Marijuana Reform Update: Movement for Legal Sanity Grows as Majority of Americans Demand End to Reefer Madness

You wouldn't know about this from reading the News-Gazette or in most of the other elitist corporate-controlled media. There is a mass movement of the oppressed sweeping our nation, with ordinary citizens taking action, pressing their legislators, and advancing legal changes supported by the majority of American to force an end to this abusive, corrupt "war" on ourselves. Here is summary of recent news as the people advance against the forces of repression.

Bill to Legalize Marijuana Introduced in Maryland

by NORML

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Hot on the heels of the introduction of a bill to tax and regulate marijuana in Maine earlier today, Delegate Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore) has filed legislation in Maryland that would end his state’s prohibition on marijuana and regulate its possession, use, and sale for adults over the age of 21.

House Bill 1453 would create a system to regulate and tax cannabis in a manner similar to how the state handles alcohol.

It would instruct the Maryland comptroller to license marijuana retail stores, wholesale facilities and testing facilities and apply an excise tax of $50 per ounce on wholesale sales.

The excise tax revenue would go to fund treatment programs to prevent alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse. You can read the full text of this proposal here.

The winds of reform are blowing strongly at our backs, with Maryland entering the fray, there is currently a total of six states (MaineNew HampshirePennsylvaniaRhode Island, and Vermont) with pending legislation to legalize marijuana for adult consumption.

http://www.thedailychronic.net/2013/15693/bill-to-legalize-marijuana-introduced-in-maryland/

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Maine Could Become the Next State to Legalize Marijuana for Adult Use

by Marijuana Policy Project

AUGUSTA – State Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) was joined by Rep. Aaron Libby (R-Waterboro) at a press conference Thursday 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.

“When it comes to keeping marijuana away from teens, keeping marijuana in an unregulated underground market is the worst possible policy,” Rep. Russell said. “Instead, marijuana should be sold by legitimate, taxpaying businesses in a tightly regulated market.”

In summary, the “Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana”:

  • Removes criminal penalties for private possession and home-growing of limited amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older;
  •  Directs the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to license marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities;
  •  Enacts an excise tax of $50 per ounce on wholesale sales, of which 10% of the revenue will be used for implementation of the law, 10% will be used for substance abuse treatment and prevention programs, 5% will be used for research on the effects of marijuana, and the remaining 75% will be directed to the state’s general fund;
  •  Regulates the cultivation, processing, and distribution of industrial hemp; and
  •  Allows localities to ban marijuana businesses.
  • It would remain illegal to use marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana.

If state lawmakers approve the bill this session, it will be referred to voters in the upcoming November election. If the measure gets carried over and approved during the next legislative session, it will be placed on the November 2014 ballot.

“Marijuana is objectively far less harmful than alcohol for the consumer and for the broader community,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It is irrational to punish adults who simply prefer to use the less harmful substance.

“Law enforcement resources should be focused on preventing and responding to serious crimes rather than enforcing the failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” Boyer said. “It’s time for a more sensible approach.”

Last November, voters in Colorado and Washington State approved measures making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and directing state regulatory bodies to create regulations for businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana to adults.

Bills to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol have also been introduced this year in the Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire state legislatures, and lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Vermont are expected to bring forward similar legislation.

http://www.mpp.org/media/press-releases/maine-could-become-next-state.html

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Washington State Marijuana Protection Bills Advance

Bills would protect marijuana patients from arrest, expunge pre-502 misdemeanor pot arrests

by Associated Press

OLYMPIA, WA — Two marijuana-related bills advanced Thursday in Olympia, with legislative committees giving their OK to one measure that would block police from arresting medical marijuana patients and another that would let people have prior misdemeanor pot convictions erased.

The House Public Safety Committee voted 6-5 to recommend the bill on pot convictions be passed, and the Senate Health Care Committee approved the arrest-protection bill. The votes beat a deadline Friday for bills dealing with policy matters to be passed out of committee.

Democratic Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon of Burien told the House committee Wednesday that after Initiative 502 passed, allowing adults over 21 to have up to an ounce of marijuana under state law, he started thinking about the thousands of people who have criminal records for activity that is now legal – criminal records that can keep people from getting jobs, housing or loans.

Typically, people must wait three years after completing their sentence before asking to have a misdemeanor conviction vacated. The bill would eliminate that waiting period and remove other restrictions on having pot misdemeanors wiped clean.

The bill drew some objections at a hearing Thursday. The head of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Tom McBride, noted that the bill would allow people to have their convictions erased even if they had more marijuana than I-502 allows. Misdemeanor pot possession has historically been defined as up to 40 grams, but the new law only lets people have up to an ounce, or 28 grams.

