On Monday, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will submitted petitions to put a ballot initiative on the 2018 ballot in Michigan that would make marijuana legal and regulate it for adults.
Associated Press reports:
Organizers of a ballot drive to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in Michigan submitted 365,000 signatures to the state Monday, which appears to be more than enough to qualify the initiative for a statewide vote in 2018.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said the prohibition against recreational marijuana is “a massive failure.”
Michigan has allowed medical marijuana use for nearly a decade. If the new proposal were to make the ballot and win voter approval, it would make Michigan the ninth state to legalize the drug for recreational use.
If passed, people 21 and older could possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent tax on marijuana would be assessed on top of the 6 percent state sales tax.
Josh Hovey, a spokesman for the coalition, said fully legalizing the drug for adults would generate hundreds of millions in new tax revenue. He estimated that 20,000 people in the state are arrested annually for marijuana possession and cultivation.
“Oftentimes it’s just adults using a plant that is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco,” he said at a news conference a couple of blocks from the state Bureau of Elections. “It’s breaking up families. It’s destroying communities. ... We can impose some regulations, create a new industry in the state. You’re going to see not only the tax benefits of that, but jobs, less crime and letting law enforcement go after things that are more important.”
State officials will take about two months to review the voter signatures. If they determine that about 252,000 are valid, the bill would go to the Republican-controlled Legislature. Lawmakers would have 40 days to adopt the measure or it would be placed on the November 2018 statewide ballot. Legislators could propose an alternative marijuana bill to put before voters alongside the initiative.
The campaign is proud to have the support from both national and local advocacy organizations including the Marijuana Policy Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML and MI Legalize.
On Friday, even more evidence that most Americans no longer support marijuana prohibition was released.
Washington Post reports:
The survey uses the same question wording ("Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?") on marijuana as previous Gallup surveys, which had shown a previous high of 58 percent support for legalization last October.
The survey comes at a potential tipping point for drug reform. Next month, the United Nations will hold a special session in New York to re-evaluate the state of international drug laws. Many researchers and public health experts have been encouraging the UN to take a less-punitive approach to drug policy. Yesterday, a group of medical and public health experts urged governments to decriminalize all drug use and experiment with regulated drug markets in some cases.
Wednesday afternoon, the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee approved a bill that is intended to stop the cruel criminalization of seriously ill patients who benefit from medical marijuana. The bill, which has already passed the Senate with a 22-13 vote, now moves to the full House for a vote. If you are a Louisiana resident, please take a moment today to write your representative in support of this compassionate bill — SB 143.
SB 143, filed by Sen. Fred Mills, Jr. (R), would amend a 1991 law that allows Louisiana’s physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in accordance with FDA and DEA guidelines. Since these guidelines don’t exist, this law has never been operable. Sen. Mills’ proposal requires the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to develop regulations governing distribution of medical marijuana.
Fortunately, the Health and Welfare Committee replaced the requirement that physicians “prescribe” medical marijuana with one stating that they “recommend” its use. This change was necessary as no physician — even in medical marijuana states — can “prescribe” medical marijuana because of federal law. While this is an important improvement, we are still concerned that the proposed program relies on pharmacies to dispense medical marijuana, which they are very unlikely to do because they are regulated by the DEA and distributing marijuana is a federal crime.
The Associated Press reports that Gov. Bobby Jindal has "no concerns" about the bill.
On Sunday, the governor of Puerto Rico signed an order that will allow the territory to establish some kind of medical marijuana program in the near future.
Associated Press reports:
Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the island's health secretary has three months to issue a report detailing how the executive order will be implemented, the impact it will have and what future steps could be taken. The order went into immediate effect.
"We're taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life," Garcia said in a statement. "I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope."
The order directs the health department to authorize the use of some or all controlled substances or derivatives of the cannabis plant for medical use.
Garcia said the government also will soon outline the specific authorized uses of marijuana and its derivatives for medical purposes.
Lawmakers in Puerto Rico have been attempting to pass medical marijuana legislation for at least two years, so this is certainly good news. However, it is up to health secretary to design an effective bill that ensures safe, reliable access to whole-plant marijuana products.
The Associated Press reported that Pennsylvania state senators approved legislation yesterday that, if enacted, would make several forms of medical marijuana legal, including extracted oil, edible products, and ointments and tinctures, to patients with debilitating medical conditions.
According to the proposal, Pennsylvania residents would need an access card from the health department upon proving a practitioner-patient relationship and written confirmation of a qualifying medical condition.
However, even if the legislation does pass, it would exclude most patients and would not allow them to use marijuana in the way that best works for their preferences and conditions; both vaporizing and smoking marijuana would be forbidden. The list of approved conditions is also extremely narrow and does not include severe pain.
“It is cruel and heartless to deny people the best medicine that is available,” Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) said during the floor debate. “And it’s time to stop treating this irrationally and saying, ‘we’re not going to let you have this, we’re going to instead make you take far more dangerous and less effective drugs.’ That’s just not how we would want to be treated; it’s not how we want our families to be treated.”
