Friday, January 12, 2018
US Attorney for Oregon, expressing "significant concerns about the state's current regulatory framework," plans summit in response to new AG enforcement policy
Billy J. Williams, the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, has this fascinating new newspaper commentary under the headlined "U.S. Attorney: A call for transparency and action on marijuana." Here is most of what it says:
Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum rescinding existing Justice Department guidance on marijuana enforcement. The move gives U.S. Attorneys wide latitude to develop district-specific strategies and deploy department resources without Washington, D.C. artificially declaring some cases off limits. Before developing a strategy for Oregon, however, we need more information from the state.
Here's what we know right now. Oregon has a massive marijuana overproduction problem. In 2017 alone, postal agents in Oregon seized 2,644 pounds of marijuana in outbound parcels and over $1.2 million in cash. For comparison, postal agents in Colorado seized just 984 pounds of marijuana during a four-year period beginning in 2013.
Overproduction creates a powerful profit incentive, driving product from both state-licensed and unlicensed marijuana producers into black and gray markets across the country. This lucrative supply attracts cartels and other criminal networks into Oregon and in turn brings money laundering, violence, and environmental degradation.
A survey of recent federal cases in Oregon illustrates alarming trends: in the last six months, federal agents and port police have seized over $1 million in cash linked to marijuana transactions passing through Portland International Airport; law enforcement partners from 16 states have reported marijuana seizures from Oregon. In the first half of 2017, in-state production of butane hash oil resulted in six separate lab explosions. And police and sheriff deputies regularly encounter vehicles with hundreds of pounds of marijuana on highways heading out of state.
We also know that even recreational marijuana permitted under state law carries ill-effects on public health and safety, as Colorado's experience shows. Since 2013, marijuana-related traffic deaths have doubled in Colorado. Marijuana-related emergency and hospital admissions have increased 35 percent. And youth marijuana use is up 12 percent, 55 percent higher than the national average. We must do everything in our power to avoid similar trends here in Oregon.
As U.S. Attorney, I have traveled throughout the state to meet with community leaders and citizens to discuss distinctive issues facing rural Oregonians. Many of these conversations quickly turn to marijuana. Landowners throughout central and southwestern Oregon have legitimate concerns that marijuana cultivation has had a detrimental effect on water rights, public lands and livability.
Rural communities simply do not have the resources to fund the additional police and sheriff deputies needed to address these issues. While state officials have allocated a portion of marijuana tax revenues to public safety organizations including the Oregon State Police, the net effect on enforcement remains an open question. Moreover, can 20 Oregon Liquor Control Commission marijuana enforcement specialists adequately police thousands of recreational licensees?
We don't know the answer to these questions, in part, because the state has yet to release a final version of its report evaluating out-of-state diversion, distribution to minors, cultivation on public land and violent crime associated with marijuana in Oregon. We need this information to move forward smartly, effectively, and transparently.
In sum, I have significant concerns about the state's current regulatory framework and the resources allocated to policing marijuana in Oregon.
Congress's judgment on marijuana activity is reflected in the Controlled Substances Act. Before charting a path forward for the enforcement of marijuana in Oregon, we must see how the state mitigates the public safety and health issues raised here. The time for informed action is now.
In the coming days, I will send invitations to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement, public health organizations, Oregon marijuana interests and concerned citizen groups to attend a summit to address and remedy these and other concerns.
This summit and the state's response will inform our federal enforcement strategy. How we move forward will depend in large measure on how the state responds to the gaps we have identified. Until then it would be an inappropriate abdication of my duties to issue any blanket proclamations on our marijuana enforcement strategy in light of federal law.
This commentary and its coming echoes confirms what has been one of my thoughts since Attorney General Sessions' recent decision to rescind the Cole Memo (basics here and here): each US Attorney in each US district is now able to be (and perhaps inevitably will become) the chief regulatory officer for marijuana reform in that jurisdiction. This commentary is a clear statement that this US Attorney is concerned that Oregon's state reforms and regulations are not working, and he is going to have a quasi-regulatory hearing with interested parties, and then (perhaps) he will issue some "regulations" in the form of some explanation of the types of federal marijuana crimes and criminals he will be eager to prosecute in the near future.
January 12, 2018 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Vermont legislature brings state to cusp of being first to legalize marijuana through standard legislation
As reported in this AP article, "the Vermont Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow the recreational use of marijuana, putting Vermont on course to become the first state in the country to legalize pot via legislative act rather than through a citizen referendum." Here is more:
By voice vote, the Senate agreed to the proposal that would make it legal for adults to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana but does not set up a system to tax and regulate the production and sale of the drug. The state House approved the bill last week, and Gov. Phil Scott has indicated he would sign it....
The bill would allow adults older than 21 to possess of up to 1 ounce of marijuana and have two mature marijuana plants or four immature plants in each dwelling unit no matter how many people live there. State senators who voted against the legislation did not ask for a roll call. The law would take effect July 1.
GOP Sen. Randy Brock of Franklin, Vt., who recently was appointed to fill a vacancy, said he voted against the bill after hearing opposition from educators, medical professionals, law enforcement officials and his constituents. He also was concerned that legalization would conflict with federal law. "This is a federal question," Brock said. "It needs to be decided federally."
If Scott signs the bill, Vermont will join eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada, Washington — and the District of Columbia where possession of small amounts of marijuana are legal for recreational use.
In spring 2016, Vermont's Legislature passed a similar bill, but Scott vetoed it because the Republican thought it didn't do enough to protect children from marijuana and ensure highway safety. Lawmakers changed the proposal to address the governor's concerns didn't have enough time to pass it during a short veto session in June.
