Legalization Roundup: Nov. 7

Photo by Mike Gustafson, courtesy of Kushman Genetics

Did You Hear About the Election? … Nine States Set to Vote on Marijuana and MMJ Legalization Tuesday … Rhode Island Considers Following in the Footsteps of Massachusetts… And Colorado Spends Pot Taxes On the Homeless.

Read all about it in the HIGH TIMES weekly Legalization Roundup for November 7:

Where: National
What: Democratic Senate Control Good for Weed

If the Democrats take control of the Senate in Tuesday’s election, which seems within the realm of possibility, the United States could see some changes coming in the grand scheme of marijuana reform. According to a recent Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, the “Democrats still look likely to take over Illinois and Wisconsin, bringing the fight for control of the Senate down to six states: Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, and Missouri. Democrats need to win three of those six states for control because winning Nevada would just be holding a seat they already control.” If that happens, Senator Patrick J. Leahy seems to be the best shot at taking the gavel out of the hands of the current committee chairman Republican Charles Grassley. This change could lead to marijuana-related proposals finally getting some consideration beginning in 2017. Several years ago, Leahy told the Atlantic that he has “long urged the federal government to stay away from states where they have legalized the use of marijuana, or legalized medical marijuana,” and that it “makes absolutely no sense” to continue wasting resources on law enforcement just to bust pot offenders.

Where: National
What: U.S. Military May Allow Past Marijuana Use by Potential Enlistees

Although federal marijuana laws could be far from being changed, the Pentagon said last week that is considering amending the policies that prevent people that have used marijuana in the past from joining the U.S. Military. In a memo entitled “Forging Two New Links to the Force of the Future,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the armed forces would “assess the feasibility and impact of updated standards, such as those related to: body composition, physical fitness, swim tests, past marijuana use, single parents and tattoos.” The goal of this less restrictive policy would be to start pulling in a wider variety of new recruits. The Department of Defense is asking for $140 million to spend on an ad campaign intended to beef up the Armed Forces.

Where: Virginia
What: Senate Leader Now Wants to Decriminalize Marijuana

Republican Senate majority leader Tommy Norment of Virginia, who has voted against decriminalization measures in the past, revealed last week that he was open to drafting a new policy aimed at eliminating the criminal penalties associated with minor pot possession. He is calling for the Virginia State Crime Commission to research a decriminalization measure, in hopes that it will be enough to persuade his more conservative colleagues to have a change of heart on the issue. The full Assembly would have to agree on the study before the commission would be allowed to move forward. Last year, Norment was part of mob of nine Republicans that voted against a bill intended to decriminalize marijuana possession statewide

Where: Colorado
What: Pot Taxes for the Homeless

Governor John Hickenlooper published his 2018 budget proposal last week, a plan that comes with $18 million of the state’s marijuana taxes going to a project to build affordable housing for the homeless. Hickenlooper’s budget director Henry Sobanet said it is a project the governor has wanted to launch since taking office. He also approved $16 million to help combat the black market cannabis trade. Hickenlooper’s new plan clips about $28.5 billion off the overall budget, giving less money to education, hospitals and road construction—all to help close the gap on the state’s $500 million deficit.

Where: Rhode Island
What: State Could Follow Massachusetts

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said the state might have to consider establishing a legal marijuana market of its own if Massachusetts legalizes in the upcoming election. She told the Providence Journal last week that she and her staff were “looking at it” and may have to move “harder and faster” on the issue if neighboring Massachusetts succeeds with Question 4. Raimondo said her only reservations are the potential threat certain cannabis products pose to the safety of children and the fact that it could lead to more stoned drivers. But if the state can come up with a plan to remedy those concerns, “I would be in favor,” she said.


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