The District of Columbia Board of Elections agreed to put an initiative on this November’s ballot that would legalize marijuana for recreational use in the district. This prompted an interesting question: Will Congress be allowed to use marijuana recreationally?
If passed, Initiative 71 will allow D.C. residents over the age of 21 to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, cultivate up to six plants, and transfer (not sell) up to 1 ounce. All members of Congress who live in D.C. are adults, so technically they will be permitted to use marijuana at their leisure.
Marijuana possession is still illegal on federal property. So until marijuana is removed from the Schedule I substance list, it will not be allowed on federal property. Members of Congress won’t be able to light up at work, but they can at home – if they live in the district. “Possessing marijuana in their [Congress members'] own home would be legal under D.C., as it would be for anybody else,” said Bill Piper, the director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.
And Initiative 71 does not include any additional provisions related to Congress either. A subsection addresses the professional workplace, but states that agencies, employers, and officers will not be required to allow their employees to use marijuana off the job. Basically, employers will still be allowed to enact their own drug-testing policies; but fortunately for members of Congress, their workplace doesn’t have one.
On July 3rd, anis being held for Arizona medical marijuana patient Chris Martin who’s pre-trial hearing is on July 7th in Yavapai County. Martin, a celebrated chef and the founder of Billy Zonka’s Edibles and the ZonkaGear clothing line, is facing more than 125 years in prison for creating marijuana .
This case has generated national attention because of the severe punishment being sought after in a country and state where the stance on marijuana is turning towards legalization. Creating marijuana edibles and concentrates was illegal in 2012 when Martin was arrested, but nevertheless, it’s still a wonder why a life sentence is being sought after by Arizona authorities.
In conjunction with Safer Arizona and The Human Solution East Valley, Martin will be holding a press conference at Up in Smoke smoke shop in Tempe to educate the public on the rights of defendants charged with marijuana offenses.
The panel will discuss the struggles medical marijuana patients face when prosecuted and what protections are needed to be built into the upcoming 2016 citizens’ initiative for marijuana legalization in Arizona. Safer Arizona, Arizona’s marijuana reform PAC, sponsored the 2014 Arizona marijuana legalization initiative and is currently working with the marijuana reform group, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), on the public outreach and drafting phases of the 2016 Arizona marijuana legalization campaign.
Arizona has a record-high number of state-licensed medical marijuana operating throughout Arizona.
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allows for up to 126 dispensaries to open. Nearly 80 dispensaries are now open in Arizona, and many more plan to open in 2014.
“Arizona’s medical marijuana industry is predicted to enlarge significantly in 2014,” stated a spokesperson for Hemp American Media Group.
Arizona currently has 50,000 medical marijuana patients and almost 80 dispensaries. Over 70% of patients have chronic pain listed as their qualifying condition and the majority of patients are males.
“As dispensaries become more common place in Arizona, the amount of interest and awareness by the public continues to increase.” stated an industry professional.
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Arizona’s medical marijuana patients will now have access to more types of marijuana-infusedat state-licensed .
Judge Katherine Cooper has officially ruled that using marijuana concentrates (oils, hash, keif, dabs, waxes, etc) to make medical marijuana edibles such as drinks, candies, cookies, and other marijuana-infused foods is legal in Arizona.
“It is undisputed that medical marijuana is intended to be used by patients to treat chronic, debilitation, and/or painful conditions,” the judge Cooper wrote, listing conditions in theranging from cancer to nausea to seizures and chronic pain.
“It makes no sense to interpret the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act as allowing people with these conditions to use medical marijuana but only if they take it in one particular form,” said Cooper. “Such an interpretation reduces, if not eliminates, medical marijuana as a treatment option for those who cannot take it in plant form, or could receive a greater benefit from an alternative form.”
Cooper also noted that the law specifically allows the use of marijuana “and any mixture or preparation thereof.”
“These words expand the allowable manipulation of the plant,” stated Cooper. “To conclude that patients can only use unmanipulated plant material would render the phrase meaningless.”
Most noteworthy, Judge Cooper pointed out the voter-approved statute states that marijuana can be prepared “for consumption as food or drink.”
