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These 4 States Will Be Voting on Medical Marijuana in November [FEATURE]

Marijuana (STDW) - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 22:16

This article was produced in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.

It's been 20 years since California punched through pot prohibition and became the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. Now, 23 states have medical marijuana laws, and more than a dozen more have taken the half-step of legalizing the medicinal use of cannabidiol (CBD) only—not raw marijuana.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]While some of the early medical marijuana states have now moved on to full legalization—and more are set to this year—states in the South and the Plains are just beginning to embrace the therapeutic use of the herb. This year could see medical marijuana finally assert itself in Dixie and on the Northern Plains.

Medical marijuana is amazingly popular nationwide. A June Quinnipiac poll had support at a whopping 89%. That same month, a Prevention Magazine poll had support at 75%, not nearly as stratospheric, but still very impressive. Support won't be as strong in states where it is on the ballot this year, but should still be strong enough to get voter initiatives over the top.

There are four states where medical marijuana initiatives are approved for the ballot this year, but before we get to those, there are still a handful of loose ends to mention. In Missouri, an initiative campaign is challenging a signature count that had it fail to qualify for the ballot; in Arkansas, a second medical marijuana initiative, this one a constitutional amendment, is still trying to gather signatures (Update: that measure has now qualified for the ballot); in Oklahoma, an initiative has just passed a signature-gathering hurdle but has yet to qualify, and in Montana, an anti-medical marijuana initiative is challenging a signature count that found it coming up short. These are all long-shots at this point, but the efforts aren't definitively dead.

In the meantime, the four states definitely voting on medical marijuana in November are:

Arkansas—The 2016 Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act. A similar initiative was narrowly defeated in 2012, and Arkansans for Compassionate Care hopes to get over the hump this year. The initiative would allow patients suffering from a long list of qualifying diseases or conditions to use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. Patients could possess up to 2 ½ ounces and could grow five plants and 12 seedlings if they live more than 20 miles from a "care center." They could also have a designated caregiver grow for them, with a limit of five patients per caregiver. There would be at least 39 non-profit care centers across the state.

[image:2 align:left]It's going to be a low-budget campaign. ACC says it has raised $15,000 and has a goal of $80,000. There is no significant organized opposition.

The polling is looking favorable. An Arkansas Poll from last November had support for medical marijuana at 68%, with only 26% opposed, while a June Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll had support at 58%, with 34% opposed.

Florida—Amendment 2. Medical marijuana backers organized as United for Care were narrowly defeated in 2014 although they won 58% of the vote. That's because their initiative was a constitutional amendment requiring a 60% majority, and so is this one. It would allow patients suffering from a specified list of qualifying diseases or conditions to use medical marijuana upon a doctor's recommendation.  They amount they could possess will be determined by the Department of Health. Patients could not grow their own, but would be able to purchase it at state-regulated "Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers."

This is going to be a big bucks campaign in a high-population state, just as it was last time. In 2014, Las Vegas casino billionaire and hard right Daddy Warbucks Sheldon Adelson kicked in more than $5 million to the "no" campaign. This year, he's been quiet so far, but Florida arch-drug warrior Mel Sembler has kicked in $500,000 for the opposition Drug Free Florida, and Publix supermarket heiress Carol Jenkins Barnett gave $800,000 more. United for Care has largely been bankrolled by Florida attorney and Democratic strategist Roger Morgan. It took in more than $3 million last year, spending most of it on signature gathering, and has only raised $555,000 so far this year, although Morgan's deep pockets could come through again in the home stretch.

Even with the needed 60% majority, the polling looks good. In eight polls since January 2015, the lowest support level recorded was 61% and the highest was 80%. But the opposition is going to use that fat campaign war chest to chip away at public support.

Montana—Initiative 182. Voters in Big Sky County approved medical marijuana in 2004, but when the scene grew too bustling, the state's conservative legislature struck back with a vengeance. In 2011, Republicans in Helena essentially gutted the medical marijuana system, shutting down dispensaries and limiting caregivers and doctors. The Montana Medical Marijuana Act repeals the limit of three patients for each licensed provider, and allows providers to hire employees to cultivate, dispense, and transport medical marijuana. It also repeals the requirement that physicians who provide certifications for 25 or more patients annually be referred to the board of medical examiners, and it removes the authority of law enforcement to conduct unannounced inspections of medical marijuana facilities, instead requiring annual inspections by the state. Patients could continue to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and four plants and 12 seedlings. The initiative also adds PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions.

