Candidate For Illinois Governor Would Have Vetoed Medical Marijuana Law

Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bruce RaunerBruceRauner announced earlier this week that, if he had been in office, he would have vetoed Illinois’ new lawwhich allows seriously ill patients access to medical cannabis. Rauner also said he preferred a system that would make business licenses available only to the highest bidders in order to raise money for state coffers.

Governor Quinn, who signed the medical marijuana bill in 2013, took exception to the comments, pointing out that the process is both competitive and transparent. His campaign called Rauner’s statements “heartless” and stressed that the law “will ease pain and provide relief for cancer patients (and) severely ill people.”

Rep. Lou Lang, who sponsored the current law, noted that Illinois’ program is among the most tightly-controlled in the country. He also stated that “[t]he whole notion that Mr. Rauner would veto the bill, the notion that it would go to the highest bidder, is just callous, and flies in the face of logic.”

Rauner’s opposition to the current law stands in contrast to most Republican lawmakers, who joined Democrats earlier this year to extend the program to allow individuals with seizure conditions to qualify for access. His statements are particularly important because the winner of this election will be in office in 2017 — when the current program expires. In order for seriously ill patients to continue to have access, a new law will need to be passed.

Poll Shows a Record 65 Percent of Washington, D.C. Voters Support Ballot Initiative 71

The Huffington Post reported that voters seem ready to make marijuana legal in the nation’s capital, according to a new poll that puts support for Initiative 71 at 65 percent.

On November 4, Washington, D.C. voters will make their decision on Initiative 71, which would legalize adult marijuana use, possession of up to two ounces, and home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for personal use. The sale of marijuana, however, would still remain illegal under D.C. law.

The NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll’s finding that district voters support legalization by almost a 2-1 margin “is the highest support ever for a marijuana legalization ballot initiative,” Adam Eidinger, chair of D.C. Cannabis Campaign, the group backing the legalization measure, said in a statement. “It vindicates the work of this campaign so far, but we still have more work to do turning out the vote come Election Day.”

Even so, the new poll suggests that D.C. will be a leader in combating the racial disparity in marijuana enforcement by making the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana legal for adult residents.

Dr. Malik Burnett

“Voters are relating to the message that legalization will end D.C.’s rampant discrimination when it comes to marijuana enforcement,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.

The D.C. City Council is considering a separate bill that would allow the regulation and taxation of marijuana. If and when that bill passes, the Marijuana Policy Project will be working with the D.C. Council and local advocates to develop a system of well-regulated retail sales.

Complaint Filed Seeking to Force York to Include Marijuana Ballot Question

The Marijuana Policy Project filed a complaint Wednesday in the York County Superior Court calling for a temporary injunction that would require the York Board of Selectmen to place the query of recreational marijuana on the November ballot, according to the Portland Press Herald.

The board of selectman has twice refused to ask voters whether they want to allow the recreational use of marijuana, on the grounds that it is not lawful because the use of marijuana is still illegal under state law.

Regardless, supporters have collected close to 1,000 signatures on two separate petitions in their bid to put the question to town voters. However, the board voted 3-2 last week against sending the question to voters.

The right to petition your government is the bedrock of democracy. For the selectman to ignore the will of their constituents goes against what our country is all about and that is why I signed on to this case,” Sharon DaBiere of York, a plaintiff in the complaint, said in a statement issued by the Marijuana Policy Project.

David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, thinks selectmen clearly went out of their way to disenfranchise York’s voters.

David Boyer
David Boyer

“We cannot stand by and let elected officials try to silence the people of York who would like to see marijuana regulated like alcohol.”

In its court filing, an attorney working with Citizens for a Safer York asks that a hearing on the complaint be held by Friday.

Sen. Krueger Supports Prospect of Legal Marijuana in New York in 2015

According to the Huffington Post, the state of New York may see the regulation and taxation of marijuana for legal recreational use as early as 2015.

Sen. Liz Krueger
Sen. Liz Krueger

State Sen. Liz Krueger (D) will reintroduce the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act during the next legislative session, which begins in January. Sen. Krueger’s bill would allow the establishment of retail marijuana dispensaries, which would be regulated by the State Liquor Authority. The bill would also place an excise tax on all marijuana sales. Adults would legally be able to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants at home for personal use.

New York decriminalized the possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana over 30 years ago, and earlier this summer, became the 23rd state in the country to allow the legal use of medical marijuana. However, irrespective of these laws, New York, and especially New York City, remain plagued by a disproportionate number of low-level marijuana arrests amongst black and Latino communities.

In fact, since 2010, New York City has averaged between 30,000 and 50,000 marijuana arrests each year. Moreover, during the period between 2002 and 2012, 87 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession in the city were either black or Latino.

As stated by Krueger in an interview with Metro, “The real motivation for this bill comes from the fact that we have spent decades attempting to do prohibition and a war on drugs that has actually done nothing and is particularly ruining the lives of young people of color and having them go into the criminal justice system and come out with the kind of citations that limit their access to financial aid for college and exposes them to a criminal justice system that frankly I do not believe they should have been exposed to in the first place, for simply using a drug that is proved to be less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco.”

Although Krueger does not use marijuana herself, and does not encourage the use of marijuana to anyone else, she recognizes that marijuana prohibition is a failure.

“It is a win-win to decriminalize marijuana and regulate it and tax it.”

Marijuana Policy Project Launches ‘Consume Responsibly’ Campaign

As reported by The Washington Post, the Marijuana Policy Project, in partnership with marijuana industry leader Medbox, Inc., is now launching a $75,000 public education campaign to counter what communications director, Mason Tvert, describes as decades of “exaggeration, fear mongering, and condescension.” The campaign will launch at noon in Denver, Colorado in front of a billboard aimed at tourists.

The outdoor ad reads, “Don’t let a candy bar ruin your vacation. With edibles, start low and go slow.”

Consume Responsibly Ad
Consume Responsibly Ad

The ad is an allusion to the case of Maureen Dowd, a New York Times columnist who got sick from eating a marijuana edible on a visit to Denver to cover the topic of marijuana.

Ensuring the safe use of edible marijuana products has proven troublesome in Colorado since legal sales began in January. Many people have more experience smoking marijuana than consuming it in edible form, and because the effects have a slower onset with edibles, it is harder for inexperienced users to self-regulate. The headlines ridiculing legal pot advocates, as well as Dowd’s experience, have been enough for the industry to promote moderation with edible pot forms.

“So far, every campaign designed to educate the public about marijuana has relied on fear mongering and insulting marijuana users. Like most Americans, Ms. Dowd has probably seen countless silly anti-marijuana ads on TV, but she has never seen one that highlights the need to ‘start low and go slow’ when choosing to consume marijuana edibles,” Tvert stated.

The campaign will begin in Colorado, featuring print ads, online ads, and literature to be distributed at retail locations urging responsible consumption and directing people to ConsumeResponsibly.org, which is patterned after the alcohol industry’s “Drink Responsibly” campaign. It will present information about products, laws, and the effects of marijuana. The campaign will eventually expand to Washington, where marijuana is also legally taxed and regulated.

Marijuana Policy Project