Delaware House panel approves marijuana legalization bill

DOVER, Del. – (AP) – A bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Delaware has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The legislation, which was released Wednesday by a House committee and now goes to the full House for a vote, regulates and taxes marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.

The bill doesn’t allow people to grow their own marijuana but allows adults over age 21 to legally possess less than an ounce of marijuana for personal use.

The legislation would create a commission to regulate, license and tax the marijuana industry, allowing licenses for up to 40 retail stores.

Consumers would pay an excise tax of $50 an ounce, while businesses would pay an application fee of $5,000 and a $10,000 licensing fee every two years.

Congress Hands A Mixed Bag to Marijuana Movement

The year-end spending bill gives momentum to the marijuana movement, plus a painful setback

For the marijuana legalization movement, 2014 ends the way it began: with legal changes that showcase the movement’s momentum alongside its problems.

Tucked into the 1,603-page year-end spending bill Congress released Tuesday night were a pair of provisions that affect proponents of cannabis reform. Together they form a metaphor for the politics of legal cannabis—an issue that made major bipartisan strides this year, but whose progress is hampered by a tangle of local, state and federal statutes that have sown confusion and produced contradictory justice.

First the good news for reformers: the proposed budget would prohibit law enforcement officials from using federal funds to prosecute patients or legal dispensaries in the 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, that passed some form of medical-marijuana legalization. The provision was crafted by a bipartisan group of representatives and passed the Republican-controlled House in May for the first time in seven tries. If passed into law, it would mark a milestone for the movement, restricting raids against dispensaries and inoculating patients from being punished for an activity that is legal where they live but in violation of federal law.

“The enactment of this legislation will mark the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana, and has instead taken an approach to respect the many states that have permitted the use of medical marijuana to some degree,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said in a statement to TIME. The California Republican’s work on the issue reflects the strange coalition that has sprung up to support cannabis reform as the GOP’s libertarian wing gains steam and voters’ views evolve.

At the same time, the House chose to overrule Washington, D.C., on the issue. Last month voters in the District chose to liberalize its marijuana laws, passing an initiative that legalized the possession, consumption and cultivation of recreational marijuana. The move, which was supported by about 70% of the capital’s voters, paved the way for D.C. to follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington State by establishing a tax-and-regulatory structure for cannabis sales in 2015.

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Illinois Governor Quinn to OK cannabis use for kids with epilepsy

CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn plans to sign legislation in Chicago today that would let minors with epilepsy use medical marijuana.
Lawmakers approved the measure sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Iris Martinez and Rep. Lou Lang this spring. The bill would add epilepsy to the list of treatable diseases in Illinois’ medical cannabis pilot program. It also would allow children with epilepsy to consume oil from the marijuana plant with a parent’s consent. Currently, only Illinois residents 18 years and older may use medical marijuana in the state’s four-year pilot program.
Parents of children with epilepsy say consuming the oil reduces seizures and doesn’t make children feel high. Opponents disagree with further legalizing the plant. The legislation would be effective next January.

Online: http://www.ilga.gov

The bill is SB2636.

Illinois towns see jobs ahead in medical marijuana -NWHerald.Com

CHICAGO – The prospect of adding jobs – even as few as 30 – has led officials in many shrinking Illinois’ communities to set aside any qualms about the state’s legalization of medical marijuana and to get friendly with would-be growers.

The aspiring growers and their agents have been racing from town to town, shaking hands with civic leaders and promising to bring jobs and tax revenue if they’re able to snag one of the 21 cultivation permits the state will grant this fall. Although not a single plant has sprouted, Illinois’ new medical marijuana industry is pushing the boundaries of what is considered attractive economic development.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a company say, ‘Hey, we want to bring in 50 jobs and we want to bring in tax revenue to your school,’” said Liz Skinner, the mayor of Delavan, a central Illinois city of 1,700 residents. The city has annexed property optioned by Joliet-based ICC Holdings as a possible site for a marijuana cultivation center, and Skinner said a new tax increment financing district may be the next step.

Stephen Osborne, an attorney who represents a group vying for one of the growing permits, has been driving from town to town in southern Illinois and introducing himself to local officials. Mostly, he’s been welcomed warmly: “It’s a ‘What took you so long to get here’ type of response,” he said. “Once you mention 30 or more jobs in a small community, they’ll listen to what you have to say.”

A majority of Americans – 54 percent – favor making marijuana legal at least for medicinal use, according to a Pew Research Center poll of 1,821 adults conducted in February. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. New York recently became the 23rd state to make medical marijuana legal. Six months before the Illinois law was enacted, a poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University found that 63 percent of Illinoisans favored making medical use of marijuana legal.

In Illinois, city councils from Crystal Lake to Peru to Marion are considering marijuana zoning ordinances and special use permits, though the state is not tracking precisely how many. Permit seekers have simply moved on from the few communities that have voted down such proposals.

The process for building local support “starts with a conversation over the phone,” explained Michael Mayes, CEO of Chicago-based Quantum 9 Inc., a cannabis consulting company that has helped win permits for marijuana producers in four other states. He said the ultimate goal would be to get a letter of recommendation from a mayor that can be submitted to the state.

