The New Hampshire Senate has failed to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto of a bill that would legalize the home cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes.
The bill would have allowed patients with debilitating medical conditions or the patient’s designated caretaker to cultivate and possess up to six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants and 12 seedlings at a registered location. Lynch says that would lead to a virtually unlimited number of potential cultivation sites, making it impossible to control the distribution and prevent illegal use.
The Senate needed a two-thirds majority to override the veto and failed to do so.
Lynch also vetoed a similar bill in 2009
The Chicago City Council overwhelmingly voted today to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal passed 43-3, allowing Chicago police to issue pot-possession tickets as soon as July. The move makes Chicago among a growing wave of states and several of the largest U.S. cities to adopt reduced penalties.
The ordinance gives Chicago police the discretion to issue citations between $250 to $500 for someone with 15 grams or less of pot.
Chicago officers would continue to arrest people caught smoking marijuana or carrying it on park or school grounds. Authorities also would arrest anyone younger than 17 caught with pot or anyone they believed was trying to sell the drug.
Emanuel made changes to his original proposal to appease aldermen concerned that the city was sending the message that it was going soft on pot. Those changes include allowing potentially forcing those ticketed to take part in drug awareness or education programs. Violators also could be required to do community service. In addition, the city still could impound offenders' vehicles.
In making the case for the city’s new approach, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy said charges are dropped against the "vast majority" of about 20,000 people arrested each year for possession of small amounts of marijuana, McCarthy said. And each arrest takes up to four hours of police time, compared with about half an hour to issue a ticket and test the confiscated weed.
Several of aldermen spoke about how the black and Hispanic communities are disproportionately affected by the city’s current policy to arrest people who possess small amounts of marijuana.
“If you had been white and privileged, marijuana has already been decriminalized,” said Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st,who spoke in favor of the measure. “The only people arrested for these crimes have been black and brown individuals. . .This is a way to potentially level the playing field.”
Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th, said that the new approach will give officers the ability to fight more serious crimes.
“We need to distinguish between people who are part of criminal enterprise and people who are casual users,” Pawar said.
Aldermen who voted against the measure expressed concerns about the message it would send to children. Ald. Roberto Maldonado said 15 grams is a significant amount of marijuana and he felt the new policy would lead to a spike in public use of weed.
“With the adoption of this ordinance, many of those thugs will perceive and misinterpret the law that it is a license to smoke marijuana in public,” said Maldonado, 26th. “That’s why I cannot come to terms to vote for this ordinance.”
A push to regulate California's medical marijuana industry amid heightened federal scrutiny of cannabis producers and sellers has fizzled due to a lack of support in the state Senate.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano called off a scheduled Senate committee vote on his medical marijuana regulation legislation Monday, acknowledging that he was short on votes to advance ahead of a July deadline. "Certainly in counting noses, the noses weren't there even in committee," the San Francisco Democrat said.
Supporters of Assembly Bill 2312 say the state's 16-year-old medical marijuana laws need to be updated to protect legitimate growers, sellers and users in the wake of raids and increased scrutiny from federal authorities. Scores of dispensaries have shut down and at least 100 municipalities have acted to restrict their presence in light of the federal crackdown.
But Monday's decision virtually kills chances for a resolution this year. Legislation protecting some distributors from prosecution died on the Senate floor earlier this year and a drive to qualify a medical marijuana regulation initiative for the ballot failed to attract the money needed to succeed.
Ammiano said the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee has agreed to hold hearings on the issue and draft a report after this year's legislative session is over. He said the decision gives supporters "breathing room" to continue working on issues with the bill without the added political complication of an upcoming general election.
"Even though there's always a sense of disappointment – where for many people there's an immediacy here – I think particularly when it comes to the Legislature, this extra time will be more beneficial," he said.
The bill, which squeaked out of the state Assembly earlier this month on a vote of 41-28, would create a state Bureau of Medical Marijuana Enforcement to issue licenses and provide oversight for many aspects of the medical marijuana industry. It would also allow local governments to tax marijuana products.
Critics said the bill lacked detail and put too much power in the hands of the newly created panel of political appointees. Law enforcement associations opposed to the bill complained in a letter that the measure was "really a giant permission slip for medical marijuana stores to operate in a virtual unfettered manner."
Ammiano, who is termed out in 2014, said he hopes to return with another measure on the topic when the Legislature starts its new session in January.
The Uruguay plan would let the government sell marijuana cigarettes to citizens (not foreigners) who must be at least 18 years old and would be allowed to buy only certain amounts of pot each month. The state would exert strict quality controls over legal marijuana production as well as set prices; taxes from the sales would fund drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation.
That argument is also growing louder in the U.S. New polls show half of Americans now support legalizing marijuana, which they consider no more harmful than legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco if consumed moderately, and which accounts for as much as half of the revenues that Mexico’s bloodthirsty drug cartels earn. Meanwhile,pro-legalization politicians like Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, Texas, who just ousted eight-term incumbent Congressman Silvestre Reyes in the state’s Democratic primary, are starting to win elections.
One of the legislation’s core rationales is that consumers will no longer have to deal with criminal gangs, which also sell harder drugs like heroin and cocaine and would now be deprived of marijuana profits. (Uruguay has one of South America’s lowest crime rates, but violence is rising since traffickers increasingly use the country to transship drugs to Africa and then Europe.) Mujica also believes – bucking the arguments of drug war conservatives who insist marijuana is a “gateway” to harder drugs – that if users have legal access to less addictive marijuana, they’ll turn away from more addictive drugs like cocaine.
