This week’s legislative roundup is being written in panic mode due to the illusion that last week’s carnivorous holiday escapades would equate for very little news in the world of marijuana legislation -- nothing could be further from the truth.
The great ganja beast never sleeps, as days before America prepared to give thanks for their prosperities this year with a little gluttony and Black Friday savings, legislators all across the country were busy ensuring not a day was wasted in the trenches of the war against marijuana prohibition.
Here is what your pot-friendly lawmakers were up to last week:
Massachusetts: Non-Binding Referendum Goes on 2014 Ballot
Pot advocates says they intend to test the election waters next year to find out just what the people of Massachusetts think about legalizing recreational marijuana.
The Bay State Repeal announced plans earlier last week to included some non-binding referendum questions on the 2014 ballot in an attempt to gauge where voters stand in regards to a full on legalization effort by 2016.
Such an effort could prove to be widely successful, especially since in 2008, voters gave approval on a ballot measure to decriminalize up to an ounce of marijuana.
Many supporters feel that Massachusetts is on the brink of becoming the first state on the east coast to abolish marijuana prohibition.
Florida: Supreme Court Hearing Scheduled This Week
On December 5, the Florida Supreme Court will attempt to determine if an initiative to legalize medical marijuana throughout the state will be allowed to gain further momentum or be killed off with prejudice.
Even though recent polls indicates the over 80% of Florida voters support the measure, Florida Attorney Pam Bondi says that the language contained in the proposal would open the state up to extensive abuse of the medical marijuana program.
The Supreme Court will determine if the use of the phrase “other conditions,” when used to describe some illnesses that could substantiate a recommendation for medical marijuana, is acceptable verbiage or whether the proposal will need to be rewritten and resubmitted.
The outcome of this hearing will have a tremendous impact on the current medical marijuana initiative, as it is possible the effort could find itself in a position of starting over rather than continue to collect signatures for a position on the 2014 ballot.
Arizona: Decriminalization Efforts Introduced
Last week, Arizona’s Assistant House Minority Leader Ruben Gallego announced plans to introduce legislation aimed at legalization marijuana for adults 21 and older.
Gallego says that his bill will allow possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and the freedom for individuals to grow up to five plants.
“The issue of marijuana regulation is pragmatic,” said Gallego. “Regulating marijuana takes sales off the street and puts them in a controlled environment. Ultimately, this will help law enforcement, especially in times when resources are limited.”
Colorado: Medical Marijuana Patients and the Right to Bare Arms
While it has been illegal for medical marijuana patients to buy or own firearms since 2011, a Colorado congressman recently introduced legislation that could change that.
The Protecting Individual Liberties and States’ Right Act, which serves to give medical marijuana patients back their Second Amendment Rights, was introduced last week by Colorado Representative Jared Polis and is slated for review by the House Judiciary Committee.
The bill serves “to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide exceptions from the firearm prohibitions otherwise applicable in relation to marijuana if its possession is lawful under State law.”
Denver: No Front Porch Toking
The Denver City Council voted 7-5, earlier last week, in favor of banning its residents from smoking marijuana on their front lawns and porches.
A final vote on the issue is set to be made sometime Monday.
Denver Police Chief Robert White said that if the ban is passed, enforcement would be considered a low priority.
Illinois: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Zoning Amendment Introduced
The Department of Housing and Economic Development introduced a proposal last week to the City Council geared towards placing zoning regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites throughout Chicago.
This proposal serves as an amendment to city zoning codes by making it mandatory for marijuana related facilities to obtain special permits from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
New York: Medical Marijuana Legislation Reviewed During Public Hearing
Pending legislation for the legalization of medical marijuana is scheduled for review during a public hearing on December 5.
Supporters, including the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State, and the Medical Society of the State of New York are all expected to have a strong presence at the hearings.
Two hearings are scheduled: December 5 in Buffalo and December 18 in Mineola.
New Jersey: Support for Legalizing Industrial Hemp
The New Jersey Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee showed their support for a bill last week aimed at the legalization and licensed cultivation of industrial hemp.
“We commend the Committee for taking a common sense approach to allow the growth of industrial hemp in New Jersey,” said NORML New Jersey Executive Director Evan Nison, “Our cannabis laws are nonsensical, and few issues embody this more obviously and plainly than the prohibition of industrial hemp. We hope the absurdity of these laws will encourage members of the legislature and the public to reevaluate marijuana laws across the board.”
A 2005 Congressional Resource Service report indicates that the United States is the only nation that does not cultivate industrial hemp for financial gain.
New Jersey: Reciprocity Legislation Introduced
Registered medical marijuana patients in New Jersey could soon be allowed to purchase weed in other legal states.
A bill introduced in the state Assembly earlier last week aims to build a reciprocity agreement between New Jersey and the 19 other states and Washington DC where medical marijuana is permitted.
The hope is to implement a system similar to what is used in Arizona, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island where patients from other state medical marijuana programs are permitted to obtain medicine.
Federal: Proposed Drug Code for Marijuana Extracts
The Drug Enforcement Agency announced plans last week to create a new drug code to help them police marijuana extracts.
According to the United States Federal Register, “The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is proposing to create a new Administration Controlled Substances Code Number (“Code Number” or “drug code”) under 21 CFR 1308.11 for “Marihuana Extract.” This Code Number will allow DEA and DEA-registered entities to track quantities of this material separately from quantities of marihuana. This in turn will aid in complying with relevant treaty provisions.
“Under international drug control treaties (administered by the United Nations), some differences exist between the regulatory controls pertaining to cannabis extract versus those for cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinols.
“The DEA has established separate Code Numbers for cannabis and for tetrahydrocannabinols, but not for extract. To better track these materials and better comply with treaty provisions, DEA is proposing to create a separate Code Number for marihuana extract under 21 CFR 1308.11(d)(36): “Marihuana Extract meaning extracts that have been derived from any plant of the genus cannabis and which contain cannabinols and cannabidiols.” Such extracts of marihuana would continue to be treated as schedule I controlled substances.”