Marijuana May Soon Be Legal In Four US States

The push to make marijuana legal continues as four U.S. states are currently pursuing the legalization of marijuana.

The hope from these states is that marijuana will become fully regulated, as well as completely legal.

The four states pushing to legalize marijuana include Massachusetts, California, New Hampshire, and the state of Washington.

There are four bills currently being tossed around, one for each state, with the end result being regulation and legalization of marijuana.

According to federal law, marijuana is an illegal substance, but that could be coming to an end if this trend continues.

More and more states in the U.S. are throwing around the idea of trying to make marijuana legal, or at least regulating it for use in small amounts and in medical cases.

We will know much more in regards to how this process is going once January legislative sessions begin.

- Article from SmartAboutHealth.net.


High Expectations? States Weigh Pot Reform

by Rachel La, Associated Press

Washington is one of four states where measures to legalize and regulate marijuana have been introduced, and about two dozen other states are considering bills ranging from medical marijuana to decriminalizing possession of small amounts of the herb.

"In terms of state legislatures, this is far and away the most active year that we've ever seen," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, which supports reforming marijuana laws.

Nadelmann said that while legalization efforts are not likely to get much traction in state capitals anytime soon, the fact that there is such an increase of activity "is elevating the level of public discourse on this issue and legitimizing it."

"I would say that we are close to the tipping point," he said. "At this point they are still seen as symbolic bills to get the conversation going, but at least the conversation can be a serious one."

Opponents of relaxing marijuana laws aren't happy with any conversation on the topic, other than keeping the drug illegal.

"There's no upside to it in any manner other than for those people who want to smoke pot," said Travis Kuykendall, head of the West Texas High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area office in El Paso, Texas. "There's nothing for society in it, there's nothing good for the country in it, there's nothing for the good of the economy in it."

Legalization bills were introduced in California and Massachusetts earlier this year, and this month, New Hampshire and Washington state prefiled bills in advance of their legislative sessions that begin in January. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but guidelines have been loosened on federal prosecution of medical marijuana under the Obama administration.

Even so, marijuana reform legislation remains a tough sell in some places. In the South, for example, only Mississippi and North Carolina have decriminalization laws on the books.

"It's a social and cultural thing," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based marijuana advocacy group. "There are some parts of the country where social attitudes are just a little more cautious and conservative."

Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, a Seattle Democrat who is sponsoring the legalization bill in Washington state, said that she "wanted to start a strong conversation about the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana."

Under her bill, marijuana would be sold in Washington state's 160 state-run liquor stores, and customers, 21 and older, would pay a tax of 15 percent per gram. The measure would dedicate most of the money raised for substance abuse prevention and treatment, which is facing potential cuts in the state budget. Dickerson said the measure could eventually bring in as much to state coffers as alcohol does, more than $300 million a year.

"Our state is facing a huge financial deficit and deficits are projected for a few more years," Dickerson said, referring to the projected $2.6 billion hole lawmakers will need to fill next year. "We need to look at revenue and see what might be possible."

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that tough economic times across the country have lawmakers looking at everything, and may lead even more states to eventually consider the potential tax value of pot.

"The bean counters are now reporting back to their elected officials how much money is being left off the table," he said, adding that billions of dollars worth of pot is going untaxed.

Ron Brooks, president of the National Narcotics Officers' Associations' Coalition, said that he feared that, if legalized, marijuana would contribute to more highway accidents and deaths, as well as a potential increase in health care costs for those who smoke it.

State lawmakers, he said, need to ask themselves "if they believe we really will make all that revenue, and even if we did, will it be worth the suffering, the loss of opportunities, the chronic illness or death that would occur?"

Legalization isn't the only measure lawmakers across the country are weighing. About two dozen states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Wisconsin, are considering bills ranging from medical marijuana to decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, St. Pierre said. Washington state is among the states that are considering decriminalization, with a bill that would reclassify adult possession of marijuana from a crime with jail time to a civil infraction with a $100 penalty.

Fourteen states, including Washington state, already have medical marijuana laws, and 13 have decriminalization laws on the books, St. Pierre said. About two dozen cities across the country, including Seattle, make marijuana offenses a low law-enforcement priority.

