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.

Michigan Update

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – The state Senate has approved a bill that would prohibit the smoking of medical marijuana on rental properties where a landlord has prohibited it. 

The bill, approved 34-3 on Tuesday, would amend Michigan’s medical marijuana act, approved by voters in 2008. The bill passed with more than the three-fourths vote needed to amend a voter-approved initiative.

Under the bill, landlords also would not be required to lease property to someone who smoked or grew marijuana on a property where those actions were prohibited according to a lease agreement.

The bill will now to go the House for consideration.

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.

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.

Source

MMJ ARIZONA – Marijuana DUI update

Arizona medical marijuana users can face jail time or have their licenses suspended for driving with cannabis in their system even if they are not impaired, according to a series of court decisions including a new one from the state Court of Appeals.

The ruling stems from a case involving Travis Lance Darrah, a medical marijuana cardholder, who was pulled over in 2011 and charged with DUI.

The Mesa jury acquitted Darrah of DUI but found him guilty of a misdemeanor charge of driving with an illegal substance in his system.

John Tatz, Darrah’s attorney, said his client faces a day in jail, $1,500 in fines, required substance abuse help and a one-year suspension of his driver’s license for the conviction.

Darrah has appealed the ruling contending being an authorized cannabis user under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act protects him from such prosecution.

Two Arizona trial courts — and a new decision from the Arizona Court of Appeals — disagree.

They ruled there is nothing in the voter-approved state medical marijuana law that exempts legalized users from DUI laws.

John Balitis, an attorney with the law office of Fennemore Craig PC in Phoenix, said there are all kinds of protections built in the state marijuana laws.

“The act includes all sorts of workplace protections and protections for people leasing properties,” he said.

There just aren’t legal exemptions or protections when it comes to DUIs and driving with active marijuana ingredients in the operator’s system.

“The proposition just doesn’t say that,” Balitis said. He said that creates a big legal issue for authorized cardholders.

The trial judge would not even allow the jury to hear testimony that Darrah was a state authorized medical marijuana user.

“That just doesn’t seem right,” Tatz said of the court rulings and interpretations of DUI and medical marijuana laws.

Full article here

MMJmothers – FL mom to treat child with medical cannabis

Tampa, Florida – A Bay area mother will start treating her cancer-ravaged daughter with whole plant medical marijuana even though we are two months away from the amendment two vote.

10news shared with residents earlier this year how Moriah Barnhart sought legal counsel to somehow get her daughter access to use medical cannabis under Florida’s medical necessity doctrine based on a 1991 ruling.

Barnhart said she had success while treating her daughter with cannabis in Colorado, but decided to move back to Florida to be closer to family and her support system.

In Jenks v. The State of Florida, the court ruled that patients suffering debilitating diseases have the right to consume, possess and cultivate marijuana, provided they can establish they have a legal medical necessity.

Recently, Barnhart and Christopher Ralph from Health Law Services in Jacksonville shows us the paperwork issued by a physician who evaluated Dahlia Barnhart and deemed medical marijuana a necessity.

“I’m not in any way shape or form uneasy about the law,” said Barnhart. “The process for me is easy with regards to the paperwork.”

According to Ralph, she will have to carry the paperwork with her at all times.

It includes information from the doctor, details on the Jenks v. State of Florida ruling and an identification number for law enforcement to verify its authenticity via a website.

“Our statutes allow for a physician to order the use of a schedule one controlled substance,” said Ralph.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers legalized a non-euphoric strain of marijuana called Charlotte’s Web.

Ralph says for that reason, he is not in full support of amendment two.

“Once amendment 2 passes, all we’re going to have is low-THC cannabis run by 5 organizations throughout the state,” he said. “Which was preempted by our current legislature… that’s what they did because they didn’t want amendment 2 to pass.”