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.


Proposal would put legalized marijuana on Missouri ballot

JEFFERSON CITY – Supporters of legalized marijuana are getting an early start on an initiative that could put the issue to a public vote on Missouri’s 2016 ballot.

A pro-marijuana initiative was the first item submitted to the secretary of state’s office on the first day possible to propose measures for the next general election. By Thursday, it was posted online for public comment.
The proposed constitutional amendment would make it legal to produce, sell and use marijuana in Missouri for people age 21 and older. The goal is to tax and regulate marijuana in a similar way as alcohol, said Columbia attorney Dan Viets, who submitted the measure.

The Missouri initiative comes after voters on Tuesday approved legalized marijuana in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C. Recreational use of marijuana already is legal in Colorado and Washington state.

Before a petition can be circulated for signatures in Missouri, it must receive approval from the secretary of state and attorney general and get a financial estimate from the state auditor. The petition summary prepared by the secretary of state’s office then could face legal challenges, and supporters would have until May 2016 to collect the roughly 165,000 signatures of registered voters needed to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

Although some Missouri cities already have passed local ordinances decriminalizing marijuana possession, it remains a state crime punishable by up to a year in prison to possess up to 35 grams. A state criminal code revision set to take effect in 2017 would remove the possibility of jail time for first-time offenders convicted of possessing less than 10 grams.

The proposed initiative would invalidate those laws and require a state license to produce, deliver and sell marijuana, which could be taxed at 25 percent of its price. The tax revenues would be divided among pension plans for law enforcement officers and firefighters, K-12 schools, substance abuse programs, military veterans’ services, college scholarships and local governments.

Viets is criminal defense lawyer who is chairman of Show-Me Cannibas and secretary of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He is a longtime critic of Missouri’s criminal marijuana laws.

“The vast majority of people who use marijuana are adults who use it responsibly. They do not deserve to be treated like criminals,” Viets said. “We squander millions of tax dollars persecuting and prosecuting marijuana smokers, and we lose tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue.”
Viets also proposed initiatives in 2012 and 2014 to legalize marijuana. The effort two years ago fell well short of the needed petition signatures and supporters didn’t try to collect signatures this year. Viets said an aggressive effort is planned for the 2016 ballot using a mixture of volunteer and paid petition circulators.

Some public opinion polls have shown most Americans now favor legalization of marijuana. But legalization proposals have gained little traction in Missouri’s Republican-led legislature, which is why Viets said supporters are turning to the initiative process.

Missouri 2016 opportunity to legalize!

Missouri voters in 2016 will have a hand in picking a new president, a successor to Jay Nixon and possibly legalizing marijuana in the Show-Me State.

Show-Me Cannabis, an association of pro-legalization-minded individuals and organizations, plans to submit paperwork with the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office this week or next to start the process of putting a ballot initiative before voters in 2016.

Once bureaucratic matters get sorted out in the coming weeks, Show-Me Cannabis will seek about 300,000 signatures (almost double the 160,000 required to put matters before the electorate) from at least six of the eight Missouri congressional districts to put marijuana legalization on the 2016 general-election ballot.

John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis, tells us that internal polling earlier this year showed 45 percent of registered voters supported the measure for the 2014 mid-term elections, typically a low-turnout affair relative to presidential elections.

The support, Payne projects, swells to 52 percent during a higher-turnout presidential election, which is why his group opted for the 2016 ballot instead of pushing forward in 2014.

“It’s really a question of turnout,” Payne says. “If everyone in the state voted tomorrow, we would win.”

Attitudes have been transforming toward ending, or at least relaxing, marijuana prohibition. Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana, largely without incident, since 2012. (Oregon; Washington, D.C.; and Alaska voters will weigh in on legalization tomorrow, while Florida will take up medical marijuana.) Those two states have also realized a fiscal boost from both law-enforcement savings and from taxes gleaned from marijuana sales.

Payne says Missouri could realize $90 million in law-enforcement savings from no longer having to patrol, arrest, prosecute and, in some cases, imprison users and sellers. That figure is based on work done by Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard University economist hired by Show-Me Cannabis to analyze legalization’s fiscal impact in Missouri.

