Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Arizona Legalization Ballot Proposal Nears Signature Requirement

AThis is good news for Arizona weed advocates.  According to the Arizona Republic, "A marijuana legalization campaign is nearing its goal of gathering 150,000 valid signatures to get on the November ballot."  Details:

The  initiative would ask Arizona voters to legalize marijuana for recreational use and establish a network of licensed cannabis shops where sales of the drug would be taxed.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is a few thousand signatures short of gathering the 150,642 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, spokesman Barrett Marson said Wednesday. However, some of those signatures are likely invalid — gathered from people who cannot vote — and the group aims to collect 225,000 signatures, he said.

"Arizonans are clearly excited about this initiative," Marson added.

Many others are not, including one group that has been educating the public about harms of the drug on children and society. The Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy has pointed to news articles and statistics and a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey that shows Colorado leads the nation in past-month marijuana use following its legalization of the drug in 2012.

Under the proposed Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, adults 21 and older could possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes without obtaining licenses, as long as the plants are in a secure area.

It would also create a distribution system similar to Colorado's, where licensed businesses produce and sell marijuana.

The initiative also would create a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate the "cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana" and would give local governments the authority to regulate and ban marijuana stores. It also would establish  a 15 percent tax on retail sales, with proceeds going to fund  education, including full-day kindergarten and public health.

Under the 2016 Arizona initiative language, driving while impaired by marijuana would remain illegal, as would consuming marijuana in public and selling or giving the drug to anyone under 21.

Taxation of the program would pay for the state's cost of implementing and enforcing the initiative. Forty percent of the taxes on marijuana would be directed to the Department of Education for construction, maintenance and operation costs, including salaries of K-12 teachers. Another 40 percent would be set aside for full-day kindergarten programs. And 20 percent would go to the state Department of Health Services for unspecified uses.

Revenue from the taxes could not flow into the state's general fund, which would allow it to be spent for other purposes.

January 14, 2016 in Legislation, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation, Voter Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ohio Legislature Readies its Own Marijuana Ballot Issue

The marijuana legalization ballot measure sponsored by "Responsible Ohio" -- the proposal that would grant a monopoly on marijuana sales to the wealthy backers of the measure and lock it in the state constitution -- is facing blowback from the state legislature.  Ohio legislators yesterday put forth their own ballot measure that would block  the prospective monopoly.

    A campaign to legalize marijuana in Ohio took a step closer to making November’s ballot Tuesday, after its promoters turned in more than twice the required number of signatures.

    But the measure will face competition at the polls. Ohio legislators also approved their own ballot measure on Tuesday to undermine the pot plan, which lawmakers worried would amount to a “marijuana monopoly” because of its provision that only 10 growers would control the wholesale pot market. The lawmakers’ measure would block other measures that benefit select economic interest groups.

    The marijuana ballot measure campaign, dubbed Responsible Ohio, is just one of many ballot measures in recent history that are designed to benefit their backers. The companies funding the Responsible Ohio campaign would control — and likely profit from — the marijuana growth sites should the measure pass.

As detailed by the Center for Public Integrity, the campaign’s director, Democratic activist Ian James, came up with the idea and is planning to pay his own firm $5.6 million to push the ballot initiative.

    Ohio Rep. Mike Curtin, a Democrat, said he sponsored the anti-monopoly measure because he opposes the way Responsible Ohio is using the citizen-initiated constitutional amendment, not because he opposes pot legalization.

    “Are we going to allow a small group of investors, who have literally no background in drug policy… to carve themselves a special niche in our state’s founding document?” he said. “To me it’s galling. It’s nauseating.”

    But James said voters should have the right to decide the issue.

    “Some statehouse politicians believe the voters are smart enough to elect them, but they aren’t smart enough to decide ballot issues like marijuana legalization,” he said in an earlier statement.

Well, to be fair to the politicians, Mr. James himself doesn't appear to think Ohio voters are smart enough to understand the issues on their own, so his backers have a $20 million war chest to try to convince them through advertising.

July 1, 2015 in Legislation, State Regulation, Voter Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

California Recreational Weed Measure Clears Ballot Hurdle

From Breitbart News:  CA Marijuana Legalization Clears First Step to Ballot Measure.

    Full marijuana legalization in California inched one small step closer to reality on Monday when advocates were cleared to collect signatures to qualify a measure for the 2016 ballot.

