California was the pioneering state for medical marijuana, which was made legal in 1996, but since then has stalled on creating a regulatory structure for cultivation or sales, and the legislature has been unwilling to seriously consider making marijuana legal for adults.
Leading up to the party shift this weekend, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, formerly the mayor of San Francisco, made the case for marijuana, swaying moderate Democrats by reassuring them, “You can be pro-regulation without being an advocate for drug use.”
Newsom’s advocacy was contrary to Gov. Brown’s interview on “Meet the Press” the last week, in which he voiced peculiar concerns over marijuana’s effect on alertness. “The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive,” Brown said. “I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together.”
The platform language specifically calls on Democrats to “support the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana, in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol.” The tipping point in this shift may stem from Colorado’s preliminary tax revenue generation of $2 million dollars for the month of January. However, revenue clearly is not the only factor; a recent Field Poll found a 55% majority of voters support legalization.
Pennsylvania recently joined the growing list of states considering taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol this year, when Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17) introduced SB 528. The proposal was referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee on April 3.
Sen. Leach’s bill, the Regulate Marijuana Act, would allow adults 21 and over to possess, grow, process, or transport up to six marijuana plants (three or fewer being mature) and possess the marijuana produced by those plants where they were grown, provided that the growing takes place in a secure location. In addition, adults would be allowed to give away up to one ounce of marijuana to other adults who are 21 or older.
SB 528 would task the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board with licensing marijuana-related facilities and regulating the cultivation, distribution, and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and over. In terms of taxation, the bill calls on the General Assembly to enact an excise tax on marijuana sold or transferred.
If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please contact your legislators now, and ask them to support taxing and regulating marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
Last week, Alabama joined the growing list of states considering taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol this year. Sponsored by Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), HB 550 would remove all criminal penalties for possession of marijuana by adults. The proposal was referred to the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
Rep. Todd’s bill, the Alabama Cannabis and Hemp Reform Act of 2013, would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to 12 plants in a secure space. It would tax marijuana similarly to alcohol and would task the Alabama Department of Revenue with licensing retail outlets and regulating the cultivation, distribution, and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and over.
In addition to allowing a regulated and taxed marijuana industry, HB 550 would also set up a medical marijuana program. The bill would authorize the medical use of marijuana for qualifying patients who have been diagnosed with serious medical conditions by their physicians.
The Maryland House of Delegates will debate whether or not the state should permit the establishment of a legal market for businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older. Delegate Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City) introduced H.B. 1453 on Thursday. If passed, the bill would make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol. The proceeds from the bill’s stipulated excise tax will be used to offset implementation and fund treatment programs to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse.
“It is time for a new, more sensible approach to marijuana in Maryland, and that is what this bill proposes,” said MPP deputy director of government relations Dan Riffle.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Maine unveiled the details of a new bill that would make Maine the third state in the nation to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol.
If approved during this session, the “Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana,” formulated by state Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) and supported by Rep. Aaron Libby (R-Waterboro), will be referred to voters in the upcoming November election. If the measure gets carried over and approved during the next legislative session, it will be placed on the November 2014 ballot.
“When it comes to keeping marijuana away from teens, keeping marijuana in an unregulated underground market is the worst possible policy,” Rep. Russell said. “Instead, marijuana should be sold by legitimate, taxpaying businesses in a tightly regulated market.”