2016

Michigan: 2 Marijuana Legalization Petitions Approved For Signature Gathering

MICHIGANMarijuanaLeafMap[HeraldTribune]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two competing Michigan marijuana legalization petitions were approved on Thursday by the Board of State Canvassers. Both are aiming for the 2016 ballot.

The petitions are from the Michigan Cannabis Coalition (MCC) and the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee (MCCLRC), reports Jonathan Oosting at MLive.com. Both can immediately begin circulating petitions, attempting to collect the 252,523 signatures required to qualify for the 2016 ballot.

MCCLRC, a group led by cannabis activists and attorneys, faced some criticism for canvassers for squeezing the proposed initiative language onto the back of a single petition sheet, which some said made it difficult to read.

"I think this is a terrible disservice to people reading this petition," said Julie Matuzak, a Democrat appointed to the four-member Board of State Canvassers, who nonetheless voted to approve the petition because it technically met current rules.

But Jeffrey Hank, a Lansing-based attorney and chairman of the ballot committee, downplayed that critique, saying MCCLRC will begin collecting signatures in the coming weeks.

"We think it's perfectly readable," Hank said. "Our language is publicly available and has been for some time. We're confident the voters will understand the options we provide."

U.S.: Legalized Marijuana Would Be Eliminated Under A Christie Presidency

ChrisChristieIntoHimself[Startraksphoto.com]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Sunday promised to eliminate legalized marijuana in states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska if he's elected president.

The rotund Republican, speaking on CBS' "Face The Nation," said his administration would use federal law outlawing marijuana to crack down on states that have legalized recreational cannabis use, reports Matt Arco of NJ Advance Media.

"Yes sir," Christie replied to host John Dickerson when asked if he'd go after Colorado and Washington for legalized marijuana.

"If you were President would you return the federal prosecutions in the states of Colorado, Washington state?" Dickerson asked. "Yes," Christie answered.

"So, if somebody's enjoying that now in their state, if you're President, that's getting turned off?" Dickerson pressed. "Correct," Christie responded.

The Obama Administration hasn't punished states which have legalized marijuana, nor has it forced them to roll back the initiatives that voters approved.

Christie, on the other hand, has been a vocal critic of cannabis legalization; ignoring science, he claims it's a "gateway drug."

Photo of Gov. Chris Christie: Startraksphoto.com/New York Post

New York: Officials Join Patients, Families Supporting Emergency Medical Marijuana Access

NewYorkMedicalMarijuana

Abandoned by Cuomo, Families Turn to Legislature for Relief in Final Days of Legislative Session

Bill Would Create Emergency Access Program to Provide Relief to Suffering Children

Nearly a year since the medical marijuana law passed in New York in June 2014, patients and families will gather in Albany to urge lawmakers to pass a bill that would create an emergency access program so that critically ill patients could access medical marijuana.

Since the law passed, not one patient has been able to access medical marijuana and at least four children from across New York State have tragically died while waiting to obtain this much-needed medicine.

In the final days of the legislative session, patients and advocates will gather in Albany to call on the New York Assembly and Senate to pass legislation that would create an emergency access program for patients with the most urgent need – including children suffering from severe epilepsy.

The bill – A.7060 (Gottfried) / S. 5086 (Griffo) – has bi-partisan support including, co-sponsor Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb. The bill is expected to pass the Assembly, and advocates are calling on the Senate to move swiftly to pass the bill before the end of the legislative session next week.

Compassionate Care NY will hold a Tuesday press conference urging passage of the bill, which is likely to be voted on by the full Assembly early this week.

What: Press conference on legislation to create emergency access to medical marijuana

Who:

-Representatives of the Drug Policy Alliance

South Dakota: Medical Marijuana Ballot Drive To Begin

SouthDakotansForSafeAccess(USE)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A South Dakota medical marijuana activist said she hopes to begin gathering signatures within a month to put a medical marijuana proposal on the 2016 ballot.

Melissa Mentele, 38, said on Tuesday that her ballot measure language is currently under review at the South Dakota Attorney General's office, reports James Nord at the Associated Press.

People with conditions such as cancer could be helped by cannabis, according to medical marijuana proponents. Mentele herself suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

Mentele said she's taking the ballot proposal route because state legislators haven't been willing to enact a medical marijuana program. Her proposal would allow patients with a doctor's authorization to buy or grow cannabis, and to possess up to three dried ounces.

"We're trying to bring compassionate access onto the ballot, because that's what we need in South Dakota," Mentele said. "If somebody doesn't fight to change the law, it's going to stay a bad law."

Two previous attempts to legalize medical marijuana have fallen short in South Dakota. A 2006 effort got 47.7 percent of the vote, but a 2010 attempt got just 36.7 percent.

