Colorado lawmakers yanked and tugged at the threads of the state's proposals for regulating recreational marijuana, as one legislator hinted to his colleagues that pulling too hard could unravel the whole thing. At its second meeting, the legislature's joint marijuana committee returned again to the question of how to structure the marijuana stores that Colorado voters authorized in November.
A coalition of political groups and activists say marijuana possession should be legalized in Maine’s largest city, in part because they say the drug is significantly safer than alcohol. The effort comes on the heels of the introduction of a bill in the state Legislature by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, that would legalize, regulate and tax pot possession across Maine. Tom MacMillan, chairman of the Portland Green Independent Committee, said his organization and other like-minded groups need to get 1,500 signatures of city residents.
Washington state’s chief pot consultant remains a bit mysterious, but Mark Kleiman's views on legalizing pot are no mystery. He lays them out in “Marijuana Legalization,” a 2012 book he wrote with three of his team members. Alison Holcomb, the law’s author, said Kleiman’s credentials could ease federal concerns about Washington’s system evolving into an industry that tries to create addictions and market to young people. “I’m glad Kleiman and his colleagues are heading up the consulting group,” she said. (See also: Washington touts credentials of new pot consultant)
Washington has tentatively chosen professor Mark Kleiman at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to be its official marijuana consultant. His firm Botec Analysis is based in Cambridge, Mass., and has evaluated government programs and provided consulting relating to drug use, crime and public health. Losing bidders for the contract can protest the award. Kleiman has written several books on drug policy, including "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know." Reformers have had a "love/hate" relationship with Kleiman over the years.
Washington voters acted boldly last November to begin reforming our nation’s failed policy on marijuana. It was an act of leadership, in stark contrast to the inertia that has perpetuated the failed war on drugs for the past 42 years. But the state’s most important allies in this political fight — its 12-member congressional delegation — have remained mostly silent. They appear to have missed the memo sent by 56 percent of voters: Washington voters want legalized marijuana.
An ad-hoc committee of 10 House and Senate members started work reviewing 165 pages of recommended regulations from a task force that worked for more than three months to suggest rules for the newly legal drug. The suggested rules cover the entire product cycle of pot—from how marijuana should be grown and labeled to how to tax the drug and spend the proceeds. The 10 lawmakers on the House-Senate pot committee will ultimately suggest a bill for the full Legislature.
The United States must not turn a blind eye to the recreational use of cannabis in states that liberalize drug laws, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said, urging the country to live up to its treaty commitments. Raymond Yans, president of the INCB, said assurances from the U.S. government in December that growing, selling or possessing the drug remained illegal under federal law were "good, but insufficient".
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder declined to reveal the Obama administration’s long-awaited policy on legal recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington at a Senate committee hearing. Holder said he’d had “good conversations” with elected leaders in those states, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “We expect our ability to announce a policy relatively soon,” Holder said. (See also: Four months after marijuana legalization vote, feds remain mum)
US Attorney General Eric Holder told America to expect a decision "soon" on how he'll respond to the recent legalization of pot by Colorado and Washington state. Legislative committees in New Mexico and Hawaii approved bills to decriminalize marijuana possession and Oregon lawmakers introduced a legalization bill. Rhode Island legislators held a hearing on a bill to legalize and tax marijuana. In California, where Holder's Justice Department has spent months trying to shut down respected medical-pot dispensaries, a Field Poll showed that 67 percent of state voters oppose the move.
A record but still narrow majority of California voters, or 54 percent, favor legalizing marijuana for personal, recreational use with age limits and other restrictions like those placed on alcohol, a new Field Poll showed. The support was the highest since the FieldPoll first asked about pot legalization in 1969, when 13 percent of California voters were in favor. In 2010, the last time Field Poll asked voters about the issue, 50 percent favored legalization.
Rules for Colorado's recreational-marijuana industry have begun to take shape after a marathon meeting of the Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force, which recommended marijuana purchasing caps. Adults over 21 in Colorado are allowed up to an ounce of weed, but the task force recommended that a single transaction at a pot shop be capped at a lower amount. Regulators did not agree what the smaller cap should be, punting that decision to the state Legislature, which will decide on Colorado's marijuana rules. (See also: Colorado task force says marijuana should be in child-proof packages)
The cannabis industry is an easy target for legislatures to saddle with heavy taxes. In Washington State for instance, there is a 25% tax at three different stages of cannabis production: from the grower to the processor, from the processor to the retailer, and the retailer to the customer. These taxes are in addition to any other state or local sales taxes that might apply. Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, for instance, has introduced marijuana reform legislation that would enact a 50% excise tax on production.
Colorado's Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force is wading through the weeds of marijuana legalization, creating regulations to take pot from the shadows out into the open. In the wake of the decision by voters in Colorado last November to legalize recreational marijuana for adults, the question of how to integrate legal pot into the practical bureaucratic realities has fallen on two dozen Coloradans. By the end of the month, the Task Force must submit a report to the Colorado Legislature that lays out its suggestions for how the state should regulate legal marijuana.
Two marijuana-related bills advanced in Olympia, with legislative committees giving their OK to one measure that would block police from arresting medical marijuana patients and another that would let people have misdemeanor pot convictions erased. After Initiative 502 passed, allowing adults over 21 to have up to an ounce of marijuana under state law, thousands of people still have criminal records for activity that is now legal - criminal records that can keep people from getting jobs, housing or loans.
State Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) was joined by Rep. Aaron Libby (R-Waterboro) at a press conference to unveil the details of her new bill that would make Maine the third state in the nation to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol. The bill would remove criminal penalties for possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana, direct a state agency to license and regulate marijuana commerce, create a $50 an ounce excise tax on wholesale sales, and allow localities to not allow marijuana commerce.
Lawmakers from opposite ends of the political spectrum unveiled a bill Thursday that would give Mainers the chance to legalize marijuana for recreational use in a statewide referendum. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, and co-sponsored by Rep. Aaron Libby, R-Waterboro, would make vast changes in Maine’s drug law, ranging from making possession of up to 2.5 ounces of pot legal to imposing a tax of $50 per ounce.
Members of a task force proposing regulations for recreational marijuana in Colorado approved recommendations that would allow for marijuana tourism but block out-of-state pot shop owners. The Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force voted to allow people from outside of Colorado to shop in forthcoming retail marijuana stores, though the amount they could purchase at any one store would be limited. (See also: Pot tourism in Colo.? Marijuana regulators OK idea)