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.

Maryland – Update!

In a year when budget cuts dominate debate in Annapolis, advocates for legalizing marijuana are mounting a renewed effort to get Maryland to follow the lead of Colorado and Washington state – if not now, then in a year or two.

A Colorado state legislator and an elected official from Seattle joined legalization supporters at a press conference in Annapolis Friday to say that voter-passed initiatives in their states are proceeding more or less smoothly to treat recreational use of cannabis much like another legal but regulated substance, alcohol.

“The sky hasn’t fallen. Things are working,” said Jonathan Singer, a Colorado state representative. He said he was one of only two lawmakers in his state to publicly endorse the 2012 voter initiative there to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

Peter S. Holmes, Seattle’s elected city attorney, said he ran on a promise to stop prosecuting marijuana possession cases, because he believed they were undermining law enforcement and public respect for the law.

Washington state is gradually proceeding to establish a regulated marijuana industry, Holmes said, with only about a third of the authorized retail outlets open so far.

Legalization efforts have fallen short twice before in Annapolis, and sponsors of this year’s bill acknowledge it’s a long shot this session, too. But they point to a recent poll indicating 53 percent of Marylanders support legalization.

Del. Curt Anderson, a Baltimore Democrat who’s sponsored the previous efforts, said he believes lawmakers will eventually come around to legalizing marijuana.

Anderson said Maryland’s move last year to decriminalize possession of small amounts wasn’t enough. Although police and prosecutors in Baltimore city and a few other big counties are pursuing fewer pot cases, he said that’s not the case everywhere around the state.

“Marijuana isn’t the the drug people think it is,” he said.

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law.. That casts a significant shadow on states’ efforts to legalize it, particularly in restricting marijuana producers and retailers’ access to the federally regualted banking system.

But with Congress unable or unwilling to change that, states are acting, said state Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat who’s chief sponsor in that chamber.

“Federal drug policy has been a total failure for decades now,” he said, “and states are moving ahead.”

Anderson, Raskin and other supporters say they hope lawmakers will warm to the idea of legalization after hearing how other states are managing it and avoiding pitfalls.

According to Singer, there’s been no increase in teen marijuana use in Coloradio since it was legalized, no increase in driving-while-impaired offenses and no jump in violent crime related to drug dealing. What’s more, he said, it’s brought $60 million in tax revenue to the state.

Even so, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he does not believe legislators were ready to approve legalization.

“We’re going to move forward with medical marijuana, try to solve people’s aches and ills,” Miller said. “If it’s a valuable resource for people with cancer, we’re going to make it available to them.

“But in terms of making it available to the general public,” the Calvert County Democrat added, “I don’t anticipate that happening any time soon.” Lawmakers still have questions about keeping marijuana away from children and teens and how to end the black market in illegal pot sales, he said.

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.

Legislators want to put marijuana rules on the fast track in Alaska

SOURCE: NEWSMINER .COM

By Matt Buxton

JUNEAU — With legalized marijuana a month away, lawmakers are hoping to fast track legislation they hope will clear up legal gray areas.

On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced Senate Bill 30 to address underage consumption, what constitutes a public place (because public consumption of marijuana will still be illegal) and addresses driving with marijuana.

Ballot Measure 2, which passed by wide margins in the Fairbanks and Juneau areas, makes marijuana possession, use and growing legal when the law officially goes into effect on Feb. 24, 2015. Commercial production and sales will follow next year.

North Pole Republican Sen. John Coghill, the vice-chair of the Judiciary Committee, said the bill is intended to give law enforcement clarity with how to enforce the changes. He said the goal is to get the bill passed before Feb. 24.

“This (bill) deals with what we are immediately implementing,” he said. “We have to at least give clarity to the people who will hold people accountable. We would like to get this to the governor as soon as possible.”

The bill creates laws against a person younger than 21 consuming or possessing marijuana, makes it a crime to give marijuana to a minor, and adds marijuana to the open container laws that already apply for transporting alcohol in a motor vehicle.

It also ties the laws against public consumption of marijuana to existing definition of a public place, which covers anywhere the general public has access. That definition would include a private business open to the public, like a bar.

But there are also a number of points — both big and small — supporters of legalized marijuana see with the bill.

“We’ve got a shopping list of concerns with that bill,” said Bruce Schulte, the spokesman of the Alaska-based Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation. “I understand that they’re on a tremendous time crunch and I think (Judiciary Committee Chair) Sen. Lesil McGuire’s office has the right idea in mind. They want to get it into the queue to get things in place and that’s what’s driving this.”

His biggest complaint is instead of repealing existing laws against marijuana, the bill creates a number of criteria that would serve as a defense to those existing crimes. It would mean people could potentially be arrested and charged for possessing or using marijuana in situations Ballot Measure 2 makes legal, Schulte said.

“It’s guilty until proven innocent instead of innocent until proven guilty,” he said. “If Senate Bill 30 were to play out and go through exactly as written, then law enforcement could go to any marijuana business and arrest them on the spot and let it play out in court. That’s the antithesis of it of what Ballot Measure 2 was.”

But both Schulte and Coghill acknowledge the bill introduced on Friday is a starting point for the legislation, and it could change dramatically by the time it reaches the governor’s desk.

Coghill, along with many members of the Legislature, was an outspoken opponents of legalizing marijuana, but said he putting effort into the bill and hopes to get it right with voters.

“Why are we trying to work with this? Because we have a huge respect for the voters of Alaska,” he said. “We have voted it in and we’re addressing public safety.”

The bill is one of many introduced relating to marijuana this session.

A bill by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, would delay regulations for marijuana concentrates for one year. Another bill by the House Community and Regional Affairs committee would clean up language dealing with local control and regulation of marijuana.

The bill dealing with regulatory work for commercial marijuana growing and sales, including likely the formation of the Marijuana Control Board, will be introduced later this session, Coghill said.

The Judiciary Committee has scheduled meetings on Senate Bill 30 during each of its meetings next week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Public testimony on the bill is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 30. People can testify by attending a local Legislative Information Office.

1 Charge Dropped against Minnesota Mom Who Gave Son Cannabis Oil

A judge has dismissed one of two charges against a Minnesota woman who gave her son cannabis oil for chronic pain.

Judge Thomas Van Hon tossed out a charge of child endangerment against Angela Brown of Madison.

Brown still faces a charge of contributing to the need for child protection or services.

Brown has said her 15-year-old son improved dramatically after being given the cannabis oil for pain that stems from a brain injury three years ago.

The family bought the oil legally in Colorado, but medical marijuana doesn’t become legal in Minnesota until this July.

Van Hon filed his omnibus order Thursday. Neither prosecutors nor Brown’s attorney immediately returned phone calls Friday.

New Dallas Store Selling Cannabis For Medical Use

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Cannabis is coming to Dallas. That’s how a new company is promoting products to sell to the public that has the same chemical ingredient as marijuana.

This is not a medical marijuana firm opening in Dallas, but it is promoting the health and medicinal benefits of marijuana’s cannabis cousin hemp.

Four-year-old Harper Howard became the local example of the benefits of using cannabis hemp oil. Her seizures are decreased, according to her mother, due to the cannabis hemp oil she takes orally. That same oil is now part of a series of skin and energy products marketed in a new Dallas office.

The makers can sell the items legally, and Harper’s mother believes others will benefit.

“Adding this product to her diet took us from 10 to 12 seizures a day to 3-5. It cut them in half,” said Penny Howard.

The products will be available for sale on January 24 at the Kannaway Company.

In Texas, it’s illegal to grow cannabis, but there’s state legislation on the table to change that so that epilepsy sufferers can use the oil.