While this bill does not contain a mechanism to tax and regulate marijuana, as some states do, lawmakers who favor legalization hope the bill will prompt the Legislature to do that later. The District of Columbia's pot initiative also does not have a mechanism for sales, regulation and taxation. "I hope this step leads us to tax and regulate," said Vermont state Sen. Richard Sears, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
The expected based on developments last year, this is still very big and important news and arguably start yet another new chapter in the history of marijuana reform. Whether and how the state considers moving forward with a commercial sale regime or sits tight with just legalization is one of many interesting next questions for the state.
January 10, 2018 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Political perspective on reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, January 8, 2018
US Attorney for Massachusetts refuses to provide more guidance on federal prohibition prosecution plans
As reported in this AP article, the "top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts offered no guarantees on Monday that he would take a hands-off approach to legalized pot, injecting a new layer of uncertainty and confusion into the commercial marijuana industry as it looked to gain a foothold in the state." Here is more:
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement that while he understood the desire for guidance on the federal approach to the state’s voter-approved recreational marijuana law, he "cannot provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution." Such determinations would be made on a "case-by-case basis," he added.
The Yes on 4 Coalition, which spearheaded the 2016 ballot campaign, had publicly called for Lelling to provide "clear, unambiguous answers" to several questions, including whether his office would prosecute businesses that are granted licenses by state cannabis regulators to grow, produce, test or sell marijuana legally in Massachusetts....
Lelling took office in December after being nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. His comments on Monday expanded on an earlier statement last week that promised enforcement of serious federal crimes but did not directly address the recreational marijuana issue....
Jim Borghesani, a Massachusetts spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, called the prosecutor’s comments "ominous." Pro-marijuana groups fear the change in tone from the Justice Department and federal prosecutors will send a chill through the nascent cannabis industry, discouraging those looking to start or invest in those businesses. "I don’t think any business would ever want to open its door and have fears on the first day that the FBI is going to be standing on their doorsteps," said Borghesani....
The Cannabis Control Commission, a five-member panel created to regulate marijuana in Massachusetts, has pledged to move forward with a process that foresees the first commercial pot shops opening in July. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who said last week that rescinding the Cole Memorandum was the "wrong decision," continued to support the commission’s work and would provide adequate funding for it, a spokeswoman said Monday.
The "Statement By U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling Regarding Federal Marijuana Enforcement" is available at this link. I understand fully why officials and reform advocates in Massachusetts would like to get some more clear and definitive enforcement guidance as the state moves forward with developing and implementing rules for voter-enacted marijuana reform. But both the tone and seeming intent of the decision by Attorney General Session to rescind the Cole Memo suggests that the Department of Justice is eager to avoid giving clear guidance to state actors and the marijuana industry concerning enforcement plans and priorities in this arena.
January 8, 2018 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Saturday, January 6, 2018
Two major news sources have run two major recent pieces about efforts in California to enhance minority participation in the marijuana industry:
From the Washington Post here, "California cities try to atone for war on drugs with help for minority marijuana entrepreneurs." An excerpt:
At least four California cities — Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and San Francisco — have created “equity programs” to help people personally affected by the war on drugs or who come from communities that bore the brunt of it get an early stake in the legal cannabis business.
The goal is to attempt to atone for past policies that perpetuated generational poverty and to diversify an industry whose profile is overwhelmingly young, white, male and wealthy. “The folks who are profiting don’t look anything like the people bearing the brunt of the war on drugs,” said Greg Minor, who runs Oakland’s cannabis program.
From the Los Angeles Times here, "Despite helping hand from L.A., drug offenders would face obstacles in cannabis industry." An excerpt:
As California’s legal cannabis industry heats up, officials in Los Angeles and other cities say they want to make sure early players in the pot business who were selling it when it was still illegal aren’t pushed out of the market. In Los Angeles and Oakland, city cannabis rules provide for so-called social-equity programs, which provide a leg up to marijuana business license applicants who either have been convicted of a marijuana crime or live in neighborhoods disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests.
But many of the entrepreneurs who might benefit from those programs would face a huge obstacle: Most banks won’t open accounts for marijuana businesses, and the few institutions that are willing to do so are likely to refuse to serve businesses whose owners or managers have criminal records, even if those records are for selling marijuana.
January 6, 2018 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, January 4, 2018
The title of this post is the headline of this Forbes article penned by Tom Angell reporting on a notable and historic marijuana reform development in a day full of notable and historic developments. Here are the details:
The Vermont House of Representatives voted on Thursday to legalize possession and home cultivation of marijuana. The move comes on the same day that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved to rescind Obama-era guidance that has generally allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference.
Under the Vermont legislation, an earlier version of which passed the Senate last summer, commercial sales of cannabis would not be allowed. But if the proposal is enacted, as is expected, the state would become the first to legalize marijuana by an act of lawmakers. To date, all eight states that have ended cannabis prohibition have done so via voter initiatives.
Gov. Phil Scott (R) has promised to sign the bill into law after the Senate votes to approve the new language, expected next week.
Vermont fell just short of ending marijuana prohibition in 2017. Both legislative chambers approved a legalization proposal, but Scott vetoed it. However, the governor then laid out a few small revisions he wanted legislators to make in order to garner his signature. The Senate quickly acted to make the requested changes, but the House wasn’t able to overcome procedural hurdles to pass the revised bill in time during a short special session over the summer.
That left the House poised to approve the bill under regular order after reconvening for the year this week. The vote on Thursday was 81 to 63.
Representatives voted down several floor amendments, including proposals to delay consideration of the bill in light of news about the federal enforcement policy change. They also rejected an attempt by GOP House leader Don Turner to add legal cannabis sales to the bill. The move by Turner, a legalization opponent, was seen by advocates as an attempt to attach a poison pill to the legislation, because Scott would have been less likely to sign it into law as amended....
If the proposal is enacted, possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and home cultivation of two mature plants by adults over 21 years of age would be legal.
