report making the case for a legalized market for sales. The Liberal Democrats leader said: “I personally believe the war on drugs is over. We must move from making this a legal issue to one of health. The prime minister used to agree with me on the need for drug reform. It’s time he rediscovered his backbone and made the case again.”

Federal:

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote a letter this week to the head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urging the agency to research cannabis access as a potential mitigating factor in opioid abuse. Population data from states where medicinal cannabis is permitted report lower rates of opioid-abuse  and mortality as compared to those states where the plant is prohibited. Clinical data and case reports also indicate that the adjunctive use of cannabis may wean patients from opiates while successfully managing their pain. Survey data of state qualified medical cannabis patients indicate that subjects with access to the plant often substitute it for opioids because they perceive it to possess fewer adverse side effects.

Also, Senate members this week introduced The Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success Act, or SUCCESS Act, which repeals language in the Higher Education Act that strips students of financial aid because of a past drug offense, and removes the drug conviction question from the FAFSA form. #TakeAction 

State:

California: The California Medical Association has officially endorsed the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, a pending statewide ballot initiative that seeks to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use and sales in the state. The California Medical Association represents more than 41,000 physician members statewide. Additionally, the NAACP California chapter has also endorsed the initiative.

Illinois: Legislation, HB 6199, is pending in the General Assembly to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the definition of ‘debilitating medical condition’ and to allow state-registered medical cannabis patients to retain gun ownership rights. #TakeAction

Mississippi: Senate legislation was introduced this week to permit qualified patients to legally possess and cultivate cannabis. Senate Bill 2358 permits patients with a “debilitating medical condition” to engage in marijuana therapy in accordance with a physician’s recommendation. The measure also reschedules marijuana under state law. #TakeAction

New Mexico: Legislation opposed by NORML, HB 195 has narrowly passed the House of Representatives. The bill would prohibit workers compensation insurers from reimbursing employees who qualify for medical cannabis access for injuries sustained on the job. The measure now awaits Senate action. Please contact your Senate member today and urge him or her to vote ‘no’ on HB 195 and/or its companion measure SB 245. #TakeAction

New Jersey: Legislation was introduced this week to end workplace discrimination against medical marijuana patients. Assembly Bill 2482, if enacted, would halt employers from taking adverse employment actions against authorized medical marijuana patients who engage in the plant’s use during their off-hours. #TakeAction

Pennsylvania: A local decriminalization ordinance is being considered by the Harrisburg City Council. The council’s public safety committee plans to hold a public hearing on the matter in the coming weeks. If you live in Harrisburg, contact your City Council member and urge their support for this measure! We’ll keep you updated as this measure moves forward.

Vermont: Members of the Senate are anticipated to decide imminently on legislation to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of cannabis. Media reports indicate that the floor vote could come the week of February 16. The vote is expected to be a close one; therefore, we are urging supporters to contact their Senate members over the coming days and to urge them to vote ‘yes’ for Senate Bill 241. If approved by the Senate, the bill will face further debate in the House. #TakeAction

Virginia: Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, Senate Bill 327, to amend state law so that first time, minor marijuana offenders no longer face the loss of their driver’s license. Under existing law, marijuana possession offenses may be punishable by the loss of driving privileges, even in cases where the offense did not take place in a motor vehicle. Passage of SB 327 would end this practice. #TakeAction

Washington D.C.: Members of the D.C. Counsel this week approved a measure that would prohibit potential employers in the District from testing applicants for marijuana until after they’ve made a conditional job offer. Councilmember Vincent Orange, who sponsored the measure said, “District residents shouldn’t have to worry about lost job opportunities just because they’ve smoked pot, especially now that the city has voted to legalize marijuana possession.” The measure is still under congressional review.

Legalizing Marijuana and Your 4th Amendment Protections

NORML Blog - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 11:39

The nationwide movement to legalize the responsible use of marijuana is a badly needed change in public policy, because it will eventually eliminate all but a few of the 700,000 marijuana arrests that occur each year in this country (there will always be a few who insist on operating outside the limits set by legalization). That fact alone would justify ending prohibition. We are needlessly criminalizing millions of otherwise law-abiding marijuana smokers.