[image:3 align:right]There doesn't appear to be any recent polling on the initiative's prospects. Montana voters have approved medical marijuana in the past, but the earlier phase of medical marijuana expansion sparked a harsh reaction, and the state remains divided over the issue. After a lengthy court fight, some of the restrictions approved in 2011 will go into effect at the end of this month, and cries of lost patient access may bend public opinion.

There doesn't appear to be any significant fundraising or spending by either side in this campaign.  

North Dakota—Question 5. Also known as the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act and sponsored by North Dakotans for Compassionate Care, the initiative would allow people suffering from a list of specified medical conditions to use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.  The initiative envisions a system of non-profit "compassion centers," which could grow and sell medical marijuana. Patients living more than 40 miles from a compassion center could grow up to 8 plants, but they must notify local law enforcement in writing.  The initiative also includes a creepy provision allowing the Health Department to "perform on-site interviews of a qualified patient or primary caregiver to determine eligibility for the program" and to "enter the premises of a qualified patient or primary caregiver during business hours for purposes of interviewing a program applicant," with 24 hours notice. Patients could purchase up to three ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

The polling data is as scarce as the trees on the North Dakota prairie, but a 2014 poll had support for medical marijuana at 47%, with 41% opposed.

There doesn't appear to be any significant fundraising or spending by either side in this campaign, either.

Will medical marijuana go four for four this year? It seems likely, but we're going to have to wait for November 8 to know for sure. 

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: Seattle Safe Injection Site Progress, Philippines Drug Killings Inquiry, More... (8/23/16)

Marijuana (STDW) - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 20:42

A Seattle heroin task force has endorsed safe injection sites, the Philippine Senate is holding hearings on the ongoing massacre of alleged drug users and sellers, Colombia coca growers are protesting over unfulfilled crop substitution promises, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Arkansas Attorney General Rejects 2018 Legalization Initiative Wording, Again. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has again rejected the wording of a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana. The proposal is from Mary Berry of Summit. Rutledge wrote Monday that the proposal has ambiguities around licensing and the role of various state agencies in overseeing legal marijuana commerce. Berry successfully submitted a similar proposal for this year, the Arkansas Cannabis Amendment, but it failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Guam Senator Reintroduces Marijuana Legalization Referendum Bill. Sen. Sixto Igisomar has redrafted what was formerly a medical marijuana bill and turned it into a full-on legalization bill. The new version, Senate Bill 19-106, is now before the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare. If approved by the legislature, the measure would then go before the voters.

Harm Reduction

Seattle Heroin Task Force Endorses Safe Injection Sites. The Heroin Task Force empanelled by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine has endorsed open safe injection sites for drug users. The task force is now working on formal recommendations on how it might work and the legal challenges it could face. Those recommendations are expected next month.

International

Philippine Senators Open Hearing on Drug War Killings. The Senate Justice Committee opened an inquiry Monday into the killings of more than 1,800 alleged drug users and sellers during an ongoing crackdown spurred by President Rodrigo Duterte. Committee chair Sen. Leila de Lima said she was worried by the killings and that police and vigilantes could be using the crackdown "to commit murder with impunity." National Police Chief Ronald de la Rosa, who said he did not condone extrajudicial killings, took heat for failing to stop vigilante killings. "This is like anarchy," said Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. "It's continuing under your watch."

Colombia Coca Growers Say Government Not Living Up to Crop Substitution Promises. Coca growers in Putumayo province have been protesting for the past month, saying the government is eradicating coca crops without providing substitute crops as promised. Clashes between riot police and protestors have left at least one farmer dead, with dozens others injured.

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US MA: In Allston, a Battle Is Brewing Over a Marijuana

Marijuana (MAP) - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 07:00
Boston Globe, 23 Aug 2016 - Boston City Councilor Mark Ciommo is again facing criticism this week for not backing a locally run company that wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary in his Allston neighborhood. Instead of supporting Compassionate Organics, Ciommo is steadfast in his backing of rival Mayflower Medicinals, a company that has hired the councilor's political consultant and close friend Frank Perullo.
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US MD: Agency Faulted For Pot Process

Marijuana (MAP) - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 07:00
Baltimore Sun, 23 Aug 2016 - Black Lawmakers Say Cannabis Licensees Lack Racial Diversity The head of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland is asking the governor to intervene in the awarding of medical cannabis licenses because the selected companies lack diversity, denying minorities the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an emerging industry.
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New Zealand: Column: Legalising Cannabis Is Not in the

