Tag: marijuana legalization

Arizona marijuana legalization looking like sure bet for 2016 ballot

PHOENIX — A proposal to legalize marijuana in Arizona is on track to qualify for the ballot as the state joins a growing movement looking to loosen pot laws around the country in the November elections.

A spokesman for Arizona’s leading recreational marijuana initiative says the measure has already collected about 140,000 of the 150,000 signatures necessary to get on the ballot, though the campaign intends to collect more than necessary to make up for signatures that get disqualified. The campaign has until July to collect the remaining signatures, making it highly likely that the measure will go before voters in November.

“We are riding the wave of public opinion that prefers regulation and taxation rather than criminalization and prohibition,” said Carlos Alfaro, Marijuana Policy Project’s Arizona political director.

Arizona is one of least nine states that have pending recreational marijuana initiatives this year, including California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.

The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act would allow people over the age of 21 to carry as much as one ounce of marijuana, grow up to six plants and carry up to five grams of “concentrated marijuana,” such as hash oil or other cannabis extracts.

It would also establish a state licensing agency for marijuana while placing a 15 percent tax on marijuana and related products. Eighty percent of the tax proceeds would go toward education, and 20 percent would be set aside for the Department of Health Services to conduct education campaigns on the harms of marijuana and alcohol abuse.

An unusual alliance has formed to oppose the measure. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and backers of a separate pot measure seeking to qualify for the ballot have come out against the plan.

Montgomery is staunchly opposed to drug legalization and also believes the way the measure is written allows existing medical marijuana dispensaries to essentially have a monopoly over pot sales in the state.

The initiative would allow the state to issue about 150 licenses for businesses to sell marijuana. Medical pot dispensaries will have first dibs at obtaining 120 of those licenses, leaving only a few dozen available for anyone else.

“This is the 21st-century way that one drug dealer keeps another drug dealer off their corner. This is an absolute abuse of the initiative process by a special interest group in Arizona,” Montgomery said.

Jason Medar, manager for a competing initiative known as the Campaign to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana, says Marijuana Policy Project’s proposal doesn’t offer enough consumer protections. Medar said his initiative will make it easier for those not already in the medical marijuana industry to get a license. That initiative has collected about 70,000 signatures so far.

Alfaro said he doesn’t believe that every medical marijuana dispensary will necessarily apply for a recreational license and that his campaign offers a more balanced approach to legalization.

“Not only do we think this is going to be on the ballot but it’s the most viable policy we have,” he said. “We have had prohibition since 1937. We have to start at a point that people are willing to accept.”

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas denounced the initiative in a press release last week saying it would cause a contradiction for teachers who, on one hand, tell students not to use drugs and, on the other, would receive supplies and funding bought with money raised from taxes on marijuana.

“By using drug money to educate our children, regardless of the drug we choose, we’re creating a world where we’re funding our schools by betting against the people graduating from them, and I cannot morally support that stance,” Douglas said.

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Head of DNC Takes Cash From Booze PACs, Calls Weed Gateway Drug

Demonstrating that she’s beholden to the deep pockets of the alcohol industry, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz conveyed her frenzied opposition over the idea of legalizing marijuana last week to the New York Times — as the industry’s political action committee (PAC) continued to stuff some serious cash into her campaign coffers.

Ignoring the pro-pot logic of the two Democratic front-runners competing to be the next President of the United States, the DNC’s Chairperson, a House Democrat from the Sunshine State, explained, “I just don’t think we should legalize more mind-altering substances if we want to make it less likely that people travel down the path toward using drugs. We have had a resurgence of drug use instead of a decline. There is a huge heroin epidemic.”

So rather than focusing on the real problem, like say the alcohol industry, addiction, or Florida’s prolific pill mills. Wasserman Schultz, who collected $18,500 from big booze PACs, has decided that demonizing a medicinal herb is a far safer bet when it comes to getting reelected.

Representing the 5th biggest pile of cash thrown at the Florida congresswoman, Ms. Schultz has been pandering to the alcohol industry during her re-election campaign, collecting cold hard cash from the likes of Bacardi USA, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Southern Wine & Spirits, and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

According to the CDC, “Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years.”

When Wasserman Schultz was confronted with the ugly reality of Florida’s prolific problem with opiate addiction and whether or not Florida should outlaw opiates? Wasserman Schultz noted there’s “ a difference between opiates and marijuana.”

No doubt.

During 2014, heroin was found to be a contributing cause of death for 447 Floridians, and in 2012 there were 818 alcohol-related deaths. Meanwhile, two years after legalization took hold in Colorado, there’s yet to be any reported loss of life due to marijuana abuse.

(Photo Courtesy of Credo)

 

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Oklahoma AG to keep pursuing marijuana lawsuit against Colorado

WASHINGTON — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has said that he plans to continue to press the U.S. Supreme Court for permission to sue Colorado over its marijuana laws, despite objection from President Obama’s administration.

Oklahoma and Nebraska asked for the court’s permission a year ago to sue Colorado over aspects of its marijuana legalization plan. A spokesman for Pruitt said that written arguments will be filed next month.

Oklahoma and Nebraska say that Colorado laws allowing the manufacture, possession and distribution of marijuana violate the federal Controlled Substances Act and have led to more illegal drugs crossing state lines.

The two states say that the actions taken by Colorado have hindered their efforts to enforce anti-marijuana laws in their states.

The Oklahoman reported that the Supreme Court asked for the Obama administration’s opinion in May. The administration urged the Supreme Court to reject the lawsuit from Oklahoma and Nebraska. In a brief filed last week, the solicitor general argued that the U.S. Supreme Court typically limits state conflicts to ones where there is direct injury.

“This case does not satisfy the direct injury requirement,” the administration’s brief states.

Pruitt says that “states aren’t required to criminalize marijuana or enforce federal law. That is not what Oklahoma’s lawsuit is about. The Obama administration has turned a blind eye, emboldening states like Colorado to set up systems that encourage the commercialization and trafficking of a substance illegal under federal law.”

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Information from: The Oklahoman

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