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.

Source

VA. state senator proposes marijuana decriminalization law

A Virginia state senator has introduced a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the bill is sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin, a Democrat from Alexandria.

Under the proposal, the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would be decriminalized. Currently, that’s punishable by a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

“It would decriminalize simple possession of an ounce or less, but not decriminalize it to the extent done recently in Colorado and Washington state,” he said.

Among other things, the bill also would reduce the criminal penalties for distribution and possession with the intent to distribute by creating a presumption that a person who grows no more than six plants would be raising them for personal use.

The bill would also soften some laws concerning marijuana paraphernalia and limit the forfeiture of property from the sale or distribution of 1 pound or more of marijuana. Currently, there is no minimum amount.

Virginia State Police figures show that in 2013, there were more than 24,000 marijuana arrests in the state.
“The criminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana ruins far more lives than it impacts in any kind of positive ways,” Ebbin said.
Edward McCann, policy director for Virginia NORML, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana, said the legislation is supported by the ACLU and the NAACP.

“This is not just a conversation starter; we need to pass this bill,” said Edward McCann, policy director for Virginia NORML, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana.. “We’ve been talking to many of the members. … I think there is general support for the core of the bill, which is removing criminal penalties for people who possess small amounts — even from Republicans.”

WashingtonPost.Com- Va. Rep. Griffith introduces federal ‘Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act’

By Tom Jackman

Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith (R) this week introduced a bill in Congress that would remove the federal obstacle to prescribing and possessing medical marijuana in states where that is legal, such as Virginia. He said he knows this will be a long hard fight, “but you’ve got to start somewhere.”

Griffith’s bill is titled the “Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act,” and is only four pages. It moves marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, in a grouping with not only cocaine and methamphetamine but Ritalin and Adderall, drugs prescribed legally for children.

Removing marijuana from Schedule I takes it out of the “no currently accepted medical use” category and allows research to be conducted more easily, and would allow doctors to prescribe it in states where medical marijuana is legal to possess, such as Virginia.

Virginia does not allow the sale of medical marijuana, but it has had a law on the books since 1979 permitting its prescription and possession for medical purposes.

When Griffith was a state delegate, he said he was the only Republican to oppose an effort to erase that law from Virginia’s statutes, an effort which was unsuccessful. Even in states such as Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, doctors may not prescribe it because of federal law restricting prescription authority. Instead, doctors “recommend” it.

Griffith said he had been considering introducing such a bill, and then saw a story in The Washington Post earlier this month about families from Northern Virginia who had moved to Colorado to obtain medical marijuana oil for their children with epilepsy. But he has long been a supporter of medical marijuana, saying he once knew of a cancer patient who was provided marijuana secretly in order to build up his appetite to eat and survive.

“Isn’t it cruel,” Griffith said, “to not allow real doctors, real drug companies and real pharmacists to use marijuana for legitimate medical reasons for real patients? We use all sorts of opioids under the same scenario that this bill would allow us to use marijuana.” He said the Virginia law “is the right way to go, but the DEA can’t let anyone use it legally. This eliminates that and allows you to move forward.”