It was another solid week in the fight to legalize marijuana across the United States. Some of the biggest news to surface comes from the presidential campaign trail, where Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders revealed his plan to end pot prohibition nationwide. Also, Maine’s two marijuana groups have teamed up to put a single initiative on the ballot in the 2016 election and activists in North Dakota have filed the necessary paperwork to launch a campaign to legalizing medical marijuana.
Read all about this and more in the HIGH TIMES Legislative Roundup for November 2:
Federal: Bernie Sanders to Introduce Bill to Lift Federal Ban on Weed
During a speech last week in Virginia, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced plans to submit legislation in the next few weeks aimed at removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. The proposal would eliminate the illegality of the substance under federal law, which would allow states to legalize the leaf in any fashion they choose without risk of federal intervention.
“The time is long overdue for us to take marijuana off the federal government’s list of outlawed drugs,” Sanders said. “States should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco."
Perhaps Sanders knows something we do not. There are currently a number of bills lingering on Capitol Hill intended to reform the pot laws in the United States. There simply hasn’t been enough Republican support on the issue to move any of these items forward. Furthermore, the new Speaker of the House, Republican Paul Ryan, is not likely to put Sanders’ new proposal, which begs to remove marijuana from the DEA’s Schedule I listing, on the House docket. Ryan hasn’t exactly been a supporter of the cause, opposing medical marijuana in every budget vote since 2012. However, during that year, Ryan indicated support for states’ right when it comes to legalizing weed. When asked about medical marijuana, he said: “My personal positions on this issue have been let the states decide what to do with these things.”
Nevertheless, even if the proposal does get by the House gatekeeper, the sales pitch will have to be pretty convincing to get a reform of this magnitude through the U.S. House of Representatives. But then again, if Sanders’ actually has a plan to get this bill approved and over to the White House for President Obama’s signature, our faith in democracy might be restored.
North Dakota: Initiative to Legalize Medical Marijuana
An organization hoping to legalize medical marijuana in North Dakota is on the verge of submitting their proposal to the state. Ray Morgan told KFGO that his group (North Dakota Committee for Medical Marijuana) would likely file their initiative with the Secretary of State within the next week. If it is approved, it will go before the Attorney General for a second review. The group will then need to collect 13,500 signatures in order to earn a spot on the ballot in the 2016 election.
Maine: Competing Initiatives Join Forces to End Prohibition
Two marijuana advocacy groups have decided to join forces to end prohibition in Maine rather than continue with competing initiatives. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announced last week that they are teaming up with Regulate Maine in order to put one solid ballot measure in front of voters in the 2016 presidential election.
“Joining forces is the best step forward, not only for our respective campaigns, but for Maine as a whole,” said David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, in a statement. “We all agree marijuana prohibition has been a colossal failure and that it must be replaced with a system in which marijuana is legal for adults and regulated like alcohol. We can more effectively accomplish our shared goal by combining our resources and working together instead of on parallel tracks.”
Arkansas: Attorney General Rejects Pot Proposal Over Spelling and Grammar
An initiative to legalize marijuana in 2016 has been rejected over grammar and spelling errors. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said last week that she was forced to deny approval for the “Arkansas Cannabis Amendment” based on mistakes and ambiguities throughout the document. The proposal drafted by Arkansas resident Marry Berry seeks to establish a framework where “all products derived from the cannabis plant” are no longer criminalized. However, the initiative will need several corrections before receiving further consideration by the state.
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