While many cannabis users (especially white, affluent ones) haven’t felt much federal pressure over the drug’s Schedule I status, those groups who have helped pioneer legal cannabis as producers and retailers have often faced heavy crackdowns, and short-term losses into the millions. Overall, more than 8.2 million Americans were also arrested for marijuana crimes between 2001 and 2010 alone, Slate points out.
Extending the clause’s effects through December 8 could therefore offset some big burdens for cannabis operators who’re trying in good faith to build businesses that comply with state laws–at least for a few more months. Despite this development, however, many aspects of federal and state game-plans for the cannabis industry remain uncertain, forcing a range of cannapreneurs to proceed unprotected while hoping for the best.
That will create problems for farmers in procuring hemp seed to start their crops, speakers said.
Amendment 64, the 2012 Colorado ballot initiative that legalized marijuana, also provided for state licensing of industrial hemp farming.
Hemp is a marijuana look-alike but contains little or no THC, the psychoactive substance in cannabis that makes users high. Hemp and its oil-rich seeds have dozens of uses in foods, cosmetics, textiles and construction materials.
The new state regulations call for farmers to register and pay a $200 annual fee, plus $1 per acre planted. Farms will be subject to inspections to make sure that the hemp plants contain no more than 0.3 percent THC.
The rules, created by an industrial hemp advisory committee, will be submitted next week for approval by commissioners of the state Department of Agriculture.
Christopher Boucher of San Diego-based US Hemp Oil said his company plans to build a facility to process hemp-seed oil in the San Luis Valley. The plant initially could employ six to eight workers and grow to 50 or 60 employees, depending on the acreage planted in Colorado.
But he said the facility can’t start until farmers have assurance that they can buy starter seeds. Because of the federal ban on nonsterile hemp seeds, growers could in theory face criminal charges or have their foreign seed shipments confiscated by U.S. Customs agents.
Barbara Filippone, owner of Glenwood Springs-based EnviroTextiles, said she has plans for two Western Slope factories to make hemp-based industrial products.
“Colorado is the ideal location for market development based on location and logistics,” she said.
The landslide vote to legalize the adult possession of cannabis in Portland, Maine caught many commentators by surprise. While the ballot initiative, Question 1, polled well, few expected such a blowout victory in an off-year election in state not usually associated with cannabis policy reform.
The good news is that Maine’s largest city will probably not be the only surprise reform victory notched in coming years. Here’s a snapshot of five surprising states which are poised to beat expectations and pass significant cannabis reform by 2016:
Missouri came out of seemingly nowhere to become the surprise hit of the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver last month. The legalization group Show Me Cannabis impressed even seasoned drug policy activists with a surprisingly strong performance to date: through a series of “town hall”-style meetings, the reform group has generated considerable momentum by bucking the common wisdom. Instead of pushing for decriminalization or a medical initiative, the group has pushed for a full-throated adult legalization bill which could go before the voters of the Show Me state as early as the midterm November 2014 election. Initial polling, showing support well over 50%, has taken the national movement by storm; if they can keep up the momentum for another year, Show Me Cannabis may soon be showing the whole world what a small group of concerned and dedicated citizens can accomplish in a very short time.
Arkansas came within inches of shocking the entire world when a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana last November won a respectable 49% of the vote. The measure, known as Issue 5, would have notched a hugely symbolic victory as the first medical marijuana reform to come to a southern state. Even though Arkansas’ state legislature adjourned in April without passing any cannabis reform, the Natural State remains poised to once again take up the mantle; in the wake of a major shift in public opinion toward legalizing marijuana in nearly every state of the nation, the next attempt to reform cannabis laws in Arkansas stands a strong chance of succeeding.
UPDATE: According to ASA, a new signature-gathering drive has just begun for the new version of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, to be put before voters in 2014. The campaign is hosting a music festival this Saturday, Nov. 9th, from 2pm to 2am, at the Silverado Club in El Dorado, Arkansas.
Kentucky may not represent the forefront of cannabis reform in the minds of most Americans, but historically no other state has ever benefited from a thriving cannabis economy as much as the Bluegrass State, long the heart of America’s industrial hemp economy. Neither the history lesson nor the economic potential of a revitalized economy have been lost on the state’s Senate delegation, with both Senator Rand Paul and Senator Mitch McConnell counting themselves among the community advocating for hemp reform. Indeed, the Kentucky state legislature already passed industrial hemp reform through Senate Bill 50 this summer, and both Sens. Paul and McConnell have been vocal advocates on Capitol Hill for a change in federal law, which is the last obstacle to the legal hemp renaissance waiting in the wings. With an amendment to the federal farm bill authorizing the experimental production of hemp passing the US House in the spring, that renaissance may come more swiftly than most Americans would expect.
