Welcome to HIGH TIMES' weekly legislative roundup.
Week of October 14th:
Some painfully obvious news gave western supporters of marijuana legalization a reason to rejoice late last week, as the results of a new poll released by the Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom and a handful of research cronies revealed that two out of three California residents would prefer if the Golden State went green.
With 65% of the state reportedly backing the end of marijuana prohibition for good, Newsom says that he has appointed a committee of experts that will now sort through a number of marijuana propositions in hopes of determining the most-effective method for getting the issue of recreational cannabis some serious consideration when voters hit the polls in 2016.
That is not stopping a couple of organizations from doing their damnedest to get Mary Jane on the ballot in 2014: The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative and the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act are both working to get enough signatures to secure a spot on the ballot in the upcoming election. Yet, with funding issues and the lack of about 500,000 signatures, there isn’t much hope of a 2014 ballot becoming a reality.
As Californians look to abolish marijuana prohibition, the residents of Washington State, one of the two states to legalize recreational cannabis in the 2012 election, are preparing to reap the benefits of legalized marijuana sales. Last week, the state Liquor Control Board approved a new set of rules outlining the specifics for legalized pot dealers, including advertising provisions, taxes, production limits, and sadly, the squashed dream of a once highly anticipated marijuana tourism trade.
It seems that Washington State lawmakers are not quite ready to allow marijuana bars and coffeeshops in the world of honest commerce, as the consumption of pot on the premises of weed retailers was not given the green light this time around. With no indication if that rule could change further down the road, it appears that even though marijuana continues to win battles in the realm of legality, it has a long way to go before it is deemed socially acceptable.
The situation could be worse. While the western world continues to make optimal strides towards the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana, on the other side of the country, Portland, Maine is swinging some violent haymakers just to gain enough support at the polls next month to legalize marijuana possession. The ultimate goal in Portland is to gain enough voter support to make it legal for anyone over the age of 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana -- currently a civil infraction under state law, punishable with a fine.
Interestingly, what happens in Maine is important for legalization efforts all across the New England states, as the outcome will reportedly serve as a gauge for similar campaigns across Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In fact, marijuana advocates say they are using Portland as test the waters for the entire East Coast, with the belief that a positive response in Maine may be an indicator that eastern America is prepared to join the ranks of their western counterparts in Colorado and Washington.
The Marijuana Policy Project believes that Rhode Island could be one of the New England states to welcome the legalization of marijuana by 2017. Last week, legislators there reintroduced a bill that, if passed, would legalize pot in small amounts similar in the way the state regulates alcohol. The state has already done away with criminal punishments for possession of small quantities and has instead made it a civil infraction.
Nevertheless, despite increased support for cannabis in many states, including the 20 that currently allow the use of weed for medicinal purposes, America is still hard pressed to get the federal government to admit that marijuana is not a dangerous substance. Last week, the US Supreme Court rejected an opportunity to reverse a ruling and reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I substance to a Schedule V, which would have officially ranked it as less harmful than drugs like heroin.
This appeal, of course, could have been a giant step towards Uncle Sam giving the American people some reassurance that, sometime in the not-so-distant future, the federal government could side with legalized states like Colorado and Washington in the regulation of recreational cannabis. As of right now, nothing that optimistic appears to be on the horizon.
Mike Adams writes for Playboy's The Smoking Jacket, BroBible and Hustler Magazine. Follow him: @adamssoup; facebook.com/mikeadams73.