As you have probably heard, there was big news in Denver yesterday. The Colorado Legislature approved legislation to tax and regulate the distribution and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older! The measures now go to Gov. John Hickenlooper so that he can sign them into law. This marks the first time in history that a state legislative body has passed legislation to regulate marijuana for sale to all adults.
The legislation, in fact, was introduced and passed because voters directed their lawmakers to regulate the production and sale of marijuana in Colorado when they voted “yes” on Amendment 64 this past November. Since passage of that ballot measure, MPP has been carefully monitoring the implementation process and has worked with a team of lobbyists and advocates to make sure the legislature got it right. When it comes to most of the major issues, such as allowing adults from out-of-state to purchase marijuana legally, we are happy to report that they did.
Once Gov. Hickenlooper signs off on the legislation, the Department of Revenue will have until July 1 to promulgate rules and regulations that Colorado’s new retail marijuana businesses must follow. We will once again be monitoring this process and will work with our allies to help craft rules that provide adults safe and reliable access to marijuana, while preventing diversion to young people and the underground market. Continue reading
The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has entered debate over marijuana. Sen. Miguel Pereira filed a bill last week that would permit adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, arguing that 80 percent of inmates are serving time for non-violent crimes and that possession cases cost the government money.
Sen. Miguel Pereira
The actions of the former federal prosecutor and corrections secretary roused mixed emotions. Supporters marched through the streets towards the Capitol building on Saturday in excitement, while critics called for his resignation.
Amidst the cheers and jeers were also voices of reason. During a press conference, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla stated, “I don’t have a problem with an open debate about the possibilities, benefits or drawbacks of such a measure.” Justice Secretary Luis Sanchez Betances similarly stated that the proposal opens the door for discussion.
Marijuana possession in Puerto Rico can carry up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
On Tuesday, the Anchorage Daily News reported, marijuana policy reform activists in Alaska presented a drafted ballot initiative that calls for taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol along will 100 signatures to the state lieutenant governor’s office. It’s the first of many steps needed to put marijuana on the 2014 primary ballot.
The measure, which would allow adults 21 and older to use and cultivate marijuana, will now undergo a 60-day review. If state officials allow the initiative to move forward, 30,169 more signatures will need to be acquired by mid-January in order to force a vote.
A similar initiative in 2004 failed to pass; however, unlike the past measure, the new initiative would not include amnesty for past marijuana offenses.
Three out of four Washington, D.C. voters would support changing District law to replace criminal penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket, according to a survey conducted last week by Public Policy Polling. Two-thirds (67%) said they believe law enforcement resources currently being used by District police to arrest individuals for marijuana possession should be directed toward other crimes.
The poll also found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of District voters would support a ballot measure similar to those approved by voters in Colorado and Washington in November, which made marijuana legal for adults and directed state officials to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. A solid majority (54%) said drug use should be treated as a public health issue, and people should no longer be arrested and locked up for possession of a small amount of any drug for personal use.
The survey of 1,621 randomly selected District voters was conducted April 10-11. The full results and crosstabs are available at http://www.mpp.org/DCpoll.
Recently, MPP posted a billboard in Portland (OR) to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Month and upcoming beer and wine festivals, touting the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol. Unfortunately, someone apparently didn’t like that and tore it down within the first 48 hours!
We aren’t going to let that get in the way of our our public education efforts, though, and we conveyed that with the replacement billboard we unveiled today. It appears like the original, but with a very large red rip through the middle and reads: “Our original billboard was vandalized, but… The truth cannot be destroyed.” It’s already getting attention in the media.
Help us get this truth out to the public by sharing the image of the billboards on Facebook and Twitter.