The failed Ohio ballot initiative provided some guidance on what not to do as different groups move forward to get their own initiatives on the California ballot for the legalization of recreational marijuana. The Chronicle summarized five take-aways that those drafting ballots should consider in order to maximize the chances they will successfully be able to get laws passed allowing marijuana for recreational use in California.
With myriad competing proposals for marijuana legalization ballot initiatives in California, one more player entering the game may not seem like good news. However, this time the person putting forth a proposal is Sean Parker. Parker disrupted the music industry with the invention of Napster, and is a major player in the technology industry. He is also a billionaire who can put a significant amount of money behind his proposed legislation.
Because of the clout that Sean Parker's name carries and the money he brings to the table, the SF Gate reports that his proposal "ignites California marijuana legalization." An article on Parker's proposed initiative also indicates that he could soon be upending another industry.
Dozens of farmers who grow and harvest medical marijuana are claiming they have been the victims of abusive law enforcement raids without justification. CBS Local reported on the claims being made by the farmers, as well as legal loopholes that are being used to conduct searches and raids without search warrants.
While California has been a pioneer in making it possible for patients in need to get access to medical marijuana, other states have been slow to move towards the future of medicine. This is true not only in states that have not yet passed legalization measures, but also in locations where medical marijuana laws have passed. In New York, for example, a medical marijuana law passed a year ago but not a single patient has yet been able to access the medication they need.
In an effort to make marijuana products available to those in dire need due to serious health conditions, the New York State legislature passed an emergency access bill with overwhelming support. The bill was delivered to Governor Cuomo to sign on the 30th of October, which means that the deadline for action was November 11.
When the Drug Enforcement Agency released its 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment, the acting head of the DEA made a controversial comment. While the DEA official said that marijuana extracts showed promise, he went on to indicate that smoking marijuana had never been shown either safe or effective as a medication. Fortunately, Fact Check.org looked at the truth of his statement and determined it was false.
While the research is still being done on medical marijuana, the information that is available indicates that side effects are generally mild and that substantial medical benefits are apparent. It is important to have accurate information about both risks and benefits of medical marijuana, just like with other medications, in order to make actual, informed choices. Those in positions of authority should not contribute to spreading false information that could impact the ability of people with serious medical conditions to get access to medication they need.
Medical marijuana use has long been legal in California, but this does not mean that every employer is accepting of the use of cannabis products. Many employers conduct pre-employment drug screening and require employees to undergo routine drug tests during the time they are working for an organization.
These employers may decide to take action and terminate someone when a drug test shows up positive for marijuana. If this happens, questions may arise regarding whether the employee is entitled to unemployment insurance or not.
The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) has been controversial since the Act's inception and now that the law has passed, the controversy has not faded. In fact, a lawsuit has been filed by the operator of a medical marijuana collective. The plaintiff in the litigation seeks to overturn the new law, arguing that the new regulations are a violation of the California state constitution. Voters in California passed Proposition 215 in 1996 to make medical marijuana legal, but a broad regulatory framework has not developed over the past 20 years, so MMRSA was aimed at creating a consistent set of state laws at long last.
MMRSA was supported by local governments and police agencies. However, the plaintiff and others who oppose the law argue that the regulations are too burdensome and will be too great of an infringement on the rights of growers, dispensaries, and patients. As the San Diego Tribune states, the plaintiff believes "the new laws that supposedly uphold the right of medical-marijuana patients actually restricts their rights under the initiative."
When a state opens up the medical marijuana market by approving medicinal use of cannabis, explosive growth generally follows.
The legal cannabis industry nationwide has more than doubled in the past two years, and in 2015 the industry is expected to bring in around $3.5 billion. Clearly, the rapid growth and high industry profits demonstrate a significant pent-up demand for marijuana to treat medical conditions. The opening of the recreational market is also expected to generate significant investment, bringing in substantial tax revenue to states that recognize that legalization is the answer.
As marijuana decriminalization or legalization moves through the states, one senator is finally taking real action at the federal level. CBS News reports Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation to end the federal prohibition on marijuana.
The Sander's bill is called the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, and its aim is to remove marijuana from the federal list of Schedule 1 controlled substances. Schedule I substances are considered highly addictive and dangerous and are viewed as having no medicinal use. Clearly, marijuana does not belong on this list- and hopefully the proposed bill will move forward and make its removal possible.
States are increasingly moving towards legalization of marijuana, which is beneficial to people throughout the country. As momentum moves towards acceptance of cannabis use for medicinal or recreational purposes, this puts more pressure on the federal government to change outdated laws and it engenders more social acceptance of marijuana is a valuable medical product.