Despite these limitations, passage of this legislation would still be a step in the right direction for the state. Citizens of Pennsylvania should encourage their representatives to enact a bill that will benefit vast numbers of suffering patients, as well as allow patients to use marijuana in the way that best suits their preferences and conditions. If you are a citizen of Pennsylvania, please pass this message on to family and friends and help spread awareness concerning the issue.
A debate between the candidates for the Republican nomination to become the next Governor of Vermont produced a pleasant surprise this weekend. The Associated Press reported that all three Republican gubernatorial candidates said they support ending marijuana prohibition. The momentum behind legalizing and regulating marijuana in Vermont seems to be growing with each passing week!
The Vermont primary election takes place TODAY. Before you go to vote, please click here to view MPP’s voter guide for the Vermont primary election.
We know that marijuana prohibition will end in the Green Mountain State. Please help us end this destructive policy as quickly and sensibly as possible.
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."
Last week, new estimates of the tax revenue that Colorado stands to gain from legal marijuana sales were released, and they are significantly greater than originally thought.
Watch MPP's Mason Tvert discuss these revenue projections and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's plans for the extra money on CNN:
Alaska is one step closer to becoming the third state in the nation to legalize marijuana!
Tuesday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska received word from the Division of Elections that it collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the August 2014 ballot! The lieutenant governor will certify the initiative after the remaining signatures have been counted. Once that happens, Alaskans will officially have the opportunity to vote on whether to end marijuana prohibition this August.
The Associated Press, Anchorage Daily News, and USA Today all featured stories highlighting this exciting development. Please help us spread the word about the campaign by sharing this news, especially with anyone you know in Alaska. You can also like the campaign on Facebook if you'd like to follow its progress.
Bragging About Futile Seizures, Invoking God, and Arresting Willie Nelson Does Not Weaken Drug Cartels
Back in May, the Associated Press published the first piece in a groundbreaking series concluding that, after 40 years and more than $1 trillion spent, America’s war on drugs “has failed to meet any of its goals.” Today, as part of the same series, the AP looks specifically at U.S. enforcement strategy toward drug cartels in Mexico, and concludes that even record-level arrests and seizures have failed absolutely to curb the power of the violent gangs that control vast swaths of northern Mexico and make billions by selling drugs, particularly marijuana, to the illicit U.S. market.
Boiled down, it’s a damning indictment of prohibition – and more importantly, the assumption that if we just arrest enough people, and seize enough drugs, then these bloodthirsty, increasingly powerful cartels will somehow just go away.
Citing just one example, a major DEA operation that arrested 761 members of the Sinaloa drug cartel and seized 23 tons of narcotics, the AP quotes acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart, as declaring: "Today we have dealt the Sinaloa drug cartel a crushing blow."
But just how crushing was it? An Associated Press investigation casts doubt on whether the crackdown caused any significant setback for the cartel. It still ranks near the top of Mexico's drug gangs, and most of those arrested were underlings who had little connection to the cartel and were swiftly replaced. The cartel leader remains free, along with his top commanders.
The findings confirm what many critics of the drug war have said for years: The government is quick to boast about large arrests or drug seizures, but many of its most-publicized efforts result in little, if any, slowdown in the drug trade.
When confronted by the AP with the fact that the current U.S. enforcement strategy is futile, DEA Deputy Director David Gaddas insisted such tactics work, reportedly arguing, “it’s disruptive for cartels to lose their drivers, their accountants, and their money launderers.”
Yes, but aren't the drugs they seize a fraction of those on the street, and the criminals arrested replaced or released?
Gaddas dropped his head into his hands for a moment, thinking.
"You know, we're doing God's work," he replied.
I never realized that was who told the DEA how to go about its business.
All kidding aside, that’s an unbelievably lame excuse. Hardly a week goes by now without a mainstream media report of the increasing carnage in Mexico, the discovery of yet another elaborate tunnel they cartels have used to smuggle marijuana into the United States, or the political and social tension that Mexican instability and violence are causing along our southern border. If you read the entire AP article, it cites one frustrating example after another.
And the DEA sits there and claims – despite mountains of evidence to the contrary – that its strategy is working.
Thankfully, a major news organization like the AP has now – finally – read the writing on the wall and spelled it out with meticulous detail: current U.S. drug policy does not work. It does not reduce crime, does not reduce use, does not reduce availability, does not weaken major drug traffickers.
So what should we do instead? How else can we strike a blow against these murderous cartel thugs?
Well, according to former Mexico presidents, leading Mexican intellectuals, a sitting U.S. federal judge, a former U.S. border governor, and many others, the single most effective thing the U.S. could do would be to remove marijuana from the criminal market, and tax and regulate it like alcohol. Deny the cartels their most lucrative product, and make border cops spend their time on more worthwhile activities than arresting Willie Nelson.