While the legislation initially included language creating a study commission to examine the possible future legalization of commercial marijuana sales, Scott created such a panel on his own by executive order during the interim. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee amended the bill to remove the commission provisions, which is why it now requires one more vote in the Senate, where it is widely expected to pass.
Sunday, December 31, 2017
It has already been 14 months since Californians voted, by a margin of 57% to 43%, to pass Proposition 64 in the 2016 election, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. And while part of that Act became effective right away, the initiative provided that retail locations for recreational marijuana would not be opening until January 2018 at the earliest. But now January 2018 is here, and lots of media have been providing lots of accounts of what the expect as California becomes a state with marijuana not only legalized, but also commercialized. Here is a just a small sampling of some coverage and commentary from a variety of sources:
- "Weed Becomes Legal in California on New Year's Day, So Here's What You Need to Know: A lot needs to be done to ensure an equitable transition to marijuana legalization for the sixth largest economy in the world."
"How legal marijuana will change California in 2018: California smokers can expect higher-quality, and more expensive, weed"
"Hippy dream now a billion-dollar industry with California set to legalise cannabis: The state that is the world’s sixth biggest economy will legalise cannabis on New Year’s Day – and expects a boom time for jobs and investment"
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Notable coverage of notable marijuana reform public health issues in Nov 2017 issue of Preventive Medicine
I have just seen that the November 2017 issue of Preventive Medicine has a series of articles on the "potential health impacts of legalizing recreational marijuana use," and that series is described in an editorial introduction this way:
Legalization of marijuana use has gained considerable momentum in the U.S. with 28 states plus the District of Columbia (DC) legalizing medical marijuana use and 8 states plus DC legalizing recreational marijuana use, with similar liberalization of laws occurring in Canada and other countries (NYTimes, April 13, 2017). Such actions clearly have tremendous public health implications and it is important that those implications be considered using the best available scientific evidence.
In this Special Issue we invited policy makers from Colorado (Ghosh et al., 2017, in this issue), the first U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana use, Vermont (Chen and Searles, 2017, in this issue), a state currently considering legalization of recreational use, and the U.S.’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (Weiss and Wargo, 2017, in this issue) to provide a federal perspective on the health implications of legalizing recreational marijuana use.
In addition to policy makers we invited contributions from scientific experts in the health impacts of marijuana use to address the implications of legalizing recreational marijuana use, including potential impacts on the epidemiology of marijuana use and risk perceptions among youth and adults (Carliner et al., 2017, in this issue), emergency medicine (Wang et al., 2017, in this issue), addiction risk (Budney and Borodovsky, 2017, in this issue), adolescent risks and potential interventions (Schuster et al., 2017; Walker, 2017, in this issue), and maternal and child health (Mark and Terplan, 2017, in this issue).
Here are just some of the titles of some of the notable article in the issue:
- "Lessons learned after three years of legalized, recreational marijuana: The Colorado experience"
- "Cannabis use, attitudes, and legal status in the U.S.: A review"
- "Marijuana and acute health care contacts in ColoradoOriginal Research Article"
- "The potential impact of cannabis legalization on the development of cannabis use disorders"
- "Legalization of cannabis: Considerations for intervening with adolescent consumers"
December 21, 2017 in Medical community perspectives, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, December 18, 2017
In recent weeks, I have spotlighted a number of article from a number of outlets discussing marijuana reform's impact on part marijuana convictions. The latest example today comes from the Washington Post via this extended article headlined "Convicted of a marijuana crime in California? It might go away, thanks to legal pot." Here are excerpts:
California is offering a second chance to people convicted of almost any marijuana crimes, from serious felonies to small infractions, with the opportunity to have their criminal records cleared or the charges sharply reduced. State officials hope to reverse decades of marijuana convictions that can make it difficult for people to gain meaningful employment and disproportionately affect low-income minorities.
“We worked to help create a legalized and regulated process for legal marijuana, but we also wanted to make sure we could help — some way, somehow — repair the damages of marijuana prohibition,” said Eunisses Hernandez, a policy coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance. The alliance said there have been 500,000 arrests for marijuana offenses in California in the past 10 years, and it estimates that up to a million people have reviewable convictions on their records.
At least 4,500 people had filed petitions to have their sentences reduced, redesignated or thrown out as of September, according to the California Judicial Council. The highest amount came from Riverside County, where 613 applications were filed. In addition, at least 365 people have applied to have their juvenile marijuana convictions thrown out. Not every county reported data.
The change here is part of a nationwide movement to reduce marijuana charges and atone for harsh penalties during the war on drugs. At least nine states have passed laws expunging or reducing marijuana convictions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Maryland, Oregon and Vermont also now allow convictions for marijuana offenses that are not crimes under current law to be wiped off a criminal record.
The re-designation of marijuana crimes in California went into effect immediately after voters approved the measure legalizing pot. Many viewed it as an offshoot of a 2014 ballot initiative that reduced penalties for certain drug and theft crimes. Those who want their marijuana convictions lessened must present their cases in court. Prosecutors can decide not to support a reduction should someone have a major felony, such as murder, on their record. Old convictions will be reclassified under the law as it reads now. For example, if someone had been convicted of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, that conviction would be tossed out because that is now legal in California.
Some district attorney’s offices notified the recently convicted and incarcerated that they were eligible to have their records changed and that they potentially could leave prison. Last year, prosecutors in San Diego searched for people convicted of marijuana offenses in the prior three years who would be eligible for reductions. When the measure passed, prosecutors got their petitions before a judge as soon as possible. “We absolutely didn’t want people to be in custody who shouldn’t be in custody,” said Rachel Solov, chief of the collaborative courts division in the San Diego district attorney’s office. She said that as of mid-December, the office has handled nearly 600 reductions.