    Supporters of the Responsible Use Act of 2016 have 180 days to collect 365,880 signatures from Californians before the measure can appear on next year’s ballot, reports Reuters.

    The measure, one of at least four being worked on for the 2016 ballot, would impose an excise tax of $8 per ounce of dried marijuana sold in the state, and would allow local governments to tack on an additional sales tax of up to two percent of retail price. The proposal would also set new parameters for marijuana-related criminal offenses and would allow those convicted of marijuana-related crimes the ability to have their sentences reviewed.

    The proposal would not affect medical marijuana’s tax exemption.

Given how easy it is to get an MMJ card in California -- I was repeatedly solicited to apply for one when I took a stroll down Venice Beach at Christmas time -- I'm not sure how many people will want to buy the high-tax version.  But we'll see.

June 30, 2015 in Recreational Marijuana, Voter Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Second Ohio Legalization Group Clears First Ballot Hurdle

The well-oiled crony-capitalist marijuana ballot initiative in Ohio may find itself with some competition come election time.  The Buckeye State'sattorney general has initially certified the "Legalize Marijuana and Hemp in Ohio" ballot initiative, sponsored by a group called  "Better for Ohio." which means it can now start collecting some 300,000 signatures by July 1 to qualify as a ballot initiative.

But there's not a lot of difference between the proposal already being pushed by "ResponsibleOhio," a group of rich and politically connected people who are trying to get a state-granted monopoly on weed built into the state constitution.  The LMHO initiative basically sticks to that monopoly -- even using the same 10 properties ResponsibleOhio plans to use for growing and processing weed -- but it does add the options for individuals to own a few plants of their own withpout state registration, which may make it more attractive to some voters.

There's also a strange provision that seems to allocated licenses based on serial numbers of several mysterious $100 bills now locked in a safe, but whose serial numbers would under the bill become part of the Constitution of Ohio.   Owners of those specific bills would apparently get the license.  I'm a lawyer and I find that part of the amendment baffling at first (and second) read -- and the backers don't seem to have offered an explanation about how at works. 

May 8, 2015 in Local Regulation, News, Politics, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation, Voter Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

When Libertarian Ideals and Marijuana Laws Collide

There are fair weather libertarians, and then there are Texas Libertarians. Rep. David Simpson is most certainly the latter. As noted by Prof. Snyder, he has presented a bill in Texas that utterly removes penalties for marijuana. All of them, for everyone. No regulatory system, either.

The press around the bill so far has centered on his reasons for doing so: God made the plant and put it here, why do we need to micro-manage it? (I would add to that argument by mentioning that for those of you who believe in a Creator, God also built our brains with cannabinoid receptors and then placed exactly one plant on Earth that just so happens to make cannabinoids. And our government has banned it.)

But I applaud Rep. Simpson for doing something few “libertarians” are really willing to do – apply his unapologetic ideals to marijuana. For many, libertarianism is really just a way to frame traditional conservative talking points. It’s easy to hate Obamacare and claim it’s because of libertarian views if enough voters in your district hate President Obama.

But step outside the traditional conservative talking points, and those very same ideals can quickly disappear. Take for instance a popular refrain of libertarians - state’s rights. Recently, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, self-proclaimed champion of state’s rights, lobbed a hand grenade into the legalization debate when he joined with his counterpart in Nebraska to file a lawsuit with SCOTUS intended to block Colorado from proceeding with its adult market. Here is a state’s rights advocate, jumping up and down on the playground demanding that the federal government go make Colorado cut it out. Who cares what the citizens of Colorado voted for. And still support.

And then there is Arizona Rep. Bob Thorpe, another one of these so-called libertarians, who saw a ballot initiative coming in 2016 that would impose a legalization system like Colorado’s. He presented a bill this year that would require that voter initiatives designed to establish state laws that are inconsistent with federal law can only pass with a 75% or greater majority vote. It was so obviously inconsistent with his own platform he was even called out by reporters in the course of announcing the bill.

Good ol’ Cannabis sativa L. It sure does have a powerful effect. For some, it gets them high. For others, it can alleviate pain or help them sleep. For fair weather libertarians, it can make them forget their talking points. Thank you Rep. Simpson for reminding us what it really means to be libertarian.  

March 4, 2015 in Decriminalization, Drug Policy, Federal Regulation, Local Regulation, Medical Marijuana, Politics, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation, Voter Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0)