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Ballot Initiatives

US AK: Alaska Marijuana Activist Plans to Open Medical Pot

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 08:00
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 28 Jan 2015 - ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A marijuana activist is planning to open a medical pot dispensary in Anchorage next month on the day recreational marijuana becomes legalized in Alaska under a ballot initiative approved by voters in November. Alaska Cannabis Club owner Charlo Greene has scheduled the opening for Feb. 24, the Alaska Dispatch News ( reported.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives

US CA: Column: The 2016 Election Is Closer Than You Think

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 08:00
East Bay Express, 28 Jan 2015 - Plus, Why Voter Apathy Saved Reformers Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars. California activists are hoping to reverse 97 years of cannabis prohibition in the Golden State within the next 650 days. But that's not very much time.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives

US MI: Column: Detroit Dispensary Debate

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 08:00
Metro Times, 28 Jan 2015 - "This is not going away, every community organization that I'm aware of in this city is looking for the same thing, and it's to not have Detroit become the Wild West city in the state of Michigan for medical marijuana," says Jim Ward, president of the Green Acres radio patrol (GWCRP), a community watch group. Ward has been attending meetings with other Detroiters concerned with what they see as the over-proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Maybe, just as the creation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act was, this is a case of citizens stepping in where the state has failed to perform.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives

US FL: Florida Bill Expands Medical Use Of Pot

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 08:00
Sun-Sentinel, 27 Jan 2015 - Measure Also Tackles Flaws In 2014 Initiative Although a proposed medical marijuana amendment failed in the 2014 election, medical use of the plant could come to Florida as soon as July 1, 2016. That's the date by which Florida would have to begin issuing marijuana patient ID cards under a bill filed Monday by State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. The bill would allow patients with certain medical conditions to obtain marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. It also addresses several of the criticisms levied at the unsuccessful constitutional amendment ballot initiative.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives

US AK: First Draft of Pot Bill Receives Criticism From All

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 08:00
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 27 Jan 2015 - JUNEAU - The Legislature's first stab at a bill dealing with legalized marijuana was roundly criticized by lawmakers, state officials and legalization advocates during its first hearing on Monday. Criticism largely focused on Senate Bill 30's approach to making the voter initiative play nice with existing crimes for marijuana, which opponents said puts the burden on legal users.
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US DC: District Marijuana Citations Often Ignored, Target

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 08:00
Washington Times, 27 Jan 2015 - D.C. police have written more than 250 tickets for marijuana possession in the roughly six months since the District relaxed its marijuana laws, but the vast majority of citations have simply been ignored, an analysis by The Washington Times has found. From July 17 through Jan. 7, the Metropolitan Police Department issued 251 tickets for marijuana possession, with 47 percent issued to people in the department's Seventh District, which lies east of the Anacostia River and includes some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives

Seven States That Are Next In Line to Legalize Marijuana [FEATURE]

Ballot Measures (STDW) - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 19:33

Written in partnership with Alternet and originally published here.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]During a series of YouTube interviews Thursday, President Obama demonstrated a remarkably laissez-faire attitude toward marijuana legalization experiments in the states. And he signaled strongly that the Obama administration wouldn't be taking to the hustings to try to beat back legalization efforts, as previous administrations had been wont to do.

"What you're seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they're experimenting with legal marijuana," the president said in response to a question from YouTube host Hank Green. "The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we're not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue. My suspicion is that you're gonna see other states start looking at this."

Indeed. Legalization bills are already popping up in state legislatures around the country, and while it's unlikely -- though not impossible -- that any of them will pass this year, 2016 looks to be the breakout year for freeing the weed. One state is going to be the first to legalize it through the legislature, and next year seems reasonable. And the presidential election year is also likely to see successful legalization initiatives in several more.

Currently four states -- Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington -- and the District of Columbia have ended pot prohibition. But that's only about 18 million people. By the time they quit counting the votes on Election Day 2016, that number is likely to triple, and then some.