Florida failed to pass medical marijuana reform this year when SB 1250, the “Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act” died in committee in the state Senate. So why, then, are activists so hopeful about the Sunshine State? One reason is polling: 70% of voting Floridians (and 56% of Republicans) declared earlier this year that they support medical marijuana laws coming to their home state. Shifting attitudes have already registered at the ballot box, with residents of Miami Beach voting this week to approve a nonbinding resolution in support of medical marijuana. Meanwhile, outreach efforts specializing in reaching Florida’s unique demographics are only now getting started in earnest, between the efforts of groups like the Silver Tour (a senior-led group which aims to spread education on the benefits of medical marijuana for the elderly) and Veterans for Cannabis. If senior citizens, which as a group vote at higher rates than other demographics, can put political pressure on their representatives to allow them to have the medicine they need, then medical marijuana reform may only be a few months around the corner.
Texas may be the last state anyone ever thinks of to pass major drug reform, but in fact the Lone Star State has already done just that. Through a somewhat obscure parallel “drug court” system which operates alongside the traditional punitive measures which make the state famous, the Texan judicial system has so effectively reduced the prison population that the state closed an entire prison for the first time in its 150-year history in 2012. In fact, the program’s focus on drug addiction treatment over punitive prohibition as been so effective at reducing the state’s prison population (and the large tax bill which accompanies it) that more reform may be just around the corner. Although HB 594, a bill which would have provided an “affirmative defense” to Texans caught with marijuana who can show a legitimate medical need for it, failed to advance out of committee in the last legislative session, it’s clear that Texan voters demand a return of the debate over marijuana policy. Perhaps that is why Miriam Martinez, a Republican candidate for Texas governor, has announced her support for both decriminalization and medical marijuana reform. It is a classic case of the politicians following the people. According to a poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project this year, a surprising 58% of Texans support taxing and regulating marijuana in a way similar to alcohol. The results confirm a truism about Texas politics which many nationwide find surprising: although the state’s residents love punitive justice, they love their cherished liberties and low taxes even more.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Silver-Haired Legislature, a group of over-60 pseudo-legislators, approved position papers on Friday that support relaxing marijuana laws while also tightening laws related to methamphetamine.
After a three-day session in Charleston in legislative chambers at the state Capitol, the group proposed legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana. They also proposed requiring a prescription to purchase cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in manufacturing methamphetamine.
“I was pleased with what we did,” said Silver-Haired House of Delegates Speaker George Moore of South Charleston, who has been a member for three years. “We cannot write laws or pass legislation. But we can write position papers. This time, most politicians were interested in our activities. I am tickled to death about it.”
The West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services helps coordinate the election of Silver-Haired legislators, who must be 60 or older.
The Silver-Haired legislature, which began in 1981, passed a position paper urging that marijuana be legalized and taxed and that proceeds go towards drug-rehabilitation programs and reforming the prison system.
The position paper points out that, “20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes since 1996, and these laws do not appear to have caused any serious social problems. Voters in Colorado and Washington State took the next step in 2012 and made marijuana legal for all adults 21 and over.”
Moore said it is easier for Silver-Haired legislators to pass position papers than it is for the real state Legislature to pass laws.
“We can do this kind of thing without having to deal with the lobbyists,” he said on Friday.
The position paper about marijuana approved on Friday points out: “In many cases, it is a more effective and less dangerous option than pharmaceutical drugs.
“The proposed reform would make it possible for adults battling illnesses to access marijuana safely and legally, without having to deal with an illicit market dominated by criminals.”
Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, has been urging the West Virginia Legislature to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
“The Silver-Haired Legislature’s bill is for the decriminalization of all marijuana, not just medical marijuana. They applied the same taxing of the product that we have proposed to fight substance abuse through treatment and drug prevention programs,” Mannypenny said.
Manypenny was one of the speakers invited to address the Silver-Haired Legislature in Charleston last week.
Resolution J.R.6 could possibly legalize marijuana for recreational use in Ohio. That is, if it passes the Ohio House and Senate and the voters back the resolution on the ballot. To do so, it requires your help.
Resolution J.R.6 would establish a taxed and regulated system that would take marijuana of the criminal market, legalize it for adults aged 21 and older, and tax and regulate it similarly to alcohol. It has received a hearing earlier in 2013, but has since then not received a date for the second hearing.