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.

Delaware Senate to discuss decriminalization bill 

UPDATE:

June 18, 2015

The Delaware Senate approved a bill 12-9 that will eliminate criminal penalties and jail time for adult possession of a small amount of marijuana. Under current Delaware law, adults found guilty of marijuana possession face a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail. They also get a permanent criminal record. The new law makes possession a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no possibility of jail time, much like a traffic ticket.

Original article Below!

June 15, 2015

          Legislation to decriminalize possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana heads to the Senate floor on Thursday, with an amendment expected that could send the legislation back to the Delaware House of Representatives. As written, the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington, would allow Delawareans to possess up to an ounce and use marijuana privately without facing criminal sanctions. Criminal penalties would be replaced with a civil $100 fine. An amendment expected in the Senate would reduce the amount of marijuana subject only to civil penalties to half of an ounce. The legislation cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Law enforcement groups have forcefully opposed the legislation.But a representative from the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council said the group will not actively oppose the bill if lawmakers adopt the amendment.

The House passed the decriminalization measure earlier this month. Gov. Jack Markell has indicated he will sign the legislation.

Salt Lake City, Utah- Senate Kills Bill 

SALT LAKE CITY – Legislation that would have legalized medicinal marijuana in the state was killed in the state Senate by a single vote Monday night. Senate Bill 259, which passed a second substitute version of the bill in the Senate last week in a 16-13 vote, was defeated in its fourth substituted version’s third reading Monday night in a 15-14 vote. “Obviously I’m disappointed,” said Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, following the Monday nights vote. 


Madsen said he was disappointed in the Senate and some fellow senators who he thought supported the bill. As well, he said he felt disappointed in himself for letting down the people the bill is meant to aid. SB 259 would have allowed individuals with qualifying illnesses to be able to register with a state database in order to possess medical cannabis and related devices for ingestion. State-licensed individuals could also grow and sell medical cannabis.


Among the qualifying illnesses the bill list includes: AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease, Chron’s Disease, glaucoma, post traumatic stress disorder, cancer, multiple sclerosis and other ailments.


Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, a pharmacist by profession, said in an email Friday that he felt the bill didn’t give the state enough oversight in the matter.


“It does not allow for the state to have any oversight for important things like money transactions, inspections of its manufacturing facilities, the testing and labeling of the product, patient counseling, verification that the prescription from the physician is valid, etc.,” Vickers wrote.


Vickers voted against the second version of SB 259 last week, and did so again Monday night when a fourth version was put forward. However, he said he wasn’t completely against the idea of medicinal cannabis.


A no vote doesn’t mean you aren’t intrigued with the idea, because many of us are, me included,” Vickers said.


Some lawmakers, such as Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said they worried the bill could open the door to policy abuse. Gov. Gary Herbert has also said he worried that approving medicinal marijuana would open the door to recreational use.


“If the Legislature won’t do it, let’s have the people do it themselves,” Madsen said, suggesting the possibility of the public seeking medical marijuana legalization through a public initiative if their elected officials keep refusing to advance it on their end.


Iowa – Medical marijuana at the forefront of legislative sessions

MASON CITY, Iowa – The discussion of medical marijuana was at the forefront of legislative sessions last year in Iowa. Within the state they have approved the usage of medical marijuana, but not a way to obtain the medicine.

On Saturday, State Rep. Sharon Steckman, (D) Mason City, and State Sen. Amanda Ragan (D) Mason City, hosted a legislative forum at the Mason City Public Library. One of the main topics covered during the morning was the discussion of making amendments to the medical marijuana bill that passed in 2014.

Three north Iowa women used the forum as a platform to educate the public about the need to amend and recreate a cannabis oil law in the Hawkeye state. “The laws we have now aren’t sufficient,” says Mason City resident Amber Lenius.

Amber tells us she suffers from a condition that causes her chronic and excruciating pain throughout her body. Claudia Tillman of Forest City was also present at the forum talking about her daughter who deals with symptoms and side effects from Ulcerative Colitis on a daily basis. Finally, Mason City resident Cassie Helland spoke about her young son who suffers from regular seizures because of his epilepsy.

“The law that passed last year said that we could legally have it,” explains Helland, “but there’s no way that we could legally get it.” She says this is just one of the many roadblocks for the bill, and that another issue is not including other types of conditions that could benefit from the plant.