So, where's it going to happen? Here's where:


That California is the only state on the West Coast to not yet have legalized pot is an embarrassment to Golden State activists. They were first with medical marijuana in 1996, and they tried to be first to legalize it with Prop 19 in 2010, but came up short, garnering 46% of the vote on Election Day despite leading in the polls up until the final weeks. In 2012, with the big players sitting on their cash stashes, none of the competing initiative efforts even managed to make the ballot.

It will be different in 2016. The actors with deep pockets are all ready to get involved next year, the polling is good (if not great, hovering in the mid-50s), and the state's disparate and fractious cannabis community is already working to forge a unified front behind a community-vetted initiative. The main vehicle for activists is the California Coalition for Cannabis Law Reform, which has already started holding meetings statewide to try to a unified marijuana reform community.

[image:2 align:right caption:true]With 38 million people, California is the big prize. It's also an expensive place to run an initiative, with the cost of getting on the ballot alone at around a million dollars. And it'll take several million more to pay for advertising in the key final weeks of the campaign. But the money is lining up, it'll take fewer signatures to qualify for the ballot (thanks to the dismal turnout in last year's midterms), and once it qualifies, it will have momentum from (by then) four years of legalization in Colorado and Washington and two years of it in Alaska and Oregon. California will go green in 2016.


Nevada is the state that is actually furthest down the path towards legalizing it next year. The Marijuana Policy Project-backed Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Nevada has already qualified a legalization initiative for the 2016 ballot. It would legalize the possession of up to an ounce by adults 21 and over and allow for taxed and regulated marijuana commerce.

Under Nevada law, the legislature now has a chance to approve the initiative. If it does so, it would become law; if it rejects it or fails to act on it, it then goes to the voters on Election Day 2016.

Nevadans approved medical marijuana in 1998 (59%) and again in 2000 (65%), but voted down decriminalization in 2002 (39%) and legalization in 2006 (44%). But it has since then effectively decriminalized possession of less than ounce, and it's now been a decade since that last legalization initiative loss at the polls. Either marijuana will be legal by Election Day 2016 thanks to the legislature or the voters will decide the question themselves at the polls.


In Arizona, possession of any amount of pot is still a felony, but polling in the last couple of years shows support for legalization either hovering around 50% or above it. Those aren't the most encouraging polling numbers -- the conventional wisdom is that initiatives want to start out at 60% support or better -- but a serious effort is underway there to put the issue before the voters in 2016.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is teaming with Safer Arizona and other state activist groups for the 2016 initiative campaign and has formed a ballot committee to begin laying the groundwork for a Colorado-style initiative.

The initiative language is not a done deal, and there are some signs that local activists aren't completely happy with MPP's proposed language, but that's why there are consultations going on.


The Marijuana Policy Project has been laying the groundwork for a statewide legalization initiative in 2016 with local initiative campaigns in some of the state's largest cities in 2014 and 2013 and is working on final initiative language now. But it is also seeing competition from a state-based group,Legalize Maine, that says it is crafting its own initiative and is criticizing both MPP and Maine politicians for advancing "out of state corporate interests" at the expense of Mainers.

Whether MPP and Legalize Maine can get together behind a single initiative remains to be seen. If they can, good; if they can't, well, Maine is a small and relatively inexpensive state in which to run a signature-gathering campaign. There could be not one, but two legalization initiatives in Maine next year.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Diane Russell has filed a legalization bill in the legislature this year. Maine is one of the states where the looming presence of legalization initiatives could actually move the legislature to act preemptively to craft a legalization scheme to its own liking.


Massachusetts is another. As in Maine, but to a much greater degree, Bay State activists have been laying the groundwork for legalization for years. Groups such as MassCann/NORML and the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts have run a series of marijuana reform "public policy questions" in various state electoral districts each election cycle since 2000 -- and they have never lost! The questions are non-binding, but they're a clear indicator to state legislators where voter sentiment lies.