But advocates said many people who completed their sentences still do not know they could be able to change their criminal records. Hernandez and defense lawyers said that the state has put little effort into outreach and that most people are hearing about the opportunities through word of mouth or social media. “One of the projects we’re working on this year is to notify people that this is an option,” said Bruce Margolin, a Los Angeles defense lawyer who specializes in marijuana cases. “It’s a viable thing to do, obviously, because people are suffering with these felony convictions in so many aspects of their life.”
Omar Figueroa, a defense lawyer in Sebastopol, Calif., who specializes in marijuana law, said the requirement to go to court makes it more difficult for the poor to take advantage. “That’s one of the criticisms, that a lot of people don’t have the time or energy or the access to public transportation to get to the courthouse,” Figueroa said. “What I see is the people who have more means are the ones who are taking advantage of this, and the people who have more basic struggles in their everyday life, the last thing they’re thinking about is cleaning up their criminal history for their old marijuana convictions.”
Some prior related posts:
- Effective review of marijuana expungement prospects amidst nationwide state reforms
- "The Growing Movement for Marijuana Amnesty"
- Highlighting ways marijuana reform might help undo some drug war harms
- "How Do You Clear a Pot Conviction From Your Record?"
December 18, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Criminal justice developments and reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, December 17, 2017
More reporting suggesting Vermont will very soon enact a novel form of marijuana legalization via a not-so-novel means
I explained in this post last week, "Could Vermont legalize marijuana by traditional legislation in just a matter of weeks?," how notable and valuable it could be, for policy-makers, citizens and researchers, to have a state embrace a distinctive approach to marijuana legalization through the traditional legislative law-making process. As noted in posts link below, Vermont got very close but then failed to be a first in this arena back in May, and thus I am not taking for granted that the state will make marijuana reform history in early January. But this recent Forbes piece by Tom Angell continues to highlight why the Green Mountain State could kick of 2018 with a marijuana reform bang. The piece is headlined "Vermont Will Legalize Marijuana Within Weeks, Officials Indicate," and here are excerpts:
Vermont appears poised to become the next state to legalize marijuana. And, according to top elected officials, it is likely to do so within a matter of weeks.
Last week, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, a Democrat, said she expects "it likely will pass in early January.” Days earlier, Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, said he is "comfortable" signing a cannabis legalization bill into law in early 2018.
And on Thursday, Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, a member of the Progressive Party, said he and his colleagues "look forward to working with the governor to make sure that that bill gets to the finish line."
If the tripartisan group of officials follows through and enacts legalization in early 2018, it would make Vermont the first state to end cannabis prohibition by an act of lawmakers. All eight states that have legalized marijuana so far have done so via ballot measures approved by voters....
In Vermont, which operates on a legislative biennium, the Senate has already passed the legalization bill. All that is required to get it to Scott's desk for signing into law is one more House floor vote, and that could happen any day after the legislature reconvenes on January 3.
In 2017, the state fell just short of ending marijuana prohibition. Both legislative chambers approved a legalization proposal, but Scott vetoed it. However, the governor then laid out a few small revisions he wanted legislators to make in order to garner his signature. The Senate quickly acted to make the requested changes, but the House wasn't able to overcome procedural hurdles to pass the revised bill in time during a short special session over the summer. The legislation remains on the House calendar, and can be approved with a simple majority under regular order next month.
Under the bill, Vermont’s approach to legalization would differ from the regulatory systems that exist in the other eight legalization states. That's because instead of allowing licensed stores where consumers could purchase marijuana, it would simply enact a noncommercial form of legalization where possessing small amounts of cannabis and growing a few plants at home would be legal. However, the Senate-approved legislation would create a commission to study possible future commercialization.
During the legislative recess, Scott used an executive order to proactively create a marijuana legalization study commission on his own, so there is a chance that the pending bill will be amended to remove its commission provisions before lawmakers vote on final passage. And that could potentially mean that it will take slightly more time than just one additional House floor vote. “Part of that bill is no longer needed,” Scott said this month, referring to the commission piece.
While saying that he has not yet “spoken to legislative leaders” about the language, he suggested lawmakers might want to “make some changes on the floor, send it back to committee, make some alterations and then we’ll see what they either add or delete and then we’ll see if it’s the same as what I committed to pushing forward with.” But accomplishing those changes likely would not take very long, advocates say, given the consensus between legislative leaders and Scott on getting legalization enacted that seemed to crystalize during the 2017 session....
Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, agreed, adding that success in Vermont will likely signal the start of a wave of legislative action on cannabis in other states. "Vermont now finds itself on the cusp of becoming the first state to legalize marijuana through its legislature," he said in an email. "The legislative process is slower than the [ballot] initiative process by its very nature, but this exciting development should bring hope to the millions of reform supporters who live in states that don't allow initiatives. I'm confident that other state legislatures will soon follow their lead."
A few prior related posts:
- "Vermont Legislature becomes first to approve legal marijuana"
- Vermont Governor vetoes bill to legalize marijuana in state .... UPDATED with Gov's explanation for his veto
- Could Vermont legalize marijuana by traditional legislation in just a matter of weeks?
December 17, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, December 11, 2017
As reported in this local article, headlined "Anyone over 21 could grow weed at home under proposed Ohio ballot initiative," there is some new talk about a new initiative to legalize marijuana in the Buckeye State. Here are the details:
A group of local investors who failed in their bid to secure a state license to grow medical marijuana on Monday announced plans for a statewide ballot issue to fully legalize marijuana.
Jimmy Gould, chairman of Cincinnati-based Green Light Acquisitions, proposed an Ohio constitutional amendment that would allow anyone 21 or older to grow marijuana in their homes for personal use or commercial cultivation. Gould said the ballot issue would not conflict with Ohio's current medical marijuana law but would expand legalized marijuana use among qualified adults without a physician's recommendation.