Marijuana (MAP) - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 07:00
The Press, 23 Aug 2016 - If a referendum was held on legalising cannabis for personal use, would you support it? You'd have to be off your scone. The New Zealand Drug Foundation (NZDF) has been crowing about the results of its self-selecting poll, indicating broad public support for decriminalising cannabis for personal use. Rebecca Reider made history over the weekend by bringing the first legal raw cannabis flower into New Zealand, campaigners say. The NZDF has steadily become a strident proponent for law reform, to the point that they now sound more like glorified pushers, campaigning for "the removal of criminal penalties for drug use, possession and social supply."
Categories: Marijuana

US PA: Pennsylvania Not Alone In Medical Marijuana Stance

Marijuana (MAP) - Mon, 08/22/2016 - 07:00
The Citizens' Voice, 22 Aug 2016 - State among several to allow treatment not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Pennsylvania and the federal government disagree about the usefulness of marijuana as medicine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved marijuana as safe and effective for treating any illness, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as recently as Aug. 11 kept marijuana in the same drug category as heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
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US OH: OPED: Federal Marijuana Policy In A Haze

Marijuana (MAP) - Mon, 08/22/2016 - 07:00
Morning Journal, 22 Aug 2016 - President Barack Obama has said he considers marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol. More than three years ago, he said he had "bigger fish to fry" than targeting pot smokers in states that permit recreational use. Federal officials remain in a haze when it comes to articulating a comprehensible policy on marijuana.
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US NJ: OPED: Federal Marijuana Policy In A Haze

Marijuana (MAP) - Sun, 08/21/2016 - 07:00
The Trentonian, 21 Aug 2016 - Federal officials remain in a haze when it comes to articulating a comprehensible policy on marijuana. Perhaps last week's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals curtailing the feds from prosecuting legitimate growers and distributors will help clear the air.
Categories: Marijuana

US FL: Column: Time For Sports To Get Out Of Pot Testing

Marijuana (MAP) - Sun, 08/21/2016 - 07:00
Sun-Sentinel, 21 Aug 2016 - In 2009, when Ricky Williams studied as a masseuse and gaveme a Japanese shiatsu massage, the subject of marijuana came up-this is where conversations could go during deep-tissue revitalization with Ricky- and he said something ahead of its time. "Why does the NFL even care about catching players smoking pot?" he said. "How does that benefit anyone?" Have we advanced enough to ask this in 2016?
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US CO: Dizzying Highs and Lows of Life in the Metropolis of

Marijuana (MAP) - Sun, 08/21/2016 - 07:00
Sunday Star-Times, 21 Aug 2016 - The 'Green Rush' Has Proven to Be a Mixed Blessing for Colorado and Its State Capital. At Bruce Randolph School in a tough inner-city part of Denver, the staff and pupils used to breathe fumes from a nearby dog food factory. Now they get a regular whiff of something much more controversial.
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US IL: Weed Busts Out Of Whack

Marijuana (MAP) - Sun, 08/21/2016 - 07:00
Chicago Sun-Times, 21 Aug 2016 - African-Americans Ticketed, Arrested for Pot Offenses in Chicago Far More Than Any Racial Group Four years after the Chicago City Council decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, African-American neighborhoods continue to bear the brunt of enforcement, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.
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CN ON: Police Raid Two Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Marijuana (MAP) - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 07:00
Hamilton Spectator, 20 Aug 2016 - Draft regulations consider freelance dispensaries illegal It turns out police have already raided at least two Hamilton storefront medical marijuana sellers this year. The raids raise questions about the fate of all self-styled dispensaries in the city - particularly since newly released draft regulations for medical marijuana now specifically label freelance storefront sellers as illegal.
Categories: Marijuana

US AZ: Judge Throws Out Challenge to Legal Marijuana

Marijuana (MAP) - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 07:00
The Sun, 20 Aug 2016 - PHOENIX - A judge has thrown out a bid to keep voters from deciding whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. In a ruling Friday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jo Lynn Gentry said when state lawmakers altered the election code last year they eliminated - perhaps inadvertently - the ability of individual citizens to sue to keep initiative measures off the ballot. And she said lawmakers failed to restore that right anywhere else.
Categories: Marijuana

CN ON: Editorial: Weed Stores Inhabit A New, And Grey, Area

Marijuana (MAP) - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 07:00
The Peterborough Examiner, 20 Aug 2016 - There are no villains in the current controversy over marijuana stores that are popping up in villages, towns and cities across Canada. And the closest thing to a victim would be police forces left to decide whether to lay charges or wait for the inevitable legalization - - in some form - of a drug most Canadians don't see as particularly harmful.
Categories: Marijuana

