Lansing, Michigan

LANSING – The battle to free the weed officially started Thursday when the State Board of Canvassers ruled that a group pushing a proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use got enough signatures to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot.

The 4-0 decision by the board was met with cheers by advocates for the proposal.

“The people of Michigan deserve this. They earned it,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML. “We’ve faced many trials and tribulations. We’ve had so many stop and go signs from the federal government. That’s why states have to take the reins on the issue and really be the crucibles of democracy that they’ve always been intended to be.”

It was the second time that the coalition had turned in enough signatures to get on the ballot. The last time, however, it didn’t get the signatures in a state-mandated 180-day window and the petition was thrown out. But the coalition didn’t have the same problem this time around. “We expected this,” said John Truscott, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “Now, we’ll be out and about talking to people and educating them about the issues.”

Scott Greenlee, executive director of the Healthy and Productive Michigan political action committee, which opposes the ballot proposal, urged the Board of Canvassers to keep the issue off the ballot because marijuana is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government.

“By putting this on the ballot, you’re disregarding federal law,” he said. “I recognize that other states have done it, but like my mom always told me, ‘Just because your friends jump off a bridge, doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing.’

“We’re picking and choosing which laws to follow and that’s no way to live,” he said, adding he’s not sure whether his group will continue to fight the Board of Canvassers’ decision in court.

The Michigan marijuana ballot proposal would:

Legalize the possession and sale of up to 2½ ounces of marijuana for personal, recreational use.
Impose a 10% excise tax on marijuana sales at the retail level as well as a 6% sales tax. The estimated revenues from the taxes are at least $100 million.
Split those revenues with 35% going to K-12 education, 35% to roads, 15% to the communities that allow marijuana businesses in their borders and 15% to counties where marijuana business are located.
Allow communities to decide whether they’ll permit marijuana businesses.
Restrict purchases of marijuana for recreational purposes to 2½ ounces but an individual could keep up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home.
Allow the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and not the politically appointed licensing board that will regulate the medical marijuana side of the market, to regulate and license marijuana businesses, ranging from growers, transporters, testers and dispensaries.
Set up three classes of marijuana growers: up to 100, 500 and 2,000 plants.
Michigan voters have already weighed in on marijuana once, approving cannabis for medical use in 2008 by a 63%-37% margin. As of March, 1, 277,752 people are medical marijuana cardholders and 43,131 people are caregivers who can grow up to 72 plants for up to five cardholders. The state is in the process of vetting applications of people who want to get into the medial marijuana business, which is expected to generate at least $700 million in sales.

That financial prediction is estimated to grow to more than $1 billion a year if voters pass the ballot proposal and Michigan becomes the ninth state to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use.

In Colorado, the oldest recreational marijuana market in the nation, sales in 2017 were $1.5 billion.

But getting the ballot proposal passed is not a foregone conclusion, despite recent polls showing more than 60% support for legalizing marijuana.

Healthy and Productive Michigan has $215,286 for the battle ahead, primarily from Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a Virginia-based organization that supports cannabis for medical, but not recreational, uses.

“We’ll continue to press forward with education and explain to the public the problems that recreational marijuana will cause in our state,” Greenlee said. “And once it’s certified for the ballot, we’ll have a number of people from Michigan who will come in and support us.”

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol has raised more than $1 million, but spent the vast majority on paying the firm that collected petition signatures. According to campaign finance reports filed this week with the Secretary of State, the coalition has only $17,326 in available cash for the upcoming campaign.

The action taken by the Board on Thursday will trigger a large fund-raising effort, Truscott said.

“We expect to have quite a bit coming in now that it’s all approved,” he said. “There have been a number of meetings in the last few weeks about that.”

With the Board of Canvassers’ approval, the state Legislature has several options: it could consider the measure and pass it, in which case it would automatically become law; it could offer a competing proposal for the ballot or it could do nothing and let the issue go to the Nov. 6 ballot.

While Republicans might want to keep the issue off the ballot in November — because it’s expected to increase voter turnout that could be more beneficial for Democrats — it would also be a very difficult vote for Republican lawmakers to take as many of them face elections in the fall.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-Dewitt, seemed to take the legislative vote option off the table on Thursday.

“I don’t anticipate it happening. There’s not much support in the caucus for it and I personally do not support it,” he said. “I think it’s something that the voters are going to have to ultimately decide.”

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.

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.

Mississippi group seeking signatures to get cannabis on the 2016 Ballot!!

Go sign the petition is the message a group wanting to make marijuana legal in Mississippi is telling voters after everything has been cleared for the group to begin collecting signatures to try to have an initiative placed on the November 2016 ballot.