Gould said he would need 305,592 signatures to place the issue before Ohio voters next year. His group plans to finalize the language in the proposal and begin circulating it next month. The initial filing deadline for the ballot proposal is July 4, 2018. Gould is a longtime proponent of decriminalizing marijuana, which he said can be a useful tool for dealing with a variety of chronic conditions, including the opioid addiction crisis that has plagued Ohio.
He co-founded the group ResponsibleOhio, which was behind Ohio's failed Issue 3 marijuana initiative in 2015 that would have legalized marijuana for both medical and non-medical use. The measure lost in all 88 Ohio counties, with nearly two-thirds of voters statewide voting "no" to recreational and medical marijuana.
But the new proposal "is as different from Issue 3 as night and day," Gould said. "We spent a lot of time and effort to get this right. This is not Issue 3 revisited.'' Gould said the new ballot proposal is a responsible way to fully legalize marijuana use, cultivation, possession, processing and dispensing, and regulate it like alcohol-related businesses in Ohio.
In addition, the new proposal tosses out many of the contentious items that Gould blames for Issue 3's ultimate defeat, including designating certain properties as the only places in Ohio where the cannabis plant could be legally grown. Critics charged the stipulation would have benefitted only a handful of mega-growers. "The concept of the rich getting richer goes right out the window with this," Gould said.
Gould said another reason he thinks now is the right time to introduce a new marijuana initiative is that "a lot of time has gone by" since Issue 3 was defeated, and more Americans are inclined to support legalized marijuana based on studies, opinion polls and the sheer number of states that have adopted such laws over the past several years....
Gould said his new ballot initiative would "run parallel" to a lawsuit he plans to file against the state after his firm, CannAscend Ohio, and dozens of other applicants were denied "Level 1" licenses for large-scale medical marijuana growers.
The Ohio Department of Commerce earlier this month awarded 12 preliminary Level 1 licenses based on what Gould alleges was a deeply flawed selection process and the use of questionable application graders, including one who was a convicted drug dealer. "That stuff is just not OK," Gould said. "Commerce feel asleep at the wheel. They either didn’t know, or they didn’t do background checks" on the application graders.
I am tempted to not take this new talk of a new initiative all that seriously because right now it seems a bit like the expression of sour grapes (sour weed?) based on the failure of Gould to get a state "Level 1" license. But Gould and his team were able to get a (poorly conceived) initiative to the voters back in 2015, and maybe they really want to and really can do it again in 2018.
December 11, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this notable new report from Tom Angell under the headline "Will Legalize Marijuana In Early January, House Speaker Says." Here are the details:
A top Vermont lawmaker says the state could become the first in the U.S. to legalize marijuana through an act of lawmakers early next year. “It will be up for a vote in early January,” House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) said on Friday. “I expect that it likely will pass in early January.”
In 2017, the state fell just short of enacting legalization. The legislature passed a bill to legalize personal cannabis possession and homegrow, but Gov. Phil Scott (R) vetoed it. However, in doing so, he laid out a few small changes he wanted legislators to make in order to win his support. The Senate quickly acted to make the requested revisions, but the House was not able to jump through procedural hurdles to get it done in time during a short special session over the summer.
Because the legislature operates on a biennial basis, the bill is still alive, and the House just needs to take one more vote to get the bill onto the governor’s desk. Last week, Scott said he is “comfortable” signing a marijuana legalization bill into law early next year.
Johnson, in the Friday interview with Vermont Public Radio, said there “hasn’t been a significant shift” in support in the legislature since the momentum for legalization that built up earlier this year. “We do have agreement with the governor and with the Senate on what that bill currently says,” she said....
Vermont’s approach would be different than the laws that exist in other states, in that it would enact a noncommercial form of legalization where only possessing small amounts of cannabis and growing a few plants at home would be legal. There would initially be no licensed stores where consumers could purchase marijuana, but the Senate-passed legislation would create a commission to study possible future commercialization....
Johnson, in the new interview, said the commission “will provide some suggestions for further action,” such as potentially legalizing and regulating cannabis sales. “We’ll be looking into further legislation to really go about this in as thoughtful and responsible a way as possible,” she said.
I was disappointed by the veto of the marijuana reform bill that Vermont's legislature passed last year in large part because I think it could be extremely valuable, to both policy-makers and researchers, to have a state embrace a distinctive approach to marijuana legalization. Now I am excited anew that this distinctive approach to marijuana legalization may still soon become law in the Green Mountain State.
In the article linked above, Tom Angell notes that marijuana reform advocates have been watching New Jersey closely as a state that might in early 2018 enacted marijuana legalization through the traditional legislative process. For various reasons, I think action in New Jersey becomes even more likely if Vermont becomes the first state to legalize through the usual legislative process.
A few prior related posts from May 2017:
Vermont Governor vetoes bill to legalize marijuana in state .... UPDATED with Gov's explanation for his veto
December 11, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Political perspective on reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Stateline has this interesting new piece on banking in the marijuana sector under the headline "Why It’s Getting Easier for Marijuana Companies to Open Bank Accounts." Here are excerpts:
State and local officials in places that recently legalized marijuana are bracing for the arrival of a sector that largely runs on cash. They’re anxiously envisioning burglars targeting dispensaries and business owners showing up at tax offices with duffel bags full of money. But the marijuana industry’s banking problems may be more manageable than many officials realize.
Just ask Washington state, which last year successfully pushed almost all legal marijuana businesses to open bank accounts and pay their taxes with a check or other non-cash method. Or Hawaii, which earlier this year announced a “cashless” system for buying medical marijuana, reliant on a technology analogous to PayPal.
“We’re definitely seeing more businesses in the industry getting banked every day,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, a trade group. Despite the legal risk involved in serving the cannabis industry, almost 400 banks and credit unions now do, according to the U.S. Treasury — a number that has more than tripled since 2014.
