North Carolina is on the road to legalizing medical marijuana after it's bill passed a first reading in the General Assembly this month. State Representatives and Marijuana Policy leaders agree that not only is it logical, but the evidence shows that ill patients can gain many benefits from medical marijuana. The representatives also agree that contrary to local belief, legalization will not increase marijuana use in their communities. “It’s illogical for the government not to legalize marijuana because we could earn money from taxing it, and we could spend less taxpayer money imprisoning kids who were caught with marijuana. All that does is ruin someone’s life and waste taxpayer money,” freshman Emelina Vienneau said.
It doesn't take much to notice how popular legal marijuana has become in just a few years, but you may underestimate exactly how much its grown! From 2013 to 2014 the market grew a whopping 74% going from $1.5 billion all the way up to $2.7 billion. With just less than half the states having medical marijuana, and only 3 states with recreational marijuana programs (Oregon joins the list as #4 in July) the potentional for economic growth and THC relief is seemingly endless. The huge growth potential of the industry appears to be limited only by the possibility of states rejecting the loosening of their drug laws. The report projects a marijuana industry that could be more valuable than the entire organic food industry -- that is, if the legalization trend continues to the point that all 50 states legalize recreational marijuana. The total market value of all states legalizing marijuana would top $36.8 billion -- more than $3 billion larger than the organic food industry.
New Attorney General Eric Holder believes congress should reclassify marijuana. Some say he himself has the authority to reclassify, though it seems unclear as to exactly how. It turns out he can add and reschedule drugs, but it must be requested by the human services secretary or in response to a public petition. In addition, he must gather data and scientific and medical evaluation from the HHS secretary before doing so. The issue at hand is that the current scheduling of marijuana does not allow govt. funded research to provide sufficient evidence for reclassification. “The attorney general was addressing the fact that the administration can’t change the classification of marijuana unless HHS or the FDA find a ‘currently accepted medical use,’” said Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesman for the Department of Justice. “The attorney general believes that a political and policy issue of this magnitude deserves input from Congress and that, absent new medical findings, congressional action is currently the best avenue for reclassification.”
As of 12:01am on Feb. 26, 2014 Marijuana is legal in Washington D.C. for adults age 21 and over. The use of marijuana is still prohibited in public and on federally owned land, but is allowed for personal use in your own home. One can possess up to 2 ounces at a time, and grow up to 6 cannabis plants. Despite the growing support for marijuana, many republicans in congress are fighting the legalization and the first recreational sales may not be seen until 2016. “This is a significant milestone in the movement for racial justice, civil liberties, and drug policy reform,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The racially-biased enforcement of marijuana laws in the nation’s capital is officially a relic of history.”
You probably already know that marijuana is among the least risky recreational drugs one can consume. What you might not have known is that alcohol was found to have the highest risk of death over heroin, cocaine, meth, tobacco and more. New research is only backing previous studies that show marijuana is safe and deserves to be regulated just like the legal drugs that carry much harsher consequences. Given the relative risks associated with marijuana and alcohol, the authors recommend "risk management prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs." And they say that when it comes to marijuana, the low amounts of risk associated with the drug "suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach."
Tuesday February 24th, 2014 marks the first day in Alaska's legalization of marijuana and the fourth state to legalize recreational use. Adults in Alaska can now consume cannabis in their homes, as well as grow up to six plants for personal use. Public use has a $100 fine attatched to it, and the state is stressing safe consumption of marijuana, especially in edibles. Alaska officials have already visited Colorado to see how the social experiment is being run there, and they’re planning on a visit to Washington soon. Franklin is grateful that her state, the fourth to legalize marijuana, had a chance to learn from those trailblazers’ successes and challenges.
Many marathon runners are publicy announcing their routine marijuana use for pre and post workout. Some prefer the after-race THC boost to soothe aches and pains following a long run, while others use it to keep the pain down and focus up during a race. Both agree marijuana can benefit athletes, and many are welcoming questions and ready to spread awareness with pot leaf logos on their running shirts. “What usually happens is someone laughs and says, ‘I like your shirt,’” says the 45-year-old longtime recreational runner, who uses a cannabis-infused topical cream to treat bursitis in her hip. “I tell them that I’m running to help people learn more about the benefits of cannabis and debunk some of the myths. It starts amazing conversations. And when you’re running a half marathon, there is a lot of time to talk.”
The most closely controlled study of it's kind now finds that while alcohol in a person's system increases risk of accident by four times or more, THC in a person's system increases risk of accident by only 5%. A Washington Police Commander states that drivers found under the influence of marijuana are not typically making road mistakes, but are pulled over for other traffic violations and found to be on pot after the fact. “Marijuana is complicated. This study is a very important part of beginning to learn the factors we need to pay attention to,” Trowbrigde says. “We know far less about marijuana at this point than we do about alcohol.”
The war on drugs has brought many dissapointing and unnecessary problems to our country. One that has effected millions of lives is the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes. One particular case is of a man named Weldon Angelos who is currently 11 years into his 55 year sentence for just 3 marijuana sales. Not only is his family working with Families Against Mandatory Minimums to change such policies, but even the federal judge who sentenced him knows he did not deserve to waste most of his life away in prison. "I do think about Angelos,” said Paul Cassell, a now-retired federal judge in the Utah circuit. “I sometimes drive near the prison where he’s held, and I think, ‘Gosh he shouldn’t be there. Certainly not as long as I had to send him there. ... That wasn’t the right thing to do. The system forced me to do it.”
The highly conservative state of Texas may not have been the first to suggest medical marijuana, but it looks like the Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy has made progress in the state. On Wednesday over 250 people will be lobbying in discussion with legislators about marijuana law reform. The current bill up for discussion is a medical marijuana bill allowing serious patients access to legal marijuana to combat their illnesses. "There are over 24 states, if you include Washington D.C., that have medical marijuana programs," said Jax Finkel, deputy director for Texas NORMAL. "That accounts for 47 percent of Americans, and we don't think that Texans should be second class citizens based on the cartography of where we live. So we want to have medical marijuana available for patients they don't have the time to wait so we hope that our legislators will be bold and make something happen this session."
Michigan is taking the necessary steps forward to move toward full legalization of marijuana. This weekend Michigan activists are meeting to discuss possible ballot languange, petition circulation and fundraising. Recent polls show around 50% of Michigan voters support regulated and taxed marijuana, and if more can be informed on the many benefits of full legalization then 2016 is a great goal for marijuana legalization in Michican. He called Colorado, where legal marijuana sales through licensed stores began last year, a "successful experiment" that could inform a similar system in Michigan. "What you're seeing is reduced use amongst adolescents, reduced crime, reduced drunk driving deaths and you're seeing quite a bit of tax revenue," Irwin said. "All of those are good things. What I'm hoping to do is take that law and improve upon it for Michigan." "It's very preliminary at this point," she said. "All we can say is that the goal is full legalization for 2016."
Have you ever had so much money that you couldn't spend it all? Sounds like a nice problem to have, and thanks to marijuana, Colorado has a surplus of tax money with no answer on how to use it. Currently in Colorado there is a law allowing the state to literally give money back to the people, resulting in $2.2 Billion returned since 1992. However, there is a bill in the works to pull marijuana from the taxation refund program, which many Coloradans disagree with. “I don't care if they write me a check, or refund it in my taxes, or just give me a free joint next time I come in,” Aurora, Colo. resident David Huff told the Associated Press. “The taxes are too high, and they should give it back."