The state has also seen successful decriminalization and medical marijuana initiatives, in 2008 and 2012, respectively. In both cases, the initiatives were approved with 63% of the vote. And again as in Maine, the Marijuana Policy Project is organizing an initiative, but local activists with similar complaints to those in Maine are threatening to run their own initiative. Organized as Bay State Repeal, which includes some veteran Massachusetts activists, the group says it wants the least restrictive legalization law possible. Whether the two efforts can reach a common understanding remains to be seen.

[image:3 align:left caption:true]Meanwhile, the issue could move in the legislature in the next two years. New Republican Gov. Charlie Baker says he's opposed to legalization, but is praising Democratic Senate President Stanley Rosenberg's decision to appoint a special Senate committee to examine issues around legalization. Rep. David Rogers (D-Cambridge) isn't waiting. He's filed a legalization bill, and while previous such bills have languished in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, incoming committee head Sen. Will Brownberger (D-Boston) has said he will give it a hearing. Something could happen this year, although it's more likely next year, and the voters doing it themselves on Election Day 2016 is more likely yet.


Vermont could be the best bet for a state to legalize it this year and for the first state to legalize it through the legislative process. There is no initiative process in the state, so that's the only way it's going to happen. And the state has already proceeded well down that path.

Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) has endorsed legalization in principle -- the devil is the details -- and the legislature last year approved a RAND study on the impacts of legalization, which was just released earlier this month. That study estimated that freeing the weed could bring the state $20 to $70 million in annual pot tax revenues.

Other state officials have expressed openness to the idea, and a May 2014 poll found 57% support for legalization. There's not a bill in the hopper yet this year, but one could move quickly in this state where a lot of the legislative groundwork has already been laid.

The Marijuana Policy Project has formed the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana to help push the process along. Stay tuned; this is one to watch.


And there's a dark horse in the heartland. The Missouri activist group Show Me Cannabis has been running an impressive educational campaign about marijuana legalization for the past few years. The group tried to get an initiative on the ballot last year, but came up short.

They've already filed paperwork for 2016 for a constitutional amendment to make it legal to grow, sell, and use marijuana for people 21 and over.

One reason Show Me Cannabis came up short in 2014 was the lack of support from major players outside the state. Given the lack of polls showing strong support for legalization, the big players remain sitting on their wallets, but that could change if good poll numbers emerge. And there's still plenty of time to make the 2016 ballot.

Categories: Ballot Initiatives

US OH: Editorial: 10 Seek Payoff From Pot Plan

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 08:00
Columbus Dispatch, 25 Jan 2015 - Ohioans Should Reject Proposal That Would Create Legal Drug Cartel The latest in a string of proposals to legalize marijuana in Ohio provides another example of a secretive, self-serving group trying to disguise its motives while pushing a supposedly consumer- and taxpayer-friendly scheme on voters.
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US MI: Medical Pot Sits At Supreme Court

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 08:00
The Oakland Press, 25 Jan 2015 - Number of Patients, Caregivers Continues to Fall Defense attorneys said the reality is that clarifying the law has been left to the courts with many defendants on hold for several years. Many have been busted for opening dispensaries that prosecutors and law enforcement said aren't allowed under the law.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives

US OH: Debate To Legalize Marijuana Flares In Ohio

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 08:00
Dayton Daily News, 25 Jan 2015 - If Ballot Issue Passes, State Would Go From Ban to Full Legalization. COLUMBUS - An ambitious plan backed by deep-pocketed financiers and experienced political operatives aims to cut a new path to legalizing marijuana - and it is drawing opposition even before ResponsibleOhio has publicly released all its details.
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US DC: OPED: The Cost Of A Political Opinion

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 08:00
Washington Post, 25 Jan 2015 - Civic-minded citizens of the District: Think twice the next time you write a blog entry, post on Facebook or Twitter or attend a meeting or rally to support or oppose a ballot initiative. You could be required to register and report with the city or else pay a large fine. The Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) at the D.C. Board of Elections dropped this end-of-the-year bombshell in an enforcement proceeding arising from November's election, in which District residents voted to legalize marijuana. In the run-up to the vote on Initiative 71, District resident William V. Jones III created the Web site "Two. Is. Enough. D.C." Under the premise that having two legal recreational substances (alcohol and tobacco) was enough, the Web site provided opinions and information opposing marijuana legalization. According to the OCF, Mr. Jones also invoked the "Two Is Enough" slogan when he "participated in various meetings and demonstrations" in the D.C. community.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives

