Political

Arizona: Drive For Initiative To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Reaches 200K Signatures

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The campaign needs to collect 150,642 valid signatures of Arizona voters to qualify for the November ballot

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Tuesday announced it has collected more than 200,000 signatures in support of a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona. The campaign needs to collect 150,642 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.

“Voters want to have their say on whether Arizona should end marijuana prohibition,” said Campaign Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “It’s appearing more and more likely that they are going to have that opportunity. We’re finding that most Arizonans agree marijuana should be regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.”

The proposed initiative would allow adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of marijuana, establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol, and enact a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, from which a majority of the revenue would be directed to Arizona schools and public education programs.

Rhode Island: House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Bill

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The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and replace it with a system in which adults can purchase marijuana from licensed businesses, similarly to alcohol.

Shortly before the hearing, marijuana market researchers, business owners, and entrepreneurs joined Regulate Rhode Island for a news conference to discuss the legislation’s potential to foster new businesses and create thousands of jobs in Rhode Island.

“This bill would provide a tremendous economic boost for our state, which is one of several reasons why our state legislators should not delay voting on it,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat. “This proposal would create dozens of new businesses and thousands of new jobs across Rhode Island. Our state’s unemployment rate is still significantly higher than our neighbors’, and this legislation will put many Rhode Islanders back to work.”

H 7752, known as the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, would make possession of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older, and it would establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores.

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Initiative Campaign Team Formed

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Ballot issues vet Brandon Lynaugh — who helped lead the campaign against the Responsible Ohio initiative last year — will serve as campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Monday announced it has formed a campaign team to support its initiative to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio.

Brandon Lynaugh, a veteran of more than a dozen statewide ballot issue campaigns, will serve as campaign manager. Lynaugh most recently served as campaign manager for No On 3, which led the effort to defeat the Responsible Ohio initiative last year.

“We’re excited to have Brandon at the helm of our Ohio campaign,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “His extensive experience with ballot issues and his history of standing up for Ohioans make him the right person to lead our team. He is committed to establishing a sensible, fair, and compassionate medical marijuana program that will benefit countless seriously ill Ohio residents.”

Lynaugh’s support for establishing legal access to medical marijuana stems from his experience with a close family member who suffers from epilepsy.

Maine: Court Rules In Favor Of Marijuana Legalization Supporters, Orders Review Of Signatures

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A Kennebec County Superior Court judge on Friday ruled that state officials may have improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on a proposed ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Justice Michaela Murphy found that state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The Secretary of State’s Office must now review all of the disputed petitions and place the initiative on the November ballot if it determines enough valid signatures were collected.

On March 2, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap informed the campaign that its proposed initiative did not qualify for the November ballot. With 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters required, state officials determined that initiative backers submitted 51,543 valid signatures.

In a document explaining his determination, the secretary of state said his office invalidated more than 5,000 petitions, which included more than 26,000 total petition signatures, solely due to its finding that the signature of a single notary did not “match” the signature the state has on file.

On March 10, supporters of the initiative filed a lawsuit challenging the decision.

U.S.: Senate Hearing Reminds Americans That 'Good People Don't Smoke Marijuana'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Tuesday's hearing of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control was light on actual facts and fully of heavy-handed rhetoric. At one point -- and I'm unfortunately serious in reporting this -- Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) said "this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it's not something to laugh about ... good people don't smoke marijuana."

This seems to be a new low even for the dim-witted Sessions, who says stuff his constituents back in the Heart of Dixie really should be embarrassed about -- in 2014, he said providing healthcare to veterans is an "entitlement" we "can't afford" -- but who knows; they keep electing his dumb ass.

The hearing, hosted by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) was ostensibly held to investigate whether the Department of Justice has been enforcing federal marijuana laws harshly enough. What these yahoos did was bring forth a parade of anti-marijuana witnesses, not bothering to counter their testimony with anyone who actually knew what they were talking about.

