Connect with us

Politics

State Marijuana Legalization Measures Headed For Passage, Polls Show

Published

on

A number of states are expected to vote on far-reaching marijuana ballot measures this year, and recent polling shows that all of them are poised to pass by substantial margins.

A survey released on Thursday, for example, found that 61% of Michigan adults said they favor legalizing cannabis, while only 34% are opposed.

Michigan officials determined last month that activists collected enough signatures to place a marijuana legalization measure on the general election ballot. Unless state lawmakers decide to enact legalization themselves in the next few weeks, voters will see the cannabis question when they go to the polls in November. And the new survey data from Michigan State University indicates they are likely to approve it overwhelmingly.

Elsewhere, during next month’s June 26 primary election, Oklahoma voters will consider a measure to allow medical cannabis. A January poll found that 62% of likely voters support the proposal, while only 31% are opposed.

In Utah, county officials determined last month that activists collected enough signatures to qualify a medical marijuana measure for the November ballot. A March survey showed that 77% of Utah adults support legalizing medical cannabis.

(Opponents led by the Utah Medical Association and a local task force of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are currently trying to kick the measure off the ballot by convincing voters who signed petitions to remove their signatures.)

In Missouri, competing campaigns filed signatures in support of three separate medical cannabis ballot measures this month. State officials will now count the signatures to determine which, if any, will qualify to go before voters in November. In any case, while there haven’t been recent public surveys on the issue, previous state polling shows that voters would be poised to approve a marijuana measure.

A July 2016 survey, for example, found that 62% of Missouri voters supported an earlier potential medical cannabis ballot question, with just 27% against. If the broader growth in public support for marijuana law reform in the U.S. is any indication, the state is likely even more poised to vote yes on medical marijuana this year.

Nationally, a growing majority of voters favors outright legalization. Quinnipiac University found last month, for example, that 63% are on board with ending marijuana prohibition. An even greater supermajority of 93% back medical cannabis.

And politicians are starting to take note. A number of potential 2020 presidential candidates are lining up to endorse legalization.

On Thursday, for example, Sen. Kamala Harris became the latest cosponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would end federal cannabis prohibition and punish states with discriminatory criminal enforcement. The bill was introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), himself an expected presidential contender, and it already has the support of other potential candidates like Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), another possible presidential candidate, is expected to file separate far-reaching legislation to shield state marijuana laws from federal interference later this month.

This piece was first published by Forbes.

If you value staying updated on cannabis news, please start a monthly Patreon pledge to support Marijuana Moment!

Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

Politics

O’Rourke And Cruz Clash On Marijuana And Drugs At Senate Debate

Published

on

Candidates in one of the most contentious U.S. Senate races in the country this year clashed about the issues of marijuana legalization and drug policy reform during a debate on Friday night.

“I want to end the war on drugs and specifically want to end the prohibition on marijuana,” Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke said in response to an attack on his drug policy record from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, whom he is seeking to unseat in November.

During one of the most heated exchanges of the hour-long debate, the GOP incumbent slammed O’Rourke for sponsoring an amendment as an El Paso city councilman in 2009 that called for a debate on legalizing drugs as a possible solution to violence along the Mexican border.

“I think it would be a profound mistake to legalize all narcotics and I think it would hurt the children of this country,” Cruz argued.

He also criticized a bill the Democrat filed in Congress to repeal a law that reduces highway funding for states that don’t automatically suspend drivers licenses for people convicted of drug offenses. “That’s a real mistake and it’s part of pattern,” he said.

“There’s a consistent pattern when it comes to drug use, that in almost every single instance, Congressman O’Rourke supports more of it.”

Calling the issue “personal to me,” Cruz spoke about his older sister, who died of a drug overdose.

“To be clear, I don’t want to legalize heroin and cocaine and fentanyl,” O’Rourke countered.

“What I do want to ensure is that where, in this country, most states have decided that marijuana will legal at some form—for medicinal purposes or recreational purposes or at a minimum be decriminalized—that we don’t have another veteran in this state, prescribed an opioid because the doctor at the VA would rather prescribe medicinal marijuana but is prohibited by law from doing that,” he said.

