In a landslide vote of 171-4Monday, the Georgia House of Representatives passed “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake and over 90 others to legalize medical cannabis. Thanks to the leadership and compassion of Rep. Peake and 170 other members of the House, HB 885 is headed to the Senate!
This bill was named for Haleigh Cox, a four-year-old from Forsyth, who suffers more than a hundred seizures per day. Medical cannabis has proven to be effective in treating hundreds of children with conditions similar to Haleigh’s.
Unfortunately, in its current form, HB 885 would not provide the access to medicine that Haleigh and so many Georgia children desperately need. HB 885 relies on teaching hospitals to grow marijuana and process the cannabis-based liquid drops that relieve seizures. However, hospitals depend heavily on federal grants for funding — grants which may be revoked if the hospitals agree to handle the marijuana. A similar program in Maryland has already proven to be unworkable. The sponsor of that legislation, a physician, is seeking solutions to make it effective.
As Rep. Peake told WSB-TV yesterday, “I still got a big mountain to climb” — the bill will need to be amended to include dispensaries.
Moments ago, the Washington, D.C. City Council voted to decriminalize marijuana possession!
The measure removes criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for individuals 18 years of age and older and replaces them with a civil fine of $25, similar to a parking ticket. It also removes penalties for possession of paraphernalia in conjunction with small amounts of marijuana, and it specifies that individuals cannot be searched or detained based solely on an officer’s suspicion of marijuana possession. Public use of marijuana would remain a criminal offense punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The bill goes into effect this summer.
This means that, outside of Washington and Colorado, marijuana penalties are now less punitive in our nation’s capital than anywhere else in the country.
Washington, D.C. has the nation’s highest arrest rate for marijuana possession, according to a report released in June by the American Civil Liberties Union. Blacks accounted for 91% of marijuana possession arrests in the District, and they were eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite using marijuana at similar rates. The ACLU’s analysis concluded that enforcing marijuana possession laws, which make up nearly half of all drug offenses, costs the District more than $26.5 million per year. Hopefully, this new bill will have an immediate impact on this injustice.
On March 1, MPP officially began lobbying for marijuana policy reform directly in the Texas legislature. Over the next several years, we will be working with supportive lawmakers and local advocates to remove the threat of jail for simple possession of marijuana, and eventually end marijuana prohibition altogether in the Lone Star State.
Alaska is on its way to becoming the third state in the nation to end marijuana prohibition!
Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell announced yesterday that an initiative to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and regulate it like alcohol has officially qualified for the August 19 primary ballot. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska now has less than six months to campaign in support of the measure.
A poll conducted earlier this month found 55% of Alaska voters think it’s time to make marijuana legal and regulate it like alcohol. But victory is far from guaranteed, so it’s critical that the campaign raise money right now to build a strong coalition, mobilize supporters across the state, and run ads in August.
“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” [Annapolis Police Chief Michael] Pristoop said in testimony at Tuesday’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”
Apparently Chief Pristoop didn’t know that marijuana was already being used widely in Colorado, just like in every other state, and that it is impossible to die from a marijuana overdose.
Maybe Pristoop was truly ignorant of these facts, in which case he probably shouldn’t be testifying in support of continuing Maryland’s failed marijuana prohibition. Or maybe, like law enforcement bosses in Minnesota and around the country, he’s just worried about his budget.