Arizona: Marijuana Initiative Backers Issue Alcohol Awareness Month Challenge

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Alcohol Awareness Month Challenge to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery: Prove Marijuana Is More Harmful Than Alcohol or Return the Campaign Contributions He Received From the Alcohol Industry Last Year

Backers of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona on Wednesday issued a challenge to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is calling on Montgomery — who says marijuana is too dangerous to regulate for adult use — to either prove marijuana is more harmful than alcohol or return campaign contributions he received from members of the alcohol industry last year.

The CRMLA held a Wednesday news conference in front of the Maricopa County Administration Building, where the county attorney’s office is located. They provided Montgomery with a jumbo-sized refund check for $8,050 from his campaign committee, Montgomery 2016, to his “alcohol industry contributors.” Montgomery 2016 received at least $8,050 in contributions from members of the alcohol industry in 2015, according to campaign finance reports.

“Mr. Montgomery’s public statements about our initiative indicate that he feels like marijuana should remain illegal because of its potential harms,” said CRMLA chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Yet marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol by every objective measure, and he accepts campaign contributions from people who distribute alcohol.”

U.S.: NCIA Calls On Sen. Grassley To Hold Hearings On Marijuana Legislation

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As Grassley holds outdated prohibitionist hearing, he continues to obstruct bipartisan efforts to help medical marijuana patients and providers

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on Monday called on Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to respect the will of the voters and bipartisan members of his own committee by holding hearings on the CARERS Act.

The CARERS Act is bipartisan legislation, originally introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY), that would allow patients access to medical marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution and open up new avenues for research into marijuana's medical potential.

While he continues to obstruct any action to help critically ill patients and the providers who care for them, Senator Grassley is holding a Monday hearing designed to conjure up outdated prohibitionist fear-mongering.

D.C.: Citizens, Activists Rally And Roll Up To The White House With 51-Foot 'Joint'

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On Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m., DCMJ — the organization that played a critical role in passing Ballot Initiative 71, which legalized marijuana in our nation’s capital — along with leaders, activists, advocacy groups and citizens gathered along Pennsylvania Avenue directly north of the White House to demand that President Obama use his authority to reschedule cannabis now.

Why on April 2nd? "The Obama Administration has been a big ZERO on cannabis reform," according to DCMJ, so the organization is rescheduling and actively removing the “ZERO” from “4/20.”

DCMJ has officially requested that President Obama reclassify cannabis as a less harmful substance multiple times since he has taken office in January 2009. However, no action has been taken to reschedule cannabis to date.

Meanwhile, the placement of cannabis in the same category as drugs like heroin — which brutally kills thousands of Americans each each year — remains not only irresponsible, unjust and unfitting, but also makes a continued mockery of the Controlled Substances Act.

On Saturday, April 2 at 4:20 p.m. in response to the Obama Administration’s lack of action on descheduling cannabis, Americans gathered at The White House to demand immediate action is taken. Event participants also helped to carry a 51 foot “joint” at what is being called the “EmergencyNational Mobilization to Reschedule Cannabis.”

Vermont: Governor Says Marijuana Legalization Is 'Enlightened' Thing To Do

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Vermont could make history this spring. As Governor Peter Shumlin nears the end of his term in office, he wants the state to become the first in the union to legalize marijuana through its Legislature.

In an interview with Katy Steinmetz of Time Magazine, Gov. Shumlin said "I think the more enlightened states are trying to get ahead of this one" when it comes to cannabis legalization.

"There is no question America is going to move to a more sensible policy, state by state," Shumlin said.

"We’re all spending huge amounts of energy focusing on the evils of pot smoking and we hardly talk about the fact that in 2010, we sold enough drugs legally through our pharmacies in the form of Oxycontin to keep every adult American high for a month," the Governor pointed out. "That has led to death, destruction, addiction to heroin that’s affecting every state in America. And then we flip out about the possibility that we could move to a more sensible approach to marijuana."

"Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has also talked openly about using marijuana," Steinmetz asked Gov. Shumlin. "Have you ever tried it?" "Yes," Shumlin replied. "I was in Vermont in the '70s... We inhaled."

"I'm hoping that Vermont will be the first state that does it legislatively because we have learned from the states that have made mistakes doing it by referendum," Gov. Shumlin said. "We are trying to pass the first cautious, sensible marijuana legalizing bill in the country."

U.S.: Medicare Mermaids Hash Out Marijuana In Episode 2

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The newly released Episode 2 of "Medicare Mermaids," a satirical new political web series which debuted earlier this month, deals with medical marijuana -- as in, the mermaids get blunt about Republicans out to kill their buzz.

LB Zimmerman stars as "Rozzie Mendlebaum" and Susan J Sommer stars as "Sheila Rabinowitz" in "Medicare Mermaids." Each episode runs under 4 minutes and addresses the issues from a progressive perspective with humor and insight.

"We're thrilled that over 10,000 people have watched Episode 1 on Facebook and YouTube and would like to thank all our viewers and supporters," said LB Zimmerman, creator/writer/"Rozzie Mermaid. "I think Episode 2 will strike a chord with many Americans who think our country's laws about marijuana need to be changed, despite what Trump-supporter, Governor Chris Christie says and thinks.

Episode 2 takes on the issue of legalizing Medical Marijuana and addresses the absurdity that it is considered a Schedule I narcotic by the DEA. Episode 3 will debut on April 11, and it deals with Climate Change, which greatly affects Mermaids and Humans alike.

On "Medicare Mermaids" Mondays (every other Monday) there will be a new episode with Rozzie and Sheila tackling the political issues in their unique way, with humor and intelligence.

Progressive and liberal, Rozzie and Sheila tackle big issues like protecting Medicare, gun control, marijuana legalization, climate change and a Mermaid's "right to choose."

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Certified For Ballot; Supporters Prepare To Gather Signatures

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The Ohio Ballot Board on Thursday certified an initiative that would establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana must now collect 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

The five-member board reviews proposed ballot measures to ensure they represent only one issue.

Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“We plan to mobilize a large group of volunteers, and we’ll be enlisting the help of paid petitioners to meet the state’s sizeable signature requirement in the short amount of time we have,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the initiative.

“A lot of our volunteers are family members of patients or patients themselves, so they’re incredibly motivated," Tvert said. "The initiative process isn’t easy, but it pales in comparison to undergoing chemotherapy or witnessing your child have seizures on a daily basis.”

Global: Canada To Advocate Marijuana Legalization At UN Drug Conference

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The long awaited, much anticipated UN General Assembly's Special Session on Drugs will happen April 19-21 at the UN Headquarters in New York City, and Canada is expecting to advocate for abandoning the organization's longstanding prohibition of marijuana.

Just a month before the important UN drug conference begins, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Hilary Geller, at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna this month, said the new Canadian Liberal government headed by Justin Trudeau will be moving away from American War On Drugs policies, as pointed out by Lanny Swerdlow at the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project (MAPP),

The Canadian government plans not only to legalize marijuana, but also to open for safe-injection sites for intravenous drug users and to promote other harm-reduction policies.

Attendees at that conference, made up of government and non-governmental organization officials from around the world, "erupted in applause" mid-way through Geller's address and gave a prolonged ovation.

Geller's presentation was at odds with the policies of the former Canadian government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Drug War policies closely followed those of the United States, including implementing mandatory-minimum prison sentences and boosting police narcotics enforcement.

Oregon: Measure 91 Advocates Endorse Brad Avakian for Secretary of State

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization advocates New Approach Oregon, the organization behind the successful Measure 91, on Wednesday endorsed Democratic candidate Brad Avakian for Secretary of State. Avakian currently serves as Oregon Labor Commissioner.

