Polling data released today by Quinnipiac University revealed that a majority of Ohio voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use and nearly 9 out of 10 support legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.
When asked if they supported or opposed allowing adults in Ohio to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, 51% said they would support this policy and only 44% were opposed. Support was strongest amongst voters age 18-29 (72%), Independent voters (61%), and Democrats (54%) and weakest among Republicans (33%) and voters over the age of 65 (31%).
Essentially all voters stated they supported legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. 87% said they supported allowing marijuana for medical use and just 11% were opposed. No demographic had less than 78% support.
Rob Ryan, Ohio NORML President, is not surprised by the favorable Quinnipiac poll response. In his experience speaking to various non marijuana groups, even the most conservative citizens in south west Ohio, where Mr. Ryan lives, readily agree that marijuana is not a deadly, addictive drug with no medical use as it is defined by to be in the same class as heroin by state and federal law.
You can view the full results of the poll here.
By Steve Elliott
Voters on Ohio overwhelmingly approve of medical marijuana, according to a poll released on Monday.
The Quinnipiac University poll of Ohio voters found 87 percent support legalizing medicinal cannabis, while only 11 percent oppose, reports Jackie Borchardt at the Northeast Ohio Media Group.
Ohio voters also approve of allowing adults to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, but by a much narrower margin, with 51 percent favoring and 44 percent opposed.
Ohioans' views of marijuana are complicated, according to Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Qunnipiac University Polling Institute. "Twice as many voters think alcohol is dangerous than marijuana, and about half the state's voters think the two are equally harmful," Brown said.
Support for legalization is strongest among voters 18 to 29 years old; 72 percent of this age group approve, with just 25 percent opposing. But Baby Boomers and Generation Xers reported higher rates of marijuana usage than younger voters.
"No one should be surprised that support for legalization is strongest among younger voters," Brown said, reports Jim Provance at The Blade of Toledo.
More than half of Ohio voters -- 55 percent -- claimed they'd never tried marijuana.
The poll surveyed 1,370 registered Ohio voters from February 12-17 on land lines and cell phones. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana legalization is on the move in the New Hampshire Legislature, with the House Ways and Means Committee reviewing HB 492, which gained initial approval from the House on a 170-162 vote last month.
A report, including expected revenues and regulatory expenses, is expected from the committee as soon as next month, reports John Toole at the Eagle Tribune.
Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said he expects HB 492 to have smooth sailing in the House, but not the Senate. "We think it will pass in the House," he said. "We have no illusions about it passing the Senate or becoming law this year."
But, either way, Simon said, it's advancing the ball down the field. "This sets us up well in a year or two to pass something like that," he said.
The House passed a similar bill last year, which then died in the Senate. Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who opposes legalization, would likely veto any such bill that reached her desk, in any event.
"Legalizing marijuana won't help us address out substance use challenge," Hassan said in her State of the State address this month. "Experience and data suggests it will do just the opposite," she claimed.
"The evidence suggests that legalizing marijuana will increase the number of minors who use this drug, will make our workforce less productive and our roads less safe, and will undermine public health," Hassan claimed.
By Steve Elliott
The problem with lawmakers writing the rules for medical marijuana is that they are just learning about it, themselves. That issue was highlighted in Georgia this week when House Bill 885, which had been doing great in the conservative Legislature, ran into a potentially fatal roadblock.
The bill's author, state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), admitted that just over a month ago, he knew "next to nothing" about medical marijuana, reports Paul Crawley at 11Alive News. But when Peake met families of several young children with life-threatening seizures which might be helped be cannabis oil, he wrote his bill, which has now run into a snag.
"They cannot import it from Colorado or any of the other 20 states that have legal (medical) marijuana and without (a) local supply, the bill's dead," said activist James Bell of the Georgia C.A.R.E. Project. Bell pointed out that federal law prohibits Georgia from bringing cannabis across state lines, and state law won't allow it to be grown there.
"These people are going to the black market in order to get medicine, the cannabis medicine, so they're creating criminals out of people that should not be criminal," Bell said.
On Friday, more than 40 state lawmakers in Maine co-signed a memo authored by State Representative Diane Russell that was delivered to the Appropriations & Financial Affairs Committee. The memo encouraged the committee to keep all options on the table in their upcoming financial deliberations, including potential tax revenue derived from an adult, non-medical market for marijuana.
“All options should be on the table,” Rep. Russell stated in the memo, “In this spirit, we propose committee members give serious consideration to the revenue options associated with legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis for responsible adult use.”
The memo was signed by prominent elected officials in the state including Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Allagash), House Majority Leader Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham), Minority Whip Alex Willette (R-Mapleton), House Chair of Criminal Justice and Public Safety and former County Sheriff Rep. Mark Dion (D-Portland), and House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Richard Farnsworth (D-Portland).
In 2013, the Maine House of Representatives fell just four votes short of approving a measure introduced by Rep. Russell which would have placed the issue of marijuana legalization before voters during the fall elections.
