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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 5, 2014

    State election officials have affirmed that a proposed initiative to regulate the production and retail sale of cannabis to adults has obtained the necessary number of signatures from registered voters to appear on 2014 ballot.

    The initiative’s proponents, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska, gathered more than 45,000 signatures from registered Alaska voters. On Tuesday, the director of the Alaska’s Division of Elections confirmed that of those signatures, 31,593 have been verified, thus qualifying the measure for a public vote. The lieutenant governor’s office is expected to certify the measure for the 2014 ballot in the coming days, once all of the remaining signatures have been counted and verified.

    Once certified, the initiative will be placed on the August 19 primary election ballot, as is required by Alaska election law.

    If approved by voters, the measure would legalize the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis as well as the cultivation of up to six-plants (three flowering) for personal consumption. The measure would also allow for the establishment of licensed, commercial cannabis production and retail sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused products to those over the age of 21. Commercial production and retail sales of cannabis would be subject to taxation, but no taxes would be imposed upon those who choose to engage in non-commercial activities (e.g., growing small quantities of marijuana for personal use and/or engaging in not-for-profit transfers of limited quantities of cannabis.) Public consumption of cannabis would be subject to a civil fine.

    The measure neither amends the state’s existing medical marijuana law, which was approved by voters in 1998, nor does it diminish any privacy rights established by the state’s Supreme Court in its 1975 ruling Ravin v State.

    Under present state law, the possession of marijuana not in one’s residence is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 90-days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

    According to the results of a statewide Public Policy Polling survey, released today, 55 percent of registered voters “think (that) marijuana should be legally allowed for recreational use, that stores should be allowed to sell it, and that its sales should be taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol.” Only 39 percent of respondents oppose the idea. The survey possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.

    Additional information about the campaign is available here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    A majority of Rhode Island voters back legalizing and regulating the use and sale of cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol, according to a just-released Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project.

    Fifty-three percent of respondents support “changing Rhode Island law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol, so stores would be licensed to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older?” Forty-one percent of respondents oppose the idea. Six percent of voters were undecided.

    Legislation to legalize the adult consumption and licensed production and retail sale of cannabis in the state is expected to be reintroduced shortly. (Rhode Island does not have a statewide ballot initiative process.) In previous years, state lawmakers have overwhelmingly supported the passage of legislation to legalize the use, growing, and dispensing of medical marijuana to qualified patients. The PPP survey found that 77 percent of Ocean State voters support the state’s present medical marijuana program.

    The PPP poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.

    In recent months, separate statewide polls in Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Texas have all shown majority support for legalizing the adult consumption of cannabis.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 4, 2014

    A majority of likely Massachusetts voters support legalizing marijuana, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll released today.

    Fifty-three percent of respondents said that they “favor … the legalization of marijuana.” Thirty-seven percent of respondents opposed legalization. Ten percent were undecided.

    In previous elections, Massachusetts voters have overwhelmingly approved statewide ballot measures decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses and legalizing the dispensing of the plant for therapeutic purposes.

    Local activists have already begun plans for a possible 2016 ballot initiative drive on the question of full legalization.

    The Suffolk poll possesses a margin or error of +/- 4 percent.

    Over the past few months, separate statewide polls in Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Texas have all shown majority support for legalizing the adult consumption of cannabis.

    Recent national polls by Gallup (58 percent), CNN (55 percent), CBS (51 percent), and NBC (55 percent) have also shown majority support for legalizing cannabis.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 3, 2014

    Hawaii voters overwhelmingly support legalizing and regulating the adult use of cannabis, according to just-released statewide survey data by QMark Research and commissioned by the Hawaii Drug Policy Action Group.

    Sixty-six percent of respondents said they endorsed legalizing cannabis, an increase of nine points since pollsters last posed the question in 2012.

    Seventy-seven percent of respondents separately said that jail time is an inappropriate sanction for those found to be in violation of the state’s existing marijuana possession laws. Under present law, possessing any amount of cannabis for non-medical purposes in Hawaii is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

    Eight-five percent of those polled also backed the establishment of licensed medical cannabis dispensaries. Hawaii lawmakers legalized the possession and cultivation of medicinal cannabis by state-qualified patients in 2000, but did not provide for dispensaries.

    Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC now have licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. (California dispensaries are not licensed by the state.) Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

    Summaries of various pending bills to liberalize Hawaii’s marijuana policies are available online here and here.

    The QMark poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points.

    For those keeping score, recent statewide polls in Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Texas all show majority support for legalizing the adult consumption of cannabis.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 24, 2014

    Federal officials are poised to unveil new regulations allowing for financial institutions to legally interact with licensed businesses that are engaged in cannabis commerce.

    United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced the forthcoming guidelines yesterday in a speech at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.

    “You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these place. They (retail facilities that dispense cannabis) want to be able to use the banking system,” Holder said. “And so we (the Obama administration) will be issuing some regulations I think very soon to deal with that issue.”

    Presently, federal law discourages financial institutions from accepting deposits or providing banking services for facilities that engage in cannabis-related commerce because the plant remains illegal under the US Controlled Substances Act. While the Obama administration is unlikely to amend cannabis’ illegal status under federal law, the forthcoming rules are anticipated to provide clear guidelines for banks that wish to provide support for state-licensed cannabis facilities.

    In Colorado, where retail stores began legally selling cannabis on January 1 to anyone age 21 and older, businesses were estimated to have engaged in over $5 million in marijuana sales in their first week of business.

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