With so many states embracing cannabis, it can be discouraging when a marijuana legalization measure fails at the ballot box. The recent defeat of the ballot measure in Ohio, however, is not representative of general public opinion towards legalization because the ballot measure was an outlier and contained many provisions that even proponents of legalized marijuana disagreed with. Trends continue to be moving in the direction of legalization, despite what initially appears to be a setback.
A study was recently conducted at McGill University Health Center in Montreal. The focus of the study was on the safety of long-term use of medical marijuana among chronic pain sufferers. According to WebMD, the trial conducted was the "first and largest study of the long-term safety of medical marijuana use by patients in chronic pain."
The study took place over a period of one year, and the results provided some good news for patients who suffer from pain and who use marijuana to treat it. The study revealed few serious side effects for patients using cannabis products, compared with people who did not use marijuana to treat their pain.
In 2016, it is likely that a recreational marijuana measure will be on the ballot in California. With 55 percent of Californians supporting full-scale legalization of marijuana, the legalization measure is likely to pass if it comes up for a vote. In light of the fact legalization looks likely in a short time, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has been spearheading a push for more effective regulation. Huffington Post reports Newsom has been leading a commission conducting research on marijuana regulation in California for the past 1.5 years. The commission has now released its first progress report and is seeking feedback from the community.
Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know that laws which get passed do not always end up working effectively in the real-world to allow well-regulated, reasonable access to cannabis products. Hopefully, extensive research into effective regulation in California will lead to a system that works well if and when full legalization comes to California.
Canada's recent election for Prime Minister was a big win for advocates of marijuana legalization. Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party candidate, defeated the incumbent prime minister after campaigning on a platform that included marijuana legalization as one of the top goals. The website of the Liberal Party states that the current system of prohibition of marijuana doesn't work, doesn't prevent young people from accessing the drug, and results in too many Canadians ending up with criminal records for having small amounts of cannabis. The current system is cited by the Liberal Party as also increasing the cost of the criminal justice system, and creating serious public safety threats because proceeds from the illegal trade of marijuana end up supporting organized crime, hard drugs, and human trafficking.
Many of these problems cited in Canada also exist to an even greater extent in the United States, where Los Angeles medical marijuana regulation lawyers know that the federal government has continued to aggressively fight against dispensaries and growers, even in states that have made medical marijuana legal. If the Canadian government is able to successfully move forward quickly with the legalization of marijuana, hopefully this success can spur further nationwide efforts to decriminalize and legalize cannabis products within the United States.
Oregon is moving forward with the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission released wide-ranging rules this month that will launch the industry next year. More than 77 new pages of administrative rules were released, addressing a wide variety of important aspects of the new statewide industry.
Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know that legalization of marijuana for recreational use needs to come with laws that allow for effective regulation of sales and consumption. States have always been the laboratories for democracy, and as different locations move forward with legalization, it is important to consider the different frameworks they put into place to find out what works. If legalization of cannabis for recreational use is ever to occur on the federal level, it is likely it will adopt provisions of one or more state codes that have been effective at regulating recreational marijuana sales and use.
A medical marijuana regulation lawyer knows there have been dramatic shifts in public perception of marijuana in recent years. As medical benefits have become more apparent and more states have moved towards legalizing cannabis for medicine and even for recreation, public opinion has evolved. A new poll shows how dramatic the change in perception of marijuana has been, with 58 percent now supporting full legalization of cannabis products and not just legalization for medicinal use.
With broad public support and mounting evidence suggesting limited risks and substantial potential medical benefits for many patients, there is no reason for marijuana to remain a Schedule I drug. A shift in the law should follow the change in public attitudes towards cannabis, so marijuana use can be more effectively regulated and so Americans stop being criminalized for behavior that the majority of the public believes should be permitted.
November 14, 2015 Sean Parker Releases Proposed New Initiative to Legalize Marijuana in California in 2016 With myriad competing proposals for marijuana legalization ballot initiatives in California, one more player entering...
November 12, 2015 Are California Law Enforcement Officers Shaking Down Marijuana Farmers? Dozens of farmers who grow and harvest medical marijuana are claiming they have been the...
November 11, 2015 Delays in Medical Marijuana Programs Harm Patients- Will Emergency Access Be Granted? While California has been a pioneer in making it possible for patients in need to...
November 10, 2015 Fact-Checking the Acting DEA Head on Medical Marijuana When the Drug Enforcement Agency released its 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment, the acting head...
November 9, 2015 Are Employees Fired for Medical Marijuana Use Entitled to Unemployment? Medical marijuana use has long been legal in California, but this does not mean that...
November 7, 2015 Lawsuit Alleges California's New Marijuana Regulations are Unconstitutional The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) has been controversial since the Act's inception...