This week’s legislative roundup is being scrawled on the back of shredded holiday wrapping paper and cocktail napkins as an onslaught of Christmas parties has forced me to attempt to put this column together while I waste away in dingy banquet halls and living rooms across Southern Indiana. Currently, it is a VFW Hall, where the presence of the stoned soldier is nowhere to be found, but veteran boozehounds still seem to be respectable characters.
Last week, while most of the nation waited for some fat bastard in a red suit to break into their homes, eat their cookies, and leave behind a pile of loot for no particular reason, some of our nation’s lawmakers were still hard at work in an attempt to ensure future holidays are a little brighter for the marijuana enthusiast. At the same time, there was plenty of hardships and opposition to be had -- proposals were rejected and many initiatives are still struggling to get the required signatures needed to find a place on state ballots in 2014.
Therefore, if you reside in a state where a ballot measure is currently in the signature phase, find a way to sign the godforsaken thing in order to prevent further legalization setbacks. Contrary to what some of you might believe, this democracy thing only works when citizens are proactive.
Here is what your state lawmakers were up to last week:
California: Fourth Initiative Filed
The fourth initiative aimed at legalizing marijuana in California was filed last week. Marijuana cultivation expert Ed Rosenthal announced on December 20th that his initiative, The Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014, was officially on its way to the State Capitol.
Rosenthal’s initiative will now join three others: The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2014, The Control, Regulate and Tax Marijuana Act of 2014, and The Marijuana Control Legalization and Revenue Act of 2014, all of which are either in the signature gathering phase or awaiting titles and ballot summaries from the California attorney general’s office.
The Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014 would permit adults over the age of 21 to possess up to three ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to 100 square feet.
In a status update on his Facebook page, Rosenthal stated, “The deed is done: The Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014 is on its way to the State Capitol! Looking forward to true legalization, regulation, and taxation in California. Let’s help the police by freeing them from such trivial matters to better focus on the more serious problems of society, like violent crime.”
Arkansas: Wording Rejected Again
Arkansas appears to be pissing in the wind, as Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has again rejected the verbiage contained in a proposal geared towards legalizing marijuana in the state. McDaniel says that the proposed constitutional amendment submitted by Marjorie LeClair is simply too vague to meet his approval.
Before supporters can begin the signature-gathering phase and secure a spot for the measure on the 2014 ballot, the proposed amendment must first receive approval from McDaniel. However, in a letter to LeClair, McDaniel states that the language used in the measure does not give a clear indication as to how marijuana would be taxed.
So far, McDaniel’s office has only given approval on proposals limited to medical marijuana.
Alaska: Signature Gathering Deadline
With less than a month to go before the deadline to collect the required signatures needed to secure a spot on the 2014 ballot, it appears as if the efforts of the “Campaign to Regulate Marijuana” in Alaska have been successful.
Reports indicate that the initiative has already secured 44,845 signatures, which is good news considering only 31,169 were required by law in order to qualify. However, the downside is that now, these signatures must be verified…and before January 21. This could ultimately create some setbacks due to the possibility that up to half of the signatures collected could be deemed invalid. Numbers like that could leave the initiative dead in its tracks in 2014.
Colorado: Licenses Issued
Earlier last week, Colorado made history by becoming the first state in the nation to issue recreational marijuana licenses.
According to reports, the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division mailed out nearly 350 approved licenses to members of the new Colorado cannabis commerce, which is set to get underway at the first of the year.
Julie Postlethwait, a representative for the Marijuana Enforcement Division, said that the approved licenses consisted of 136 retail recreational marijuana shops, 31 products, 178 growing operations and three marijuana-testing facilities.
Florida: More Contributions and Signatures Needed to Earn Spot on the 2014 Ballot
Even though Florida is making some strides in their efforts to legalize marijuana, the state still needs hundreds of thousands of signatures to get medical marijuana on the 2014 ballot.
According to recent email from United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara, “For months now, the Florida legislature, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and others have been working to keep voters from having a choice about medical marijuana. They’ve blocked hearings in the state capitol, fought us at the Supreme Court, and outright misled voters about what our petition actually says. In the end -- however -- we are confident of victory. The only thing we believe can stop us is coming short of our petition goal. Will you help us get to our petition goal before time runs out? Please help us by making a contribution to our petition operation today.”
“Your contributions helped fund our biggest petition week ever -- over 140,000 petitions. We have 200,000 to go, and while we will keep handing in petitions until the supervisors of elections tell us we can’t, we need to come up with enough cash in the next week to get it done. We’re almost there -- please help push us over the edge by making a contribution today.”
Mike Adams writes for Playboy's The Smoking Jacket, BroBible and Hustler Magazine. Follow him: @adamssoup; facebook.com/mikeadams73.