Marijuana advocates said that while increased activity in the statehouse is heartening, change most likely will come at the ballot box through voter-driven initiatives.

"Inevitably, the politicians are going to be behind the curve on this stuff," Nadelmann said, noting that almost all of the medical marijuana laws came about by initiative.

This month, a group campaigning to put a marijuana legalization measure before California voters said it had enough signatures to qualify for the 2010 ballot.

That proposal would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older. Residents could cultivate marijuana gardens up to 25 square feet. City and county governments would determine whether to permit and tax marijuana sales within their boundaries. And in Nevada earlier this month, backers of a move to legalize marijuana there filed paperwork creating an advocacy group aimed at qualifying an initiative for the 2012 election.

———

On the Net:

Drug Policy Alliance: http://www.drugpolicy.org

High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Areas: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/HIDTA

Marijuana Policy Project: http://www.mpp.org

National Narcotics Officers' Associations' Coalition: http://www.natlnarc.org

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws: http://www.norml.org

- Article from ABC News on December 27, 2009.

Comments

Ron Brooks, said that he

Ron Brooks, said that he feared that, if legalized, marijuana would contribute to more highway accidents and deaths, as well as a potential increase in health care costs for those who smoke it. State lawmakers, he said, need to ask themselves "if they believe we really will make all that revenue, and even if we did, will it be worth the suffering, the loss of opportunities, the chronic illness or death that would occur?"

BAHAHAHAHAHA what an idiot, the prohibitionists are scraping the bottom of the barrel of excuses!

Because * NO ONE * drives

Because * NO ONE * drives high NOW. Mostly, I'm sure, because the U.S. government is SO effective at keeping these illegal drugs off the streets!!

What planet are these geniuses living on??
Not this one.

Not that I advocate driving

Not that I advocate driving while high but shouldn't it be PROVEN that driving while high actually impairs the driver before we trot this out as a big concern? Most demos I've seen seem to imply it improves performance -- at least on the driving range.

mario andretti

...driving wile high is safer than driving while sober, the intensified sense of perception effect, intense alertness, and non-aggressive driving would actually cause less accidents

What about Oregon???

We Oregonians are working towards legal cannabis, too!

http://www.cannabistaxact.org/

"Moving Forward: Cannabis Tax Act & Cannabis Tolerance Act"

"Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and Oregon NORML have finished gathering the 1000 sponsorship signatures needed for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2010 (OCTA) & Oregon Cannabis Tolerance Act 2010 (OCTA Light) petitions. These were turned in to the Oregon Secretary of State's office on September 21, 2009. We are currently waiting for official ballot titles from the state and should have them in the next few weeks. After polling, we will begin circulating one of the petitions across Oregon. We will need 100,000 valid signatures by July, 2, 2010 to qualify for the November 2010 election."

I'm from Southern Oregon, born and raised. When the petition starts to circulate, I'll definitely be signing it. Most people I've talked to say it's likely to pass, and come November, I'll be voting in favor (and so will most of the people that I know). It's exciting to see how quickly this is all snowballing. You can practically see the walls of prohibition beginning to crumble.

"Ron Brooks, president of

"Ron Brooks, president of the National Narcotics Officers' Associations' Coalition, said that he feared that, if legalized, marijuana would contribute to more highway accidents and deaths, as well as a potential increase in health care costs for those who smoke it.

State lawmakers, he said, need to ask themselves "if they believe we really will make all that revenue, and even if we did, will it be worth the suffering, the loss of opportunities, the chronic illness or death that would occur?"

Wow,so many things wrong with this its not even funny.If he was so concernd about highway deaths he would look at the 200000 reported deaths each year caused by drinking and driving.Also health cost? FACT: 0 reported deaths directly caused by smoking weed in the history of man. Marijuana also has been shown to delay the effects of cancer,hiv and glacoma. The fact is with legalizing marijuana there will be the idots that bring a bad name to it,but you cannot ignore the jobs this would create and the taxes that will be made from it.I wonder what cost more making a vicodin that will tear up your kidneys or growing a natural plant that has shown no negative effects on the human body. Ron brooks is an idiot

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