It has been a little over a month since Coloradans approved a groundbreaking law legalizing small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Now that the celebratory haze has settled, state officials and marijuana advocates began sifting through the thorny regulatory questions that go beyond merely lighting up.
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)
Juan Andres Palese was using a fake name in public when he opened Uruguay’s first store dedicated to cultivating marijuana, where he offered growing equipment and advice but no illegal plants or seeds. Now that President Jose Mujica’s plan to create and regulate the world’s first national marijuana market has the force of law, Palese’s got much bigger plans.
Officials tasked with creating a regulated marijuana system in Washington state said they are moving forward with a timeline of issuing producer licenses by August 2013, but said that several challenges and uncertainties still exist surrounding the new law. (See also: Eager marijuana entrepreneurs are in for a long regulatory trip)
Washington state may delay issuing licenses to grow pot by a couple months, according to state Liquor Control Board Deputy Director Rick Garza. In its initial timeline, the board would issue producer licenses in mid-August. Then it planned to issue processor licenses in early November and retailer licenses in mid-November. Under that schedule, state-regulated stores might open as early as December. But the board staff believe it’s probably better to create all three licenses at the same time.
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.
House Bill 2000, the bill by Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, to modify Initiative 502, marijuana legalization, offers a mix of changes that could help create a functioning market and things that might not. That ambiguity was reflected in the testimony on the bill Wednesday: the bill was opposed by Derek Franklin of the Washington Association of Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention (WASAVP), which opposed legalization, and also by Keith Henson, Pierce County director for NORML, which favored it. (See also: Some K9s trained to ignore pot in Washington)
Vigorous regulation of a thriving medical-marijuana industry in Colorado offers the best glimpse of what is coming to Washington when it launches its voter-approved social-use market. With continuous surveillance, bar-coded plants and strict financial background checks, Colorado's rules allowed capitalism to be unleased, creating an instant $200 million industry. With retail prices — averagingabout $7.50 a gram — among the cheapest in the country.
Many Washington residents are looking to cash in on the newly legal and potentially lucrative marijuana market, which they hope will give them a new start, create jobs, and boost Washington's slumping economy. A diverse bunch, prospective marijuana entrepreneurs range from cannabis novices to experienced sellers crawling out of the black market. State officials are unsure how much revenue marijuana will bring because the market has never been regulated. But experts predict the industry could fetch up to $2bn over a five-year period.
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.
Uruguay’s drug czar says the country plans to sell legal marijuana for $1 per gram to combat drug-trafficking, according to a local newspaper. The plan to create a government-run legal marijuana industry has passed the lower house of Congress, and President Jose Mujica expects to push it through the Senate soon as part of his effort to explore alternatives in the war on drugs. The measure would make Uruguay the first country in the world to license and enforce rules for the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adult consumers.
Uruguay's President Mujica has quietly signed into law the government’s plan to create a regulated, legal market for marijuana. He signed the legislation Monday night. That was the last formal step for the law to take effect. Bureaucrats now have until April 9 to write the fine print for regulating every aspect of the marijuana market, from growing to selling in pharmacies. They hope to have the whole system in place by the middle of next year. But as of Tuesday, growing pot at home is legal in Uruguay, up to six plants per family and an annual harvest of 480 grams.
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".
One of Morocco’s main political parties, the Party for Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), established by a close adviser to the king, started the process of legalizing marijuana cultivation with a hearing in parliament over its industrial and medical uses. The hearing is the first step in eventually introducing a draft law, aiming to help small farmers who survive on the crop but live at the mercy of drug lords and eradication by police. "We are not seeking to legalize the production of drugs, but to search for possible medical and industrial uses of this plant and create an alternative economy in the region," said Milouda Hazib. (See also: Morocco lawmakers stoke cannabis debate)
Alaska voters likely will get a chance next year to make their state the third in the country to approve the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 and older. Pot backers took the first step toward getting the measure on the August 2014 primary ballot, presenting draft language and 100 signatures to the Alaska lieutenant governor’s office.
La légalisation du cannabis en Maroc à des fins thérapeutiques et industrielles permettra les familles de vivre dignement. Après le Parti de l’Istiqlal, le PAM s’apprête à déposer lui aussi une proposition de loi en ce mois de février après avoir terminé ses consultations avec les agriculteurs. Le sujet en tout cas n’est plus tabou, et les parlementaires eux-mêmes, au-delà des calculs électoralistes et politiques que peut revêtir leur initiative, demandent à juste titre un cadre législatif pour son exploitation à des fins médicales et industrielles.
The cry of "states' rights" is not often associated with progressive causes, but with the "war on drugs" comprehensively declared a $1tn failure by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the call has reason and justice on its side. Will the feds carry their fight against the voices expressing popular will from California to Colorado, Washington State and beyond? Or will the White House temper its approach with respect for local democracy?