What‚Äôs older than Florida‚Äôs senior population? The Florida Legislature‚Äôs mindset when it comes to marijuana.
Last Friday, the state Senate voted 31-2 in favor of a bill that would ban the sale of assorted pipes, bongs, and hookahs. House Bill 49 passed in the House days earlier by a vote of 112-3.
Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth), one of the few dissenting voices in the Senate, argued that marijuana is far safer than other drugs and should be allowed under strict regulation.
The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature. If signed, vendors will be criminalized, the sale of various pipes will become a first-degree misdemeanor, and any subsequent violation will jump to a third-degree felony.
Out-of-touch lawmakers don‚Äôt seem to realize that House Bill 49 will do nothing to curb marijuana use. In their quest to harass responsible marijuana users, the Florida Legislature has only harmed legitimate business people.
Just this week, DEA agents raided two medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego. The raid came one day after the owner of one of the facilities testified at a city council hearing on regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries.
Ironically, it also comes as the Obama administration announces their new drug control strategy,¬†which they call a ‚Äú21st¬†century approach to drug policy.‚ÄĚ¬†To hear them tell it, we‚Äôre now focused on treatment and prevention rather than arrests and prosecutions. Of course, that‚Äôs not true, and no one knows that better than medical marijuana providers in California and elsewhere. Fortunately, there is a way to change all that.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)¬†has introduced the States‚Äô Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act. If passed, his bill would reschedule marijuana, recognizing its medical value, and prevent the DEA from going after patients, doctors, or dispensaries.
It‚Äôs vital that your representatives in Congress know that you support medical marijuana and that people who provide doctor-recommended medicine to sick people are not criminals. Please¬†write your elected officials today, and when you‚Äôre done,¬†forward this to friends¬†so they can do the same.
On Thursday, a Colorado Court of Appeals panel ruled that a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient fired for off-the-job marijuana use had no expectation of job security, creating a disquieting legal situation in the state.
Despite lacking evidence that he was impaired on the job, the Dish Network fired telephone operator Brandon Coats after he tested positive for marijuana. Coats took his employers to court, arguing that his termination violated Colorado’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute, which states employees cannot be fired for engaging in legal activities when off-the-clock.
Unfortunately for Coats and the thousands of patients like him, a trial court ruled against him, citing a previous case that declared Colorado‚Äôs medical marijuana law only exempts patients from prosecution.
The decision makes it clear: Colorado‚Äôs Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute does not cover legal state activities that conflict with federal law. Meaning, employees may smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, and risk developing a myriad of ailments, but if those employees opt to use a safer substance by following a doctor-recommended course of treatment, they must do so with the knowledge that their voter-approved choice could mean losing their source of income.
Employers are prevented from discriminating against employees based on medical conditions or treatments. Medical marijuana patients should be treated equally, not worse than people who use dangerous narcotics at the direction of their physicians.
Michigan Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced a bipartisan bill Wednesday that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana in Michigan could result in a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 . House Bill 4623 would re-label the offense as a civil infraction punishable by a fine based on whether it was a repeat offense.
“We know, and the people here in Michigan know, that marijuana prohibition is not working,” Rep. Irwin said today during a press conference at the state Capitol, where he was joined by the bill‚Äôs Republican co-sponsors, Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville).
“This is the right time to have this debate in Michigan,” said Rep. Shirkey. “We’re using a lot of money, energy and resources in Michigan and across the nation to accomplish something we’ve failed at.”
In a¬†Washington Post¬†video posted today, two families discuss their search for effective treatments for their children’s chronic and debilitating seizures and how they arrived at medical marijuana as the best option. Unfortunately, there is little understanding as to how and why medical marijuana works so well for certain conditions, but more and more researchers are starting to look into it.
These particular cases, and those like them, illustrate the need for greatly expanded research into the potential medical benefits of marijuana. If only the government agencies in charge of authorizing such studies would allow them to proceed…
In a 7-2 vote on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that deportation is not mandatory if a legal immigrant is convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana.
The ruling was in response to Moncrieffe v. Holder. Immigration officials automatically deported Adrian Moncrieffe, a Jamaican citizen who has lived in the United States since he was three years old, after he was convicted under Georgia law for possession and intent to distribute 1.3 grams of marijuana.