Other organizers are sponsoring 2016 ballot initiatives that would prohibit the sale and transfer of alcohol and tobacco in South Dakota. It's "about consistency" in the law, according to marijuana activist Bob Newland, 67.

U.S.: Bernie Sanders Leaves Door Open For Marijuana Legalization

BernieSandersSmiles[420Magazine]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday hinted at support for marijuana legalization, saying police didn't focus on arresting people for pot when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont, indicated an openness to legalization during an online question and answer session on Reddit.com.

"I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana [when I was mayor]," Sanders said. "Our police had more important things to do."

Sanders, who describes himself as a socialist, is running for the Democratic nomination for President. He said he supports decriminalizing cannabis in Vermont, and is watching the situation in Colorado "very closely."

"Colorado has led the effort toward legalizing marijuana and I'm going to watch very closely to see the pluses and minuses of what they have done," Sanders said. "I will have more to say about this issue within the coming months."

Sanders, who announced in April that he's running for President, has acknowledged using marijuana when he was younger, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. He has been an outspoken critic of the War On Drugs, telling Time magazine in 2014 that he had "real concerns" about American drug policy.

U.S.: Hillary Clinton Calls For End To 'Era of Mass Incarceration'

Hillary2016[Frontline]

2016 Presidential Candidates United on Need for Major Criminal Justice Reforms

From Rand Paul to Hillary Clinton, Candidates Seek to Reduce Number of People Behind Bars

Hillary Clinton on Wednesday became the latest Presidential candidate to embrace criminal justice reform. In her first major policy speech since announcing her candidacy, Clinton called for an end to the “era of mass incarceration.”

“There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison in their lifetimes, and an estimated 1.5 million black men are ‘missing’ from their families and communities because of incarceration and premature death,” Clinton said. “The consequences are profound. … It’s time to change our approach,” she added, citing the fact that 1 out of every 28 American children have a parent locked up behind bars.

“The fact that the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president chose the subject of mass incarceration as the focus of her first major policy address since she announced her candidacy is of great significance politically,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of Drug Policy Action. “So is the fact that all of the other Democratic candidates and most of the Republican ones agree that something needs to be done to reduce incarceration in our country.”

U.S.: Presidential Candidate Rubio Wants To Enforce Federal Law In Marijuana States

MarcoRubioScratchingHead[MotherJones]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Prospective candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination continued their baffling verbal assault on cannabis this week, as Florida Senator Marco Rubio joined Chris Christie in pledging a federal crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana.

Asked by radio host Hugh Hewitt if he would "enforce the federal drug laws and shut down the marijuana trade," Rubio answered: "I think, well, I think we need to enforce our federal laws. Now do states have a right to do what they want? They don’t agree with it, but they have their rights. But they don’t have a right to write federal policy as well…

"I don’t believe we should be in the business of legalizing additional intoxicants in this country for the primary reason that when you legalize something, what you’re sending a message to young people is it can’t be that bad, because if it was that bad, it wouldn’t be legal," said Rubio, revealing his distressingly murky thought process around the subject.

"In addition to enforcing the rest of the Controlled Substances Act, U.S. Attorneys are still pursuing marijuana cases in Colorado and Washington, just not in a way that shuts down the state-legal industry," said Jacob Sullum at Reason. "Rubio apparently opposes that policy of prosecutorial forbearance."

U.S.: Gov. Chris Christie Promises To Crack Down On Marijuana If Elected President

ChrisChristieEating[FreedomOutpost]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you want to see a massive marijuana crackdown in the United States, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is your guy.

Christie made an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show on Tuesday and claimed he will "crack down" on states that have legalized marijuana if he becomes President in the future, reports Carimah Townes at ThinkProgress.

"Marijuana is a gateway drug," Christie claimed, ignoring scientific studies showing otherwise. "We have an enormous addiction problem in this country. And we need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down through the federal law enforcement.

"Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law," Christie said. "And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it."

Asked by Hewitt if he would enforce federal marijuana prohibition in Washington, Colorado and other states that legalize recreational cannabis, the Governor responded, "Absolutely. I will crack down and not permit it."

Christie's hardline stance might not prove very popular with voters. According to the latest results from Pew Research Center, 53 percent of Americans favor marijuana legalization.

California: Gubernatorial Candidate Gavin Newsom Supports Marijuana Legalization

GavinNewsomeChinInHand[420Magazine]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom is preparing for a 2016 gubernatorial campaign, and if an expected ballot measure to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana meets his criteria, he will endorse it and effectively become the public face of the campaign, betting his political future on the popularity of cannabis in the Golden State.

Newsom, a Democrat, is the highest-ranking official in California to support recreational legalization, reports Seema Mehta at The Los Angeles Times.

Although legalization will almost certainly be popular with liberal and young voters, some political analysts believe his support for legalization could present a challenge.