This ruling will allow state-licensed dispensaries to make marijuana edibles with any version of concentrates available; thus leading to more products available for medical marijuana patients.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green-light for the University of Arizona to study marijuana’s beneficial effects on PTSD, but a state Senator has single-handedly blocked the study.
State Senator Kimberly Yee of Phoenix says she will not let the study even be consider for approval because she’s scared the backers of the study are only trying to legalize marijuana.
“Both myself and numerous community leaders have reached out to members of the senate regarding this bill, and Kimberly Yee is the only one who has not even returned my phone call. It is unfortunate for the democratic process that one person has chosen to not hear the bill” said Republican Ethan Orr, the bill’s house sponsor.
Read article: “Feds Approve University of Arizona’s Study on PTSD.”
Americans believe that consuming marijuana poses less harm to their health than the consumption of alcohol, tobacco or sugar, according to a poll released by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News.
Respondents were asked which four substances they believed to be the “most harmful to a person’s overall health.” The poll revealed that tobacco (49%), followed by alcohol (24%) and sugar (15%) were believed to be the most harmful. Then marijuana (8%) was believed to be the least harmful. The poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.10 percent.
“These results once again reaffirm that an overwhelming majority of the American public understands that any potential risks associated with the use or abuse of cannabis are relatively minor to those associated with many other legal and regulated substances,” said Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML. “Criminalizing cannabis and those who consume it responsibly is a disproportionate public policy response to what is, at worst, a public health issue but not a criminal justice concern.”
Currently, marijuana isas a schedule I controlled substance by the Federal government, putting it in the same class as heroin.
Another “compassion club” (unlicensed business selling marijuana) in the Phoenix area was raided by police.
Delta 9, located in a strip mall in Tempe, was distributing medical marijuana to card-holding patients without a state license.
Compassion clubs usually charge monthly membership fees and then donate small quantities of marijuana to patients with medical marijuana cards.
In Arizona, donating marijuana between medical marijuana patients is legal, but the compassion clubs are still operating in a grey area that the cops appear to be claiming as illegal territory – especially now that so many legal, state-licensed medical marijuanaare open.
Cops arrest everyone when compassion clubs get raided. So it is much safer to get a medical marijuana card and only purchase marijuana from a state-licensed, , or caregiver. Currently, there are about 80 dispensaries operating in Arizona.
As Arizona’s medical marijuana industry continues to develop, other pro-marijuana actions are underway in Arizona and other states throughout the country.
Almost 30 states and the District of Columbia are considering some type of marijuanareform legislation this year. The include bills that cover marijuana legalization for adults, medical marijuana programs, decriminalization, and cultivation.
Arizona currently has two reform bills simultaneously pending. One about legalization for adults and the other for marijuana possession decriminalization.
Currently there are 14 states considering marijuana legalization for adults: Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
12 states and the District of Columbia are considering types of marijuana-related decriminalization: Alabama, Arizona, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wyoming.
11 states are considering establishing medical marijuana programs: Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
3 states are considering industrial hemp cultivation: Indiana, New York, and Tennessee.
Before long every state in the country will likely be a part of the marijuana industry; whether it be marijuana legalization or marijuana for medical purposes.
The federal government is paving a way for banks to work with marijuana industry businesses.
This week, the US Justice Department and Treasury Department issued memorandums that have provided banks with an outline for how to legally conduct business with marijuana industry businesses.
The new rules require banks to verify that marijuana businesses are properly licensed by their state before pursuing a business relationship. Banks are then required to monitor the businesses for any financial violations and report suspicious activity to federal regulators.
Whether the new regulations for banks and marijuana industry businesses will work is yet to be seen.
Most likely, large commercial banks will quickly enter the industry, but smaller regional banks will likely stay away due to the fear of large fines from regulators.
These new regulations are intended to help marijuana industry transactions to “move from the shadows,” said Mrs. Calvery, director of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
Even with these new federal regulations, many financial institutions are likely to remain cautious. Some banking industry experts have mentioned that nothing short of Congressional action will permit the banking industry to partner with marijuana industry businesses.
This new-found tolerance by the fed for legitimate state-run marijuana industries is a huge victory for the marijuana industry and banks.