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Missoula Jury Pool Creates Uproar Across Nation After Marijuana 'Mutiny'

Location: 
Missoula, MT
United States
A jury pool's action — and the reaction to it — has serious ramifications for continued prosecution of low-level nonviolent drug crimes, not just in Missoula County but around the country. The story "hit a nerve" around the country, said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the national Drug Policy Alliance that advocates drug law reform. "It shows the emperor-has-no-clothes dimension to what happened. It's an expression of what many people feel — that marijuana possession should no longer be illegal," he said.
Publication/Source: 
The Billings Gazette (MT)
URL: 
http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_c7b4045b-5aad-513d-b8f4-ab5186d39008.html

Teen Marijuana Use Continues to Rise: Report Consistently Shows Prohibition’s Failure to Curb Teen Access to Marijuana; More Teens Say Marijuana is Easy To Get (Press Release)

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 

DECEMBER 14, 2010

Teen Marijuana Use Continues to Rise

Annual Report Consistently Shows Prohibition’s Failure to Curb Teen Access to Marijuana; More Teens Say Marijuana is Easy To Get

CONTACT: Mike Meno, MPP director of communications: 202-905-2030, 443-927-6400 or mmeno@mpp.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marijuana use by 8th, 10th and 12th grade students increased in 2010, with more American teenagers now using marijuana than cigarettes for the second year in a row, according to numbers released today by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan as part of the annual Monitoring the Future survey. In 2010, 21.4 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the last 30 days, while 19.2 had used cigarettes.

         “It’s really no surprise that more American teenagers are using marijuana and continue to say it’s easy to get. Our government has spent decades refusing to regulate marijuana in order to keep it out of the hands of drug dealers who aren’t required to check customer ID and have no qualms about selling marijuana to young people,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “The continued decline in teen tobacco use is proof that sensible regulations, coupled with honest, and science-based public education can be effective in keeping substances away from young people. It’s time we acknowledge that our current marijuana laws have utterly failed to accomplish one of their primary objectives – to keep marijuana away from young people – and do the right thing by regulating marijuana, bringing its sale under the rule of law, and working to reduce the unfettered access to marijuana our broken laws have given teenagers.”  

         Since the survey’s inception, overwhelmingly numbers of American teenagers have said marijuana was easy for them to obtain. According to the 2010 numbers, the use of alcohol – which is also regulated and sold by licensed merchants required to check customer ID – continued to decline among high school seniors.

         With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Activists Look to Advance Marijuana Reform Legislation

Location: 
MA
United States
The Massachusetts Cannabis Convention resolved that "noncommercial cultivation for personal use is a human right and is not to be taxed" at a meeting in Georgetown, Massachusetts last weekend. More than 50 marijuana reform activists from around the state attended the convention called by the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (Mass Cann), a state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Publication/Source: 
Daily News (MA)
URL: 
http://www.newburyportnews.com/local/x1964517213/Activists-look-to-advance-marijuana-reform-legislation

Humboldt's Marijuana Growers Team Up to Go Legit

Location: 
Humboldt, CA
United States
America's most renowned bastion of illicit marijuana growing is threatened by cavernous, city-taxed cultivation warehouses soon to be licensed in Oakland. It is alarmed by cities from La Puente to Berkeley to Sacramento that approved taxes on dispensaries or endorsed medical marijuana cultivation, sanctioning a marijuana economy wider and more competitive than ever. Humboldt seeks to save itself by going legit -- the new Humboldt Growers Association is working for county approval to license and tax outdoor pot plantations of up to 40,000 square feet.
Publication/Source: 
The Sacramento Bee (CA)
URL: 
http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/28/3216072/humbolds-pot-growers-team-up-to.html

Medical Marijuana Sales Tax Nets $2.2 Million for Colorado This Year

Location: 
CO
United States
Medical marijuana dispensaries are now putting hundreds of thousands of dollars a month into state and city treasuries in Colorado. So far this year, the state has collected more than $2.2 million in sales tax from dispensaries.
Publication/Source: 
The Denver Post (CO)
URL: 
http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_16688199

Will a Special Tax on Medical Marijuana Sales Get Your Vote?

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States
The L.A. City Council is considering putting a special tax on medical marijuana collectives, however the voters will have the final say. Today the Council is expected to be presented with the City Attorney's recently issued report on the tax measure, and they are being recommended to adopt the resolution and have the proposition put on the March 8th, 2011 ballot.
Publication/Source: 
LAist (CA)
URL: 
http://laist.com/2010/11/16/city_council_to_consider_a_prop_to.php

Oakland Okays Medical Marijuana Mega-Grows

The Oakland city council last week approved an application process for commercial-scale medical marijuana grow ops. That same night, the city council also approved a separate measure doubling the number of dispensaries licensed to operate in the city from four to eight.

coming to Oakland -- licensed commercial-scale marijuana grows (Wikimedia)
The move makes Oakland the first city in the nation to approve marijuana cultivation on such a large scale. City council members said it was designed to take medical marijuana cultivation out of the shadows.

