Sen. Rand Paul Proposes Amendment to Protect Marijuana Laws

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul proposed an amendment that would keep the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana patients and physicians as well as interfering with states that implement medical marijuana laws, Huffington Post reports. The amendment was added to a jobs bill currently being heard on the Senate floor. Senator Paul’s communication director, Brian Darling, explained the senator’s move. “What we’re trying to do is look at the law and allow states that have changed their laws and have allowed medical marijuana to do so, for doctors to be able to prescribe and for people to be able to get those prescriptions without being worried about the federal government coming in and arresting them.”

Senator Paul has proposed similar legislation in the past, such as an amendment that would restrict the DEA and federal prosecutors from pursuing medical marijuana users and distributors that are in compliance with state law. “The effort before was to defund prosecutions — so it would block the federal government from prosecuting until that appropriations bill runs out about a year later.” Said Darling. The Senate is unlikely to vote on Senator Paul’s amendment due to gridlock, but Paul’s office has made it clear they are prepared to pursue similar legislation in the future.

Homeowners’ Associations Can Regulate Marijuana in Neighborhoods

Homeowners’ associations cannot legally ban their members from using marijuana in their homes in states where it is legal to do so, but some HOAs are attempting to do just that, claiming that marijuana use is a nuisance, reports the Gazette. If people can see or smell their neighbor using or growing marijuana, their HOA has the right to regulate it as a nuisance or child risk. Richard Thompson, who runs a management company that concentrates in homeowner associations in Portland, related these regulations to others made in Oregon. “The fact that people may be legally entitled to smoke doesn’t mean they can do it wherever they want, any more than they could walk into a restaurant and light up a cigarette.”

According to Thompson, neighbor conflicts have increased with regards to marijuana use recently. More marijuana users keep their windows open and smoke outside during spring and summer months, prompting many complaints from neighbors. A Brighton, Colorado resident recently discovered this after he planted a hemp plot. The homeowners’ association took issue with this and ordered him to get rid of it or face a fine. Though he tried to explain that hemp was not marijuana, he was still turned down. He then sold his plants to hemp activists rather than throwing them out. The activists offered to pay his homeowner fines instead, but the resident opted to live peacefully with his neighbors. He said, “I had people calling up and saying, ‘It’s just a shame; we’ll pay your fines all the way through to the end.’ But I decided in the end not to fight it. At the end of the day, I live here.”

University of Arizona Alumnus Starts Petition to Reinstate Sue Sisley

Ricardo Pereyda, a University of Arizona alumnus and veteran diagnosed with PTSD, has begun a petition for the university to reinstate Sue Sisley, one of the foremost experts in using medical marijuana to treat PTSD. As previously reported, Sue Sisley was dismissed from the University of Arizona after getting the green light to start a study on marijuana’s effectiveness in treating PTSD. Pereyda, who served in Iraq, says that marijuana has “helped [him] to live a more full and productive life” dealing with his PTSD. He hopes his petition will convince the university to reconsider its dismissal of Dr. Sisley so her research can continue.

Minnesota Names Michelle Larson as Marijuana Director

Minnesota has named Michelle Larson as their first marijuana director with less than a year before their medical marijuana law takes effect, the Star Tribune reports. Larson is an environmental health expert who has been instrumental in implementing Illinois’ Health Department policies. She now has until July 15, 2015 to design the state’s medical marijuana infrastructure, when Minnesota’s medical marijuana law is due to take effect. Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger expressed confidence in the choice: “Michelle brings a strong background in public policy and administration, as well as a history of working with the public health community, law enforcement and security, pharmacists, health care providers and community members. She has the ability to work with people to get things done right.”

Minnesota’s medical marijuana law was passed earlier this year and is regarded as one of the most restrictive in the nation. Two manufacturers in the state will produce all of the medical marijuana supply for Minnesota and it will be available at only eight locations. Michelle Larson and her ten-person team are now tasked with delegating who will be licensed as manufacturers and distributors. The department hopes to have the manufacturers chosen by December so there will be plenty of time before patients start registering in May. Larson will begin her job in her new position on August 13.

Oregon Petition Qualifies for the November Ballot

New Approach Oregon’s petition to make marijuana legal for adults has qualified for the ballot this coming November, Huffington Post reports. More than 87,000 valid signatures were collected for the petition, which allows adults age 21 and older in Oregon to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana privately and one ounce in public and would have the marijuana market regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Any sales taxes collected would be distributed to schools, law enforcement, and drug prevention programs.

It is very likely that this initiative will pass in November, with a recent poll stating that 57% of Oregon’s likely voters support recreational marijuana use. A similar measure was nearly approved in 2012. In addition, the governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, has stated that he would uphold the will of the people if the bill makes it to his desk. In January, he commented on Colorado and Washington, “I hear the drumbeats from Washington and Colorado.” He said, “I want to make sure we have a thoughtful regulatory system. The legislature would be the right place to craft that.”

Marijuana Policy Project