If Missouri adopted a tax structure similar to what’s placed upon alcohol and tobacco in the state (about 12 percent), that could result in $60 million in new revenues. Payne adds that if a 25 percent tax were applied, that number could grow north of $200 million.

Show-Me Cannabis is still discussing how to apportion marijuana revenues, but likely recipients may include police and firefighter pensions, education, mental-health services, drug prevention and treatment, and the like.

That kitty may be alluring not only to voters but also Missouri lawmakers who show signs of coming around on marijuana-related matters. The Missouri General Assembly dipped its toe into the medical-marijuana waters by allowing the use of low-THC concentrated treatments for various ailments and has relaxed punishment guidelines for small-time weed users.

“What we’ve found is, when we talk to a lot of legislators, it’s not so much that they oppose medical marijuana and industrial hemp, it’s just that they don’t know a lot about it,” Payne says.

Still, voters are the more palatable conduit to ending marijuana prohibition in Missouri.

Missouri Update! CBD legislation signed

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missourians with epilepsy that cannot be effectively treated by conventional means will now be able to use a cannabis extract under legislation signed into law Monday by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The legislation was sponsored by St. Louis County Republican Eric Schmitt, a state senator whose 9-year-old son has the central nervous system disorder.

Patients wanting to use marijuana oil containing high cannabidiol content will be required to register with the state health department and also have a neurologist vouch that the patient’s epilepsy hasn’t responded to at least three other treatments. The extract is known for having more CBD than THC so it contains little of the related marijuana compounds favored by recreational users.

In a separate action, Nixon also signed legislation allowing terminally ill patients to use investigational drugs not yet approved by the federal government.

We asked the governor if families who moved to Colorado, where the oil is legal, would be prosecuted if they moved back to Missouri.

“It would be better to talk to attorney general’s office about that. All I know is the measure I signed today will help us move forward to make sure Missouri can provide these therapies to families in need,” said Nixon.

Missouri update!

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP/) – Missouri lawmakers have given final approval to a bill that would allow use of a cannabis extract by people whose epilepsy isn’t relieved by other treatments. On Thursday, the Senate passed the bill 32-0. House members later approved it 136-12, which sends the legislation to Gov. Jay Nixon. The bill would allow use of “hemp extract” containing little of the substance that makes marijuana users feel high and greater amounts of a chemical called cannabidiol, or CBD.

Senators approved the measure after Sen. Eric Schmitt gave an impassioned speech about his son, who has epilepsy. Schmitt says he doesn’t know if CBD oil will work but that a lot of families are willing to try. Schmitt’s family watched the debate from the Senate chamber.

Opponents to the bill say Missouri is not yet ready for this law, as more research needs to be done on the effects of the drug. We also wanted to know whether the bill opens the door for more widespread legalization of marijuana in Missouri.

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Missouri – CBD Bill moves forward

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missourians whose epilepsy isn’t relieved by other treatments could start taking a cannabis extract under legislation approved Thursday by the state House.
The measure would allow use of a “hemp extract” containing little of the chemical that causes marijuana users to feel high and larger amounts of a chemical called cannabidiol, or CBD. Supporters contend CBD oil could be effective in preventing seizures.
“I want to give hope to the children of Missouri who are suffering from intractable epilepsy that they can stop having seizures and live a healthy, normal life,” said sponsoring Rep. Caleb Jones, R-Columbia.
About a dozen states have considered legislation seeking to allow use of CBD oil for patients with seizures. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last week, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley previously signed a bill allowing the University of Alabama at Birmingham to study the marijuana extract while giving participants legal protection from state criminal charges.
There has been particular attention paid to oil from the marijuana strain called Charlotte’s Web that cultivated for an epileptic patient in Colorado. It is high in CBD and has little or no psychoactive effects. There is a waiting list, and patients must live in Colorado where marijuana is legal. Families have moved to the state to gain access to it.
House members approved the bill 139-13, and it now moves to the state Senate. The measure would take effect immediately if Gov. Jay Nixon signs it into law.
Earlier this week, a Senate committee endorsed separate legislation that would allow use of medical cannabinoids for conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and chronic or debilitating conditions that produce severe pain or seizures. The products could be oils, tonics, ointments or be ingestible but not able to be smoked. Patients would need a written certification from a doctor.
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