Senator Ron Wyden has introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 3240, the Senate version of this year’s federal farm bill, that requires the federal government to respect state laws allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only trace (less than one percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.
The amendment language mimics the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013,” which remains pending as stand-alone legislation in both the House and Senate but has yet to receive a legislative hearing. Senator Wyden’s provision to the Senate’s Farm Bill amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. The measure grants state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity.
“For me, what’s important is that people see, particularly in our state, there’s someone buying it at Costco in Oregon,” Senator Wyden previously stated in support of this Act, “I adopted what I think is a modest position, which is if you can buy it at a store in Oregon, our farmers ought to be able to make some money growing it.”
Eight states – Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia – have enacted statutory changes defining industrial hemp as distinct agricultural product and allowing for its regulated commercial production. Passage of this amendment would remove existing federal barriers and allow these states and others the authority to do so without running afoul of federal anti-drug laws.
Senator Wyden’s amendment is co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has also expressed his support for this proposal.
According to a Congressional Research Service report, “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.”
Click here to quickly and easily contact your Senator in support of industrial hemp.
Tuesday night, the states of Colorado and Washington sent a loud and clear message to the federal government that they no longer wish to enforce the futile prohibition on cannabis. The symbolic impact of these victories are immediate, but what are the practical effects on the ground now that these two initiatives have been approved?
In Washington State, regulations for the marijuana retail outlets are going to start being drafted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. This process is expected to last about a year. The immediate impact of passing I-502 is on the state laws regarding possession. Starting on December 6th, Section 20 of the initiative will take effect. This section effectively states that any person over the age of 21 is legally allowed to possess up to 1oz of dried marijuana, 16oz of marijuana solids (edibles), and 72oz of cannabis infused liquids (think oils and lotions). It is also no longer a crime to possess marijuana paraphernalia.
Law enforcement representatives in the state have already released some statements on this matter. Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, from the Seattle Police Department, said, “For us, the law has changed, and people can expect no enforcement for possession.”
“What you can expect,” Sgt. Whitcomb clarified, “is no enforcement on possession, that is a reasonable expectation.”
The vote in Colorado is awaiting final certification, a process that is expected to take about a month. After this approval, it will immediately become legal in Colorado for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and for them to grow up to 6 plants in a secure indoor space.
The state is required to adopt a legal framework for retail sales by July of 2013, the first marijuana retail outlets could potentially open as early as the start of 2014.
Colorado’s law enforcement seems just as keen as Washington’s, for the time being, to honor the will of the people. “We’re not federal agents,” stated Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, who opposed Amendment 64 during the campaign.
“We can arrest people if they’re wanted on warrants on federal crimes, but unless we’re involved in a specific case … where (a deputy is) cross-commissioned as a federal agent,” he said, “we don’t directly enforce federal law.”
While he ended his statement with a patronizing jab, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper seems willing to abide by the desire of his state’s citizens on this issue. “The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” Hickenlooper said Tuesday night.
“This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said,” he ended, “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”
These protections in both states, when certified and placed into effect, will apply to anyone physically in the state, no residency required. Public consumption would remain a violation in both states, but a civil, not criminal, one.
As always, NORML will keep you posted as these laws become certified and come into effect and will be tracking the process of implementing retail outlets every step of the way.
The University of Denver has just released a new poll of likely Colorado voters and the results are encouraging for marijuana law reform advocates. With just under a month until election day, Colorado’s Amendment 64, which aims to regulate marijuana like alcohol, is still enjoying a ten point lead in the polls.
University of Denver polled 604 likely voters in Colorado between October 4th and 5th. They found that 50% were planning on voting yes on Amendment 64, with 40% stating they’d vote no and 10% still undecided. These numbers are holding steady when compared to the Denver Post’s previous polling on the issue in September which showed 51% support to 40% against.
If you live in Colorado, be sure to get out to the polls on election day and vote YES on Amendment 64. We can end marijuana prohibition by taking this first crucial step in dismantling the drug war machine. Help us end the thousands of arrests in Colorado every year for marijuana possession and send a resounding message to the federal government that we will no longer tolerate their war against cannabis consumers.
Also worth noting is that later today the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will be announcing they’ve received the support of over 300 physicians who have signed onto a letter stating their support for Amendment 64. This list includes notable physicians such as Dr. Larry Bedard, former president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and Dr. Bruce Madison, associate medical director of the faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and vice-chair of the Council on Legislation for the Colorado Medical Society. You can read more this development here.
You can read more about this poll here.
Learn more about marijuana in the 2012 election by reading NORML’s voter guide, Smoke the Vote.
Colorado’s Amendment 64, which aims to regulate marijuana in a manner similar alcohol, is gaining favorability with voters as the November election nears.
New polling data, released over the weekend by DenverPost/SurveyUSA, shows Amendment 64 support growing. 51% of respondents said they would vote in favor of the measure, with only 40% saying they will vote against it. 8% remain undecided.
Previous polling, conducted several weeks ago by Public Policy Polling, had support for the amendment at 47%, opposition at 38%, and 15% undecided.
Click here for more information direct from the Denver Post.
Statewide polling data from Colorado, just released by Public Policy Polling, shows support holding strong for Amendment 64, a ballot measure that aims to re-legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana.
From August 31st to September 2nd, PPP conducted a survey of 1,001 likely Colorado voters and found the plurality of them continue to support marijuana legalization. When polled on direct ballot language, 47% of Coloradans state they are supporting Amendment 64, with only 38% opposed and 15% undecided. This is unchanged from polling released last month. When simply asked if marijuana should be legalized, 49% responded yes, 43% were opposed, and 9% remained unsure.
More information on this poll is available here.
Learn more about how you can help the campaign in Colorado pass Amendment 64 and finally legalize cannabis at their website: www.regulatemarijuana.org
You can view NORML’s 2012 Voter Guide, Smoke the Vote, here and learn all the ways cannabis comes into play in this fall’s election.