"He could motivate large numbers of young people who aren't regular voters to turn out for him," said director Dan Schnur, of the University of Southern California's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. "But taking a leadership role on this could make older swing voters nervous, even if they agree with him on the issue. It's a potentially risky play."

Voters in California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 but in 2010 voted against recreational use, 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent. Since then, polling has shown that public support for legalizing pot has grown, reaching 53 percent in a March survey by the Public Policy Institute of California — a record high in that organization's surveys.

U.S.: Presidential Swing States Support Legalizing Marijuana

AmericanFlagPotLeafInsteadOfStars[CindysBeenTrippin]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Voters in three critical swing states -- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- support legalization of medical marijuana by margins of 5-1 or more and also support legalization of recreational marijuana use by smaller margins, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released on Monday.

Support for medical marijuana is 84 - 14 percent in Florida, 84 - 15 percent in Ohio and 88 - 10 percent in Pennsylvania, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960, no candidate has won the Presidential race without taking at least two of these three states.

Support for allowing adults "to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use" is 55 - 42 percent in Florida, 52 - 44 percent in Ohio and 51 - 45 percent in Pennsylvania.

But swing state voters say they don't plan to use marijuana themselves:

• 17 percent of Florida voters say they "definitely" or "probably" would use it, while 81 percent say they "probably" or "definitely" would not;

• 14 percent of Ohio voters say they "definitely" or "probably would use it, while 84 percent say "definitely" or "probably" not;

• 15 percent of Pennsylvania voters say they are likely to try, while 83 percent say no.

Louisiana: Voters Could Decide On Marijuana Legalization Next Year

LouisianaCannabis

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Louisiana lawmaker has proposed putting marijuana legalization on the Presidential election ballot next year for a statewide vote.

Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) has filed a bill, HB 117, to put possession, distribution and dispensing of cannabis and its derivatives on the Louisiana ballot November 8, 2016, reports Julia O'Donoghue at The Times-Picayune. Voters would be deciding not just the Presidential race, but also Congressional seats that day.

In a Louisiana State University survey last year, 79 percent of Louisianans indicated support for some form of marijuana legalization. If Honore's initiative got on the ballot and passed, people 21 and older would be able to possess and buy cannabis without criminal charges.

"If I can get it to the people, it will pass with flying colors," Honore said.

According to Honore, criminal charges for marijuana have already ruined too many lives in Louisiana. As of June 2013, 1,372 Louisianans were serving prison sentences for simple cannabis possession. The average marijuana sentence in Louisiana is 8.4 years; more than 78 percent of these offenders are African American.

California: World Wrestling Champion Rob Van Dam Supports Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2016

RobVanDamSmokeWeed[MoviesPictures.org]

Grass Roots Organization Prepares for September Signature Drive While Gaining Momentum and Support

Rob Van Dam, world famous professional wrestler, is also an advocate for the legalization of cannabis. He recently created a video that describes his opinion on this subject which can be found on Hashbar TV HERE.

"Marijuana should be legalized and taxed like beer and wine," Van Dam said.

The 2016 California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI 2016), a grass roots organization endorsed by the California Green Party, is seeking financial donations to pay for signature gathering and to promote the initiative. Volunteers are also needed, according to CCHI 2016.

Signatures will be gathered beginning around Sept. 10 this year. The signatures of more than 600,000 registered voters will be needed to qualify for the 2016 ballot within 150 days of signature gathering.

The California Cannabis and Hemp Initiative permits the use of marijuana by adults 21 and older and regulates, enforces and taxes recreational marijuana sales like beer and wine.

The organization hopes to collect donations of $5, $10 and $20 as well as large donations to raise almost $1 million so that Californians to be able to vote on the initiative in 2016.

Nevada: Marijuana Legalization Will Appear On November 2016 Ballot

RegulateMarijuanaLikeAlcoholNevada2016

Citizen-initiated ballot measure would end marijuana prohibition in Nevada and establish a legal marijuana market for adults 21 and older

The Nevada Legislature is expected to let voters decide in November 2016 whether to end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

State lawmakers have until Saturday, March 14 to enact Initiative Petition No. 1, but chose to adjourn Friday without voting on it. They were tasked with considering the measure after supporters submitted nearly twice the number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

“Voters will have the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition next year and replace it with a policy that actually makes sense,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Regulating marijuana like alcohol will make Nevada safer by replacing the underground marijuana market with a tightly controlled system of licensed businesses.

"Law enforcement officials will be able to spend their time addressing more serious crimes, and adults will no longer be punished simply for using marijuana,” Tvert said.

The initiative makes private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public or drive while impaired by marijuana.

Nevada: Backers Say They Have Signatures To Put Marijuana Legalization On 2016 Ballot

NevadaDontGambleWithMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Supporters of an initiative petition to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Nevada on Friday said they have collected far more than the required number of signatures to qualify for the 2016 ballot.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol plans to turn in about 170,000 signatures to county clerks on Wednesday, reports Sean Whaley at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. To qualify for the ballot, 101,667 signatures from registered Nevada voters are required.

