MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION: On November 6, three states—Colorado, Washington and Oregon—will put to vote the question of whether to legalize marijuana. Beginning in the 1970s many states, counties, and cities have attempted to decriminalize marijuana with efforts ranging from reducing penalties for cannabis-related offenses to removing all penalties related to cannabis, including sale and cultivation. On November 3, 2004, the city of Oakland, Calif. passed a proposition becoming the first place to fully decriminalize cannabis to allow the licensing, taxing, and regulation of cannabis sales if state law is amended to allow so.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: In November, two states—Massachusetts and Arkansas—are voting to legalize medical marijuana in their states. They would be joining the 17 states in which this is already permitted: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as District of Columbia. Montana voted in 2004 to approve medical marijuana, however, they are now voting on whether or not to adhere to the original law or replace it with a Senate Bill that also permits medical marijuana albeit with more regulation.
In the US, there are legal differences between medical cannabis at the federal and state levels. At the federal level, cannabis has been made criminal by implementation of the 2009 Controlled Substances Act, but new federal guidelines have been enacted to redirect that effort. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, "It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana."
* * *
Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative - Amendment 64
"Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning marijuana, and, in connection therewith, providing for the regulation of marijuana;permitting a person twenty-one years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana; providing for the licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores; permitting local governments to regulate or prohibit such facilities; requiring the general assembly to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana; requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund; and requiring the general assembly to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp?"
Amendment 64 is an amendment to the Article 18 of the Colorado state constitution to adopt a progressive marijuana drug policy. Section 3 would allow the "personal use and regulation of marijuana" for adults 21 and over. Section 4 addresses legal commercial cultivation, manufacture, and sale. The intent is that marijuana be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.
- Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is the campaign to legalize marijuana in the state of Colorado.
- Proponents believe that the War on Drugs isn't working and that regulation will reduce the costs of current enforcement policies and limit teens' access and use of marijuana. Others support the bill on Libertarian grounds, believing that government interference of any sort in the market is highly inefficient.
- Fundraising organizations include: Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the Democratic Party of Colorado and Moms and Dads for Marijuana Regulation; other supporters include State Senator Shawn Mitchell and conservative former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo
- According to Follow the Money, Yes on Amendment 64 has raised $2,393,183
- A budgetary analysis done by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy concluded that Amendment 64 could generate as much as a total of $60m in savings and revenue
- The Yes on 64 Website is here, to donate click here.
- Smart Colorado is the primary opposition to the measure.
- Opponents of Amendment 64 claim that it would lead to increased use of marijuana, a consequence the group considers damaging to children and increases impaired driving. They also argue the amendment conflicts with federal law and that recreational users would be subject to federal and criminal prosecution.
- According to Voter's Edge, No on Amendment 64 has raised $355,582.
- No on 64 supporters include: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Attorney General John Suthers, and the Association of Chiefs of Police among others.
- Though pro-legalization, the group Legalize2012 opposes the amendment claiming that the initiative is not true legalization and gives sweeping authority to the Department of Revenue to control marijuana.
Public polling on Colorado Amendment 64:
|10/23-10/25||Public Policy Polling||53%||43%||5%|
|8/8||Public Policy Polling||47%||38%||15%|
|12/2011||Public Policy Polling||49%||40%||11%|
|8/2011||Public Policy Polling||51%||38%||11%|
* * *
Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation - Initiative 502
"This measure would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues. Should this measure be enacted into law?"
This measure would remove state-law prohibitions against producing, processing, and selling marijuana, subject to licensing and regulation by the liquor control board; allow limited possession of marijuana by persons aged twenty-one and over; and impose 25% excise taxes on wholesale and retail sales of marijuana, earmarking revenue for purposes that include substance-abuse prevention, research, education, and healthcare. Laws prohibiting driving under the influence would be amended to include maximum thresholds for THC blood concentration. Unlicensed cannabis will still be illegal, including personal "grows" in one's own home, except for medical cannabis as regulated under RCW 69.51A.
- Proponents of 502 believe that the initiative frees law enforcement resources to focus on violent crime, provides billions in revenue for the state, take away profits from organized crime and protects our youth from abusing drugs.
- According to the Public Disclosure Commission, Yes on 502 has raised $5,697,618. Major donors include Peter Lewis, ex-CEO of Progressive Insurance ($250,000), philanthropist Harriett Bullitt ($100,000), philanthropist Floyd Jones ($50,000) and co-director of Seattle International Foundation Bill Clapp ($25,000)
- Supporters include the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, The Spokesman-Review, the mayor and entire city council of Seattle, the NAACP, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, and the Seattle Times.
- The Yes on 502 website is here, to donate click here.