"Oakland is a leader in this industry, and I'm hoping that this will continue to grow," said Councilman Larry Reid in remarks reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Under the regulations approved Tuesday, applicants for the four grow licenses must undergo extensive financial background checks, provide security, and show themselves to be well-backed financially. The regulations also require that applicants pay back taxes for marijuana they have sold to Oakland dispensaries over the years, as well as interest and penalties.

It is unclear just how much marijuana large growers seeking one of the four permits have sold to city dispensaries. Much of the marijuana in the dispensaries is produced by small growers. The council earlier this year promised to create regulations to include them too, but has not yet done so.

Oakland, CA
United States

Marianas Islands Marijuana Legalization Bill Passes House

A bill to legalize marijuana passed the House in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), a US territory, November 4. But the governor says he would only sign a medical marijuana bill, and the Senate appears poised to kill it.

Saipan -- moving toward a tropical paradise
Still, its passage marks the first time a pot legalization bill has passed in a legislative chamber in any US territory.

The bill, HB 17-45, was championed by Rep. Stanley Torres (I-Saipan). It would "allow individuals 21 years or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use; permit the regulation and taxation of the commercial production and sale to people 21 years old or older," while barring pot possession on school grounds and use in the presence of minors.

Earlier this year, a cost-benefit analysis performed by the House Committee on Natural Resources said enacting the bill into law "will possibly result in the loss of federal funds but at the same time the Commonwealth government will generate funds through taxation."

Torres and other legalization supporters also argued that the bill would allow access to marijuana by the ill and reduce crime and violence in black markets.

But Senate President Paul Manglona (R-Rota) said Wednesday that the Senate will kill the bill next. "It's for the same reasons I mentioned before," he told the Saipan Tribune, citing concerns about marijuana use's impact on CNMI youth and other ill effects on the community.

And Gov. Beningno Fitial signaled that he was okay with medical marijuana, but not for non-medical.
"I support it for medicinal use," Fitial told reporters. "I never smoke marijuana myself so I cannot talk much about it because I don't have the experience."

Saipan
United States Minor Outlying Islands

LA City Council Pushes for Medical Marijuana Tax on March Ballot

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States
The Los Angeles City Council pushed for a ballot measure to begin taxing medical marijuana. There are cities in California that tax medical marijuana, such as San Jose, La Puente, Oakland, Richmond, Sacramento, and Berkeley. With a vote of 9-3 the Los Angeles City Council has informed city attorney’s to draft a ballot measure for the March 8 election in favor of taxing marijuana.
Publication/Source: 
Examiner.com (CO)
URL: 
http://www.examiner.com/city-hall-in-los-angeles/la-city-council-pushes-for-medical-marijuana-tax-on-march-ballot

The Marijuana Legalization Movement Takes Aim at 2012 [FEATURE]

Disappointed yet emboldened by Proposition 19's eight point loss a week ago, state and national marijuana legalization leaders are already planning to push for initiatives in as many as five states in 2012. Meetings in California and Colorado in the past few days are laying the groundwork for legalization initiatives there, and similar efforts are being talked about for Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Rep. Tom Ammiano will get even more attention now.
With election post-mortems already yielding to pre-planning the next campaigns, the legalization movement smells victory in the air not too far down the road. And the Yes On 19 campaign team is hitting the ground running.

"I just got out of a meeting where we're trying to put together an all-star team to be the board for a 2012 campaign," said Richard Lee, the Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur behind the Prop 19 campaign. "We're hoping to have a formal announcement Thursday, but we'll see how that goes."

If it happens, though, don't count on Lee to be kicking in a million-plus dollars again. "Part of the reason for building this coalition is that I'm tapped out," said Lee. "But I think we got our money's worth, we got a $100 million worth of free media."

The meeting Lee mentioned was of the group's steering board, said activist team Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, who were there. "We're exploring another initiative run in 2012, and it's looking pretty likely because we achieved so much with this campaign, especially with the coalitions we built to support this effort," said Norris.

"There is a real interest in making sure the activist base is included," said Conrad. "We want to try to avoid the divisiveness of this campaign," he added, alluding to intramural attacks from some growers, the Stoners Against Prop 19 types, and elements of the medical marijuana community. "But people feel they have to have a certain thing, and how can you achieve unity like that? People have to be able to compromise," he said.

National reform groups are also feeling optimistic about 2012. "Even though we lost in California, Richard ended up doing a good thing for the movement," said NORML founder Keith Stroup. "When you look at what went on in the last six or eight months, I don’t think legalization was ever taken seriously by politicians and the press until now. It was probably worth the three or four million spent on that to force marijuana legalization into the national and international spotlight."

Despite this year's loss, "the big picture is Gallup polls showing support higher than ever," said Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mike Meno. "Even some Californians who voted against Prop 19 believe it should be legal. On the central issue, it seems the public is increasingly on our side and heading for a majority."

