The state of New York is being called upon to finally pass legislation to decriminalize, tax and regulate marijauna. The Fairness and Equity Act and the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act would be working together to relieve New York from the heavy burden of the failed drug war. With marijuana legalization measures passing in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., and with groundbreaking criminal justice reforms passing in California and New Jersey, the election solidified drug policy reform’s place as a mainstream political issue. Both in New York and nationally, public opinion has shifted dramatically over the last decade in favor of reforming marijuana laws and dismantling the egregious excesses of the drug war.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act was introduced recently and has got the attention of many senators from both politial parties. The CARERS Act would reclassify marijuana down to Schedule II, allowing medical marijuana facilities allover the country to feel at ease that the federal govt. can no longer threaten to shut them down. The reclassification also gives marijuana businesses access to proper banking systems and the option for further medical testing of the drug. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, signed onto the proposal last week, declaring in a statement, "The time has come for the federal government to stop impeding the doctor-patient relationship in states that have decided their own medical marijuana policies."
For those who cannot find a personal benefit to legal marijuana, take to heart the extra $16 million Colorado schools will be able to add to their budget thanks to regulated and taxed marijuana. Many schools are in need of important repairs, and taxed marijuana will help give new life to the learning environments that mold our leaders for tomorrow. Skyview Academy Charter School is looking for a grant to help pay for a new roof this year, and parents of students hope they get it. “I hear about buckets and stuff in the hallways so yeah, I think it could definitely use a new roof,” said Matt Carlson who has a daughter who attends the schoo.
In Massachusetts legislatures are taking big strides with their new bill which will essentially regulate marijuana similar to alcohol. Ontop of that, The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act of 2016 would legalize industrial hemp for manufacturing, as well as excuse previous criminal records due to marijuana and release innocent prisoners. If passed, this would be the first state to legalize marijuana through state legislature as opposed to popular vote. “Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society, and it ought to be treated that way,” stated Matt Simon, New England Political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “There is a mountain of evidence demonstrating marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, less toxic, and less likely to contribute to violent and reckless behavior. Adults shouldn’t be punished for making the safer choice.”
Many studies have been published showing the lack of connection between automobile accidents and stoned drivers. But right now in California you can be completely sober while still having enough THC stored in your fat cells to convict you with a DUI. Of all the new laws introduced this year, the state is finally giving up on prosecuting drivers with THC in their system, and looking for fair roadside tests of impairment. Some kind of roadside test to determine impairment, not levels of compounds in your body, is the way to go, he said. "We need realistic tests for impairment, instead of spending all this time measuring chemicals in the system," he said.
In 2014, Florda just missed the 60% mark needed to legalize marijuana, but with the presidential election around the corner, marijuana law is making a larger impact than ever on voters and politicians alike. State legislator Dr. Julio Gonzalez (R) sees the need for medical marijuana, but only believes it should be available to a "small number of patients." Soon enough the state of Florida will be able to decide for itself on marijuana reform and political figures. “I don’t think we can predictably foretell how the marijuana issue will affect the upcoming election cycle at this point. Suffice it to say that the sole priority for the legislature ought to be the best interests of the people of Florida and to remain focused on performing the very best service it can for Floridians.”
Legislation was introduced in the Senate this week that could make some very big changes in the medical marijuana industry. The main goal for The CARERS Act (S.683) is to reclassify marijuana to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act, which will finally recognize the accepted medical benefits of marijuana and loosen the crippling federal grip to further study the miracle plant. This also takes away the threat of federal involvement from medical dispansaries opperating legaly under individual state's rights. The CARERS Act would remove the potential for federal prosecution of anyone using marijuana for medical purposes, leaving states free to regulate the substances as their legislatures see fit. Together with reclassifying marijuana on the federal controlled substances list, the CARERS Act opens the door for four significant advances.
Nate Jackson, former tight end for the Denver Broncos, spoke at a Cannabis Business Executives Breakfast recently and openly admitted to having smoked marijuana during his career. He played in the NFL for six years and along with many of his peers chose to self-medicate instead of becoming dependant on pain killers like a lot of players. He believes the the NFL is already aware that "over half" of the players smoke, but that they should open their doors to the future and accept marijuana. “They’re aware that probably over half of their players smoke weed,” Jackson said. “They’ve been doing it since they were teenagers. The fact that they’ve been doing it that whole time and still made it to the NFL and are able to satisfy the demands of very, very strict employers on a daily basis means that their marijuana use is in check.
The small state of Rhode Island is looking to make some big changes in their marijuana laws. On Thursday RI lawmakers are expected to introduce a bill legalizing recreational marijuana, allowing up to an ounce per person and 1 adult plant. This new law will allow retail marijuana shops to apply for licenses and sell pot to adults over the age of 21. “It’s time to regulate and tax marijuana in Rhode Island and treat it similarly to how we treat alcohol,” state Sen. Joshua Miller, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services, said in an emailed statement. “Marijuana prohibition is an ineffective and wasteful policy, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer. The legislature is perfectly capable of creating a system that will work for Rhode Island."
Susan Lind-Kanne is a 59 year-old resident of Oregon with severe arthritis problems in her hands, knees, and even her toes. She has been a medical marijuana patient for 5 years, but about 2 years ago she discovered her love for marijuana-infused edibles. The day she first tried a Gummiez hard candy, it took about 10 minutes for her to get the full use of her hands again and to this day she always keeps a bottle of her favorite edibles in her purse. Smoking marijuana isn't nearly as effective or as long-lasting as eating it, she said. She figures she'd have to puff on a pipe for much longer to get the same relief she gets from a single candy, which helps her manage pain for up to three hours at a time.
Sen. Curt Thompson is working to pass a bill that would include not only medical marijuana, but recreational as well for his state of Georgia. In a recent news conference he noted the value of marijuana taxes that could help the state's education and transportation programs, while also publicly admitting to having used marijuana recreationally in his own home. Thompson noted that everyone from former presidents of both political parties to average Joes and Janes have admitted to using marijuana. And when asked about use himself, Thompson said that he has used marijuana recreationally himself. He says, “Straight up? Yes.” But, he adds, “You’re not going to come to my house and find a green haze outside or anything like that.”
Under the new marijuana law in Washtington D.C. when you are released from jail, you will be returned your clothes, wallet, and even your weed if it taken upon your arrest. The legal limit to carry is 2oz, and as long as you has less than that on your person it will be returned the same as any of your possessions. After the official legalization just last week there are already cases of cops handing back citizens their rightfully owned marijuana. Cops booked a man on charges unrelated to drugs last week and confiscated his property, per normal booking procedures. When he was released Monday, he got all of his belongings back — pot included.