Mississippi for Cannabis has received the ballot initiative petition from the Secretary of State’s office, meaning the group can now begin collecting signatures.

Kelly Jacobs, sponsor of the initiative ballot effort, said the group has until Oct. 2, 2015, to collect about 107,000 signatures of registered voters to get the measure on the November 2016 ballot.

“If we lack sufficient signatures to hand in by Oct. 2, 2015, then we can still try to get onto the 2017 ballot by gathering sufficient signatures by our one year deadline of December 2015,” Jacobs said.

The group filed a petition in late September with the secretary of state’s satellite office in Hernando, said petition organizer Kelly Jacobs, a longtime Democratic Party official from Hernando. It was the initial step in the ballot process.

If the ballot initiative gets the necessary signatures and is approved by voters in a referendum, it would make it legal for adults to possess cannabis in unlimited quantities, to use as they wish, just like alcohol or cigarettes. However, it would have to be kept from minors.

“We want to legalize marijuana and decriminalize it,” Jacobs said. “It’s an adult discussion we should be having.”

According to the information submitted for the ballot initiative, the estimated gross revenue from 7 percent sales tax on marijuana would be $17 million for the first seven months of sales.

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

Group seeks ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in MS

Jimmie E. Gates

A group has filed a petition seeking a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Mississippi.

The group, Mississippi for Cannabis, is hoping to place an initiative on the November 2016 election ballot.

The group filed the petition Monday with the Secretary of State’s satellite office in Hernando, says petition organizer Kelly Jacobs. It’s the initial process in the ballot process.

“Now we are waiting for official approval from the Mississippi Secretary of State, and the Attorney General which will include a ballot initiative number and the official format for the collection of signatures,” said Jacobs.”The Mississippi Legislature also has the option to adopt our ballot initiative, but that is unlikely.”

Secretary of State spokeswoman Pamela Weaver confirmed today that the peition has been filed.

If the Secretary of State’s office and attorney general’s office approve the petition, it would be then up to petition organizers to collect the approximately 110,000 signatures needed within 12 months to get the petition on the ballot. Voters would then have to approve the measure for it to become law.

Jacobs said the ballot initiative proposal would legalize cannabis for adults to own as much as they wish, to use as they wish, just like alcohol or cigarettes. However, it must be kept from minors.

“We want to legalize marijuana and decriminalize it,” Jacobs said. “It’s an adult discussion we should be having.”
Also, she said it would allow adults to raise cannabis, but no more than nine plants for their personal, private use, and they can gift and barter their cannabis with no tax charged.

Under the proposal, city and county governments would collect a fee of $25.00 or more, for a residence, if a cannabis or hemp farm is established in their territory, which is defined as an adult growing 10 or more cannabis plants.

The size of the farm may determine a higher locality fee. A 10 percent tax would go to schools.

During this year’s Neshoba County Fair, conservative Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon of Decatur predicted marijuana would be legalized in Mississippi within a decade although he would be opposed to it.

Mississippi Update – Harper Grace’s Act

JACKSON, MS — An extremely limited medical marijuana bill, passed earlier this year by the state legislature, took effect on July 1 in Mississippi. The bill allows the possession and use of marijuana extracts that contain less than 0.5% THC and more than 15% CBD for patients suffering from seizure disorders, including epilepsy. House Bill 1231, Harper Grace’s Act, was approved by the House 112-6 and the Senate 49-0 in March, and Governor Phil Bryant gave final approval to the bill at a signing ceremony in April. The bill was named after Harper Grace Durval, a 22-month-old girl who has Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. While passage of the bill shows a strong endorsement of the medical benefits of marijuana by the Mississippi legislature, advocates caution that due to the bill’s limited scope, patients are unlikely to see relief anytime soon. Advocates say the bill, which they consider to be largely symbolic, is too limited to be effective and does not create a realistic way for patients to obtain the extracts. The bill only allows three specific medical research centers — the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, the Department of Pharmacy Services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station at Mississippi State University — to produce or possess the marijuana extracts for research.

Given that federal law does not allow medical marijuana, it is extremely unlikely that universities will produce marijuana, advocates say.

To date, 9 other states — Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin – have enacted similar legislation, and a tenth, Missouri, has also passed a similar bill that is awaiting action by Governor Jay Nixon, who is expected to sign the bill soon.

In addition, 22 states and the District of Columbia have enacted comprehensive medical marijuana programs. Lawmakers in a 23rd state, New York, recently approved a comprehensive medical marijuana bill that is awaiting action by Governor Andrew Cuomo.