"Supporters of Measure 91, we have an exciting Secretary of State's race that involves three qualified Democratic candidates. I want to introduce you to one of those candidates, Brad Avakian, an ally of the marijuana law reform movement for more than a decade when he, as Labor Commissioner, fought for a medical marijuana patient who was fired for using cannabis medicinally," New Approach Oregon's Anthony Johnson wrote in a March 30 email. "Unfortunately, the Supreme Court rejected that argument and the fight for true equality and freedom goes on, even after legalizing and regulating marijuana.

"Brad Avakian is the progressive in the race for Secretary of State, and you can see that in the endorsements that he has received, including some of the same endorsers who advocated for Measure 91, such as the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555 Union and the Working Families Party," Johnson wrote. "If we can elect Brad Avakian as our next Secretary of State we will have a true supporter of sensible marijuana policies in the 2nd most prominent governmental position in Oregon.

U.S.: Gary Johnson Predicts Obama Will Take Marijuana Off Schedule I

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former New Mexico Governor and 2016 Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson on Tuesday said he thinks President Barack Obama, on his way out of office, is going to reschedule marijuana, taking it off the federal government's Schedule I list of narcotics considered the most dangerous of all drugs.

"It's going to be just like alcohol," Johnson told David Sherfinski of The Washington Times. "I'm going to predict that Obama, when he leaves office, is going to deschedule marijuana as a Class I narcotic. I wish he would have done that to this point, but I think he's going to do that going out the door. That's a positive."

Marijuana is currently on the Schedule I list with heroin and LSD. Methamphetamine, cocaine, and oxycodone, on Schedule II, are both officially considered safer than cannabis by the United States federal government.

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wants to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule II drug, effectively handing control of it over to Big Pharma. Her opponent for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, wants to deschedule cannabis entirely, taking it off the list of controlled substances, and leave its regulation up to the states.

North America: 'No More Drug War' Caravan Departs From Central America On Way To U.N.

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Caravan to Hold Events in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States Culminating at UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in New York on April 19-21

Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs, which will be taking place in New York City from April 19 to April 21, the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice started its journey in Honduras on March 28 (see Caravan schedule). The Caravan is a far-reaching initiative brought together by civic organizations, social movements, and victims of human rights violations from multiple countries demanding an end to the drug war to create alternatives to prohibitionist policies that fuel violence and illicit drug trafficking.

The Caravan will visit some of the places most affected by militarization, organized crime and mass incarceration, bringing to public attention the voices of victims, migrants, indigenous and farming communities, women, youths and human rights defenders.

The goal is to promote an honest and diverse discussion of drug policy with a focus on the social costs of prohibition and the Drug War, as well as alternatives based on human rights, public health and reducing violence.

U.S.: Support For Marijuana Legalization Hits All Time High Of 61%

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new survey released on Friday by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago shows record support for marijuana legalization in the United States, at 61 percent.

The survey asks, "Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?", which is the same wording as previous Gallup surveys, which had shown a previous high of 58 percent support for legalization last October, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The AP asked a follow-up question which showed that 24 percent of legalization supporters said cannabis should be made available "only with a medical prescription." Another 43 percent wanted to restrict purchase amounts. One-third of legalization supporters said there should be "no restrictions" on purchase amounts.

"This is yet another demonstration of just how ready Americans are for the end of marijuana prohibition," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "The growing level of support for legalization that we see in poll after poll is exactly why we're not in a situation -- for the first time in history -- where every major presidential candidate on both parties has pledged to let states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference."

While cannabis legalization is very popular among Democrats (70 percent) and independents (65 percent), just 47 percent of Republicans support it.

Global: 'No More Drug War' Caravan Departs From Central America To The UN

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Caravan to Hold Events in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States Culminating at UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in New York on April 19-21

Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs, which will be taking place in New York City from April 19 to April 21, the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice will be starting its journey in Honduras on Monday, March 28 (see Caravan schedule).

