It is now officially legal to buy recreational marijuana in Colorado… and with this newfound American phenomenon, one would think my editors would spare no expense flying me first-class to Denver, where I could get stoned on legal weed and properly report on the week in legislative news from the confines of a swanky four-star hotel bar.
Unfortunately, the woman at the airline ticket counter was not only extremely difficult, but also adamant there was no reservation booked in my name. Admittedly, this oversight caused some hard feelings, and after a semi-civilized exchange of words and hand gestures, a few witnesses informed me that I was likely moments away from being tasered in the neck by a concerned security guard.
Apparently, my enthusiasm for the progress this country is making in the realm of marijuana reform has some distinct similarities to that of a psychotic episode and can easily be misconstrued as a threat to airport security. Duly noted.
Luckily, patrons of The Airport Lounge receive free wifi, so after knocking back enough cocktails to forget about HIGH TIMES stiffing me on the assignment in Colorado, I still managed to complete the following report and fire it off to headquarters without any further incident.
Here is what your pot-friendly lawmakers were up to last week:
Colorado: Marijuana Is Legal
Perhaps the most massive legislative success of last week was the first official day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Colorado.
On New Year’s Day, the Centennial state became the first in the nation to allow retail marijuana sales for residents 21 and older. Reports of thousands of people standing in lines for hours bombarded popular news sites on Wednesday, as the first onslaught of the cannabis cult set out to take advantage in what some are calling the Amsterdam of America.
State officials say that Colorado’s new marijuana law generated more than $5 million in first-year sales revenue.
New York: Loosening Its Marijuana Laws
New York Governor Andrew M. Coumo is expected to announce an executive action this week during his State of the State address, making it legal for seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana.
According to the New York Times, Coumo plans to bypass the legislature altogether to employ his new lease on medical marijuana, using a public health law known as the Antonio G. Olivieri Controlled Substance Therapeutic Research Program, which allows the use of controlled substances for “cancer patients, glaucoma patients and patients afflicted with other diseases as such diseases are approved by the commissioner.”
The state plans to put this plan to work in 2014; however, no timeline information has been made available.
New Mexico: Constitutional Amendment to be Introduced
Senator Gerald Ortiz, a Democrat from Albuquerque, says New Mexico should become the next state to legalize marijuana. In order to make that happen, he says he will introduce a constitutional amendment during the next legislative session aimed at legalizing recreational cannabis.
If both the House and the Senate approve the constitutional amendment, it would bypass Governor Susana Martinez’s approval and be added to the general election ballot to be voted on this November.
Vermont: Bill to Legalize Marijuana Introduced
Senator David Zuckerman rang in the New Year by introducing a new bill to legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana in the state of Vermont. Senate Bill 306 would establish a tax of $50 per ounce on retail marijuana and permit adult users to possess up to two ounces, or cultivate up to three plants.
Senator Zuckerman says that he feels confident that introducing his bill to the Senate is the right move, especially since less than a year ago, the state legislature voted to decriminalize marijuana possession. “I think this is a building year, more than a likely passage year,” said Zuckerman, adding that full-on legalization will happen in Vermont over the next few years.
Kansas: Bill to Legalize Marijuana to be Introduced
Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, neighboring Kansas wants in on the action. Senator David Haley announced last week that he intends to introduce Senate Bill 9 -- also known as the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act -- during the upcoming legislative session.
Haley, who proposed this measure during the past three sessions and never made it to the Senate floor, will likely encounter some serious opposition once again. Kansas Senator Mitch Holmes says that in no way will he support the bill. "It probably won't even be debated as a stand-alone bill, but it is almost guaranteed that there will be attempts to amend its contents into other bills that deal with healthcare," he said. "'Medical marijuana' appears to be a strategy to lend credibility to smoking pot and desensitize people to a total end of the prohibition."
Arizona: Currently Drafting Legislation to Legalize Marijuana
State Representative Ruben Gallego said last week that he is currently drafting a piece of legislation aimed at legalizing marijuana in Arizona. He intends to introduce the measure sometime this week when the legislative session reconvenes.
"So this bill on my desk right now… I'm reading the final draft," said Gallego. "The whole goal of this bill is to regulate and tax this to the point where we no longer have these powerful cartels as powerful as they are now."
Gallego adds that if the law is passed, the rules and regulations would be very similar to Colorado.
New Hampshire: Vote on Marijuana Legalization Bill
The New Hampshire House is set to vote on a bill this week that would legalize recreational marijuana. House Bill 492 would make it legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use.
State Representative Steve Vaillancourt says that the bill closely resembles those passed in Colorado and Washington. “Nothing in the bill would allow anyone to drive under the influence of marijuana or any other substance. By legalizing, regulating and taxing [marijuana], society would in effect be taking the profit away from illegal operations, which harm society,” he said.
If the House passes the bill, it still has a good chance of being snuffed out. Last year, the Senate rejected a bill to decriminalize up to a quarter of an ounce, and Governor Hassan is dead-set against decriminalization.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.