That’s reassuring news for California, where sales of recreational pot start next month, as well as for Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts, where voters approved recreational marijuana sales last year, and Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota, where voters approved medicinal sales.
But the progress that has occurred in some legal markets remains fragile. The federal government still considers marijuana to be a dangerous, illegal drug. States can only permit marijuana sales — and financial institutions can only serve marijuana-related businesses — thanks to Obama-era guidelines that create wiggle room in federal law....
Local institutions that are chartered at the state level have been particularly willing to work with the industry. In Oregon, where sales of recreational marijuana began in 2015, Salem-based Maps Credit Union decided to serve marijuana businesses after audits revealed some of its members were already in the industry. “It didn’t really square with our philosophy to kick members out,” said Shane Saunders, chief experience officer.
Taking on the new line of business required investments in staff, anti-money laundering software, and extra security at bank branches, said Rachel Pross, the credit union’s chief risk officer. Under the current federal guidance, Maps has to send a report on each marijuana-related account to the U.S. Treasury every 90 days, plus a report each time an account experiences a cash transaction of over $10,000.
Maps staff run background checks on marijuana-related business owners who want to open an account. They conduct regular, in-person inspections of the businesses whose accounts they manage, and they require business owners to share their quarterly financial statements. Dispensaries that bank with Maps make most of their sales in cash, because credit- and debit-card processors typically won’t touch marijuana money. As of October, the credit union had handled $140 million in cash deposits from 375 marijuana-related accounts in 2017, Pross said. Some companies hold multiple accounts.
In neighboring Washington, where recreational marijuana sales began in 2014, several financial institutions are openly working with the industry. Washington has helped banks and credit unions monitor marijuana-related customers by collecting and publishing extensive data on monthly sales and legal violations to the liquor and cannabis control board’s website. State regulators last year nudged marijuana licensees to open deposit accounts, aware that banking services were available and worried that cash-based businesses threatened public safety....
In some states, such as Alaska and Hawaii, regulators say they’re not aware of any credit unions or banks that currently serve the industry. Recreational marijuana sales began in Alaska in 2015, and medical marijuana dispensaries opened in Hawaii in 2017. But Hawaii is pioneering a workaround. Regulators have given a Colorado-based credit union permission to serve the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries. The credit union, in turn, has partnered with CanPay, an app that allows patients to transfer money from their bank accounts directly to the dispensary’s account....
Seattle dispensary owner [John] Branch notes that stores with ATMs make money when they dispense cash, and store owners may not embrace an electronic payment system that instead will cost them 2 percent of each transaction, as CanPay’s service does.
A change in federal law would solve the cannabis industry’s banking problem and wipe away the need for services tailored to the industry, such as CanPay. But Congress has so far failed to pass — or even seriously consider — a law that would reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous substance or allow banks and credit unions to work with businesses without risking their charters. U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat who proposed a bill on the issue this year, says no action is expected anytime soon.
December 7, 2017 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, November 24, 2017
After the long weekend, my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar turns to its homestretch and the last group of students are delivering presentations on a marijuana-related topic of their choosing. One student for the next class will be looking at three recently decided cases involving marijuana law. As he has explained, he plans to "present the facts and procedural history regarding the case, and an analysis of how the deciding courts ultimately made their decisions." Here are the case citations, with links to articles discussing the decision and other background information:
Arizona v. Maestas, 394 P.3d 21 (Ariz. App. 1st Div. 2017).
- ASU student saw 'opportunity' to use arrest to fight for medical marijuana on campus
- UC guidance on use and possession of marijuana on UC property
- Colorado State University Guidelines on Marijuana Use and Hemp Research
People ex rel. Feuer v. Nestdrop, LLC, 245 Cal. App. 4th 664 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2016).
- Court Shuts Down L.A. Marijuana Delivery App ‘Nestdrop’
- L.A. is set to be a hot market for marijuana sales. But there might not be many places to smoke it
- Eaze is moving into recreational marijuana delivery with $27 million in new funding
State ex rel. Polk v. Hancock, 347 P.3d 142 (Ariz. 2015).
- Arizona justices: OK for probationers to use medical pot
- Medical Marijuana on Probation? Courts Saying Yes!
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Just a short five years ago it would have been unusual for a member of Congress to ask the US Attorney General about federal marijuana policies. But circa 2017 it now seems near impossible to have a congressional hearing involving the AG in which marijuana policy is not raised. But, as detailed in this new Forbes piece by Tom Angell headlined "Sessions: Obama Marijuana Policy Remains In Effect," AG Sessions did not really have much new to say on this front during a hearing on Capitol Hill today:
Obama-era guidance that allows states to legalize marijuana without federal interference remains in effect, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday during a congressional hearing. He also conceded that cannabis is not as dangerous as heroin and that a current budget rider prevents the Department of Justice from prosecuting people who are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.
"Our policy is the same, really, fundamentally as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes," Sessions said, referring to his predecessors as attorney general during the Obama administration.
Sessions made the comments in response to a question from Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing. Later, Sessions said, "I think that's correct," when Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) argued that cannabis isn't as dangerous as heroin. Under current federal law, both are classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a category that's supposed to be reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no medical value....
Also during Cohen's line of questioning, the attorney general said, "I believe we are bound by" a federal budget rider that bars the federal government from spending money to interfere with state medical cannabis laws. A federal court ruled last year, over Justice Department objections, that the rider specifically bars prosecution of patients and providers who are acting in accordance with those laws. Earlier this year, Sessions, sent a letter to congressional leadership asking that they not continue the annual rider into the next fiscal year.
Sessions, a longtime vocal opponent of marijuana legalization, has previously said that the separate Obama policy on state marijuana laws remains in effect while the Department of Justice reviews potential changes, but has not before so clearly tied the Trump administration approach to that of his predecessors....
