Maine Legalization Initiative Back On Track

Top Story – Maine Legalization Initiative Back On Track

Maine Legalization Initiative

AUGUSTA, Maine (CRMLA-ME) — A Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled on Friday that state officials may have improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on a proposed ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol. Justice Michaela Murphy found that state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The Secretary of State’s Office must now review all of the disputed petitions and place the initiative on the November ballot if it determines enough valid signatures were collected. If enough signatures are validated, Maine would become the second state after Nevada to qualify a legalization initiative for the 2016 election.

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Sweeping changes proposed to Alaska’s criminal justice system could be funded by revenue collected from the state’s legal marijuana industry. The Senate Finance Committee has proposed a recidivism reduction fund filled annually with 50 percent of marijuana tax revenue. That money could fund institutional changes and programs proposed for corrections, health and social services and public safety. The criminal justice overhaul is designed to keep Alaska’s prison population down and lower the number of repeat offenders. Committee co-chair Sen. Anna MacKinnon says her committee got a best guess estimate from Gov. Bill Walker’s administration on potential marijuana revenue. They’ve estimated $3 million going into the fund next year and $6 million annually through 2022. The state has legalized recreational pot and regulators are in the process of accepting applications for marijuana businesses.

MONTPELIER, Vermont (CRN) – Senate efforts to legalize marijuana that were watered down to decriminalization in a House committee have now been watered down to a marijuana legalization study. Members of the House Judiciary Committee had first rejected the Senate’s bill to legalize possession of marijuana by adults and create a system of regulated commercial growers and dispensaries, while maintaining criminal penalties for home cultivation. The committee instead proposed that decriminalization of cultivating two plants at home be added to the current decriminalization of possession, while also lowering the alcohol DUI limit to 0.05 for those who test positive for THC. Now that committee has shelved that proposal in favor of merely studying the issues surrounding legalization and decriminalization.

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (CRN) – Louisiana State Rep. Ted James has introduced a bill intended to provide a functional medical marijuana program in the Bayou State. House Bill 1112 would create a system of up to fifteen marijuana growers licensed by the state to produce non-smokable cannabis products to registered patients. Louisiana has had a medical marijuana law since 1978, which was re-affirmed in 1991, but those laws were inoperable because of the reliance on the need for a “prescription”. Marijuana cannot be prescribed because of federal controlled substance laws, which is why states with operable laws rely on doctors’ “recommendations”. Louisiana passed an updated medical marijuana law last year, but it has stalled due to a requirement that two Louisiana universities to produce the marijuana.

DENVER, Colorado (CRN) – Colorado Rep. Dan Pabon, has introduced a bill that would prohibit edible marijuana to be sold in the form of an animal, human or fruit, common shapes for gummy candies favored by young children. The move echoes a call from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s State of the State address, where he said, “Back in the day, candy cigarettes desensitized kids to the dangers of tobacco — and today, pot-infused gummy bears send the wrong message to our kids about marijuana.” According to research from the National Confectioners Association, almost two-thirds of gummy candy consumers are adults, not children.

TRENTON, New Jersey (CRN) – A New Jersey Assemblyman, inspired by Whoopi Goldberg, has introduced a bill to open up the Garden State’s medical marijuana program to women suffering from menstrual pain. New Jersey has only authorized 6,527 patients since the registry was opened in August 2012. Only 10 conditions are approved as a qualifying illness.

WASHINGTON, DC (CRN) – Federal Drug Czar Michael Botticelli, a recovering alcoholic and current smoker, says that the “smelling pot everywhere is really challenging to people in recovery.” His comments to New York Times Magazine was challenged by interviewer Ana Marie Cox, who noted that alcoholics can smell alcohol everywhere, too. Botticelli in response said that he would not make alcohol illegal and his view toward marijuana is that it should be treated like tobacco, where we’ve “really changed the culture” around smoking.