In places where marijuana is still illegal, personal possession will most likely land you a misdemeanor, which can cost non-violent citizens jobs, homes, and label them as criminals. Many cities have taken it upon themselves to decriminalize the drug, saving countless tokers from humiliating and life-ruining consequences, and saving the police force time, money, and allow attention towards more serious crimes. Pittsburgh's city council is introducing a decriminalization bill this week that they hope will reap similar results as Philadelphia's. The bill would allow police to give a max of $100 fine and confiscate product when cought with pot, but reserves the right for officers to make an arrest if necessary. “This bill helps to decrease the many lives destroyed by the unnecessarily harsh consequences that come with the most minor marijuana offenses,” he said. “The bill will help break the damning life-long consequences of unemployment, lack of education, and being caught in a revolving criminal justice system.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ran an election like many have, promising change and progress on many issues dear to voters'. Once elected, like many elections in the past, voters are left to wonder what issues he will keep his word on and what he fibbed about to get votes. Shortly after his election, the Prime Minister sent a letter to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada mandating a federal process be started to legalize and regulate marijuana in Canada. Unlike US plans to allow states to legalize at their will like Bernie Sanders' bill, Trudeau's mandate would legalize and regulate through the entire coutnry. Justin Trudeau recently issued a letter giving mandates to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Among many mandates was the following in regards to marijuana: Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.
Despite his recent signing of a bill allowing child medical marijuana patients to have access at public schools, Chris Christie stands very firm on his stance that all drugs should be illegal. The state's governor may not want legal marijuana, but his fellow legislators do. A new bill introduced in New Jersey would legalize recreationally, give the state a new source of tax revenue, and bring the drug out of the black market. A hearing this week to discuss the bill was heavilly attended by advocates who want the state to see progress. Currently to participate in New Jersey's medical marijuan program you must have one of the few diseases that qualify, drive to one of the only 5 dispensaries in the state, and pay $200 to gain access to one of the dispensaries. As reported by Philly.com, the Democratic-controlled New Jersey Legislature is taking steps towards introducing a law that would allow those over the age of 21 to purchase marijuana, whether or not they have a medical marijuana license. Like the laws passed in other states, the consumption of marijuana in public would still be illegal.
As marijuana policy is slowly changing, medical marijuana is still sometimes not treated as medicine at all. One family in New Jersey was experiencing trouble within their local high school for not allowing their child with epilepsy and autism to possess her medical marijuana treatment on school grounds. Without the proper dose of cannabis, 16 year old Genny can become easily upset and possibly hurt herself. Due to the school's restrictions, Genny was forced to take half days so she could go home and take her medicine. After lobbying and pushing the issue, Governor Christie signed a new bill allowing minors to bring their medical marijuana to school, but at the moment the school nurse is not allowed to administer the medicine, only the parents. Until medical marijuana is treated fairly like other legal drugs, Genny's mother is forced to bring her medicine to school each and everyday to give Genny her dose personally. Last week, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill – inspired by Genny – that authorizes parents or primary caregivers to administer edible medical marijuana to sick or disabled children at school, while protecting school districts from liability. This means Genny, 16, will be able to go back to school full-time – she's been going for half-days so that she can get the dosage she needs.
The country of Colombia has been an ally with the US in the war on drugs, but President Juan Manuel Santos decided it's time to try something new. The president will soon sign an executive decree that will make the commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana legal for medicinal and scientific purposes. Officials defend that Colombia does not want to further recreational use, but only for medicine and science. The country has been under a unique drug policy for 20 years that has allowed for possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. Colombians for two decades have been allowed to possess small quantities of any narcotic for personal use thanks to a series of Constitutional Court rulings guaranteeing the “free development of one’s personality.” “Our phones are ringing off the hook as we get ready for the next chapter,” said a statement from John Campo, president of the parent of the U.S.-owned Sannabis company, which is developing cannabis-based oils, creams and other products on a self-governed indigenous reservation in southern Colombia.
The Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe were the first eager Native American tribe to legalize marijuana in South Dakota, but this week have decided to pull the plug on their own operation. After having many more upset South Dakotans than expected, the tribe wants to wait until federal law agrees with their program and can regulate it. The tribe has since destroyed the large amount of crops they have been preparing. With large facilities and plans, the tribe will be eager to continue their cannabis operation as soon as they have the government's backing. Seth Pearman said the suspension is pivotal to the continued success of the marijuana venture and that tribal leadership is confident that after getting clarification from the U.S. Department of Justice, "it will be better suited to succeed." "The tribe will continue to consult with the federal and state government and hopes to be granted parity with states that have legalized marijuana," Pearman said in the news release. Pearman said despite suspending the current plan, the tribe intends to be a participant in the marijuana industry
We've seen the penalties of plenty of athletes testing positive for marijuana, from humiliation to ruining their career, but what about the penalties from using the prescribed drugs for normal athletic injuries? Kyle Turley recently discussed his battle with prescription meds and the resulting homicidal and suicidal thoghts. He feared for his family and knew the medication had driven him away from reality, only to find that cannabis was his saving grace. Not only does Turley believe smoking marijuana saved him from committing suicide, but he believes it can hold the key to keeping serious football injuries from getting worse, and insure the NFL players' best health care possible. "I remember vividly being at the induction, my Hall of Fame induction at San Diego State University. I was there by myself, my wife had to stay back with the kids in Tennessee. I found myself out on the balcony, to step out and get some air, and, you know, actually try to medicate with some cannabis, and I found as soon as I got out the door I wanted to jump off of the building. And if it weren’t for cannabis, I don’t think I would have made it back to my hotel room."
Only a day after Veteran's Day, the Senate approved a new part of a military budget bill that wouuld allow Veteran Administration doctors to discuss and prescribe medical marijuana to patients in states where it's been legalized. The fight for vets to have access to medical marijuana is not a new one, and the data strongly shows that marijuana can indeed help treat the serious symptoms of PTSD. 22 military veterans kill themselves everyday from treatable depression. About 30% of vietnam vets suffer from PTSD and nearly 11% from the Gulf and Afghanistan wars. This is not the first time that Congress has tried to gain medical cannabis access for veterans. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) of the House of Representatives has introduced the Veterans Equal Access Act not once, but twice in the past two years, only for the bill to stall in the Subcommittee on Health.
This week marks a special occassion for many residents in Illinois as the state's 2-year-in-the-making medical marijuana program finally begins. Illinois's medical marijuana bill has received criticism for it's strict rules, and the level of difficulty to aquire for legitimate patients. Even after waiting 2 years since the bill passed, some patients were turned away on opening day due to incomplete registration. The stringent medical pot system in Illinois will surely make changes within it's 4 year pilot-program, but more patients are expected as well as more shops now that the long-awaited program has begun. Some patients were turned away because they had not yet registered online with one dispensary, as required. Some said they didn't have time to register since receiving their IDs as recently as Friday or Saturday. Many of the patients said they hoped marijuana would allow them to reduce their use of painkillers and other prescription drugs and the side effects they produce. One recent study found that states permitting medical marijuana had a relative decrease in opiate addictions and overdose deaths compared to states that do not
Last week, Ohioans had the chance to legalize medical and recreational marijuana all at once, but the votes just weren't enough. The group promoting the vote, ResponsibleOhio, is trying to poll citizens and find out what part of the bill they were unhappy with and why they did not vote to legalize marijuana. Opponents of the bill say that it would've created a marijuana monopoly for the few investors involved and would not have been in the citizens best interest. ResponsibleOhio plans to revise the bill and legalize marijuana in 2016! "We're committed to returning to the ballot box to reform our state's broken marijuana laws," the group posted on its Facebook page. "We want a consensus plan that works for you."
Last week, the new head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stated that although he's open to discussion about legalizing a drug, calling marijuana medicine is a "joke". The statement gained immediate attention from many different pro-marijuana organizations as many families lives have been changed forever because of medical marijuana. A petition has been written on Change.org to have the current DEA head replaced with someone who is willing to follow modern science and understand what Americans who need medical marijuana are going through. The petition alread has over 16,000 signatures. "I think someone who has that amount of power over arrests having to do with a substance should be well-versed on the substance and be able to speak factually about it," Collins said. "It worries me that he is so ignorant as to say that it's a joke. My daughter's medicine is not a joke to me." "They're not listening to the people. The majority of American people want access to this medicine and lawmakers aren't doing what we want and that's really, really frustrating," she said
As the presidential campaigns continue, candidates are forced to take an official stance on the future of the marijuan industry. Hilary Clinton has tiptoed around the topic but has finally addressed the issue and wants to loosen restrictions. Clinton still does not support marijuana legalization, but with medical programs in nearly half the US states she recognizes the need for federal research. Clinton's temporary solution is to reschedule marijuana down to Schedule 2 with cocaine. This does not address the ability to arrest and jail youth for simple possession, but would allow for research to further legalize and regulate. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defines Schedule 1 drugs as those "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." But if it were lowered to a Schedule II classification, it would open the door for more legal research. "Researchers at universities, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), could start researching what's the best way to use it, how much of a dose does somebody need, how does it interact with other medications," she said