Prop 19 brought the issue center stage, Meno said. "This year, we had more mainstream press coverage than ever, the debate is out in the open, and many Americans are now for the first time in their lives really thinking seriously about legalizing marijuana."

"There seems to be a consensus around working toward 2012," said Meno. "It's a presidential election year, and there will be more young voters. If the polls continue to trend up, there's no reason not to optimistic that states like Colorado or Washington couldn’t pass something like Prop 19. We're looking at strategically supporting a pair of legalization initiatives in Colorado and California. Support is high, and we have two more years to build on that."

"If I were a betting man, I'd say there's a better than 50-50 chance we'll see initiatives in California and Colorado, said Drug Policy Alliance head Ethan Nadelmann. "It's hard to say about the other states at this point."

Nadelmann saw three possibilities for 2012 initiatives. "First is that badly drafted initiatives get on the ballot and then lose badly," he said. "But my hope is that well-drafted initiatives get on the ballot with strong majority support, and that inspires wealthy donors to provide backing. The third possibility is that well-drafted initiatives get on the ballot notwithstanding the fact they have less than 50% going in. The challenge in that case will be to ensure that even though they are likely headed for defeat, they move the ball forward like Prop 19 and Colorado in 2006."

Initiative campaigns will focus on a number of themes, said Nadelmann. "You have the continuing nightmare in Mexico, you have the surveys showing young people saying it's easier to buy pot than alcohol, and you have the continuing indictment of the failures of prohibition," he said. "And evidence that decriminalization is not enough. Decrim in California and New York did not prevent massive increases in arrests in the past 20 years and the racial disproportionality that accompanied them. Legalization may have its risks, but it's preferable to the status quo.

There are a few cautionary voices when it comes to another legalization initiative in California. "Another initiative here in California might be a good idea, but it's premature to say that," said Dale Gieringer of California NORML. CANORML supported Prop 19, but Gieringer from the beginning voiced doubts about its prospects for success. He has doubts again about 2012 in California.

"California voters don’t really like to have the same issue revisited in successive elections," he said. "There have been a bunch of issues that have failed under those circumstances," he recalled, ticking off parental concept for abortion, eminent domain reform, and a school voucher initiative. "I can't think of a case where people have been able to flip the vote in two years," the student of California politics said.

Gieringer also raised another potential problem. "Who is going to fund it? Richard Lee said he doesn’t have the money to do it again. You need a million dollars to get on the ballot," he pointed out. "If I were a major funder, I'd be looking at a less expensive state," he said.

Still, Gieringer said, CANORML would be holding a statewide conference in January to try to begin to see if there is a consensus that can be reached among the state's complex and fractious pot community.

It doesn’t have to be an initiative. There is the legislative process, and this year, Rep. Tom Ammiano managed to get his legalization bill through the Assembly Public Safety Committee. He'll be back at it next year.

"We will be reintroducing our bill to tax and regulate at the beginning of the next session," said Ammiano spokesperson Quintin Mecke. "We'll be looking at any possible changes between now and then."

Mecke credited Prop 19 with moving the issue forward. "I think Prop 19 has put marijuana firmly in the mainstream conversation and the public policy conversation is now being debated at the highest levels of government. People can't just make jokes about it anymore. We are getting close to challenging this notion that we can deal with marijuana simply through law enforcement."

And it doesn't have to be California.In Colorado, SAFER (Safe Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation) and Sensible Colorado last Thursday announced that they were pushing ahead with a legalization initiative for 2012. And Saturday, a statewide conference brought national movement figures including SSDP head Aaron Houston, Drug Policy Alliance head Ethan Nadelmann, Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, and Prop 19's Jeff Jones to Denver to help lay the groundwork. The Saturday summit was also the scene of the announcement of a second initiative campaign, Legalize It 2012, a Jack Herer-style "freedom based" measure, led by Laura Kriho of the Boulder-based Cannabis Therapy Institute.

"There is a great deal of interest in a 2012 statewide initiative to regulate marijuana and start treating it like alcohol," said SAFER's Tvert.  "I think we're poised to make this happen. We've seen support go up dramatically over the past five years and internal polls had it at about 50% this year. Attitudes here have reached a point where this is very realistic," he said.

"The folks in Colorado are determined to go forward even if the polls are not promising," said Nadelmann. "We are committed to trying to make this as smart and tight an initiative as possible, even though it will be difficult to raise money."

"We need to get a lot of folks opinion on this, particularly the medical marijuana industry here, where we have hundreds of licensed medical marijuana centers," Tvert said. "We hope to work with them to pass a law that will benefit everyone. There is no specific language yet, but that is what we are beginning to get together."

Tvert said he hoped the community would coalesce around one initiative. "People are doing polling and seeing what language will work," he said. "I hope in the end we will go forward with one initiative that will be the best law possible."

As noted above, similar efforts are underway in Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The marijuana reform movement thinks it is can go over the top in the next election cycle. Only 103 weeks until we find out if they're right.

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