Sen. Ragan says that because the legislation was so new for the state, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle aired on the side of caution and wrote the law in a very conservative manner. “When you make a first step you have to do it with a lot of restrictions on and you need to make sure that you’re not making bad choices,” she explains, “but, we heard from a lot of folks today that [the law] really didn’t make much of a difference to them, and they gave us some suggestions and encouraged us to more research.”

However, more research means more time that the bill won’t be ironed out in a way these women would like to see. Now, they’re left to think outside of the box, and even the state. “At this point, I mean, if something doesn’t happen, we may have to move,” says Helland.

“It would mean uprooting myself, my husband, and my six-year-old daughter, and my two-year-old daughter, from our entire family, to a place that we don’t know, just so that I could have a chance to try something that might help my quality-of-life,” explains Lenius.

Session reconvenes on Monday in Des Moines and as of right now, no changes have been made to the law.

Atlanta – Georgia Lawmaker OFFICIALLY introduces a Bill Legalizing Cannabis Oil

ATLANTA | A Georgia lawmaker will officially introduce a bill legalizing cannabis oil for people with cancer, seizure disorders and other chronic diseases on Monday as the General Assembly returns to action.

Rep. Allen Peake, a Republican from Macon, had discussed a broader bill allowing in-state growth of marijuana to manufacture the oil with low levels of THC, the chemical that can cause a high feeling for marijuana users. But Peake described his official proposal as a compromise with Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who was unwilling to sign off on an in-state program.

In his state of the state address this month, Deal said he hopes to sign a bill legalizing the oil by the end of the year. Peake wants to begin committee hearings this week.

The compromise disappointed some Georgia parents of children with seizure disorders who moved to Colorado, where the oil is legal. They worry people will be unable to afford the travel or risk arrest when traveling through states where the product is not legal.

Blaine Cloud, whose daughter Alaina has a seizure condition, told reporters they were “disheartened and frustrated” but said families owed Peake some support.

“We need to get this bill passed so we can move on to the next fight,” he said.

Peake said he’s working on several options to help people avoid arrest while traveling to buy the oil or those who can’t afford the trip. He said those include shipping low-THC products classified as hemp to Georgia or asking Deal to get a federal exemption allowing a state agency to obtain cannabis oil for ‘compassionate-need’ distribution.

If all else fails, Peake volunteered himself for trips to Colorado and “a little civil disobedience.”

“It may just be that it takes someone like me being arrested to show the lunacy of having a product sold legally in one state … but get arrested driving through Kansas,” he said. “You would not believe the number of volunteers who have said ‘I’ll go with you.’”

The proposal also creates a commission to make recommendations by the end of the year about an in-state program to make and sell the product.

House Speaker David Ralston has said he supports the proposal. An attempt to pass a similar bill last year failed when some lawmakers attached an unrelated bill requiring insurance coverage of children with autism.

Nebraska update!

LINCOLN, Neb. –
A bill introduced in Lincoln on Wednesday would pave the way for legal medical marijuana in the state.

The Cannabis Compassion and Care Act proposed by Bellevue Sen. Tommy Garrett outlines how the substance could be used to treat patients with debilitating medical conditions.

“There are children and adults in our communities with diagnosed debilitating medical conditions who will benefit from the inclusion of medical cannabis as a treatment option,” Garrett said. “Such treatment would be tightly controlled and could only be prescribed by a licensed physician.”

The measure would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to issue registry identification cards to qualifying patients and registered designated caregivers.

“A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner,” the bill reads.

The bill would allow qualifying patients to possess up to 12 plants and 6 ounces of usable cannabis.

The measure acknowledges that federal law prohibits any use of cannabis except under very limited circumstances; however, it lists more than 20 states which have removed state-level criminal penalties from the medical use of cannabis.

Conditions and Caregiver Information:

(a) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, nail patella, or the treatment of these conditions;

(b) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: Cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; or seizures, including, but not limited to, those characteristic of epilepsy or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to, those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; or

(c) Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the department as provided for in subsection

Designated caregiver means a person who is at least twenty-one years of age, who has agreed to assist with a patient’s medical use of cannabis, and who has never been convicted of an excluded felony offense. A designated caregiver may assist no more than five qualifying patients with their medical use of cannabis

.

See photo below or click here for full PDF of the initiative.

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Arizona high court weighs medical marijuana access to some

PHOENIX — The Arizona State Supreme Court is deciding a case that could affect the state’s medical marijuana laws.

The case, Keenan Reed-Kaliher v. State of Arizona, was brought before the panel of five judges on Tuesday and hinges on whether those on parole or probation should be allowed access to medical marijuana under Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act.