Cannabis conference at Navy Pier this weekend

A group of medical professionals, grassroots criminal justice activists and public officials will gather in Navy Pier this weekend to discuss and debate issues surrounding the use of medical marijuana, officials said.

The Chicago Cannabis Conference will take place Saturday and Sunday and will feature industry experts who will talk about how the drug has benefited patients, where the drug has failed and how regulation plays into health care and access to the plant. Keynote speakers will also conduct workshops on how to cook with the drug and discuss the politics behind making the substance legal.

“This event offers a way for people to learn more about our new medical cannabis law and the changing political landscape,” said Dan Linn, executive director for Illinois NORML, a group that pushes to eliminate penalties for adults that use the drug responsibly. “There is widespread support for medical cannabis and there is growing support for legalizing cannabis entirely. This event helps to legitimize the industry and this movement and remove the stigma from people who support ending the prohibition on this plant.”

Under federal law, marijuana is classified as an illegal and dangerous substance.

The conference comes at a time when Illinois and the city of Chicago is struggling to establish a firm position on the substance , in spite of federal rules. In 2012, the Chicago City Council voted to implement a system of ticketing those caught with small amounts of marijuana and fine them rather than arrest them.

At the time, officials said the new law would free police officers to concentrate on more serious crimes and free the city of the financial burden from incarcerating non-violent users of the drug.

At the same time, there is also a move to establish rules to allow medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers to set up in the city.

The conference, which will occur both on Saturday and Sunday, is hosted by My Compassion, a non-profit group that organizes educational events about the drug, but also promotes its use for medicinal reasons. The event starts at 10 a.m. at 600 E. Grand Avenue.

IOWA – Governor promises to sign bill …

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said Friday he will sign a bill legalizing the use of oil derived from marijuana to treat chronic epilepsy but hasn’t made a decision on legislation that could change the scope of greyhound racing in the state.

Speaking on the public television program “Iowa Press,” Branstad promised to sign the marijuana bill next week.

The legislation requires patients with chronic epilepsy and their caregivers to acquire a registration card through Iowa’s Department of Public Health, per a written recommendation from a neurologist. The oil would have to be obtained in another state that produces it. The bill limits the amount of oil that can be in a patient or caregiver’s possession at any given time.

Branstad said he supports the measure because of its narrow focus and applicability to a small number of people in need. He said families with children suffering from severe epileptic seizures convinced him of the bill’s importance and that he believes the oil can help them.

However, Branstad warned against “unintended consequences” that the bill’s passage might bring and said he intends to maintain only this limited use of medical marijuana use in the state.

“I think it would be a mistake to look at now expanding it to a whole bunch of other things,” Branstad said after the taping. “I think we need to look at this as a very careful experiment that we and other states like Utah and Alabama are doing and see if it really does have the efficacy that the families hope that it has.”

Branstad said he also intends to sign bills to regulate the use of unmanned aerial drones and ban the sale and use of e-cigarettes for minors. He said he’s still considering legislation to end greyhound racing at a track in Council Bluffs but allow it to continue in Dubuque. His concern there, he said, is that the legislation leaves out the horse industry.

Branstad plans to sign his Home Base Iowa initiative on Memorial Day. The measure offers tax and job incentives to make Iowa more attractive for veterans.

Illinois approves medical marijuana access for kids with epilepsy

Illinois has finally given the go signal for children with epilepsy to use medical marijuana for treating their condition following the approval of the House to expand the state’s medical pot law to include minors with epilepsy.

On Wednesday, the Illinois House approved Senate Bill 2636, which proposed to add epilepsy to the list of treatable diseases that are included in the state’s medical marijuana pilot program and which would allow epileptic patients below 18 years old to use the oil from the cannabis plant to treat their condition.

Prior to the decision of the house to give epileptic children access to medical marijuana, only residents of Illinois who are at least 18 years old can use marijuana for medical purposes. The bill was approved by the members of the House with a vote of 98-18. Several lawmakers who were initially against the marijuana law also supported the legislation.

Those opposed to the bill contend that this could expose children to marijuana. Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, who sponsored the bill, however, said that the legislation would help many children who suffer from epilepsy.

“These people are not interested in getting high. These are folks that are interested in alleviating their seizures,” Lang said.

The state’s senate has already approved the bill earlier this year but due to amendments that would prevent children from smoking and buying medical marijuana, the bill will go back to the senate for review.

Although the potent use of cannabis as treatment for epilepsy remains a subject of debate, parents of epileptic children who push for the medical use of marijuana claim that the oil from the plant can help reduce seizures. Experts also find the effect of marijuana on epileptic children promising.

Edward Maa, from the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Denver Health in Colorado, cited one case of a child with Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy whose seizures were reduced from 50 convulsion a day to as little as two per month after he was given a strain of cannabis that is high in Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to supplement his antiepileptic drugs.

Maria Roberta Cilio, from the Pediatric Epilepsy of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children’s Hospital , however, said that although there is a critical need for new therapies for epilepsy, it is crucial that the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana be thoroughly investigated.