‚ÄúJustice Sonia Sotomayor wrote on behalf of the majority that a conviction for marijuana possession does not rise to the level of an aggravated felony if it is a small amount and the defendant was not being paid for it,‚ÄĚ reported Reuters.
Moncrieffe could still face deportation, but Tuesday‚Äôs ruling means that he and others like him can contest the decision in further immigration proceedings.
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.
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, ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt have a problem with an open debate about the possibilities, benefits or drawbacks of such a measure.‚ÄĚ 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.
Officials from Connecticut‚Äôs Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), which has been charged with organizing the state‚Äôs medical marijuana program, heard compelling public testimony Monday morning as the department prepares to establish rules regarding dispensary operations.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a medical marijuana bill into law last May, and the state began accepting applications for medical marijuana licenses in October. Unfortunately, there are no dispensaries currently operating in the state, and it is illegal for patients to grow plants for personal use.
This loophole has left patients like Tracey Gamer Fanning in an unnerving legal gray-zone. Tracey was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2006. The myriad medication she was prescribed left her bedridden and unable to function. This all changed when her doctor recommend she try marijuana. “It gave me my life back,” she told CBS.
Despite the impact it‚Äôs had on Tracey‚Äôs cancer, every time she uses the drug she is breaking the law. Dedicating her limited time to medical-marijuana advocacy, Tracey lined up to speak at Monday‚Äôs hearing.
I want the politicians to see my face, the face of a mother from West Hartford who is just grateful to be at the dinner table in the evening instead of in bed, of someone who is so thankful to be part of her children’s lives, of someone who lost an advertising career but gained a life mission.
The DCP has composed a 70-page draft of regulations that mimics the state system that controls the distribution of such pharmaceuticals as OxyContin.
MPP‚Äôs Director of State Policies, Karen O‚ÄôKeefe, expressed concerns over the expense of the system of production and distribution. ‚ÄúThe provision that requires $2 million in an escrow for producers, that‚Äôs a huge sum of money,‚ÄĚ Karen stated. ‚ÄúIt could edge out the little guy.‚ÄĚ MPP has submitted suggested changes to the state regulations.
More and more states, in conflict with federal policy, are permitting the use of medical marijuana and decriminalizing its recreational use. In order to examine this unnecessary conflict as well as the current federal policy‚Äôs broad impacts, Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced legislation last week to create a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy.
‚Äú[I]t‚Äôs important that we understand the impact of current federal policy and address the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana,‚ÄĚ said Congressman Cohen.¬† ‚ÄúThis conflict is only going to continue to grow‚Ä¶we must provide certainty to the millions of individuals and businesses that remain caught in a web of incompatible laws. ‚Äú
Congressman Cohen is optimistic that a national commission would provide the government with the tools necessary to create sensible policy.
A similar commission was created in 1971. Released two years later, the ‚ÄúNational Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse,‚ÄĚ which was led by former Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer, called for the decriminalization of marijuana.
The Shafer Commission‚Äôs recommendations were disregarded and the War on Drugs nonsensically expanded. As a result, countless responsible marijuana users have been saddled with criminal records, nonviolent offenders have been crammed into our overcrowded prisons, and taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources continue to be wasted in the attempt to impose failed marijuana policies.
The majority of Americans believe marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. Forty years of ignorance is enough; it‚Äôs time to re-evaluate federal policy.
Last week was very eventful for marijuana policy reform. The Oregon Senate approved a bill granting PTSD sufferers access to medical marijuana, the Vermont House passed a bill to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession, and, in a victory that was years in the making, the Illinois House voted in favor of medical marijuana legislation.
The passing of House Bill 1 in Illinois is an example of public education at its finest. News organizations across the state set space aside to show their support for medical marijuana without reluctance.
Editorials in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Journal-Standard described the drug‚Äôs ability to alleviate suffering, and they also clearly addressed the bill‚Äôs strict guidelines to ease the fears of any hesitant readers.
Editorials like those composed in Illinois and other states such as Maine provide readers with a great service, and they can make all the difference in garnering support for marijuana policy reform.
The opinions expressed by our viewers and posters do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Marijuana Policy Project. These views are those of their individual authors alone. MPP does not condone or support the illegal use of marijuana. We do encourage open and frank discussion, but if a comment has been posted that is in some way significantly inappropriate, please email us at [email protected] to report it. Thank you, and we're looking forward to what you think!
"I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?"