Idaho continues to lag behind other states on marijuana policy reform — it is the only remaining state in the country that does not acknowledge any form of medical marijuana under state law. However, lawmakers this year have proposed two bills to move the state in the right direction.
Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise) is cosponsoring legislation with Rep. Bryan Zollinger (R-Idaho Falls) to replace penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenses involving half an ounce or less with a civil infraction and fine of $250 or eight hours of community service. Currently, possession of three ounces or less is a misdemeanor punishable with up to a year in prison.
Reps. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R-Genesee) and Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) have introduced a bill that would legalize hemp. Sen. Abby Lee (R-Fruitland) is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate. The move comes on the heels of passage of the most recent Farm Bill at the federal level, which removed hemp from Schedule I status and removes barriers to research and development of the crop. But despite the change in federal law, hemp remains classified as marijuana in Idaho. State police recently seized nearly 7,000 pounds of hemp from a truck driver traveling from Oregon to Colorado. The trucker now faces felony trafficking charges.
No bill to legalize medical marijuana has been introduced this year. Use our email tool to contact your state legislators and urge them to support the creation of a compassionate medical marijuana program. Newly-elected Gov. Brad Little recently opened the door to potentially supporting some kind of medical marijuana law.
Please get involved and contact your elected officials. Marijuana prohibition has failed in Idaho, and it's time to enact reform.
The Rhode Island legislative session came to close early on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support for reform, leaders of the House and Senate did not allow legislators to vote on the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act this year.
Other notable outcomes of the 2016 legislative session include:
-- Passage of legislation to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
-- Passage of legislation to regulate hemp cultivation.
We will continue our efforts to build support for ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in the summer and fall, with plans to work with lawmakers to re-introduce legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana in the 2017 legislative session.
In the meantime, we encourage supporters of sensible marijuana policy reform to become engaged in local legislative races and make marijuana policy reform a salient electoral issue. You can find information about local races in your district by visiting the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s website.
The first bill, now called SB 147, would permit patients with seizures to access low-THC cannabis, called medical hemp preparations in the bill. While it is not a full medical marijuana law and would leave many patients behind, the bill proposes a workable system to provide immediate relief to some seriously ill Kansans. In addition, by passing the House, it has advanced much further than any medical marijuana bill ever has in Kansas.
The second bill, which is currently designated as the Senate Sub. for HB 2049, would reduce the penalty for first, second, and third-time marijuana possession. A first offense would be punishable by a maximum of six months, instead of one year, in jail, and a second offense would no longer be a felony, removing many of the associated collateral consequences. The Senate combined the marijuana-related provisions with another bill that increases penalties for burglary, on which MPP does not take a position.
If you are a Kansas resident, please urge your senators to support common sense reform.
Michele Leonhart is expected to resign from her position as head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to a report from CBS News.
The Marijuana Policy Project called for Leonhart’s resignation last year in a Change.org petition which now has more than 46,000 signatures.
During her tenure as DEA administrator, Leonhart:
-refused to answer a congressman’s question about whether marijuana poses less potential harm to the consumer than crack, heroin, or methamphetamine and criticized President Obama for acknowledging the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer;
-obstructed research into the medical benefits of marijuana by overruling the DEA’s own administrative law judge, who ruled that it would be in the public interest to end the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for approved research;
-oversaw raids of medical marijuana dispensaries that were operating legally under state laws;
-reportedly called it the worst day of her 33 years in law enforcement when an American flag made of hemp was flown over the U.S. Capitol Building; and
-criticized the White House for playing in a softball game against a team of individuals from drug policy reform organizations.
The bill includes an amendment that prohibits the Department of Justice — which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration — from using funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. A similar amendment has been offered seven times in Congress, failing in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2012. The House finally approved it in May when it was offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
This past weekend, volunteers gathered in Colorado’s Baca County to harvest the U.S.'s first commercial hemp crop since 1957. The crop was grown by Ryan Loflin, a Colorado resident. Hemp, a plant similar to marijuana but with only trace amounts of THC, is used to make cloth, rope, paper, oils, wax, and other products. According to Hemp Industries Association, the U.S. market sold $500 million of hemp products last year alone, but because of U.S. drug policy, all of that hemp was imported.