- There are two different perspectives voting No on 502: Advocates of medical marijuana object on the grounds that the proposed DUI mandate incriminates innocent people, due to an "arbitrary, unscientific limit". Those against marijuana argue that "legalizing marijuana will greatly increase its availability and lead to more use, abuse, and addiction among adults and youth."
- Opponents include the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention.
- According to Follow the Money, No on 502 has raised $14,927.
- Click here for the No on 502 website.
Public polling on Washington Initiative 502:
|11/1-11/3||Public Policy Polling||53%||44%||3%|
* * *
Oregon Cannabis Tax Act Initiative - Measure 80
“Currently, marijuana cultivation, possession and delivery are prohibited; regulated medical marijuana use permitted. Measure replaces state, local laws except medical marijuana and driving under the influence laws; distinguishes "hemp" from "marijuana"; prohibits regulation of hemp. Creates agency to license marijuana cultivation by qualified persons and to purchase entire crop. Agency sells marijuana at cost to pharmacies, medical research facilities, and to qualified adults for profit through state stores. Ninety percent of net proceeds goes to state general fund, remainder to drug education, treatment, hemp promotion. Bans sales to, possession by minors. Bans public consumption except where signs permit, minor barred. Agency to regulate use, set prices, other duties; Attorney General to defend against federal challenges / prosecutions. Provides penalties. Effective January 1, 2013; other provisions. ”
Measure 80 is a citizens' initiative. If approved, it would legalize marijuana for recreational adult use, regulate and tax the cultivation and sale of marijuana, and legalize the production, use, and sale of hemp. A "Yes" vote allows commercial marijuana (cannabis) cultivation/sale to adults through state-licensed stores; allows unlicensed adult personal cultivation/use; prohibits restrictions on hemp (defined). A "No" vote retains existing civil and criminal laws prohibiting cultivation, possession and delivery of marijuana; retains current statutes that permit regulated medical use of marijuana.
- Yes on 80 proponents say that by regulating marijuana like alcohol, cannabis will only be sold to adults consequently will shrink the black market and prevent children from accessing marijuana. The measure also seeks to restore the agricultural hemp industry, which will create jobs and generate an estimated $140 million in taxes for the state of Oregon and save $60 million in law enforcement costs.
- Public supporters include: Willie Nelson, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, NAACP President Oscar Eason, Jr., Rep. Peter Buckley, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and Former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury
- In order to get on the ballot, supporters obtained 88,887 verified signatures, about a thousand more than the 87,213 necessary to qualify.
- The Yes on 80 website is here, to donate click here.
No on 80
- Opponents of the measure claim this is the "most radical" of the marijuana initiatives with no limits on personal possession and cultivation and fails to establish a drugged driving standard for marijuana.
- Could not locate a website nor funding information for No on 80.
Public polling on the Oregon Measure 80:
* * *
Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative - Question 3
"A YES VOTE would enact the proposed law eliminating state criminal and civil penalties related to the medical use of marijuana, allowing patients meeting certain conditions to obtain marijuana produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers or, in specific hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use. A NO VOTE would make no change in existing laws."
Massachusetts Question 3 is an indirect initiated state statute that would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties related to the medial use of marijuana allowing patients meeting certain conditions to obtain marijuana produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers or, in specific hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use.
- The Committee for Compassionate Medicine is the leading campaign to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Massachusetts.
- Proponents of the initiative argue that "for many patients suffering from debilitating illness, medical marijuana has proven highly effective as a pain management tool, an appetite stimulant, a way to decrease nausea and vomiting, a muscle relaxant and an alternative to heavy prescription painkillers."
- The initiative is being backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance and the Committee for Compassionate Medicine.
- According to Voter's Edge, Yes on Question 3 raised $1,477,327
- The Yes on Question 3 website is here, to donate click here.
No on Question 3
- Opponents of Question 3 include the Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents 24,000 doctors in the state. they "oppose legalizing medicinal marijuana without scientific proof that it would be safe and effective on patients" and that they "cannot support legislation intended to involve physicians in certifying, authorizing, or otherwise directing persons in the area of medicinal marijuana outside of scientific clinical trials."
- According to Voter's Edge, No on Question 3 raised $2,995
Public polling Question 3: Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative
|8/16-8/19||Public Policy Polling||58%||27%||15%|
* * *
Arkansas Medical Marijuana Question - Issue 5
"An act making the medical use of marijuana legal under Arkansas State Law, and establishing a system for the cultivation, acquisition and distribution of marijuana for qualifying patients through nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries and granting those nonprofit dispensaries limited immunity; allowing localities to limit the number of nonprofit dispensaries and to enact reasonable zoning regulations governing their operations; providing that qualifying patients, their designated caregivers and nonprofit dispensary agents shall not be subject to criminal or civil penalties or other forms of discrimination for engaging in or assisting with the patients' medical use of marijuana, etc."
