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NJ & WA See Home Grow Bills Filed, Ecuador State of Emergency Over Cartels, More... (1/11/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1202)
Consequences of Prohibition

The US is set to send assistance ot Ecuador as it battles rampaging drug gangs, a medical marijuana expansion bill gets filed in Delaware, and more.

Los Choneros leader Jose Adolfo Macias Villamar, known as "Fito," being transferred between prisons in 2023. (FFAAE)
Marijuana Policy

New Jersey Home Grow Bill Filed. Democratic Conference Chair Sen. Vin Gopal (D) has filed a bill to end the state's outlier status when it comes to allowing people to grow their own marijuana. Senate Bill 1985 would allow adults to grow up to six plants and medical marijuana patients to grow up to 10 plants.

Similar legislation in the Assembly, Assembly Bill 414, would legalize the possession of up to six plants, while Senate Bill 1393/Assembly Bill 846, would authorize the home cultivation of medical marijuana.

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has said he is "open-minded" on the issue but that the legal market should mature further before home grow are allowed.

The home grow bills are just some of a slew of bills referencing marijuana and drug policy in the Garden State this year. Click on the link above to see them all.

Washington Home Grow Bill Filed. Rep. Shelley Kloba (D) has filed House Bill 2194, which would allow adults to grow up to six pot plants, with a cap of 15 plants at any one household.

The bill is an update to a similar bill last year that passed one committee before being killed in a second committee. Voters legalized marijuana in 2012 but without a home grow provision, and lawmakers have been trying since 2015 to pass a home grow bill.

"I just see it as a fundamentally illogical thing that we're doing," said Kloba. "We've made it criminal to grow a plant whose products you can walk into a retail store and purchase."

Medical Marijuana

Delaware House Committee Advances Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill Ahead of Adult Use Sales Launch. The House Health and Human Development Committee on Wednesday approved a bill to significantly expand the state's medical marijuana program. The measure is House Bill 285, from Rep. Ed Osienski (D).

The bill would make a series of changes to Delaware's medical marijuana program, including removing limitations for patient eligibility based on a specific set of qualifying health conditions. Instead, doctors could issue marijuana recommendations for any condition they see fit.

Osienski, who also led the successful push for adult use legalization, said this bill would allow the state's medical marijuana program "to be more successful as the state moves forward with recreational sales, and to make it less expensive and easier for patients to access medical marijuana."

Foreign Policy

US Will Send Aid Package to Ecuador as Cartels Rampage. As the country lives through a state of emergency called by President Daniel Noboa after a pair of jailed drug trafficking leaders vanished from prison over the weekend and gang members rampaged through the streets of Guayaquil, Noboa has announced that the US will be offering assistance.

"We had a meeting with US Ambassador Fitzpatrick yesterday afternoon after the decree and he said in a few days, 2-3 days, they'll arrive in Ecuador with an assistance package," President Daniel Noboa said Wednesday in an interview with radio network Canela.

A crackdown on drug trafficking triggered the war between gangs and the Ecuadorian state, Noboa said. The president, who has been in office for only six weeks, has called out the army to rein in the cartels, who have responded by launching prison riots, storming a TV station live, lighting cars afire, and taking police hostage.


Ecuador Declares State of Emergency After Escape of Drug Gang Leaders. President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency for 60 days on Monday after two imprisoned drug gang leaders escaped over the weekend. Adolfo Macias disappeared Sunday from the prison where he was serving a 34-year sentence but which had served as his headquarters as he continued to oversee the operations of his gang, Los Choneros. A second leader from a rival gang also escaped.

Since then, the country has been riven by prison riots, the kidnapping of police, and disorder on the streets as the drug gangs challenge the state of emergency.

Los Choneros are believed to be behind a surge of violence that peaked late last year with the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, who said the group had threatened him. Los Choneros are linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.

Under the state of emergency, soldiers have been deployed to the streets and into the prisons and a national nighttime curfew at 11:00pm has been imposed. Noboa says his objective is to reduce violence.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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