US CA: Editorial: Federal Marijuana Policy Still In A Haze

Marijuana (MAP) - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 07:00
The East Bay Times, 20 Aug 2016 - Federal officials remain in a haze when it comes to articulating a comprehensible national policy on marijuana. Perhaps last week's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals curtailing the feds from prosecuting legitimate growers and distributors will help clear the air.
Categories: Marijuana

New Zealand: Column: Prohibition - It Should Be Banned

Marijuana (MAP) - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 07:00
New Zealand Herald, 20 Aug 2016 - Imagine a natural product with medicinal benefits that human beings have used for centuries. A product so popular that its sale has funded the activities of certain enterprises for generations. A product used by people young and old, well and unwell, rich and poor. One would assume that the tax revenue from this product would be significant. That its popularity would demand responsible regulation to protect both the industry and consumers. That its widely reported pain-relieving qualities would be utilised to provide relief to sufferers of chronic pain. That gangs would be the last "businesses" we'd want to be responsible for its sale. It would seem like a no- brainer. Unless that product is cannabis. We've been waging war on drug users for close to 20 years, since the UN's General Assembly Special Session on Drug Control in 1998. The goal of that session was to eradicate illicit drug-use by 2008. It was a mission that failed spectacularly.
Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: NV Initiative Has Slight Poll Lead, PA MedMJ Draft Regs Released, More... (8/19/16)

Marijuana (STDW) - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 20:08

An effort to knock the Arizona legalization initiative off the ballot gets slapped down, a new Nevada poll shows a very tight contest for the legalization initiative there, a new study finds that marijuana use is not implicated in organ transplant problems, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Arizona Judge Rejects Lawsuit Trying to Knock Legalization Initiative Off the Ballot. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jo Lynn Gentry has dismissed a lawsuit brought by opponents of the Prop 205 legalization initiative. The lawsuit had challenged the 100-word initiative summary that will appear on ballots, but Gentry ruled that the summary "substantially complies with the law." The foes, led by Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, said they will appeal.

Nevada Poll Has Legalization Initiative Under 50%, But Still Leading. A new Nevada poll from Suffolk University shows a tight race ahead. The poll had support for the Question 2 legalization initiative at 48%, with 43% opposed, and 9% undecided.

Medical Marijuana

Study Finds Marijuana Use Not Associated With Bad Organ Transplant Outcomes. A peer-reviewed study from the journal Clinical Transplantation finds that marijuana use is not contraindicated in kidney transplants. "[R]ecreational marijuana use should not be considered a contraindication to kidney transplantation," the authors concluded. "[R]ecreational marijuana use should be systematically evaluated in a larger setting before a decision is made on what, if any, degree of use or abuse should be considered a relative or absolute contraindication, or whether use or abuse should be considered a contraindication." Even in jurisdictions that allow for medical marijuana use, hospitals routinely disqualify patients with a marijuana history from eligibility for organ transplants.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana System Moving Forward. The state Health Department has released a draft of the rules for the state's nascent medical marijuana industry. The more than 90 pages of draft regulations create a roadmap for aspiring medical marijuana growers and processors who are competing for 25 lucrative permits.

Categories: Marijuana

CN ON: Did High Profile Cost New Pot Shop?

Marijuana (MAP) - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 07:00
London Free Press, 19 Aug 2016 - Police say they were just enforcing the law when they raided an illegal pot shop days after it opened, but at least two other dispensaries have long operated in London without any crackdowns. Why police moved to shut down Tasty Budd's, when other dispensaries still quietly operate, is one question that emerged in the fallout Thursday, but police weren't providing any immediate answers. Officers descended on Tasty Budd's on Wharncliffe Road Wednesday, seizing more than $13,000 in marijuana products and charging the store's franchisee and an employee with drug-related offences.
Categories: Marijuana

CN ON: Police Bust Dispensary

Marijuana (MAP) - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 07:00
Northumberland Today, 19 Aug 2016 - South Shores Wellness at Alderville First Nation Was Raided by Opp on Wednesday ALDERVILLE - A marijuana dispensary was taken down by provincial police on Wednesday afternoon. The Ontario Provincial Police Central East Drug Unit, assisted by Northumberland OPP, executed a search warrant at South Shore Wellness - - Full Service Cannabis Dispensary located at 8987 County Road 45 in Roseneath.
Categories: Marijuana

CN BC: Vernon Keeps Nose Out Of Pot Operations

Marijuana (MAP) - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 07:00
The Morning Star, 19 Aug 2016 - The City of Vernon Is Not Cracking Down on Marijuana Dispensaries. Council decided Monday not to investigate a zoning bylaw that would prohibit marijuana operations. "I haven't heard any complaints from the public," said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.
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