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Even When Medical Marijuana Is Legal, There’s Still A Part Where People Have To Break A Law

CHICAGO (AP) — As more states legalize medical marijuana, there’s one stage in the process nobody wants to talk about: the part where people still ha…

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Three New Marijuana Reform Bills Being Introduced in Texas

By Alizeh Siddiqui, Marijuana Policy Project

AUSTIN, TX — As part of the Marijuana Policy Project’s multi-year legislative campaign in Texas, the Washington, DC based organization is developing bill proposals to address marijuana decriminalization, as well as allowing marijuana to be used for medical reasons and eventually regulating it similarly to alcohol for adults in the Lone Star State.

According to Heather Fazio, Texas Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, the group will be pre-filing the three bills this November, in anticipation of the 84th Texas Legislative Session, starting in January.

“We are working with a diverse coalition to introduce a civil penalty bill which [would] make small possession punishable by a simple fine, rather than a criminal charge,” said Fazio.

“This means no opportunity for jail time, and none of the collateral sanctions which come along with a criminal drug arrest. These collateral sanctions include limited access to resources for education, housing, employment, etc. It will also help to break down the stigma which goes along with being arrested and jailed for the possession of this plant.”

“We will [also] be introducing a bill to create a legal market for marijuana, similar to alcohol, for responsible adults who are 21 and over,” says Fazio.

The three bills cite Texans’ support for reduced marijuana penalties, the passage of medical marijuana laws, and taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Moreover, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and RAND Corporation data, 1,267,200 Texans already use marijuana each month, with the average user consuming 100 grams per year.

Should Texas regulate and tax marijuana, with a tax of $50 per ounce implemented, the Lone Star State would stand to make between $150,971,063 and $264,199,294 in tax revenue annually.

[Here’s an overview of the three soon-to-be-introduced proposals:]

Marijuana Decriminalization

While possession of marijuana in amounts of one ounce or less would remain illegal under the proposed Civil Penalty Bill, penalties would be reduced:

  • There would be no arrest or jail time, and the offense would not result in a criminal record.
  • There would be a civil fine, but only up to $100, which is significantly lower than previous fines for possession.
  • There would be no effect on future employment prospects, housing, or educational opportunities for minor possession.

Medical Marijuana

More than half of Texas voters — 58 percent — support allowing medical marijuana. MPP’s proposed medical marijuana bill would:

  • Medical patients with proper authorization from their doctors will not be arrested or penalized for possessing up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, nor will they be penalized for growing weed in a secure location. Patients must be diagnosed with one of the specific debilitating medical conditions listed under the guidelines to qualify.
  • Physicians also cannot be punished for suggesting that a medical patient use cannabis for the alleviation of their symptoms, which is of real concern for doctors in Texas under the current laws.
  • Under specific guidelines, medical marijuana businesses — more commonly known as dispensaries — would be allowed to cultivate and sell medicinal pot to patients, which would remove the criminal elements of obtaining marijuana by medical patients.
  • Medical marijuana would be tested, labeled for potency, and free from harmful contaminants.
  • There would also be a clause to allow seriously ill patients to designate a caregiver to obtain medical marijuana from authorized sources, since there is a concern about traveling by some medical patients.

Marijuana Legalization

MPP is also planning to propose a full-on legalization bill in the Lone Star State. Under the proposed “Free Market Bill”, the proposed changes would be that:

  • Marijuana would be treated much like other adult substances — alcohol, for instance — and the sale of the plant would be taxed and regulated, with adults 21 and over being granted access.
  • Much like Colorado and Washington, Texas would allow for retail businesses, grow houses (or cultivation centers, if you’re fancy like that) and testing labs, which is already pretty much par for the course with anything consumable.
  • Everything would be licensed and regulated, and local government would be granted the ability to establish their own regulations.
  • Driving under the influence would remain illegal, and no employer would be forced to okay intoxication.

The post Three New Marijuana Reform Bills Being Introduced in Texas appeared first on The Joint Blog.

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Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. to Vote on Cannabis Legalization in Just 10 Days

In just 10 days, on November 4th, the 2014 general election will be upon us, and Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. – along with a couple of cities – will be voting on the legalization of recreational cannabis, only two years after Washington and Colorado did the same.

In Oregon, Measure 91 has consistently maintained majority support among polls, including one from last week which found it winning 52% to 41%. Still, the numbers are close, so it’s vital that legalization advocates in Oregon take the time to vote in favor of the proposal if they’re registered, and to spread the word either way.

Measure 91, at least in terms of its possession limit, would give Oregon the most progressive cannabis law in the country, allowing all adults to possess up to eight ounces (half a pound). They’d also be authorized to cultivate up to four plants, and to purchase cannabis from state-licensed retail outlets.

In Alaska, Ballot Measure 2 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and would allow cannabis retail outlets to distribute the plant. The initiative, similar to Colorado’s Amendment 64, is a constitutional amendment, meaning its passage would make cannabis legalization a constitutional right in the state. Polling for the initiative shows it in a close race, making it urgent for supporters to get out the vote, and to make sure they vote themselves if they have the option.

In the U.S. capitol, Washington D.C., Initiative 71 would legalize the possession and use of up to two and a half ounces of cannabis, going a step further the district’s recently-enacted law which finds the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis a simple fine, rather than an arrestable misdemeanor. Polling from last month shows that 65% of D.C. voters support legalizing cannabis, with just 33% opposed.

Voters in South Portland, Maine, and in Berkley, Michigan, will also have the opportunity to legalize cannabis, as both cities have initiatives on their ballots which would legalize the possession of up to an ounce. In Maine, a similar initiative was approved last year in Portland with 67% of the vote. In Michigan, a similar initiative has been approved in the cities of Detroit, Lansing, Ferndale, Jackson, Flint and Grand Rapids.

In Florida, activists are hard at work attempting to get Amendment 2 approved into law. The initiative, also being voted on November 4th, would legalize the possession and distribution of medical cannabis for those who receive a recommendation from a physician. Although a University of North Florida poll released earlier this month found support for the initiative among likely voters to be at 67% – a healthy lead – other polls, such as a recent University of Florida poll, has found the initiative’s support to be at 48%, well below the 60% required for it to be passed into law since it’s a constitutional amendment. Regardless of what polling shows, the initiative has a legitimate chance of making Florida the next state to legalize medical cannabis.

As election day approaches, advocates of these proposals should do all they can to spread the word; inform their friends and family, pass the news along through social media, put together a rally to bring attention to the issue – whatever it takes!

But most importantly; vote!


The post Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. to Vote on Cannabis Legalization in Just 10 Days appeared first on The Joint Blog.

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