Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) has introduced a measure that would put marijuana legalization on the ballot before state voters. House Joint Resolution 6 would place a question on the Ohio ballot asking voters to approve allowing people 21 or older to purchase and use marijuana. Under this proposal marijuana would be sold only by state-licensed establishments and would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax.
“With billions upon billions spent on the war on drugs with little progress to show for it, it is time for more-sensible drug policy in this country,” stated Representative Hagan.
To be placed on the ballot, HJR 6 would need to receive a three-fifths vote from the legislature. The full text of the measure is available online here.
If you live in Ohio, please take a moment to contact your Representative and urge him/her to support this historic legislation! It is time to let the people of Ohio decide for themselves whether or not it is time to legalize marijuana.
Hot on the heels of the introduction of a bill to tax and regulate marijuana in Maine earlier today, Delegate Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore) has filed legislation in Maryland that would end his state’s prohibition on marijuana and regulate its possession, use, and sale for adults over the age of 21.
House Bill 1453 would create a system to regulate and tax cannabis in a manner similar to how the state handles alcohol. It would instruct the Maryland comptroller to license marijuana retail stores, wholesale facilities and testing facilities and apply an excise tax of $50 per ounce on wholesale sales. The excise tax revenue would go to fund treatment programs to prevent alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse. You can read the full text of this proposal here.
If you live in Maryland, please take a moment and use NORML’s Take Action Center here to easily contact your Representative and urge him or her to support this important legislation.
The winds of reform are blowing strongly at our backs, with Maryland entering the fray, there is currently a total of six states (Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) with pending legislation to legalize marijuana for adult consumption. Check out the full list of pending state legislation here and find out if your state is considering marijuana law reforms in this legislative session.
This past weekend, National NORML, with the help of its Tennessee affiliate hosted the first NORML Southeastern Regional Conference. NORML representatives from several southeastern states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia met to discuss strategy for legalizing marijuana across the region. This southern coalition met in Nashville with members of NORML’s National board and leaders in the cannabis reform movement.
The event was a great success with informative speakers and an energized, engaged audience. The conference opened with a special statement from US Representative Cohen who was “sorry [he] couldn’t be there in person,” but wanted to extend his personal support and commitment to our cause.
Speakers included NORML board members Greta Gaines and Paul Kuhn, Chris Butts and Ron Crumption from the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition, public health epidemiologist (and victim of prohibition) Bernie Ellis and Texas NORML board member Cheyanne Weldon. They covered a multitude of topics ranging from the utility of hemp, medical marijuana research, lobbying and public education. There was also a workshop on team management based on the New Organizing Institute’s development training seminars.
[North Carolina NORML put together a fantastic roundup of content and information from the conference. Click here to see their report.] That evening, the Douglas Corner Café hosted a successful fundraiser featuring local musicians Tish Lindsey, Don Ray, Greta Gaines, Chuck Foster and Daniel Lawrence Walker. Invariably, the Southeast has some of the most draconian marijuana laws, and the lowest level of support for reform in the United States. This conference and subsequent events will help reformers lay the groundwork for education and effective activism in the most politically conservative region in the country.
If you don’t live in the Southeast, do not fret! NORML Regional Conferences will be coming to your area of the country soon.
Up next: NORML’s First Northeastern Regional Conference in Philadelphia. Stay tuned to norml.org for more info in the coming weeks.
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.
Despite trailing in the polls for most of the previous months, Oregon advocates and reformers were able to close the support gap for their marijuana legalization initiative to a respectable 45% in favor and 55% opposed (with 55% of the vote counted). Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to push Measure 80 over the top.
What this effort did, however, was elevate the discourse in regards to marijuana legalization in Oregon and set the stage for future efforts. We would like to thank all of those who dedicated countless hours into supporting this reform effort in Oregon and will be following up in regards to the future of marijuana law reform in the state.