Marijuana Legalization Roundup: Oct 31
By Mike Adams
Congress Pressures Government Watchdog to Investigate DEA … Arkansas Medical Marijuana Push Has Become a Sideshow… And Texas Attempts to Shakedown the Pending Cannabis Industry.
Read all about it in the HIGH TIMES weekly Legalization Roundup for October 31:
What: DEA Grilled on Eradication Program
Federal lawmakers want the Government Accountability Office to dig into the DEA’s controversial cannabis eradication program to find out just how effective it really is now that the plant has been legalized in over half the United States. A letter signed last week by eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives said: “Over half the states have now legalized marijuana in some form, yet the DEA continues to funnel millions of tax dollars every year into marijuana eradication. As Congress evaluates how to allocate government funds over the next fiscal year, it is critical that we have an accurate picture of what the DEA’s [cannabis eradication] funds are being spent on, where, and how effectively.” This call for an investigation comes on the heels of documents showing the DEA spends is still spending in upwards of $14 million per year to cut down pot plants and coming up empty handed in some jurisdictions. The eight lawmakers are asking for a detailed explanation of the DEA’s allocated eradication budget.
What: Supreme Court Invalidates Legalization Initiative
The Arkansas Supreme Court decided last Thursday to disqualify one of the two medical marijuana ballot measures set to go before the voters in the November election. In a ruling of 5-to-2, the justices said Arkansas for Compassionate Care’s (ACC) Issue 7 would no longer be counted at the polls because it violated some of the rules during its signature collecting campaign. The decision disqualified 12,000 signatures, putting the group 2,500 signatures short of making the ballot.
The other, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, known as Issue 6, remains on the ballot. Detail on the confusing situation in Arkansas can be found here.
”It’s not easy reversing 80 years of cannabis prohibition. ACC placed a medical cannabis law on the ballot in 2012 and we were narrowly defeated. We came back with an army of volunteers and successfully placed Issue 7 on the ballot. We’ve been up against many hurdles including the Governor, Attorney General, Surgeon General, a competing campaign and two lawsuits. We will keep fighting, ensure that no patient faces arrest for using a safe and effective medicine, whether that protection comes from Issue 6 or Issue 7,” said Ryan Denham, Deputy Director of Issue 7.
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson said last week that he wants to State Legislature to consider moving up the deadline for ballot measures, because while he did not support Issue 7, he believes the court’s latest decision has done nothing but confuse the voters. As it stands, the second medical marijuana initiative (Issue 6) is still set to go before the voting public on Nov. 8.
What: Lawmaker to Introduce MMJ Legislation If Ballot Measures Fail
If voters fail to approve Issue 6 in the November election, State Representative Dan Douglas, who opposes the ballot measure, says he will introduce legislation in the next session aimed at legalizing a low-THC medical marijuana program. Douglas’ plan would be similar to programs passed in states like Florida and Texas, where patients with specific conditions would be allowed access to non-intoxicating cannabis oil. Governor Asa Hutchinson, a former head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, told the Associated Press that while he was aware of Douglas’ proposal, he was not yet sure whether he would give it his support. Issue 6 would allow patients to purchase medical marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries, but, unlike Issue 7, which has been disqualified, does not come with a home cultivation provision.
Where: North Dakota
What: Getting Medical Marijuana Ready
Although there has not been a lot of attention on North Dakota this election season, voters there are set to decide this November whether the state should legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program. It is on the ballot as Measure 5, a proposal that would allow patients with around 12 qualifying conditions ranging from AIDS to epilepsy to have access to marijuana—up to three ounces at a time. Opposing forces say they are worried the program does not come with enough safeguards to prevent it from spiraling out of control. Yet, it is designed similar to the 25 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized for medicinal use and have not reported any major problems.
What: Talks of Increased Licensing Fee
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) wants to raise the cost of the state’s medical marijuana licensing fee from $6,000 to $1.3 million. The increase would apply to every cultivation operation and dispensary interested in participating in the state’s low-THC cannabis trade. The Public Safety Commission originally said the buy-in would be a modest investment of $6,000—allowing a number of companies to take advantage of the new market. But the commission has since restricted the number of businesses that will be allowed to participate, bringing up the cost exponentially. The commission is now giving the public a chance to comment on the proposal before taking up a final vote at the end of November. The final rules of the low-THC program must be drafted by the summer of 2017.
What: Lawsuit Over Missing Ballot Question
The Florida chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has filed a lawsuit against the Broward County elections office over reports that the medical marijuana question (Amendment 2) is missing from a number of absentee ballots. “The plaintiff’s are seeking a judicial declaration enjoining the Defendant’s from distributing any further ballots, and implementing an emergency plan to issue new ones which insure the inclusion of the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot,” NORML said in a statement. The lawsuit hopes to ensure that Amendment 2 does not get shafted like it did back in 2014—missing passage by a narrow 2 points. So far, the latest polls indicate the state will approve the ballot measure this year.
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