senate rules committee

Alabama: Key Senator Blocks Medical Marijuana Bill; Says State 'Not Ready'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana may have been passed by an Alabama Senate committee this week, but a powerful politician quickly blocked the way for further progress, declaring the state is "not ready" for such legislation. The full membership of the Senate won't even get the chance to debate the bill unless he changes his mind.

Sen. Jabo Waggoner, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, displayed the arrogance of power in disregarding both the Senate Judiciary Committee, which on Wednesday approved the bill on a 4-3 vote, and popular opinion in the state.

"It is bad legislation," Waggoner said, ignoring both the scientific evidence of marijuana's medical effectiveness and the wishes of his own constituents. "We don't need that in Alabama."

A whopping 97 percent of more than 1,300 respondents to an online poll said the state should allow medicinal cannabis. More than a decade ago, back in 2004, 75 percent of respondents said medical marijuana should be legal in the Heart of Dixie, according to a Mobile Register/University of South Alabama survey.

Waggoner, a relic of the 20th Century and career politician who has served in the Alabama Legislature for 49 years, said he didn't think anything would change his mind about the medical marijuana bill this year.

New Mexico: Marijuana Legalization Resolution Passes Out Of Senate Rules Committee

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Public Opinion and Wasted Tax Dollars Push Legislator to Fix Broken Marijuana Policies

For the first time in history, a legislative committee on Thursday voted in favor of taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico. On a vote of 5-4, New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino’s (D-12-Bernalillo) Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR2) passed the Senate Rules Committee.

SJR2 would allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana in New Mexico.

“Today’s vote sets in motion the process to put the issue on a 2016 statewide ballot for voters,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Marijuana prohibition in New Mexico has clearly failed.

"It hasn’t reduced use and instead has resulted in the criminalization of people, gross racial disparities, and enormous fiscal waste," Kaltenbach said. "Senator Ortiz y Pino’s resolution will allow our legislature rethink how we can enhance the health and safety of all New Mexicans through sensible reforms.”

Oregon: Activists Look To End Marijuana Prohibition In 2014

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A bill that would ask Oregon voters if they want to legalize marijuana while leaving the regulations up to the Legislature passed its first committee last Thursday.

Senate Bill 1556 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 3-2 vote, with all Democrats supporting it and all Republicans opposing, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee.

The measure was amended before passing to lower the amount of cannabis that adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess in private. The amount was lowered from eight ounces and four plants in the original bill to six ounces and three plants in the amended version.

Cannabis activists are already gathering signatures for two legalization initiatives.

Initiative 21 would amend the Oregon Constitution, ending criminal penalties for cannabis and permitting adult recreational marijuana use, possession and cultivation.

Initiative 22, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2014, creates a commission to regulate the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the Oregon General Fund, helping to pay for schools, roads, and social services.

The groups HEMP in Oregon (Help End Marijuana Prohibition in Oregon) and CRRH (Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp) have kicked off a vigorous volunteer and paid petition drive to get both initiatives on the ballot for November 2014, according to director Paul Stanford.

Oregon: Bill To Refer Marijuana Legalization To Voters Stays Alive In Legislature

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill that would ask Oregon voters if they want to legalize marijuana while leaving the regulations up to the Legislature passed its first committee on Thursday.

Senate Bill 1556 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 3-2 vote, with all Democrats supporting it and all Republicans opposing, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee.

While Thursday was the legislative deadline for moving bills out of committee, that deadline doesn't apply to the Rules Committee.

It makes more sense for lawmakers to work out the details of regulating marijuana production and sales instead of leaving it up to activists who are working on their own legalization initiatives for the November general election ballot, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene).

The measure was amended before passing to lower the amount of cannabis that adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess in private. The amount was lowered from eight ounces and four plants in the original bill to six ounces and three plants in the amended version.

The bill has a 50-50 chance of passing the Oregon Legislature, according to Rep. Peter Buckley, who cosponsors it with Prozanski. Several legislators "don't want to become attached to anything having to do with marijuana," Rep. Buckley said.

New Mexico: Marijuana Legalization Resolution Does Not Pass Senate Rules Committee

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Vigorous Debate Showed Bipartisan Interest for Marijuana Reform But Failed to Clear Committee As a Result of Lingering Political Fears and Constitutional Arguments

On a tie vote of 5 to 5, New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino’s (D-12-Bernalillo) Senate Joint Resolution 10 (SJR10) on Tuesday failed to pass the Senate Rules Committee. SJR10 would have allowed for the possession and personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana in New Mexico.

“We were encouraged by the thoughtful and vigorous debate by members from both sides of the aisle where both Republicans and Democrats voiced support for marijuana reform. Although they acknowledged the racially disparate impact that New Mexico’s current marijuana laws have on our communities of color and our youth, they chose not to give their constituents the opportunity to vote on this issue,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Sadly, it also appears they are far too concerned that it would be a detriment on the campaign trail.”

New Mexico: Marijuana Legalization Stalls In Senate Panel

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A proposal which would have allowed New Mexico voters to decide for themselves on marijuana legalization has stalled, at least for now, in the Senate Rules Committee.

The committee failed on Friday to debate the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow adults 21 and older to possess and use marijuana, reports the Associated Press.

There's still hope that the committee could debate the measure next week, according to its sponsor, Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino.

If the plan is approved by the New Mexico Legislature, the proposed constitutional amendment would go before the voters in the general election.

But it appears an uphill climb in the Legislature -- and even if it passes, GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, who opposes marijuana legalization, would almost certainly veto it.

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