Hemp is illegal to grow in the U.S. because of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the same legislation that categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I drug along with heroin and PCP. Thanks to Colorado and Washington, growing hemp is back on the table and could be a profitable crop for farmers.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a revised version of the highly contested Farm Bill yesterday. Although representatives re-crafted the bill to remove provisions for food stamp funding, they left a hemp amendment intact.
The amendment would change federal law to allow for colleges and universities to grow hemp for research purposes in states where hemp cultivation and production is permitted by state law. The bill must still pass the Senate before final approval.
Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Kentucky expressed their support for the amendment. Comer said, “Without a doubt, this was an historic day for industrial hemp in America.”
The bill narrowly passed on a 216-208 vote.
Yesterday, we told you about an amendment to H.R. 1947, “the farm bill,” that would allow universities and colleges to cultivate industrial hemp. We asked you to call your representatives and help pass this amendment, and you came through! Earlier today, by a vote of 225-200, the House adopted the amendment. Despite the full bill being voted down because of partisan differences, this is a big victory.
Why is it so important? First, the DEA lobbied hard against us and lost. This is perhaps the first time that Congress has listened to arguments from the DEA and advocates for marijuana policy reform, then sided with us. Second, even though this bill won’t pass, there’s a good chance the amendment will get inserted into other legislation now that the full House has approved it.
Here’s the bottom line: the tide is turning. No longer do members of Congress blindly listen to the DEA and ignore advocates. We’re making real progress, and with your help, we can continue building support for further reforms.
Yesterday, conservative political blog The Daily Caller published a story about an industrial hemp bill introduced by Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, with a number of bipartisan co-sponsors. This bill would allow American farmers to grow hemp, which is the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana, without fear of arrest.
In a digest email sent to subscribers, Daily Caller senior editor Jamie Weinstein opined:
Why not go all the way and push to legalize the drug variety of the cannabis plant, also known as pot, weed, marijuana, etc. It is not only nonsensical to send people to jail for possessing pot, it's immoral. If the GOP would wise up and take the lead on this issue, they could potentially make inroads with the youth vote.
Let’s hope more conservatives start to come around to this point of view. Considering the implications for limited government, state’s rights, and fiscal responsibility that come with the end of marijuana prohibition, this is an issue which those on the right-leaning side of the political spectrum should be lining up to support.
Ron Paul may have achieved something of a victory by coming in third in the Iowa caucus yesterday, which is something few political wonks could have imagined a couple of months ago. Still, something should be said for the fact that he maintained his firm stance against the drug war after being narrowly beaten by candidates who are absolutely against marijuana reform.
In an early morning interview, Paul renewed his call to end federal interference in state marijuana laws and repeatedly called the drug war a failure. He even went so far as to call it a worse failure than alcohol prohibition! And according to Paul, his performance at the Iowa caucus proves that many Americans agree with him and are fed up.
Here’s the video, courtesy of Huffington Post.
And then we have Newt Gingrich. Earlier today at a press conference in New Hampshire, an SSDP member asked the candidate how he felt about states’ rights and how the Founding Fathers would have felt about growing marijuana.
Here’s the video:
Huh. So this is what a self-styled “historian” thinks.
"I think Jefferson and George Washington would strongly discourage you from growing marijuana, and their tactics to stop you would be more violent than they would be today."
While there is no evidence to suggest that George Washington or Thomas Jefferson actually used marijuana (despite what you may have heard in Dazed and Confused), there is plenty of evidence that they both grew hemp and supported its cultivation throughout the country.
There is also no evidence that they would have supported violent tactics against American citizens for growing a plant. That sounds like something King George would have done.
Gingrich is all about it, though. Over the years, he has repeatedly supported creating insanely draconian punishments for drug offenses, even going so far as to push for the death penalty for smugglers. He recently suggested making our drug policies closer to those of Singapore.
So when faced with a loss to a candidate whose supporters often rally around the intent of the Founding Fathers, Gingrich decides to rewrite history to make it sound like men who rebelled against tyranny would support his tyrannical policy stances.
People care about honesty. Maybe that explains why Ron Paul beat Gingrich by eight points last night.