High Times Legislative Roundup: Sept. 22

The majority of the American population supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use. A recent survey from CivicScience, which took a sample of 450,000 adult US citizens, found that nearly 60 percent welcomed the idea of establishing a tax and regulated cannabis commerce similar to how the country has done with alcohol. Supporters say the poll means that putting an end to prohibition is becoming a mainstream issue, which could stir up a world of change in the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, several states are gearing up to make that change in 2014, with Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC predicted to pass initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana in their neck of the woods.

Here is a closer look at what you pot-friendly lawmakers were up to last week:

Alaska: Recreational Marijuana in 2014

Voters in Alaska are set to head to the polls this November to decide on the issue of recreational marijuana. The initiative to formulate a taxed and regulated cannabis market was originally slated to be voted on in August, but due to some red tape the vote was pushed off until November. Although the state has witnessed the presence of pot naysayers attempting to keep Alaskans from voting in support of the measure measure, recent polls indicate that over half of the residents plan to cast a ballot in support of the measure.

Arizona: Legalization in 2016?

Marijuana supporters had hoped to generate enough of a following to push for a legalized cannabis market in 2014, but it looks as though 2016 is more realistic. The Marijuana Policy Project recently announced they would support a ballot initiative that would establish a taxed and regulated pot commerce in 2016. Their theory is that more voters will turn out to vote during a presidential election. Recent polls indicate that 51 percent of Arizona residents support establishing a recreational marijuana market.

California: Legalization in 2016?

California has experienced several failures in its attempt to legalize recreational marijuana. Earlier this year, supporters threw in the towel on an initiative that would have put the question up to the voters in November, but a lack of funds stopped them from moving forward. Yet, supporters are convinced that 2016 could be there year, with the majority of California residents supporting the issue now more than ever before.

Iowa: Governor Branstad Considers Medical Marijuana Proposals

Governor Terry Branstad told reporters last week that he was considering a proposal that would allow the state the cultivate medical marijuana. However, he admits such a move will only be possible under the strictest regulations. “I’m willing to look at all proposals,” he said. “I just want to make sure that the safety of Iowans is protected and that we don’t have unintended consequences.”

The biggest concern for Branstad is not allowing people to abuse the system and grow marijuana for illegal use. “I think you’ve got to be very careful because you don’t want unintended consequences, you don’t want marijuana being grown and then being used illegally. I think it would really depend upon how carefully and strictly it could be managed and controlled.”

Iowa recently passed legislation that allows parents of sick children access to cannabis oil, but they have been forced to seek outside sources to obtain the medicine.

Maine: Complaint for Decriminalization in York

The Marijuana Policy Project has filed a complaint with the York County Superior Court in hopes of winning a temporary injunction against the York Board of Selectmen that would allow the question of marijuana decriminalization to be answered on the November ballot. As it stands, the selectman has refused this initiative twice, but supporters have collected more than enough signatures to move the measure to the ballot.

“The right to petition your government is the bedrock of democracy. For the selectman to ignore the will of their constituents goes against what our country is all about and that is why I signed on to this case,” said Sharon DaBiere with the Marijuana Policy Project.

The complaint was scheduled to be heard last Friday.

New York: Recreational Marijuana in 2015?

Senator Liz Kreuger announced last week that she will introduce a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in the state of New York. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Krueger talked about a proposal she plans to file with the state legislature that would make the state the first on the East Coast to establish a recreational pot market. “I will push for taxation and regulation of marijuana,” she said. “I continue to work with experts around the country and to evaluate laws and regulations being put into place now.”

Senator Krueger recently proposed similar legislation, but the State Senate rejected it. However, with the advent of medical marijuana in 2014, she believes there may be some addition momentum this time around. Krueger says she has adjusted the bill to mimic other states that have imposed successful marijuana laws.

“I knew we needed to move medical marijuana into law before people would focus on the bigger question — tax and regulation,” she said. “So I think my legislative proposal fits in very nicely with what the state has already committed to move forward with.”

 Oregon: Recreational Marijuana in 2014

Oregon could be one of the next states to legalize recreational marijuana. An initiative by New Approach Oregon to tax and regulate a recreational marijuana market will head to the November election, and it will likely pass with the polls indicating a near 60 percent approval rate.

Washington, DC: Recreational Marijuana Could Pass Easily in the Nation’s Capital

Voters in Washington, DC will get to decide on the issue of recreational marijuana in the upcoming November election, which has a better than average chance of winning approval. A recent NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll indicates there is a great deal of support for Initiative 71, with 65 percent wanting to make weed legal for adults. If these numbers translate to the polls, the District will legalize the use of recreational marijuana in the same place where the federal government resides in resistance to the movement.

Folks, this could get interesting!

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