The Fourth Amendment Protections

But the struggle to legalize marijuana is also part of a broader movement to protect the individual from the awesome power of the state. And one of the important consequences of legalization will be to strengthen the Fourth Amendment protection we all enjoy from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, and was adopted in response to the abuse of the writ of assistance, a general search warrant, issued arbitrarily by the British in pre-revolutionary America and not requiring any probable cause to believe a crime had been committed. The amendment was first introduced in the Congress in 1789 by James Madison, and was ratified by the necessary three-quarters of the states in 1791.

Search Protections Eroded Over Time

But the clear intent of the Fourth Amendment has been eroded over the years by legal exceptions carved-out by the courts, including exceptions for motor vehicles, evidence of a crime in plain view, exigent circumstances, and consent searches, among others.

The law enforcement establishment all across this country have for too long used the marijuana laws to justify searches that would otherwise be a violation of one’s Fourth Amendment protections. In those states in which marijuana remains illegal, the courts have consistently held that the smell of marijuana provides police with the legal right to search the passenger compartment of an automobile, without a warrant. And traffic stops (often based on illegal profiling) account for a significant segment of the marijuana arrests that occur each year in this country.

So it is wise never to smoke in your car; and if you carry any marijuana in your car, even small amounts, you should keep it in a locked container in the trunk.

And in other situations, such as when the police come to your door for any reason, and claim they smell marijuana, that alone provides the probable cause required to obtain a search warrant to search the home. As does the sight of any marijuana or smoking paraphernalia, which is why one should never leave either marijuana or evidence of marijuana smoking (pipes or papers or ashtrays with roaches) in plain sight.

Extraordinary Olfactory Claims By Police

To take advantage of this exception to the 4th Amendment, police often claim extraordinary olfactory prowess. And it is not just the smell of burning marijuana (or recently burned marijuana) that the police claim they can identify. They also claim to smell raw marijuana that has been sealed in odor-proof packaging, from a significant distance.

And far too frequently, the police are flat-out lying when they make that claim, apparently believing the end justifies the means. By using this ruse, they gain access to people and places they would otherwise be unable to go.

Good criminal defense lawyers often challenge these searches with a motion to suppress the evidence, offering testimony from the defendant that no one had been smoking marijuana in the car when it was stopped for an alleged traffic offense. But these are seldom successful, as the judge generally believes the testimony from the man in uniform, even in situations in which the defendant presents scientific evidence challenging the officer’s ability to smell the marijuana.

Some in law-enforcement acknowledge their primary opposition to legalizing marijuana is that it will reduce their ability to arrest people whom they arbitrarily believe are involved in more serious crime. This is especially a problem in minority communities, and has contributed to the distrust of police in those communities.

By legalizing marijuana, we actually help the police begin to rebuild some credibility with the communities they serve. Once they are again seen as public servants keeping our communities safe from serious crime, instead of heavy-handed bullies looking for an excuse to search and arrest otherwise law-abiding citizens who smoke marijuana, law enforcement will once again find they are supported and valued by average citizens.

The Good News

The good news is that as we gradually legalize marijuana in more and more states, we are also restoring the right of citizens in those states to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Once marijuana is no longer contraband, the smell of marijuana no longer provides probable cause for a search, whether in an automobile or in a home.

This fight to legalize marijuana is only incidentally about marijuana; it is really about personal freedom. And with each new legalization victory we return a measure of personal freedom to the citizens of that state.

________________________________________________________________

This column first ran on Marijuana.com.

http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/02/legalizing-marijuana-and-your-4th-amendment-protections/

 

Patients In Need Of Medical Marijuana Speak Out Against Rhode Island ‘Sick Tax’

The Weed Blog - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 11:38
Rhode Islanders who use medical marijuana to help manage chronic and debilitating medical conditions spoke out against a proposal in Governor Gina Raimondo’s 2017 budget that would levy heavy taxes on medical marijuana plants grown by patients and caregivers. At a news conference held by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island and the

US HI: Newspaper Demands Pot Panelists' Names

Cannabis News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 05:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 12 Feb 2016 - Oahu Publications Says It Is Prepared to Sue If the Heath Department Refuses The Honolulu Star-Advertiser told the state Health Department on Thursday it will file a lawsuit if the agency does not release by the close of business today the names of committee members who will award Hawaii's first medical marijuana dispensary licenses.