Will the scheme work if Uruguay’s Congress, which is controlled by Mujica’s party, turns on? Studies suggest that Portugal’s decade-long experiment with marijuana decriminalization has worked, or at least hasn’t failed, and that marijuana is not a significant “gateway” drug. But making ganja a state-run industry is uncharted territory – a little like Franklin Roosevelt taking over Budweiser after ending Prohibition – and as history so often proves, the public sector can be lousy at business. It might have been smarter for the center-left Mujica, 77, a former Marxist guerrilla, to simply propose that a legal but tightly regulated private sector do the job. (The state would still get the tax revenue in any case.) And his government this week is already wobbling on some of the original details, like keeping a customer registry.
Then again, Uruguay over the past decade has proven one of Latin America’s more competent states. (A few years ago, in fact, a U.S. diplomat told me, “It’s a shame Uruguay’s Presidents don’t head a bigger country.”) It has one of the strongest economies on the continent, as well as one of its highest rankings on both the U.N.’s human development index and Transparency International’s corruption gauge. And as the pragmatic Mujica pointed out last week, experiments like this are often best undertaken by smaller nations like Uruguay and Portugal, which can serve as more controlled laboratories for larger countries to study.
The government of one of those countries, the U.S. – which has emphatically rejected Latin America’s increasing call for marijuana legalization – is no doubt irked by Mujica’s move, especially since his bill also calls on the international community to consider marijuana legalization. So, probably, is the U.N.’s International Narcotics Control Board, which doesn’t even think Bolivians should be allowed to grow and chew coca leaves (the main ingredient of cocaine) for traditional uses.
But the U.S. and U.N. mindset on drug legalization is hardly as dominant as it was just a few years ago. More and more, the world seems fed up with the status quo – and willing to try new and less violent solutions to an old but more deadly drug war.
(CBS News) When it comes to legalizing medical marijuana, federal officials have argued recent increases in pot use among teens might be a result of better access to pot in states where it's legal.
A new study finds there is no evidence that legalization of medical marijuana increases teen drug use.
Marijuana use among teens has been on the rise since 2005, according to the researchers. A CDC study from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YBRS) earlier this month found pot smoking increased among teens from 21 percent reported in 2009 to 23 percent in 2011, which suggests more teens currently smoke marijuana than they do cigarettes.
For the new study, economists at three universities analyzed data from the youth risk survey that were collected from 1993 to 2009, and compared those results with when medical marijuana laws were passed. Over the 16-year-period included for analysis, medical marijuana was legalized in 13 states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Currently 17 states legalize medical marijuana.
Researchers specifically examined the relationship between legalization and marijuana use at school, whether the teen was offered drugs on school property, and alcohol and cocaine use. Their results provided no evidence that medical marijuana legalization led to increases in pot use at school, the likelihood of being offered drugs at school, or the use of other harmful substances. The researchers also looked closely at state surveys of youth risk behavior and didn't find such evidence.
"There is anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of teenagers, but there's no statistical evidence that legalization increases the probability of use," Daniel I. Rees, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver, said in a written statement.
The study has been made available by the nonprofit Institute for the Study of Labor based on Bonn, Germany. The research is not peer-reviewed.
Last December, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said teen marijuana use was on the rise in part because medical marijuana had been legalized.
"We know that any substance that is legally available is more widely used," he told the Los Angeles Times.
Regardless of teen drug use rates, federal officials have contended marijuana is not a safe or effective medicine and therefore won't legalize it nationwide.
"Simply put, it is not a benign drug," Kerlikowske said in response to a 2011 petition to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol. "Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses," he said. "To date, however, the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition."
In an emailed statement to HealthPop, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said the study was "somewhat problematic," calling the data from the surveys the researchers used "limited" and pointing out some were missing years of data.
"Only two states have two or more years of pre and post law data," they said. "The problem with using such data for analysis of the impact of medical marijuana laws is that one would not expect there to be much of a relationship between the recent enactment of a medical marijuana law and admissions for marijuana treatment since it typically takes several years for a substance use disorder to develop."
The mayor of Cudahy, California, and two other city officials were charged with accepting $17,000 in bribes for supporting the opening of a medical marijuana store in the city of 23,800 people southeast of Los Angeles.
After weeks of soliciting and discussing bribes, the three officials met in February with a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant at the El Potrero nightclub in Cudahy, where they accepted a $15,000 cash payment, according to a statement today from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. One of the three accepted a separate $2,000 payment, according to the statement.
The three charged are Mayor David Silva, 61, City Council member Osvaldo Conde, 50, and Angel Perales, 43, who runs the city’s code enforcement division and allegedly brokered the bribe payments. Each of them faces as long as 10 years in prison if convicted.
“The allegations in this case describe a corrosive and freewheeling attitude among certain officials in the city of Cudahy,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. in Los Angeles said in the statement. “The Department of Justice will aggressively investigate and pursue cases like this to ensure that the integrity of good government is protected and preserved.”
Hector Rodriguez, Cudahy’s city manager, said in a phone interview that he hadn’t seen the charges and that the city would cooperate with investigators. Silva and Conde are part- time officials and Perales resigned last week, Rodriguez said.
The city currently has a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and, Rodriguez said, he will propose extending the moratorium for another year.
The city, named after an Irish meatpacker who bought a ranch east of Los Angeles in 1908 and subdivided the land, is 94 percent Latino and the residents have a median income of $29,040, according to an affidavit of the FBI agent investigating the case.
James Bisnow, Silva’s lawyer according to the court’s criminal duty calendar, and Charles Brown, a federal public defender listed as representing Conde, didn’t immediately return calls to their offices seeking comment on the charges. Calls to the office of Carlos Iriarte, a lawyer listed for Perales, weren’t answered.
The cases are U.S. v. Conde, 12-1490M, U.S. v. Perales, 12-1491M, and U.S. v. Silva, 12-1492M, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles.)