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.

California Moves One Step Closer To Ending Medical Marijuana ‘Chaos’


A bill that would provide order to California’s muddled medical marijuana program cleared a major hurdle Friday, when the state Assembly’s Appropriations Committee moved it forward for a full Assembly vote next week.

Authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the measure, AB 1894, would create uniform rules to govern the state’s multibillion-dollar medical marijuana industry. Although California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal use in 1996, the state has yet to establish a set of standards guiding the cultivation, production and sale of the plant, which has led to what Ammiano described to The Huffington Post as “chaos.”

“I am optimistic that we can continue to work with all parties to finally create regulation that will satisfy all needs,” Ammiano said in a statement Friday, “from federal law enforcement down to the very sick patients who depend on the health benefits only marijuana can provide.”

California currently leaves it up to local governments to decide how they want to implement the state’s medical marijuana law. As a result, some cities, like San Francisco and Oakland, have established clear-cut systems that dictate where dispensaries can operate and impose fees that directly enrich their coffers. Other places, like San Diego and Los Angeles, remain largely unregulated, with very little control over where pot-related businesses can operate.

LA, for example, has been called the “poster child of chaos” for the medical marijuana industry, after clusters of dispensaries began popping up in close proximity and doctors handed out medical marijuana prescriptions to anyone who complained of a headache. In 2012, the city council voted to ban pot shops outright, and the case has been winding its way through the court system ever since. Meanwhile, lawmakers in San Jose are in the process of considering a similar ban.

“Marijuana has never been regulated by the state as any other business,” Ammiano told HuffPost last year after introducing similar legislation. “Cities and counties don’t know what to do or what they can do. Police are unsure how to respond.”

AB 1894 would create a division within California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to regulate all medical marijuana-related entities throughout the state, from the farmers that cultivate the plant to the storefronts that sell it. The proposal would allow the agency to impose fees on marijuana businesses in order to raise revenue for the state, and local municipalities would also be allowed to impose additional taxes.

“Without regulation, there’s no way to capture any of the income that could go toward our infrastructure or other worthy causes,” Ammiano told HuffPost last month.

California’s lack of statewide regulations over its pot program has left it vulnerable to federal interference, as the drug is still classified as a Schedule 1 substance (along with heroin and LSD) in the eyes of the national government. In 2011, a coalition of U.S. attorneys launched an aggressive crackdown on medical marijuana operations throughout the state under the guise that the industry had spiraled out of control. Since then, hundreds of businesses related to the drug have closed, and thousands of people have lost their jobs. Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided several dispensaries in Los Angeles, and a pot shop in Mendocino, closed by federal authorities earlier this year, only recently reopened.

By contrast, the Obama administration has been less combative in states with more comprehensive regulations. Colorado, for example, has faced fewer DEA raids and has been allowed to implement its groundbreaking recreational, adult-use law largely in peace. Late last year, Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that the federal government would not intervene in states that had “strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems.”

“While statewide regulations won’t change federal law, it does seem to be the case that states that have uniform, clear regulations are less likely to be interfered with by the feds,” Tom Angell, the head of weed advocacy group Marijuana Majority, told HuffPost last mont. “It’s very confusing in California right now: a patchwork of regulations city to city and county to county.”

Ammiano has made many attempts to create statewide medical marijuana regulations over the past few years, but each piece of legislation stalled or was defeated by opponents who argued the measures didn’t address key issues like the environmental implications of growing cannabis or the criteria for doctors to make recommendations to patients. He’s confident his current bill addresses every concern and more.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he told HuffPost last month. “People have seen that the more regulation you have, the less chaos you have.”

Meanwhile, marijuana reform advocates believe a measure like Ammiano’s is the key to paving the way for a law that would allow recreational use by adults in the state. Recent polls have suggested a majority of Californians support legalizing pot for recreational purposes, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has joined an effort to place a legalization initiative on the 2016 ballot.

But first, “we need to show that California has the ability to regulate marijuana,” Angell said. “This would help further demonstrate how tax revenue can be generated and put into needed programs.”

NFL Might Legalize Medical Marijuana for Players

NFL might legalize medical marijuana for players
By Mike Blake/Reuters

As more US states move to consider marijuana legalization, the country’s most popular sports league is indicating it may one day allow its players to light up.

Speaking to ESPN, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested the sport’s ban on medical marijuana could be lifted in the future if the practice has already been legalized in a player’s state.

“I don’t know what’s going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries, but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine,” he said.

Although multiple teams play in states where medical marijuana is legal – not to mention that Colorado and Washington have legalized the drug outright – use of the substance remains prohibited under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. The 10-year agreement isn’t set to expire until 2021, leaving no opportunity for players to renegotiate the policy in the short term.

As CBS News noted, Goodell’s words are the first time the NFL has commented on marijuana use since Colorado and Washington passed ballot initiatives legalizing the drug back in 2012.

“The NFL’s policy is collectively bargained and will continue to apply in the same manner it has for decades,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said at the time. “Marijuana remains prohibited under the NFL substance abuse program.”

Complicating the situation is that many NFL players suffer from significant pain borne from concussions and brain trauma, the symptoms of which could be eased by marijuana.

“Medical marijuana is recommended by doctors for headaches, light-sensitivity, sleeplessness and loss of appetite—all of which happen to be symptoms associated with concussions,” the Nation noted on its blog in 2012. “The idea that the league would deny a player their legal pain relief of choice seems barbaric.”

Echoing this sentiment was ESPN’s Howard Bryant, who argued in December the time has come for the NFL to become the first major sports league to condone the drug’s use as a pain reliever.

“This is a league in which the locker room culture still demands that athletes play through [the pain],” Bryant wrote. “And given that marijuana is a legitimate pain reliever — especially for the migraines that can be a byproduct of head trauma — and is far less dangerous and potentially addictive than, say, OxyContin, it is almost immoral to deny players the right to use it.”

Full Article here