[I]n April, Sessions directed a Justice Department task force to review the Obama administration memo and make recommendations for possible changes. However, that panel did not provide Sessions with any ammunition to support a crackdown on states, according to the Associated Press, which reviewed excerpts of the task force’s report to the attorney general. Sessions did not refer to any ongoing consideration of enforcement policy changes during the House hearing.
During a Senate hearing last month, the attorney general said that allowing more researchers to legally grow more marijuana for scientific studies would be "healthy." He has yet to respond to pending written questions stemming from that hearing about a federal budget rider that prevents the Justice Department from interfering with state medical cannabis laws.
November 14, 2017 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this local article headlined "With Phil Murphy's win, it's 'full steam ahead' for legal marijuana." Here is how it gets started:
Democrat Phil Murphy's victory in the governor's race Tuesday night drives New Jersey "full-steam ahead" toward legalizing marijuana and cultivating an estimated $1.3 billion industry, the sponsor of the legislation said.
Throughout the campaign, Murphy has embraced the idea of making marijuana available for recreational use for people 21 and older. Early on, he made his support well-known that he would sign a legalization bill when it arrived on his desk.
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, who controls which bills the 40-member Senate debate and vote on, said his goal was to get the measure passed within 100 days of the Murphy administration.
Murphy has said he is also counting on the sales tax from legal cannabis -- an estimated $300 million -- as a key revenue source to help fund education programs and the public worker pensions.
Saturday, November 4, 2017
The title of this post is the headline of this notable new Los Angeles Times editorial. Here are excerpts:
Make no mistake, the war on marijuana has not been colorblind. Despite national surveys showing that white people and black people use marijuana at approximately the same rates, blacks have over the years been nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.
That disparity is as true in Los Angeles as it is elsewhere in the country. African Americans comprise less than 10% of the population in L.A. Yet between 2000 and 2017, blacks represented 40% of marijuana-related arrests. Latinos made up 44% of arrests. Whites made up only 16% of arrests, according to a city consultant’s analysis of Los Angeles Police Department data. And even as Los Angeles and other cities allowed the growth of a quasi-legal, hugely profitable medical marijuana industry run mostly by white entrepreneurs, police arrests for marijuana possession and sales continued to target African Americans and Latinos overwhelmingly.
A drug arrest — especially if followed by a conviction — can have terrible consequences. Even after a person has completed his or her sentence, it remains harder to get a job, get into college, rent an apartment or get a loan. A drug conviction is a barrier to economic opportunity.
Now that California has voted to legalize marijuana for adults, a crucial question is whether there a way to repair the damage created by decades of unequal enforcement practices. The answer being considered by the Los Angeles City Council is to make it easier for people who were arrested or otherwise affected by the disparate enforcement of marijuana laws to get in on the ground floor of the emerging multibillion-dollar cannabis industry.
The idea behind the proposed “social equity” program is that the people most affected should now be helped to partake in the profits and benefits of legalization. The challenges of opening a marijuana business are so great — there are huge upfront costs, serious impediments to getting bank loans and extremely intricate regulations — that many would-be entrepreneurs would be locked out without government assistance.
Without question, Los Angeles ought to use a portion of future marijuana tax revenue to help communities that have been disproportionately targeted for marijuana enforcement. Tax money could fund drug education and treatment, legal clinics to help people expunge their marijuana conviction records, and reentry programs for individuals leaving prison.
The city could also help encourage entrepreneurs from communities that have had disproportionate numbers of marijuana arrests to enter the business by offering training, compliance assistance and priority licensing. Priority licensing is important because, due to zoning restrictions, only a limited number of applicants will ultimately be granted the right to host a marijuana business. The first batch of licenses will be offered to medical marijuana shops that have operated since 2013 in L.A. with limited immunity under Proposition D. Under the city’s proposed rules, the second batch of licenses would be divided equally between general applicants and social equity applicants — giving the latter a better shot at snapping up those opportunities. The third batch of licenses would be open to all applicants.
But here’s where the social equity program raises concern: The current proposal gives special advantages, waives fees and offers the most assistance to low-income people who themselves have marijuana-related convictions. It’s one thing to target assistance broadly to communities that have felt the impacts of unequal enforcement. It’s another thing to reward people who broke the law and got caught by giving them priority over people who did not break the law. That doesn’t seem fair. Nor does it seem like a great idea to incentivize people with convictions for selling or possessing marijuana to return to the drug trade — why not help them enter other businesses instead?
To be sure, people with nonviolent drug convictions shouldn’t be barred from owning marijuana businesses or from working in them. But they shouldn’t be pushed to the front of the line either.
November 4, 2017 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Maine Gov vetoes bill designed to establish structure for voter-approved recreational marijuana industry
As reported in this NBC News piece, "Maine Gov. Paul Lepage’s decision to veto a bill on Friday that would have built a recreational marijuana retail market is a major buzzkill for those in the state who voted to legalize the drug last year." Here is more on the decision and its impact:
In his veto letter, LePage urged the Maine legislature to “sustain this veto” because he did not believe that the bill was satisfactory. The bill passed with enough votes to overturn a veto in the state Senate, but not the statehouse.
LePage said his greatest grievance is that he did not know how the Trump administration intended to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that legalized recreational marijuana. “If we are adopting a law that will legalize and establish a new industry and impose a new regulatory infrastructure that requires significant private and public investment, we need assurances that a change in policy or administration at the federal level will not nullify those investments,” LePage wrote....
In his letter, LePage also expanded on his grievance that the bill conflicted with Maine’s existing medical marijuana laws, which he claims are being exploited by his constituents, and created “unrealistic deadlines” to craft regulation at the executive level....
In the letter, LePage said that he “sought guidance” from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, who has had to oversee his state’s recreational marijuana market since Colorado legalized the drug in 2012. LePage said that Hickenlooper “urged” him to “not rush just to get something in place” and connected Colorado’s crime rates and traffic deaths to recreational marijuana use.
