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Delaware: Marijuana Decriminalization Law To Take Effect Friday

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Marijuana decriminalization legislation adopted earlier this year in Delaware will officially take effect on Friday, making it the 19th state in the nation to remove the threat of jail for simple marijuana possession. (A 20th state, Missouri, has a similar law on the books that goes into effect in 2017.)

“Delaware’s marijuana policy is about to become a lot more reasonable,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Most people agree adults should not face jail time or the life-altering consequences of a criminal record just for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Taxpayers certainly don’t want to foot the bill for it, and fortunately they will not have to any longer.”

Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

Once HB 39 takes effect, the possession or private use of one ounce or less of marijuana will no longer trigger criminal penalties or create a criminal record for adults 21 years of age and older. Instead, it will be a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 20 will face the same $100 civil fine for their first offense, then an unclassified misdemeanor for subsequent offenses, which they can have expunged from their records when they reach age 21. Marijuana possession by minors and public consumption by people of any age will remain misdemeanors.

Pennsylvania: Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday voted 40-7 to approve a bill that would make it legal for seriously ill patients to use marijuana to treat their conditions with recommendations from their doctors. The bill will now go to the House for consideration.

SB 3, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), would allow qualified patients to obtain medical marijuana from a limited number of licensed, regulated dispensaries throughout the state.

Smoking would not be permitted under the restrictive language of the bill, but patients could consume marijuana in edible form, and patients with certain conditions could consume it through vaporization. Patients under the age of 18 would be required to have parental consent in order to take part in the program.

Unfortunately, home cultivation would also not be allowed under the bill, depriving many fixed-income patients of an economical way to provide their own medicine.

Pennsylvanians suffering from cancer, seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cachexia/wasting syndrome, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury and postconcussion syndrome, multiple sclerosis, spinocerebellara ataxia (SCA), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and chronic pain would be eligible for the program with a recommendation from their doctor.

New York: Gov. Cuomo Proposes Unworkable Medical Marijuana Program

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Marijuana Policy Project urges Gov. Cuomo and state legislators to adopt pending legislation that would actually allow people with serious illnesses to access medical marijuana

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday during his State of the State address that he will be issuing an executive order to initiate the establishment of a medical marijuana program in New York. The proposal will likely be unworkable because it is expected to rely on federal agencies’ cooperation and/or hospitals violating federal law, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the nation's largest marijuana policy organization.

"We're pleased to learn Gov. Cuomo is among the 77 percent of Americans who recognize the legitimate medical benefits of marijuana," said MPP Director of State Policies Karen O'Keefe. "Unfortunately, his plan will not allow New Yorkers to access or use medical marijuana anytime soon."

"Twenty states and our nation's capital have enacted laws that protect patients from arrest and provide them with a legal means of acquiring their medicine," O'Keefe said. "If the governor and legislators agree that medical marijuana can help people battle serious illnesses, they can and should adopt a system that will actually allow them to use it."

Arizona: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Launched

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Arizona man has launched an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in the state.

Dennis Bohlke, 59, a north Phoenix computer programmer, is leading the Safer Arizona initiative, reports Yvonne Wingett Sanchez at The Republic. Bohlke said the measure is modeled after Colorado's newly enacted constitutional amendment, which taxes and regulates cannabis.

"The intent of the initiative is to legalize marijuana in Arizona and to treat it as we treat alcohol," Bohlke said.

The measure would amend Arizona's Constitution to allow people 18 and over (not 21 and over, as in Washington and Colorado) "to consume and possess limited amounts" of marijuana. The state would license grow facilities, retail marijuana stores and other related businesses.

The initiative needs 259,213 valid voter signatures by July 3, 2014, to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

There is no major financial backing to fund signature gathering, according to Bohlke; that has been the death knell for efforts in other states including, most recently, Oregon's Measure 80. He acknowledged it will be "challenging" to gather the necessary signatures to qualiy for the ballot without major funding.

Bolhlke said he had spoken with Republican, "Tea Party" and Democratic lawmakers about the measure, and while they won't openly support him, they seemed "very receptive" to his initiative.

Nevada: Gov. Sandoval Signs Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Into Law

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Legislation backed by local law enforcement organizations will establish a state-regulated system of dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to licensed patients

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Nevada's medical marijuana patients have been waiting 13 years for this. Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday signed a bill into law that will establish a state-regulated system of dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to licensed patients. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office supported the measure.

“We applaud Gov. Sandoval and the Legislature for their leadership and commend those law enforcement organizations that expressed support for this much-needed legislation,” said Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who testified in support of the bill, SB 374. “It will make Nevada a safer and healthier place not only for medical marijuana patients, but for the entire community.

“This new law will provide patients with the safe and reliable access to medical marijuana that they deserve,” O'Keefe said. “Regulating medical marijuana sales will also generate revenue and take a bite out of the state's underground marijuana market.”

SB 374 was introduced by Senators Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) and Mark Hutchison (R-Las Vegas), and it establishes rules and regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries, infused product manufacturers, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities.

Rhode Island: First Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Open Friday

(Graphic: Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center)Licensed and regulated business begins providing medical marijuana to residents with serious illnesses

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first licensed medical marijuana compassion center (dispensary) in Rhode Island is scheduled to open Friday, April 19. The Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center, located at 1 Corliss St., will open its doors at 10 a.m. EST to begin providing medical marijuana to licensed patients who have registered the dispensary as one of their caregivers.

"Finally, Rhode Islanders with serious illnesses who find relief from medical marijuana will be able to access it safely at a state-regulated nonprofit," said Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which spearheaded the advocacy effort in support of the dispensary legislation in partnership with the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. "Many patients find that marijuana is safer and more effective than a lot of the medications they have been prescribed. Fortunately, they will no longer have to put themselves at risk by purchasing it in an underground market."

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