Brezny said he expects to have almost twice the number of signatures needed in each of Nevada's four Congressional districts.

If the signatures are there, the legalization proposal for those age 21 and older will go to the 2015 Legislature. If the Legislature fails to approve the proposal within the first 60 days of the session, it goes on the Nevada general election ballot in 2016.

The measure is modeled after Amendment 2, the recreational marijuana legalization law approved by Colorado voters in 2012.

Support among Nevada voters was measured in 2013 at 54 percent for and 42 percent against, Brezny said when the petition was filed in April.

California: Marijuana Policy Project Filing Committee For 2016 Legalization Initiative

MarijuanaPolicyProject(MPP-logo)

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is filing a committee with the California Secretary of State on Wednesday to support a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in California. According to MPP, "It will be part of a broad coalition of local activists, community leaders, organizations, and businesses working to pass a measure similar to the one approved by voters in Colorado in 2012."

The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, will immediately begin raising funds to help place the measure on the November 2016 ballot. MPP was the largest financial backer of the Colorado initiative campaign.

“Marijuana prohibition has had an enormously detrimental impact on California communities," said MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia. "It’s been ineffective, wasteful, and counterproductive. It’s time for a more responsible approach.

“A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible," Kampia said. "Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.

“Marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than alcohol, and that’s how it needs to be treated," Kampia said. "Regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol just makes sense.”

Nevada: Backers Launch Ballot Initiative Signature Drive To End Marijuana Prohibition

NevadaDontGambleWithMarijuana

Democratic State Sen. Tick Segerblom and former Nevada Republican Senate Caucus Executive Director Joe Brezny are first to sign the petition

2016 ballot measure would replace the underground marijuana market with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Tuesday launched a signature drive in support of a 2016 ballot measure that would end marijuana prohibition in Nevada. State Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) and former Nevada Republican Senate Caucus Executive Director Joe Brezny were the first to sign the cannabis legalization petition at a news conference in Sen. Segerblom's law office.

“Marijuana prohibition has been just as big of a failure as alcohol prohibition,” Segerblom said. “If we can regulate alcohol, there’s no reason why we can’t begin regulating marijuana in a similar fashion and raise more money for our schools. It just makes sense.”

The initiative would make private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, licensed cultivation facilities, licensed manufacturing facilities, licensed testing facilities, and licensed distributors.

Massachusetts: Bay State Repeal Hopes To Get Rid Of Marijuana Prohibition In 2016

BayStateRepeal

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cannabis activists are working to put full marijuana law repeal before Massachusetts voters during the next presidential election, in 2016.

"We won't have to have it on the ballot again after we've finally repealed the prohibition," said activist William Downing, treasuer of ballot committee Bay State Repeal, reports Andy Metzger at MassLive.com.

Repeal, unlike legalization, doesn't create more laws around cannabis -- it repeals all those already on the books.

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to restrict marijuana, according to Downing, prohibiting doctors from prescribing cannabis in 1913, well before federal marijuana laws were passed in 1937. Downing, an activist since 1989, said he sees parallels between the marijuana movement and the people who repealed alcohol prohibition.

Bay State Repeal wants to put non-binding "public policy" questions about getting rid of the marijuana laws before voters in 2014, before writing the binding language for the 2016 ballot as an initiative petition.

"A lot more people vote generally when there's a presidential election and we do better when a lot more people vote because this is a populist issue," Downing said.

Predictably, "family" and "anti-drug" groups oppose the measure.

California: Poised To Legalize Marijuana - Will It Be 2014 Or 2016?

CaliforniaPotFlag

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Nearly two-thirds -- 65 percent -- of Californians support the legalization, regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana in the state, according to a new Tulchin Research poll.

The poll, taken during the last two weeks with 1,200 likely 2016 voters, showed a "solid majority" back proposals to legalize adult recreational cannabis, according to the San Francisco-based pollster, reports Kathleen Miles at The Huffington Post.

The poll found 32 percent oppose pot legalization, and 3 percent are undecided.

The poll results were released during a Thursday news conference by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, and American Civil Liberties Union representatives. Newsom and the ACLU announced the launch of a two-year research project on proposals to legalize recreational cannabis.

Newsom will head a panel of 16 experts, including academics, doctors and policy wonks, who will study the political and legal issues involved in legalization.

"This is about real people," Newsom said. "Communities are devastated because of this abject thing called the Drug War. Forget the politics; this is the right thing to do."

"But we need to answer the tough questions before we put it on the ballot," Newsom said. "I want the research in order to be more convincing to others."

In your opinion, what is the best benefit from the hemp and cannabis plant?

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