In December, Obama signed a federal spending bill which prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds interfere in state-legal marijuana affairs, however somehow the Department of Justice thinks they can continue to prosecute those violating federal laws. This new bill was made to amend the the Controlled Substances Act to allow states that have made marijuana programs. A majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana as well as protecting the states that choose to legalize from federal action. A recent report from centrist think tank Third Way found that a majority of Americans want each state to have the ability to decide its own marijuana laws without federal interference.
This week, the Illinois House passed legislation decriminalizing marijuana and ticketing offenders with less than 15 grams. Possession would be treated like a traffic ticket, with no court/jail time as legislators feel police, courts, and jail systems are "bogged down" with small possession crimes. This bill would also prevent drivers with small traces of marijuana from being charged with a DUI, as marijuana stays in a person's system much longer than the effects last. "I think police have been bogged down with petty possession crimes," Sandack said. "I think courts have been bogged down with petty possession crimes. These people, they're not dealers. They have no intent to sell."
Alabama has it's first chance at a medical marijuana program with Senate Bill 326. The Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act passed through a senate committee and is on it's way towards the Senate now and would allow medical marijuana to be prescribed for a variety of illnesses, as opposed to many state's strict lists. The Senator sponsering the bill doesn't want to create a "smoke-fest" but is eager to allow patients legal access to safe and natural medicine. "The more and more states that have passed it, the more people are seeing that the sky doesn't fall to the ground if you pass medical marijuana laws,” Ron Crumpton of the Alabama Safe Access Project told AL.com. Twenty-three states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. "It is something that thousands of people in Alabama, if not hundreds of thousands, can benefit from,” said Crumpton.
Last week, potential marijuana patients suffered a harsh defeat in Idaho when the governor vetoed a proposed medical marijuana bill. The bill would have only allowed for cannabis oils to treat children with certain disorders causing seizures, however the governor thinks there are too many unresolved questions. Despite the worried mothers pushing for the only medicine proven to work, the governor instead said he would issue an executive order for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to study and possibly implement a program to resist epilepsy in children. "I'm very angry and hurt and saddened because there are a lot of kids waiting for this medication, a lot of people waiting. This is the last option for a lot of families and now we're faced with, do we become criminals to help our children?"
In the year 2000, Hawaii passed it's medical marijuana program, but since has seen no dispensaries, leaving it's 13,000 patients to resort to growing at home or buying from the black market. The current bill making it's way towards law would allow one dispensary license per county which also includes one cultivation site and two dispensing locations. Currently in Hawaii citizens can possess up to 3 ounces and grow up to 7 plants. The Hawaii Senate has approved a bill to establish a system of medical marijuana dispensaries nearly 15 years after the drug became legal in the state. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday. The next step is for senators and their colleagues in the House to work out their disagreements on how it should work.
The Chief of Administration for the DEA has recently resigned due to a long-standing sex scandal involving many DEA agents. For years she has stood directly in the way of progress for marijuana and all drug policy as she continued to fight the War on Drugs rather than care about public health and safety. Obama made public statements saying marijuana was less harmful than alcohol, which research supports, but she refused to acknowledge that and instead critisized the president. Leonhart has been a major hurdle in the effort to reconsider marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, which could pave the way for more research into the health benefits of the drug. In 2011, the agency again rejected a petition to reschedule marijuana. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the agency spent about $100 million in 2012 alone on enforcement regarding medical marijuana laws.
Pennsylvania joins the states working to add medical marijuana programs for next year, and this week one bill passed the state Senate. The bill must pass a few more steps before reaching the Governor's desk, but Gov. Wolf has said he will sign the bill if it reaches him. A recent poll estimates that 88% of Pennsylvanians want a medical marijuana program. Last year a similar bill was turned down by the House, but with some rivisions to this year's bill, many are optimistic it will have a fair chance. The bill has also been revised from its prior form that failed to pass last session. It has been amended to add a "real-time" registry to better track medical marijuana cards, expanded the list of covered conditions and no longer allows for marijuana edibles (but would allow people to mix marijuana into their foods), reported Fox 43. If the bill does reach Wolf, he has said he will sign it. A Quinnipiac poll earlier this month found that about 88 percent of Pennsylvanians support medical marijuana.
Since 1979, Americans have been polled nearly every year on their feelings toward marijuana. In the last several years as legalization has taken effect in more and more states, the polls are showing for the first time that majority of Americans believe that marijuana SHOULD be legal and that cannabis is LESS harmful than alcohol. While some believe marijuana isn't exactly harmless, new studies show that marijuana is the least harmful of the most commonly used recreational drugs. Earlier this year, General Social Survey, widely regarded as the most authoritative source when it comes to researching public opinion, found 52 percent of Americans in support of legalization. While not harmless, marijuana is dramatically less dangerous than other recreational drugs and may be, in fact, the least dangerous among the most commonly used recreational drugs, according to a study published this year in Scientific Reports.
Denver, Colorado hosted a 420 marijuana festevial this weekend in celebration of what's come to be "Weed Day" (April 20th). Roughly 125,000 people atteneded the weekend event, and though state law does not allow public smoking, law enforcement only issued 160 citations and the rest were friendly reminders to consume responsibly. This just goes to show that as long as the police are there to protect citizens rather than enforce a war on drugs, that hell will not break loose, people will not die, and overall everyone will have a great time in a safe environment. Although private recreational marijuana use has been legalized in the state, public consumption of the drug is still illegal. However, it does still occur, especially at large events. Denver police generally make enforcement of that law on 4/20 a low priority and target only the most egregious offenders.
The Governor of New Jersey has vowed to never allow legalizaed marijuana in his state, while it's medical marijuana program is lacking and it's citizens are feeling the consequences for it. The current law allows for medical marijuana, but the process to be approved is long and grueling. Only 3,600 patients have signed up since the program started 25 months ago, and only 3 of the 6 allowed dispensaries have opened as well as having trouble keeping up the inventory of pot to sell. New Jersey, a Northeastern and traditionally blue state, still has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the country. Not only is it illegal for recreational use, it’s still difficult to get for medical use. All for what many say has medical benefits and is something no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, which are legal drugs.
Ohio is expected to be one of the many states this year to approve of a vote for medical marijuana legalization in November, but may also be one of the few who legalize marijuana recreationally. The group, ResponsibleOhio claims their plan will boost tax revenue for the state by half a billion dollars, create 10,000 jobs, and stop money from going to drug cartels while keeping drugs off of the street where it's accessible by even children. The amendment would authorize adults to carry as much as an ounce of marijuana, to grow as many as four plants at home, and to possess as much as eight ounces for personal use. Its advocates insist that it includes tough safeguards to prevent Ohioans younger than 21 from buying, possessing, and consuming marijuana
While some states have moved into the future of accepting marijuana as medicine, the United States are not united in that aspect. A woman who previously lived in Colorado and treated her Crohn's disease with cannabis oil has had her child taken from her by the state of Kansas. The 11 year old child was speaking up at an anti-drug campaign provided by the school, and was disagreeing with some "facts" presented when the school alerted child protection services, questioned the child without the parent's consent, then proceeded to get a warrant and search the mother's home. The absurdity here of course is that a woman could lose her custody of her child for therapeutically using a drug that’s legal for recreational use an hour to the west. It seems safe to say that the amount of the drug she had in her home was an amount consistent with personal use. (If she had been distributing, she’d almost certainly have been charged by now.)