The Caravan is a far-reaching initiative brought together by civic organizations, social movements, and victims of human rights violations from multiple countries demanding an end to the Drug War to create alternatives to prohibitionist policies that fuel violence and illicit drug trafficking.

The Caravan will visit some of the places most affected by militarization, organized crime and mass incarceration, bringing to public attention the voices of victims, migrants, indigenous and farming communities, women, youths and human rights defenders.

The goal is to promote an honest and diverse discussion of drug policy with a focus on the social costs of prohibition and the Drug War, as well as alternatives based on human rights, public health and reducing violence.

U.S.: Emergency National Mobilization April 2 To Reschedule Cannabis

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Citizens, Activists and Leaders Rally and Roll Up to the White House with 51 foot “Joint” on Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m.

Mass Consumption of Cannabis to Occur at 4:20 p.m.

On Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m., DCMJ — the organization that played a critical role in passing Ballot Initiative 71, which legalized marijuana in our nation’s capital — along with leaders, activists, advocacy groups and citizens will gather along Pennsylvania Avenue directly north of the White House to demand that President Obama use his authority to reschedule cannabis now.

Why on April 2? According to the organizers, the Obama Administration has been a big ZERO on cannabis reform, so DCMJ is rescheduling and actively removing the “ZERO” from “4/20.”

DCMJ has officially requested that President Obama reclassify cannabis as a less harmful substance multiple times since he has taken office in January 2009. However, no action has been taken to reschedule cannabis to date.

Meanwhile, the placement of cannabis in the same category as drugs like heroin — which kills thousands of Americans each each year — remains not only irresponsible, unjust and unfitting, but also makes a continued mockery of the Controlled Substances Act.

Arizona: Civil Forfeiture Reform Legislative Hearing Set For Thursday

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Legislative Hearing on Civil Forfeiture Reform
Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 9:00 am
House Government and Higher Education Committee
House Hearing Room 1

An unprecedented array of public interest organizations — including ACLU of Arizona, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Arizona Citizens Defense League, Goldwater Institute, Institute for Justice, Los Abogados, NFIB, and Public Integrity Alliance — have banded together as the Coalition for Arizona Forfeiture Reform to support reform of Arizona’s civil forfeiture laws.

The Coalition will be testifying before the House Government and Higher Education Committee to inform legislators about civil forfeiture and the nationwide, bipartisan steps being taken to implement necessary reforms.

If law enforcement suspects that you committed a crime, they can arrest you and put you on trial. At trial, prosecutors must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But if law enforcement suspects your property is linked to a crime, they can seize it even if they don’t charge you—or anyone else—with a crime.

If you want your property back, you will have to prove your innocence. Exacerbating these problems, law enforcement gets to keep up to 100 percent of what they take, which can warp law enforcement priorities and lead to questionable or even illegal spending of public funds.

Welcome to the upside-down world of civil forfeiture.

Massachusetts: Attorney General Asks Voters To 'Wait' On Legalizing Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is asking state voters to "wait" to legalize marijuana.

Voters could be faced with a ballot question in November to legalize cannabis for recreational adult use. Atty. Gen. Healey is asking residents to vote no, reports Ashley Afonso at WWLP.

"Not now, not at this time," Healey said. "We're in the midst of his opioid crisis." (Evidently, the Attorney General doesn't know that cannabis is an exit drug out of opiate addiction.)

"I think it's really important that we talk about the public health aspects which haven't really been talked about," Healey said. "Legalizing recreational marijuana I think is a really bad idea for many reasons, but to me most important is the health and well-being of young people."

Massachusetts already has legalized medicinal cannabis, and has decriminalized the possession of less than an ounce for adults. The new measure would legalize recreational weed for adults 21 and older. It would also add taxes on cannabis sales and a commission that would oversee the regulation of the industry.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association wrong-headedly opposes legalization, claiming "safety concerns" including "greater youth accessibility." What they don't seem to realize is that black market dealers don't ask for ID, and legal marijuana stores do.

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