The full statement by Gov LePage is available at this link, and here are its concluding paragraphs:
When I sought guidance from my counterpart in Colorado, he was adamant that Maine should learn from the mistakes made by his state and others that have pursued legalization efforts. He urged that we take the time necessary to get our law right from the start and not rush just to get something in place. There have been serious negative effects of legalization in other states — effects that should not be repeated in Maine. In Colorado, marijuana-related traffic deaths more than doubled since recreational marijuana was legalized. The Institute for Highway Safety reached similar findings, noting that automobile collisions increased by three percent in states that have legalized marijuana. Alarmingly, the violent crime rate in Colorado increased nearly 19 percent since legalization, more than double the national rate. If Maine is going to legalize and regulate marijuana, it is imperative that we do it right.
Outside specific concerns about this bill, I continue to be concerned about expanded legalization of marijuana in Maine. The dangers of legalizing marijuana and normalizing its use in our society cannot be understated. Maine is now battling a horrific drug epidemic that claims more than one life a day due to overdoses caused by deadly opiates. Sending a message, especially to our young people, that some drugs that are still illegal under federal law are now sanctioned by the state may have unintended and grave consequences.
For these reasons, I return LD 1650 unsigned and vetoed. I strongly urge the Legislature to sustain it and continue to work to get this important law right.
November 4, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Alaska marijuana tax revenues growing, which means more resources to help reduce criminal recidivism
As reported in this new local article, headlined "Alaska cannabis tax revenue tops $700K in September," the Last Frontier is continuing to reach new firsts when it comes to taxes collected from marijuana reform. Here are the details:
Alaska's marijuana tax revenue continued a steady climb upward in September, with $723,757 collected statewide, according to a state official. Sixty-four growers from across the Interior, Southcentral and Southeast paid taxes to the Alaska Department of Revenue last month, wrote Kelly Mazzei, excise tax supervisor in the tax division.
Under Alaska's law, growers pay the tax of $50 an ounce for bud, and $15 an ounce for other parts of the plant, like leaves and stems. A total of 716 pounds of bud was sold wholesale in September, and 630 pounds of trim, according to data provided by Mazzei....
To date, Alaska has collected $3,741,810 in cannabis taxes. Most of it — a full 68 percent — has been paid in cash, Mazzei wrote. Alaska's first marijuana shop opened for business Oct. 29, 2016. Revenue was slow to start, as demand outweighed supply, and retailers struggled to get enough cannabis in their shops to keep their doors open.
In June, revenue nearly doubled after three months of hovering around $250,000. Since then, tax revenue has steadily climbed. Mazzei wrote that October's revenue could top $1 million, a potentially "amazing milestone" for the state. Many local governments have also put additional cannabis sales taxes in place.
Last year, the Alaska Legislature budgeted half of the cannabis tax to programs aimed at reducing repeat criminal offenders. The other half goes into the general fund.
Because I think of marijuana reform as, first and foremost, a form of criminal justice reform, I love the fact that Alaska has decide to commit half of its marijuana tax revenue to improving public safety and its criminal justice system. This article from July 2016, headlined "Here's where half of the revenue from Alaska's legal pot will go," provides these details:
Gov. Bill Walker signed Senate Bill 91, a comprehensive criminal reform bill meant to reduce the state's prison population and its associated costs. Included in the bill is a provision that diverts half of the state's cannabis excise taxes to programs aimed at reducing repeat criminal offenders, under a newly created recidivism reduction fund.
Marijuana will be taxed at $50 an ounce. Based on projected marijuana sales, the state hopes $3 million will go toward the recidivism reduction fund in fiscal year 2017, and $6 million in subsequent years.
The marijuana tax money will be used to fund the Department of Corrections' Substance Abuse Treatment Program, which will receive $700,000, and community residential centers, which will receive $300,000; the Department of Health and Social Services' Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery Grants, which will receive $1 million; and the Department of Public Safety's Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, which will also receive $1 million.
Because fiscal year 2017 for Alaska started in July and the first 3 months have already brought in nearly $2 million in taxes and revenue growth is continuing, it would appear Alaska could have even more tax revenue than expected going to these important criminal justice concerns.
October 31, 2017 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, October 29, 2017
A growth in lawsuits might well be seen as a sure sign that the marijuana industry is reaching a new level of development. For that reason, supporters of marijuana reform might see these two detailed articles from Marijuana Business Daily about legal issues facing marijuana companies as a positive sign. And students in my marijuana reform seminar might see these articles as a preview of what legal practice in this field can involve:
October 29, 2017 in Business laws and regulatory issues, Employment and labor law issues, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, October 27, 2017
This past week brought two notable articles providing two important perspectives on how 2018 is shaping up to be yet another big year in the marijuana reform space:
From the Washington Examiner here, "Will 2018 be the year marijuana takes over?":
So far, all the states that have legalized marijuana have done so through grassroots petitions and ballot initiatives meant to bypass risk-averse lawmakers in state houses.
California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia have all followed Colorado and Washington either to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana or, at a minimum, to decriminalize possession and consumption of small amounts of the drug.
But 2018 may be a tipping point — the moment when the momentum of pot makes it impossible for state lawmakers to avoid. State legislatures are poised to begin passing marijuana reform laws next year. The taboos against smoking dope may go up in a cloud of narcotic smoke.
From Marijuana Moment here, "These States Will Probably Vote On Marijuana In 2018":
Last November, nine statewide marijuana ballot initiatives went before voters, and eight were approved. Next year, voters in a number of additional states are likely to see cannabis questions when they go to their polling places.
Here’s an in-depth look at those states that have the best chance of qualifying marijuana initiatives, followed by some brief info on a few that seem like longer shots…