Despite the summer slowdown, it was still an interesting week in the fight to legalize marijuana in the United States. Perhaps the biggest news to surface was that of a proposed resolution demanding that the federal government mind its own business when it comes to states passing marijuana laws. Other highlights include two Massachusetts initiatives battling it out to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, as well as the sad revelation that none of the federal bills activists had hoped would pass in 2015, including the CARERS Act, will likely get any Congressional consideration this year.
Read all about this and more in the High Times Legislative Roundup for August 10:
Federal: National Pot Bills Stalled
Although there has been a lot of talk in 2015 about the CARERS Act, which seeks to legalize medical marijuana nationwide, as well as number of other pieces of legislation pushing for the reform of federal marijuana laws, the lack of Republican support has stalled these items, putting them in an indefinite state of political purgatory. The CARERS Act has managed to obtain the support of 16 Senators, but it desperately needs more Republicans before it stands a chance of making it out of committee. A similar fate, at least for now, has come to the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2015.
There are reportedly over 20 marijuana-related bills waiting for consideration in Congress, but sadly, until there is more Republican support in both chambers, none of these bills are expected to move on to the next level.
Federal: National Conference of State Legislatures Want Feds Out of Marijuana
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCLS) proposed a resolution last week demanding the federal government amend the Controlled Substances Act to “allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference.” The resolution argues that despite differing opinions in regards to how marijuana policies should be handled, “states and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety, health, and economic development of their communities.”
The preface of the resolution points out the hypocrisy of the current standard, suggesting “the federal government cannot force a state to criminalize cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana or hemp — whether for medical, recreational, industrial, or other uses — because doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.” If it passes, it could be a blueprint for the group’s activism in 2016. To do this, all it needs is majority support from 75 percent of those in attendance at October’s fall meeting.
Arizona: Marijuana Initiative Gaining Momentum
Arizona is well on its way to voting on the issue of recreational marijuana in the next election. Organizers with Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announced last week that they have already managed to collect 50,000 signatures for their initiative within the past 10 weeks…and there are no signs of this momentum winding down. The campaign has until July 2016 to submit 150,642 signatures to the state, so the likelihood of the initiative being included on the ballot in the 2016 election is very good. If voters approve this measure, the state would set up a taxed and regulated cannabis industry similar to the one currently underway in Colorado.
Massachusetts: Two Group File Initiatives to Legalize Weed in 2016
Two organizations have filed initiatives with the state aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana in 2016. The first group, Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, seeks to establish a cannabis industry that would tax marijuana at a rate of 3.75 percent in addition to the state’s sales tax. It would also allow residents to cultivate up to 6 plants for personal use. The second group, Bay Street Repeal, wants to do things a bit differently, proposing that cannabis be treated similar to other products of adult commerce, imposing only the state’s sales tax on pot purchases. If approved by the Massachusetts Attorney General, each group will have until November 2015 to collect around 65,000 signatures.