US AK: Legislators Want to Put Marijuana Rules on the Fast

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 08:00
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 24 Jan 2015 - JUNEAU - With legalized marijuana a month away, lawmakers are hoping to fast track legislation they hope will clear up legal gray areas. On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced Senate Bill 30 to address underage consumption, what constitutes a public place (because public consumption of marijuana will still be illegal) and addresses driving with marijuana.
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US MA: Baker Staunch In Opposition To Legalizing Marijuana

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 08:00
Boston Globe, 23 Jan 2015 - But Governor Still Sees Value in Review by State Senate With marijuana legalization advocates considering a ballot measure campaign in Massachusetts in 2016, Governor Charlie Baker said Thursday that he is "going to always be opposed to legalizing" recreational use of the drug.
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Chronicle AM: ME Mj Bills, OH Mj Init, VA Heroin Bills, WY Drug & Asset Forfeiture; More (1/20/15)

Ballot Measures (STDW) - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 20:39

State legislative sessions are getting underway, and drug policy-related bills are popping up all over. There's good, bad, and ugly. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Alaska Bill Would Delay Regulations for Marijuana Concentrates. Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) last Friday filed House Bill 59, which would delay regulations for concentrates by up to a year. That conflicts with the language of the marijuana legalization initiative, and has legalization supporters unhappy. Click on the story link for more details.

A Big Batch of Pot Bills in Maine. There are at least 15 marijuana-related bills pending before the state legislature, including one that would legalize, tax, and regulate the weed. Rep. Dianne Russell (D-Portland), sponsor of the legalization bill, is also sponsoring four medical marijuana bills. Another bill, sponsored by the Department of Public Safety, would set a limit on the amount of THC drivers could have in their systems. Click on the link for more detail.

Nebraska Bill Would Make Pot Concentrates a Felony. The state decriminalized pot possession in the 1970s, but a bill being pushed by the state attorney general's office, LB 326, would begin to undo that by making possession of marijuana concentrates not just a misdemeanor, but a felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. It's been referred to the Judiciary Committee.

Responsible Ohio Lays Out its Vision for Legalization. The group wants to put a constitutional amendment to legalize pot on the November 2015 ballot, and today announced details of its proposal. The initiative would create a Marijuana Control Commission, allow for 10 licensed commercial grows, allow for marijuana manufacturing facilities that would sell only to retailers, allow for nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries, and would tax marijuana at a 15% rate. Click on either link for more.


Virginia Legislature Sees Heroin Bills Filed. At least four bills have been filed that seek to address the toll of heroin addiction and overdoses. House Bill 1638 would make people who provided drugs that resulted in a fatal overdose liable for a second degree murder charge; House Bill 1500 is a limited 911 Good Samaritan bill; House Bill 1458 would expand access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone, and Senate Bill 817 would expand the state's prescription monitoring program to allow probation and parole officers to access the database.

Asset Forfeiture

Wyoming Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Advances to Senate Floor. A bill that would bar police from seizing people's property unless they are charged with a felony drug crime passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday and now awaits a Senate floor vote. Senate File 14 drew late opposition from the offices of Gov. Matt Mead (R) and Attorney General Peter Michael (R), which claimed they would have to charge more people with felonies if they couldn't just take their money, but legislators expressed irritation at the late objections when the bill has been in process for months.

Drug Policy

Wyoming Bill Would Lighten Up on Repeated Drug Possession Punishments. Under current law, people convicted a third time in their lives for misdemeanor drug possession face felony penalties. House Bill 109 would change state law to make the felony penalties apply on the forth conviction, and the previous convictions would have to have happened in the past five years, instead of throughout the convict's lifetime, which is current law. There are at least three other bills relating to drug possession before the legislature; click on the title link to read more.