Enumerating other potential beneficiaries of cannabis reform, the Democrat also referenced an “older woman with fibromyalgia” and “an African-American man, because more likely than not, that’s who will be arrested for possession of marijuana, to rot behind bars, instead of enjoying his freedom and the opportunity to contribute to the greatness of this country.”

Cruz, who called O’Rourke, “one of the leading advocates in the country for legalizing marijuana,” said that he thinks ending cannabis prohibition “is actually a question on which I think reasonable minds can differ.”

“I’ve always had a libertarian bent myself,” he said. “I think it ought to be up to the states. I think Colorado can decide one way. I think Texas can decide another.”

But despite his support for letting states set their own cannabis laws, which he also voiced during his failed candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Cruz hasn’t cosponsored a single piece of legislation during his time in the Senate that would scale back federal marijuana prohibition.

Earlier in the debate, the two sparred over the killing this month of Botham Jean, an African-American man shot in his own apartment by a Dallas police officer, a subject about which O’Rourke recently made headlines by calling out in a fiery speech to a black church.

Marijuana In Texas: Where Ted Cruz And Beto O’Rourke Stand On Legalization

Photo courtesy of NBC News.

If you value staying updated on cannabis news, please start a monthly Patreon pledge to support Marijuana Moment!
Continue Reading

Politics

Lawmaker Pushes For Marijuana Legalization In Kenya

Published

on

A Kenyan lawmaker is introducing legislation to legalize marijuana nationwide.

Member of Parliament Kenneth Okoth wrote a letter to the National Assembly speaker on Friday, requesting help to prepare the legislation so that it can be published.

The bill would decriminalize cannabis possession and use, clear criminal records of those with prior cannabis-related convictions, enact a legal and regulated commercial sales program and impose “progressive taxation measures” in order to “boost economic independence of Kenya and promote job creation.”

Currently, marijuana (or “bhang,” as it’s locally known) is illegal in Kenya—as it is in most of Africa.

Another provision of the draft legislation concerns “research and policy development.” Okoth wants the country to conduct studies on the medical, industrial, textile and recreational applications of cannabis. And that research would have a “focus on the preservation of intellectual property rights for Kenyan research and natural heritage, knowledge, and our indigenous plant assets,” according to the letter.

“It’s high time Kenya dealt with the question of marijuana like we do for tobacco, miraa, and alcohol,” Okoth wrote on Facebook.

“Legalize, regulate, tax. Protect children, eliminate drug cartels, reduce cost of keeping petty offenders in jail. Promote research for medical purposes and protect our indigenous knowledge and plants before foreign companies steal and patent it all.”

Okoth’s push for legalization in Kenya comes days after South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled that individuals can grow and use marijuana for personal purposes. The court determined that prohibition violated a person’s right to privacy, effectively legalizing cannabis in the country.

It’ll take a while for Okoth’s bill to move forward. The legislation will need cabinet approval, then it must be published so that all interested parties can review the proposal before it enters into parliamentary debates. Whether Okoth’s fellow lawmakers will embrace the legislation is yet to be seen.

Don’t Legalize Marijuana, UN Drug Enforcement Board Warns Countries

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

If you value staying updated on cannabis news, please start a monthly Patreon pledge to support Marijuana Moment!
Continue Reading

Politics

Governor Signs Marijuana Legalization Bill, Making History In US Territory

Published

on

With a governor’s signature on Friday, the latest place to legalize marijuana in the U.S. isn’t a state. It’s the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)—a tiny Pacific territory with a population of just over 50,000.

Under the new law signed by Gov. Ralph Torres (R), adults over 21 years of age will be able to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as infused products and extracts. Regulators will issue licenses for cannabis producers, testing facilities, processors, retailers, wholesalers and lounges. Home cultivation of a small number of plants will be allowed.

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.

If you value staying updated on cannabis news, please start a monthly Patreon pledge to support Marijuana Moment!
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Stay Up To The Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox