Medical Marijuana

Study Finds Legalization of Medical Marijuana Does Not Increase Crime, May Decrease Violent Crime

March 31st, 2014 8 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

The 18-year-old question as to whether or not legalizing medical downwardmarijuana causes an increase in crime seems to be answered in a recent study by a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas this week. The results did not indicate a “crime exacerbating effect” of medical marijuana on any of the Part I offenses, which (according to the FBI) include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft.

Alternatively, states with medical marijuana laws showed a reduction in homicide and assault rates. This is congruent to other studies by The National Academy of Sciences that found THC — the active ingredient in pot — actually causes a decrease in “aggressive and violent behavior” in chronic marijuana users.

“The findings on the relationship between violence and marijuana use are mixed and much of the evidence points toward reductions in violent behavior for those who smoke marijuana,” Robert Morris, the study’s lead author, said in a recent interview with the Huffington Post. “In fact, researchers have suggested that any increase in criminality resulting from marijuana use may be explained by its illegality, rather than from the substance itself.”

These findings run counter to arguments that suggest making marijuana legal for medical purposes poses a danger to public health, in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.

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Medical Marijuana, Video

Minnesota Medical Marijuana Patients Slam Governor

March 28th, 2014 36 Comments » Morgan Fox

On Wednesday, medical marijuana patients and advocates held an emotional press conference slamming Gov. Mark Dayton for bowing to law enforcement and stalling on a medical marijuana bill currently being considered in the Minnesota legislature.

Those present, several of them parents of children with severe forms of epilepsy who could benefit from medical marijuana, said the governor told them they should risk arrest and obtain their medicine from the illicit market.

“He told me, ‘You can buy it on the street. It’s decriminalized in Minnesota. There’s a good distribution system here already,'” Jessica Hauser, 36, of Woodbury, told The Associated Press in an interview.

She said he also told her another option would be to buy it another state where medical marijuana was legal and bring it back to Minnesota.

“I told the governor that was unacceptable,” said Hauser, who has another son who is 5. “I shouldn’t have to become a criminal to help my son. I could lose both my children.”

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General

Marijuana Ballot Initiatives Get Out the Vote

March 26th, 2014 20 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

The latest round of Battleground polls by George Washington Rick ScottUniversity found respondents (nationally) would be 40% “much more likely” to visit the voting booth if marijuana’s legalization status was on the ballot. Thirty percent of respondents would be “somewhat” more likely as well. This brings the numbers up to a total of about 70% of voters who would be more likely to vote this fall if marijuana was in question.

Considering midterm elections have historically had low voter turnout, politicians are keeping a watchful eye on those states that have marijuana policy initiatives in the upcoming election. The results are promising for Democrats, because they tend to have a rougher time than Republicans in getting voters out in non-presidential election years.

The study goes on to show that 76 percent of liberals said they would be more likely to vote if marijuana was on the ballot, compared to a 64 percent for conservatives and 61 percent for moderates.

For instance, in Florida, Republican Governor Rick Scott’s reelection campaign says the “spillover effect” from high voter turnout because of the medical marijuana ballot question threatens to weigh the scales against him. In fact, the state’s Republicans feel so threatened that they have filed a legal challenge to keep the referendum off the ballot.

“It’s an issue that the Democrats can use to pump up the youth vote,” said Alex Patton, a Republican political consultant and pollster based in Gainesville, Florida. “The politics of it are dangerous for the GOP.”

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Research

Over Two-Thirds of Delaware Voters Support Marijuana Policy Reform

March 25th, 2014 3 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Recent polling released by the Marijuana Policy Project found more than two-thirds of Delawareans support replacing criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a $100 civil fine. The poll also found a majority of voters (51%)Delaware flag support making marijuana legal for adults, and regulating and taxing it like alcohol.

Under current Delaware law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana, and he or she can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and fined up to $1,150. Additionally, a conviction or even an arrest record can make it difficult to find a job, obtain educational opportunities, or even find adequate housing. 

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have removed the threat of jail for possession of marijuana, including Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is now legal for adults 21 and older. Twelve other states are currently considering legislation to reduce penalties to a fine. Measures similar to those adopted in Colorado and Washington, which regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol, have been or will be introduced this year in 18 state legislatures plus the District of Columbia Council. In addition, one has been placed on the August ballot in Alaska.

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Tax and Regulate

New Hampshire Legalization Bill Making Progress In Legislature

March 19th, 2014 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee voted to amend HB 492, which would make marijuana legal and regulate it like alcohol, in order to simplify the tax structure and regulatory language. The committee then voted 14-5 to recommend that the House not pass the bill, which would also allow people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. The House is not bound by this recommendation, and will vote on whether the bill should progress to the Senate soon.

The committee’s amended bill taxes and regulates marijuana by imposing a standardized $60 per ounce tax on growers. Advocates claim the tax will generate approximately $25 to $30 million annually.

MPP’s Matt Simon commented that, “Even with a negative recommendation, this thoughtful amendment will make it much more likely that the bill will receive continued support from the rest of the Legislature. We are optimistic that New Hampshire lawmakers will recognize that their constituents do not want to see adults arrested for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

When the bill returns to the House, it will have a battle with its new amendments, especially since it passed the House with a 170-162 vote on January 15. Sixty percent of New Hampshire adults support HB 492, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll released in October by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Just 36% said they are opposed. The entire poll is available at: http://cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/research_publications/gsp2013_fall_gastaxpot102513.pdf.

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Medical Marijuana

Maryland House of Delegates Approves Effective Medical Marijuana Program

March 19th, 2014 3 Comments » Morgan Fox

On Monday, the House of Delegates passed Del. Cheryl Glenn and Del. Dan Morhaim’s medical marijuana bill in a 127-9 vote. This year, Maryland may finally become the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana law!

Cheryl Glenn
Del. Cheryl Glenn

The General Assembly already approved of a limited medical marijuana law last year. However, that program relied on the participation of research hospitals, and realistically would not have provided any patients with access to medicine.

This year’s medical marijuana bill, HB 881, does not rely on hospitals to implement the program, but instead allows certain physicians to recommend medical marijuana directly to their patients. It would also allow up to 10 cultivators to receive licenses to legally grow and distribute medical marijuana. Medical marijuana could be recommended to qualifying patients suffering from debilitating illnesses that produce severe pain, nausea, or seizures.

The Senate has traditionally been the more supportive of the two chambers, but we should not take their votes for granted.

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Medical Marijuana

PTSD Approved as Qualifying Condition in Michigan!

March 18th, 2014 5 Comments » Kate Zawidzki

Late last week, the director of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, accepted a recommendation that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) be added as a qualifying condition for Michigan’s medical marijuana program. This makes Michigan the eighth state where patients with PTSD qualify to use medical marijuana.

Director of LARA Steve Arwood
Dir. Steve Arwood

Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Steve Arwood issued a press release last Friday, stating that he has decided to approve the recommendation, despite stating several concerns. Mr. Arwood ultimately chose to put his “trust in the medical professionals in Michigan to certify the use of medical marihuana for PTSD with the utmost care and attention to the patient seeking assistance.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD will affect 7-8% of Americans at some point in their lives. In Michigan, that’s about three quarters of a million people. PTSD can be debilitating in all areas of a person’s life, impacting sleep, work, and relationships.

This decision would not have been made without all those who provided comments in support of adding PTSD to the medical marijuana program.

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Prohibition

Maryland Senate Approves Decriminalization Bill

March 14th, 2014 11 Comments » Morgan Fox
zirkin
Sen. Bobby Zirkin

For the second year in a row, the Maryland Senate has approved Sen. Bobby Zirkin’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Today’s vote had an even wider margin than last year’s. Seven Republicans joined 29 Democrats for a 36-8 bipartisan vote. SB 364 now heads to the House Judiciary Committee for its consideration.

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee heard nearly eight hours of testimony on proposals to decriminalize and legalize marijuana from MPP and other members of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland. 

SB 364 would replace criminal penalties for the possession of 10 grams of marijuana with a civil fine of up to $100. This is a much-needed measure in Maryland, which has the fourth-highest arrest rate per capita for marijuana possession. Arrest records have a devastating effect on a young person’s life, and can become an obstacle to obtaining an education, employment, and even housing. SB 364 is a strong step towards ending the ineffective and destructive prohibition of marijuana. This bill would also free up law enforcement to focus on addressing serious crimes instead of arresting adults for using a substance objectively safer than alcohol.

More than two-thirds of Maryland voters (68 percent) support changing state laws to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100, according to a survey conducted in September by Public Policy Polling. The full results are available at http://mppmain.wpengine.com/MDpoll.

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Patients Urge Governor to Stop Bowing to Law Enforcement

March 14th, 2014 7 Comments » Morgan Fox

A group of local medical marijuana patients and advocates gathered in front of the Minnesota governor’s mansion Thursday to deliver a very large and provocative “get better soon” cardDayton card 1 to Gov. Mark Dayton, who is recovering from hip surgery. The governor is currently holding up a widely supported bill that would allow seriously ill Minnesotans to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it because it is opposed by some law enforcement officials.

Following a brief news conference hosted by Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, patients, their family members, and supporters signed the huge greeting card which was then delivered to the governor.

Gov. Dayton has said he will only support the medical marijuana bill, HF 1818, if it has the approval of law enforcement officials, who he instructed to work with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Carly Melin, to reach a compromise. Rep. Melin met with leaders of law enforcement organizations this week, but they steadfastly refused to support workable medical marijuana legislation, resulting in Rep. Melin temporarily removing the bill from the House Government Operations agenda.

The group also launched a Change.org petition calling on Gov. Dayton to “show some backbone” and get HF 1818 passed. The petition has received more than 1,800 signatures since it was launched.

The governor took notice. After meeting with advocates, he has promised to try to work out a compromise.

 

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Tax and Regulate

CannaSearch Job Fair in Denver is a Boon to Job Growth

March 13th, 2014 1 Comment » Kate Zawidzki

Denver, Colorado is hosting the first ever marijuana industry job fair this Thursday. Fifteen major marijuana-related companies will be searching for qualified applicants at 1058 Delaware St. from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. These burgeoning companies have hundreds of positions to fill, which range from accounting to technology, cultivation, and retail.cannasearch

Event planners expect more than 700 applicants to attend. CannaSearch comes at a vital time as the U.S. economy struggles to regain its foothold.  In a job climate of much-needed growth, the marijuana industry presents a solution while taking the revenue out of criminals’ hands and putting it in legal businesses.

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