Drug Testing

Montana Food Stamps Drug Testing Bill Filed. Rep. Randy Pinocci (R-Sun River) Monday filed House Bill 200, which would require all applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, the food stamps program) to be screened for evidence of drug abuse. Those whose screening suggests a possible issue would be required to undergo a drug test. People who test positive for drugs wouldn't be allowed to receive benefits unless they agreed to complete a 30-day drug treatment program.

Harm Reduction

Michigan Cops Start Carrying Overdose Reversal Drug. Deputies in Oakland County have begun carrying naloxone opioid overdose reversal kits in a bid to reduce overdoses. That was made possible by the passage last year of Senate Bill 1049, which allowed law enforcement agencies to distribute the drug to police who have been trained to use it.


German Cops Tired of Messing Around With Small Time Drug Crimes. The country's police union is calling for "soft" drug offenses and other minor crimes to be decriminalized so police can focus on serious crime and terrorism. German police are also faced with shrinking numbers due to mandatory retirement of officers.

Categories: Ballot Initiatives

US CA: Mendocino County To Vote On Creation Of Pot Panel

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 08:00
The Press Democrat, 19 Jan 2015 - Officials in pot-rich Mendocino County are thinking ahead to the potential economic impacts of what they see as the inevitable legalization of marijuana for general use. "Whether it's at the state Legislature or the ballot box, it is foreseeable that we will have legalization for personal recreational use within the next two years," said Supervisor John McCowen, one of two board members nominated to sit on a proposed committee that would study the issue. The county can either prepare for that event or wait on the sidelines, he said.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives

US OR: Oregon Lawmakers Busy Filing Marijuana Bills

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 08:00
The Bulletin, 19 Jan 2015 - SALEM - Oregon legislators filed more than a dozen marijuana-related bills last week, giving early insight into how they'll tinker with a new law that will legalize recreational marijuana starting this July. The proposals show what lawmakers may do now that Oregon is the nation's fourth state to take on regulation of the federally banned drug.
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US DC: Council Sets Up Pot Bill Hearings

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 08:00
Washington Times, 19 Jan 2015 - Move to Gauge How Lawmakers Challenge Congress The D.C. Council is pursuing a regulatory scheme for the sale and taxation of marijuana, scheduling hearings on proposed legislation that flies in the face of congressional attempts to prevent the District from loosening its drug laws.
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US MT: Marijuana Bills Wafting Into Legislature

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 08:00
Montana Standard, 18 Jan 2015 - HELENA - Marijuana once again will be an issue at the Legislature, with a number of bills anticipated, from possibly decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of pot to banning medical marijuana. "I wanted to do a legalization of marijuana bill, but I don't have the energy," Sen. Mary Caferro, D-Helena, said.
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US AK: Forum Crowd Pro-Pot, Pro-Regulation

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 08:00
The Frontiersman, 18 Jan 2015 - PALMER - Residents and local government officials appear cautiously optimistic about the future of marijuana in the Mat-Su Valley, based on discussion at Thursday's meeting. Some of the commentary heard during Thursday's informal mayoral forum - - which involved mayors of Wasilla, Palmer, Houston, and the Mat-Su Borough - focused on specific policy recommendations, like the suggestion that a limited number of licenses be offered, and be initially awarded via lottery. Other recommendations, like a speaker who urged officials to adopt specific regulations only as specific problems arose, were more general.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives

US FL: Editorial: Lead Or Be Eclipsed On Medical Marijuana

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 08:00
Sun-Sentinel, 18 Jan 2015 - Those who opposed last year's push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida raised several concerns. They feared it would allow children to get medical pot from their doctor. They feared it would be prescribed for just about anything, including a hangnail. They feared caregivers would become drug dealers. And above all else, they said it had no business as an amendment to the state constitution. In November, Amendment 2 came close to passing with 58 percent of the vote, just shy of the 60 percent needed. At the time, its principal backer, Orlando trial attorney John Morgan, promised he'd be back. And Monday, he filed paperwork to start the process for placing a revised initiative on the 2016 ballot.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives
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