At the forefront of the case lie arguments over the power of the courts and parole officers to set the conditions of probation or parole, the validity of Arizona’s medical marijuana policy and whether the state’s medical marijuana law should except some, particularly convicted criminals, from access to medicinal marijuana use.

The case stems from 2011, when Cochise County resident Keenan Reed-Kaliher was released from prison as part of a plea deal he accepted in relation to drug charges, for which he spent a year and a half incarcerated.

After being released, Reed-Kaliher obtained a medical marijuana registry identification card from the Arizona Department of Health Services in response to a previous injury, according to his attorney, Tom Holz.

“(Reed-Kaliher) had chronic pain from a fractured hip, he still has pins in his hip and so he got a medical marijuana card while he was on probation,” Holz said.

After becoming a medical marijuana cardholder, Reed-Kaliher was notified by his probation officer in 2013 that he was not allowed to possess or use marijuana for any reason as part of his probation condition. Later that year, Reed-Kaliher filed a motion in court to modify the conditions of his probation to allow his medical marijuana use, Holz said.

Lower courts rejected Reed-Kaliher’s motion while the state’s appeals court ruled in his favor. The case is now before the state’s Supreme Court for review.

In Tuesday’s statements before the Supreme Court, the state argued Reed-Kaliher had accepted a plea agreement and, in that, agreed not to violate any laws — a condition that can become murky when considering the differences between federal and state laws on medical marijuana.

“Probationers are required to obey the law including all federal laws and so there is this tension because clearly under federal law, medical marijuana is not recognized; this is something that’s recognized under state law,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, whose office is arguing the case. “It’s creating a lot of conflict.”

The state argued parolees and probationers are breaking federal law when possessing or consuming medicinal marijuana, and the courts and parole officers who would allow a parolee or probationer to do so would not be fulfilling their oaths in upholding the law.

One portion of the state’s defense was challenged by Chief Justice Scott Bales, who questioned whether Reed-Kaliher’s plea agreement and, therefore, the accepted condition that he not use marijuana, could be accepted, considering Arizona’s medical marijuana law had not yet been adopted by voters until after he made the deal.

Brnovich said cases such as Keenan Reed-Kaliher v. State of Arizona expose the problems associated with medical marijuana laws.

“When you treat something like marijuana as a medicine, not only does it send a mixed message to our children but it makes it hard for the courts to impose terms and conditions of probation,” he said.

Holz, however, said Arizona’s medical marijuana law creates no conflict for state courts or probation officers in enforcing Arizona laws, and the federal government could still arrest his client or any other medical marijuana user in Arizona.

“There’s absolutely no authority for the idea that federal law preempts this,” he said. “We’re not stopping the federal government from enforcing their laws, but they can’t force us to enforce their laws.”

Holz said state courts and probation officers should first follow Arizona’s law, of which the medical marijuana law makes no separation or exception for people on parole or probation.

“(The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) says a cardholder is not subject to penalty in any manner, so you can’t have your probation revoked (and) you can’t have your parole revoked,” he said.

The court did have some concerns over the arguments raised by Holz during his 20-minute address.

Justice John Pelander raised questions over the juxtaposition of courts and parole officers in Arizona being able to curtail the constitutional rights of convicted criminals — particularly some Fourth Amendment privacy and First Amendment speech rights — but would somehow still not have the authority to curtail rights granted by states, such as access to medical marijuana.

Pelander also questioned whether the voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which does not include exceptions for parolees and probationers, would supersede an earlier state law that bars marijuana use by these groups.

Holz said the court’s decision on the matter could have a broader effect on the state’s medical marijuana law.

“This is a policy experiment you could think of it as, if it turns out that the bad results outweigh the good results then the county attorneys, the anti-marijuana state officials, they’re going to have to take this back to the people and say, ‘This isn’t working, let’s change this, let’s exclude … people on parole and people on probation,'” he said.

“But I think it’s going to work. I think the benefits will outweigh any possible harm that might come from this.”

When asked about his optimism on whether the court would rule in the state’s favor, Brnovich said he no longer makes guesses.

“I think there is some tension, I recognize that, but I also learned a long time ago not to predict what courts are going to do,” he said. “I do think that it’s very fair and reasonable that if someone accepts terms and conditions of probation (that) they abide by the terms and conditions, and furthermore if someone agrees to obey all federal laws (that) they obey federal laws even if it meant that some way they may conflict with some state laws.”

BY MARK REMILLARD, | January 14, 2015 @ 6:34 am