CARERS Act Companion Bill Introduced in House of Representatives

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Rep. Steve Cohen

Yesterday, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) that would largely prevent the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

This bill is a companion to a historic CARERS Act introduced earlier this month in the Senate with bipartisan support.

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Rep. Don Young

The bill would make production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for medical purposes that’s legal under state law legal under federal law, and would make conducting research on marijuana easier, among other things.

Rhode Island Legislature Considering Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol

Earlier this month, a bill to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol was introduced in the Rhode Island legislature.

The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, introduced by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston) and Rep. Scott Slater (D-Providence),  would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space. It would create a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities and direct the Department of Business Regulation to create rules regulating security, labeling, and health and safety requirements. It would also establish wholesale excise taxes at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store, as well as a special sales tax on retail sales to consumers.

Huffington Post reports:

 A 2014 poll found 52 percent in favor of changing marijuana laws, mirroring national trends. This is the fourth year that legislation to regulate and tax recreational marijuana has been introduced. It’s unclear whether state lawmakers will support the new measure.

Legalized marijuana would boost the state treasury by $58 million a year in taxes, the Marijuana Policy Project projected.

“We want Rhode Island to be a leader on the East CoastRegulate_RI_Release_Logo.png and become an early adopter in order to get a competitive edge in the regional market to maximize job creation, tax revenue, and business growth in our state,” Jared Moffat, director of the marijuana policy reform group Regulate Rhode Island, told The Huffington Post.

Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine Filed Today

A statewide ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol was filed Tuesday with the Maine Secretary of State.

The leader of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, David Boyer of Falmouth, submitted the language along with the signatures of five registered Maine voters who support the measure, as required by state law.regulate ME The five signers were State Rep. Diane Russell of Portland; local farmer and former Republican State Rep. Aaron Libby of Waterboro; Androscoggin County Commissioner and Lewiston School Board Member Matt Roy; Rev. Deane Perkins of Belfast; and Sherry DaBiere, a York-based real estate agent and grandmother.

Under the proposed initiative, adults 21 years of age and older would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes, and possess the marijuana produced by those plants. The measure would establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product-manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities.  Marijuana would be subject to a 10% sales tax in addition to the standard sales tax, and revenue generated by marijuana sales would be allocated public education.

The Maine Secretary of State has 15 days to review the initiative application and either reject it, accept it, or provide revisions to the proposed measure. Once it is approved, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will have until the end of January 2016 to collect the approximately 62,000 signatures of registered Maine voters that are needed to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

New Mexico Misses Opportunity to Decriminalize Marijuana

The New Mexico legislative session ended on Saturday, and with it died SB 383, a bill that would have decriminalized marijuana throughout the state.

SB 383 would have replaced criminal penalties for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana with a $50 civil fine. It also would have removed the possibility of jail time for possession of up to eight ounces. Although SB 383 passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote, the House did not take it up. It is disappointing that the New Mexico2000px-Flag_of_New_Mexico.svg House chose not to review a bill that would have reduced the punishment for individuals who possessed a substance safer than alcohol.

Time ran out not only on decriminalization — but also, fortunately, on a harmful bill that would have unfairly targeted marijuana consumers. HB 120 would have declared anyone with an extremely small amount of THC per milliliter of blood guilty of driving under the influence — even if the person could prove they were actually not impaired! HB 120 passed in the House, but did not receive a vote in the Senate.

Vermont Poll Shows Majority Support Making Marijuana Legal

A new poll released by the Castleton Polling InstituteScreen Shot 2015-03-18 at 4.46.33 PM shows that a majority of Vermont residents want to make marijuana legal and regulated for adults.

VTDigger.org reports:

Respondents in the recent poll were asked: “Two states — Washington and Colorado — have legalized and regulated marijuana for recreational use. Do you support or oppose passing a similar law in Vermont to legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use?”

Of those surveyed, 54 percent supported the idea with 40 percent opposed. Six percent had no opinion.

Support was particularly strong among young people with 70 percent of respondents age 18-44 (or 161 people) in favor. The results were about opposite for those 65 and older, who opposed legalization 61 percent to 30 percent.

“Clearly, the opposition remains most substantial among voters who are 65-plus and Republicans,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project. “I guess some people remain nostalgic for a simpler time when you could ‘Just Say No’ and be done with the issue, but any realistic person realizes that those days are long gone — that marijuana is here to stay whether we like it or not, and we have to figure out how best to deal with it.”

Vermont lawmakers are currently considering a bill which would tax and regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Marijuana Policy Project