US HI: Editorial: Ditch The Secrecy On Pot Licenses

Cannabis News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 05:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 12 Feb 2016 - The people in the know clearly know the crucial fact about the new medical marijuana dispensary enterprise: It's going to be big business - very big. That, as well as the fact that only eight licenses will be awarded, has turned those permits into valuable commodities.

US HI: Newspaper Demands Pot Panelists' Names

Medical Marijuana - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 05:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 12 Feb 2016 - Oahu Publications Says It Is Prepared to Sue If the Heath Department Refuses The Honolulu Star-Advertiser told the state Health Department on Thursday it will file a lawsuit if the agency does not release by the close of business today the names of committee members who will award Hawaii's first medical marijuana dispensary licenses.

US HI: Editorial: Ditch The Secrecy On Pot Licenses

Medical Marijuana - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 05:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 12 Feb 2016 - The people in the know clearly know the crucial fact about the new medical marijuana dispensary enterprise: It's going to be big business - very big. That, as well as the fact that only eight licenses will be awarded, has turned those permits into valuable commodities.

Why The Introduction Of The SUCCESS Act Is A Very Big Deal For Drug Policy Reform

The Weed Blog - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 02:36
This week, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced legislation to repeal a provision in the Higher Education Act that has denied grants, loans and work-study opportunities to an estimated 200,000 students with drug convictions over the last 18 years. If it passes, the Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success (SUCCESS) Act will

New Mexico Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances In Senate Rules Committee

The Weed Blog - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 01:30
2016 is the year of marijuana legalization in a lot of people’s eyes. Activists and campaigns have had their eyes on 2016 for a long time. There are a lot of states that are poised to vote on marijuana legalization initiatives in November, but a lot of people forget about states that are working on

US: 2016 Could Be The Year For Industrial Hemp

Cannabis News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 05:00
Boulder Weekly, 11 Feb 2016 - In 2015 U.S. consumers bought over $500 million in hemp products, buying everything from food, cosmetics, fabrics and paper to construction material, insulation and plastics. It is estimated that there are more than 25,000 product applications for industrial hemp and yet the hemp market struggles to capitalize on that vast potential. Currently listed as a federal Schedule 1 drug in the Controlled Substances Act, it is illegal to grow the plant or possess live seeds. But recent activity at the state and industry level is beginning to challenge that long standing status. Here in Colorado a small number of permits became available in 2014, allowing farmers to plant and harvest hemp under the plant's newly legal status, as granted by Amendment 64. As one of 28 states with laws to grow or research hemp, Colorado's laws are among the most transparent and accommodating in the nation because farmers are allowed to keep their seeds to create Colorado strains particularly well suited for the state's dry climate.

CN ON: Thorny Issue For City

Cannabis News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 05:00
The Intelligencer, 11 Feb 2016 - Transit advisory group faces dilemma after Dec. 23 decision to kick man off bus One man's medical marijuana usage on a city bus could now spark a legal debate. The transit advisory committee is asking council to seek legal advice on the nuances and room for challenging provincial legislation permitting the use of medical marijuana in public places.

US CO: Column: A Woman's World

Cannabis News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 05:00
Boulder Weekly, 11 Feb 2016 - Modern feminism boils down to two main angles. The first is a movement driven by equality: equal pay, equal representation, equal access to power and position. The second seeks to elevate the status of roles commonly perceived as feminine, recognizing the value of caretaking in society and increased social stature. Women who attempt to achieve both know how difficult that feat can be because achieving one tends to preclude the other. Either women step into traditionally male positions that are more demanding on their time and energy or they commit to more nurturing roles that disassociate them from money and power. Even if a woman is willing to go for it all, her efforts are likely stymied by an inflexible society that struggles to accommodate shifting gender roles.

CN ON: Thorny Issue For City

Medical Marijuana - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 05:00
The Intelligencer, 11 Feb 2016 - Transit advisory group faces dilemma after Dec. 23 decision to kick man off bus One man's medical marijuana usage on a city bus could now spark a legal debate. The transit advisory committee is asking council to seek legal advice on the nuances and room for challenging provincial legislation permitting the use of medical marijuana in public places.