Recent statistics indicate that the majority of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 support putting an end to federal marijuana prohibition. The latest poll conducted by the Reason Foundation shows that nearly 60 percent of those who participated in the survey believe Uncle Sam should allow adults to use marijuana without having to worry about the legal repercussions. This data is consistent with previous surveys, which suggest that the millennial generation strongly opposes the drug war and the incarceration of individuals for marijuana offenses -- 58 percent, according to a 2013 Gallup Poll.
Last week, marijuana advocates and state legislators made significant progress in the reform of marijuana laws, on both a medicinal and recreational level, in some parts of the United States. Here is a closer look at what your pot-friendly lawmakers managed to accomplish in the past seven days:
Federal: Medical Marijuana Prosecution Proof?
Last Thursday, Senator Rand Paul introduced a measure that would make the medical marijuana community prosecution proof in the eyes of the federal government. Amendment 3630, which is part of the Bring Jobs Home Act, would enable medical marijuana dispensaries, patients and doctors to engage in their state’s medical marijuana program without worrying about federal prosecution.
“A State may enact and implement a law that authorizes the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical use,” reads the proposal. “No prosecution may be commenced or maintained against any physician or patient for a violation of any Federal law.”
Although the amendment is similar to previous legislation introduced earlier this year that would not allow the DEA to use federal funds against medical marijuana businesses, this proposal is supposedly a stronger effort to shield medical marijuana states.
Unfortunately, because of issues within the Senate, the bill will not likely get a vote.
Oregon: Vote on Legalized Marijuana in November
Oregon’s registered voters will get to decide in November if the state will legalize recreational marijuana. Reports indicate the initiative started by New Approach Oregon officially qualified for ballot placement after submitting 88,500 valid signatures.
“Treating marijuana use as a crime has failed,” Peter Zuckerman, with New Approach Oregon, told the Los Angeles Times in an interview. “We can’t afford to wait -- more lives are being ruined, more money is being blown into the black market and police are more distracted from issues like violent crime. Oregonians are open to a new approach to marijuana and we are going to fight for every vote.”
If this initiative wins voter approval, which is highly likely, the state will establish a regulatory and taxation system for retail marijuana, which will tax recreational marijuana to the tune of $35 per ounce. Experts predict the implementation of this system will generate $88 million within the first two years.
Ohio: Medical Marijuana Push
Cannabis advocates are once again making a move to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. Recent reports indicate a new group has emerged to initiate a petition to legalize the leaf in 2015 and 2016 that will be supported financially by the deep pockets of several local and national advocacy groups. In 2014, Ohio’s medical marijuana petition failed to gather enough signatures due to a lack of funds, which is an issue that supporters close to the initiative argue will not likely be a problem this time around.
Kansas: Decriminalization in Wichita?
Kansas for Change submitted enough signatures by Friday at 4:20pm to qualify their decriminalization initiative to be on the ballot in the upcoming November election. The organization was challenged to collect 2,928 but submitted 5,800 to the City Council.
Here is what the group hopes to achieve: “BE IT ORDAINED that in Wichita, Kansas, the municipal code shall be amended to remove all criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of cannabis/marijuana for adult personal or medical use and possession of paraphernalia; and that a maximum civil fine of $25.00 shall be implemented for possession of cannabis/marijuana and possession of paraphernalia for adults.”
The City Council can now pass the measure as is prior to the election; move forward with putting it on the ballot for voters to decide; or challenge the document’s wording.
Illinois: Medical Marijuana for Epilepsy Becomes Law
Illinois patients suffering from epilepsy will soon have access to medical marijuana as treatment for seizures. Governor Pat Quinn signed a piece of legislation into law last Sunday that added epilepsy to the list of qualified conditions outlined in the state’s medical marijuana program.
"This new law will help alleviate the suffering of many adults and children across the state," Quinn said in statement. "Epilepsy is a debilitating condition, and this much-needed relief will help to reduce some of its symptoms for those who endure seizures."
The law, which goes into effect at the beginning of 2015, allows epileptic children to use CBD oil with parental consent. Applications will be start being accepted for the program in September.
Arkansas: Medical Marijuana Wording Rejected
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected the wording of a measure last week aimed at legalizing medical marijuana in the state. The proposal introduced by Arkansans for Compassionate Care, which is an organization working to get the issue of medical marijuana on the ballot in 2016, did not receive approval from McDaniel’s office due to ambiguities in the documentation.