Issue 5 is an initiated state statute, formally "The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act," that allows the use of marijuana by people who choose to use it for medical purposes, and frees those from legal penalty. Patients who possess State Department of Health issued cards will be allowed to purchase and carry marijuana for medical purposes. Patients can either purchase marijuana from state-regulated dispensaries or they can grow the cannabis plants themselves, at a maximum of six plants per patient.
- Arkansans for Compassionate Care is leading the campaign for Issue 5.
- Proponents of the measure say that they "want to ensure that sick and dying patients in Arkansas have the ability to get the medicine they need". This bill allows patients a "safe, tightly regulated, controlled environment to purchase medical marijuana with a doctor's supervision."
- Sponsors Arkansans for Compassionate Care, got nearly $250,000 of the $282,000 in contributions it has received from the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C-based group that advocates legalizing marijuana.
- The website for Yes on Issue 5 is here, click here to donate.
- The Marijuana Policy Project stepped in after polling showed strong support for the measure in Arkansas; the group leaders also cite a "symbolic" value in passing a medical marijuana law in the South."
- The Family Council Action Committee is the leading campaign against medical marijuana in the state of Arkansas.
- Opponents of Issue 5 claim that medical marijuana provides a "back door effort to legalize marijuana."
- No on Issue 5 supporters formed the Coalition to Preserve Arkansans Values, whose members include leaders of the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council, the Family Council Action Committee and the Families First Foundation. Other opponents include: the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police, State Drug Director Fran Flener, Arkansas Association of Counties, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Family Coalition, Arkansas Pharmacists Association, and Arkansas Sheriffs Association.
- The No on Issue 5 website is here.
- Information on campaign donations was not available.
Public polling on Arkansas Issue 5:
|10/18||Talk Business-Hendrix College||38%||54%||8%|
|7/19||Talk Business-Hendrix College||47%||46%||7%|
* * *
Montana Medical Marijuana Referendum - Initiative Referendum No. 124
"In 2004, Montana voters approved I-148, creating a medical marijuana program for patients with debilitating medical conditions. Senate Bill 423, passed by the 2011 Legislature, repeals I-148 and enacts a new medical marijuana program, which includes: permitting patients to grow marijuana or designate a provider; limiting each marijuana provider to three patients; prohibiting marijuana providers from accepting anything of value in exchange for services or products; granting local governments authority to regulate marijuana providers; establishing specific standards for demonstrating chronic pain; and reviewing the practices of doctors who certify marijuana use for 25 or more patients in a 12-month period. If Senate Bill 423 is affirmed by the voters, there will be no fiscal impact because the legislature has funded the costs of its implementation.
If Senate Bill 423 is rejected by the voters, there may be a small savings to the State.
FOR Senate Bill 423, a bill which repeals I-148 and enacts a new medical marijuana program.
AGAINST Senate Bill 423, a bill which repeals I-148 and enacts a new medical marijuana program. A vote against Senate Bill 423 will restore I-148."
The Initiative Referendum 148 is a veto referendum. The measure will place a legislative revision of an approved 2004 medical marijuana measure (Initiative 148) to a vote, instead of making it a law automatically and will enact a new medical marijuana program. If Senate Bill 423 is affirmed by the voters, there will be no fiscal impact because the legislature has funded the costs of its implementation. If Senate Bill 423 is rejected by the voters, there may be a small savings to the State.
On November 2, 2004, voters of Montana passed Initiative 148, which took effect immediately. The vote was 62% yes to 38% no. It eliminated criminal sanctions for medical cannabis authorized by a patient's physician and permitted possession of as many as six cannabis plants.
Yes on Issue 124 for Bill 423
- Yes on 124 proponents argue that the rapidly expanding marijuana industry that came as a result of I-148, "wasn’t medical marijuana, it was recreational marijuana and it perverted the good intentions of using marijuana for medical purposes." Of the need to replace the original Initiative 148, the Great Falls Tribune writes: "Growers and "dispensaries" sprang up around the state with little regulation, causing education and law enforcement issues that hadn't been foreseen by advocates of the original initiative."
- Yes on 124 collected 26,000 valid signatures, more than the 24,337 necessary to place the measure on the ballot.
- Patients for Reform is the leading campaign against the Issue 124.
- The referendum was started by opponents of Senate Bill 423 who believe that the bill is an attempt to overturn a citizen-initiated repeal. No on 124 claims that the bill does not provide a legal way for patients or providers to obtain seeds or plants, does not allow providers any compensation from patients, does not assign a regulatory agency to oversee the program and allows for unreasonable searches to take place.
- No on 124 includes: Montana Cannabis Industry Association and Patients for Reform Not Repeal, and includes Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock.
- According to Follow the Money, No on 124 raised $10,000
- No on 124 website is here, click here to donate.
Public polling on Montana Issue 124:
|9/10-9/11||Public Policy Polling||46%||29%||24%|
# # #