It remains a misdemeanor to have between 28 grams and 40 grams, but under the bill anyone convicted of having that much in the future could immediately petition to have the conviction erased.

Ezra Eickmeyer, a lobbyist with the Washington Cannabis Association, said Thursday that was a pretty minor concern.

“What the people voted for was not to put people in jail and give them criminal convictions for possessing small amounts of marijuana,” he said. “That’s the principle that was passed. I’m appalled that the prosecutors are trying to make criminal convictions stick for people caught with small amounts of cannabis.”

Eickmeyer said he was excited about the Senate committee’s vote on the arrest-protection bill. State law currently allows those arrested and charged with marijuana crimes to present an “affirmative defense” to the charges in court if they’re complying with the medical marijuana law; the bill would prevent them from being arrested in the first place if they present their valid medical marijuana authorization to police.

The measure doesn’t do as much as he would like, Eickmeyer said, but he hopes it can be amended to include a regulatory system for medical marijuana dispensaries.

I-502 called for the creation of state-licensed growers, processors and retail stores for recreational marijuana, but no such plan exists for commercial medical marijuana dispensaries, which have been tolerated by police but operate outside the letter of state law.

Other pot-related bills pending in Olympia include one that would impose a 25-percent tax on sales at medical marijuana dispensaries, similar to the 25-percent tax on non-medical cannabis imposed under I-502.

http://www.thedailychronic.net/2013/15712/washington-state-marijuana-protection-bills-advance/

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Missouri Marijuana Reform, Hemp Bills Filed

by Philip Smith

JEFFERSON CITY, MO — Members of the Missouri legislature have introduced three different marijuana law reform bills this month—one to decriminalize pot possession, one to expunge misdemeanor offenses, including marijuana possession, from the record after five years, and one to legalize industrial hemp.

Rep. Rory Ellinger (D-University City) and two cosponsors introduced the decriminalization bill, House Bill 512, at a press conference earlier this month. Perhaps decriminalization is not quite the right word.

The bill would make the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana or pot paraphernalia punishable only by a fine, but it would still be a criminal offense—a misdemeanor—instead of a civil infraction. The bill would also encourage judges to use “suspended imposition of sentence,” under which the person is not convicted and, if he successfully completes a probationary period, there is no longer any public record of the matter.

“Every year, nearly 20,000 Missourians are put in chains and then relegated to second-class citizenship by a criminal record for the possession of small amounts of marijuana,” said John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, who addressed the press conference. “This policy costs Missouri taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year, but does nothing to decrease marijuana use or eliminate the harms associated with the black market. There are no other proposals before our legislators that can do so much good so easily.”

At the same press conference, Rep. Ellinger also introduced the expungement bill, House Bill 511. Under current Missouri law, only a very few specified offenses can be expunged. This bill would allow expungement for all misdemeanor offenses, including marijuana and paraphernalia offenses, except for violent or sex offenses.

“Although these measures may seem like long shots, one year ago, no one would have predicted that the Republican majority in both houses would reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine or reduce the term of probation in most felony drug cases by one half, especially during an election year,” said Dan Viets, a veteran attorney with Show-Me Cannabis Regulation. “Those reforms passed with bipartisan support, and these bills can too. That means we will do everything we can to make it happen in 2013.”

And this week, Sen. Jason Holsman (D-South Kansas City) introduced an industrial hemp bill, Senate Bill 358. It would exempt industrial hemp—defined as containing less than 1% THC—from the state’s controlled substances act and allow anyone not convicted of a drug-related crime to grow it. An identical bill was introduced in the House last year, but didn’t move.

Now that the snow is melting in Missouri, legislators are getting back to work. It would be nice if the Show Me State could show the rest of us the way forward.

http://www.thedailychronic.net/2013/15721/missouri-marijuana-reform-hemp-bills-filed/

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Meanwhile, in Illinois our do-nothing legislators are still working only on getting ridiculously restrictive medical marijuana legislation passed despite growing, overwhelming public suport for this measure. Since they've been at that for more than 30 years now, they might get it right after a couple of more decades, right? Maybe. This is Illinois after all, where the powers that be enjoy lording over us regular folks, while raking in the cash from their corrupt backers to keep the rest of us in our place, subservient to those who fancy themselves as our "leaders." Most of us ask only that the government leave us alone, but they want to keep us trapped in a Stalemate of Stupidity. It's time we started voting our interests, not theirs.

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