Last week, initial tax revenue estimates for the sales tax on recreational marijuana in Colorado were estimated to be just shy of 100 million dollars, far higher than the initial 70 million dollar estimate given to voters in 2012.
By Steve Elliott
A advocacy group on February 17 launched an online petition to legalize and regulate cannabis in the European Union. The petition, called "Weed Like To Talk," is on The European Citizens' Initiative petition site operated by the European Commission.
The petition says it offers "A European solution to a European problem: legalizing cannabis."
"The ECI Weed Like To Talk aims at making the EU adopt a common policy on the control and regulation of cannabis production, use and sale," the petition site reads.
"There is currently a heterogeneous legal map as regards cannabis policies in the EU," the petition reads. "The question of coherence and discrimination is worth asking. A common policy on the control and regulation of cannabis production, use and sale would: (a) ensure equality before the law and non-discrimination of all EU citizens; (b) protect consumers and monitor health security; (c) end cannabis trafficking. Let’s leap toward the legalization of cannabis and the harmonization of national legislations across the EU."
"While cannabis has become a worldwide debate over the last decades, the European Union somehow managed to avoid it," the Weed Like To Talk site reads. "It cannot do so anymore."
"Our aim is to legalize cannabis production, sale and use at the European Union level while checking if the ECI fulfills its mission of participatory democracy," the site reads.
“Shenna Bellows has been at the forefront of the fight for marijuana legalization even before beginning this campaign,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “During her tenure leading the Maine ACLU, Shenna has demonstrated she has the skill and determination to fight for sensible reforms and has proven to be a vocal and articulate leader in calling for the end of marijuana prohibition. We believe she will be invaluable in the United States Senate to help move the country away from our failed war on marijuana and towards a new, smarter approach.”
“We need to end the war on drugs and reform our criminal justice system, and we cannot afford to wait. The United States incarcerates more people in total and more people per capita than any other country in the world, and the racial disparities are alarming,” Shenna Bellows wrote in a recent op-ed, “Even in my home state of Maine, which is the whitest state in the union, blacks are 2.1 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. Government spends billions of dollars each year enforcing counterproductive drug laws, which are truly the New Jim Crow. The economic and human rights costs are enormous.”
While we have long had support for marijuana law reform in the House of Representative, support in the Senate has long been harder to come by. In a recent interview with ThinkProgress, Ms. Bellows has made clear she looks to kickstart the movement for rational marijuana policy in the upper chamber of Congress.
“Right now on the Senate side, there doesn’t seem to be a leader who has the courage to move that forward,” Bellows said. “I would be that leader.”
You can donate to the NORML PAC to help elect pro-reform candidates nationwide here.
Most New York state voters support regulating the adult use of cannabis, while a super-majority endorse legalizing the plant for therapeutic purposes, according to a recently released Quinnipiac University poll.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents support “allowing adults in New York State to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” Only 39 percent of respondents opposed the idea.
Respondents most likely to favor legalization include those age 18 to 29 (83 percent), Democrats (65 percent), those age 30 to 49 (61 percent), and men (63 percent). Support is significant lower among women (51 percent), Republicans (39 percent), and those over the age of 65 (38 percent).
On the issue of legalizing cannabis for therapeutic purposes, voter support rose to 88 percent — with the issue receiving super-majority support from respondents of every age and political affiliation.
In separate questions, only 13 percent of respondents say that they believe that cannabis is “more dangerous” than alcohol, and fewer than half believe that it is a ‘gateway’ to other illicit substance use.
The survey possesses a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.
Legislation to legalize the possession, cultivation, and retail sale of the plant — the “Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act” — is pending in both the New York state Senate and the Assembly. Separate legislation to allow qualified patients to possess and purchase cannabis for therapeutic purposes also remains pending.
In January, Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who had previously expressed opposition to allowing for the medical use of cannabis — announced plans to use his executive powers to revive a dormant research program that would allow for the use of government-grown marijuana in select hospitals. However, efforts to reestablish similar programs in other states have not been effective.
Today, the Department of Justice and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network division of the Treasury Department released long anticipated guidance to banks and other financial institutions on how they can interact with marijuana businesses that are licensed under state law.
Under current regulations, financial institutions are required to file suspicious activity reports when they suspect the transaction has a drug connection. The new guidance creates a three tiered system for these reports: marijuana limited, marijuana priority, and marijuana termination. This will allow these institutions to work with marijuana businesses as long as they were operating in accordance with state laws and regulations. The Department of Justice reserved the right to pursue criminal charges when they suspect businesses are breaking the guidelines they released late last year and would still require banks to report any activity they suspect to be as operating outside of state regulations.
“Now that some states have elected to legalize and regulate the marijuana trade, FinCEN seeks to move from the shadows the historically covert financial operations of marijuana businesses,” noted FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery in a press release. “Our guidance provides financial institutions with clarity on what they must do if they are going to provide financial services to marijuana businesses and what reporting will assist law enforcement.”
“This reduces the burden on banks,” FinCEN stated during a briefing on the memo, “Marijuana under federal law requires a SAR. Now, the necessity is limited, reducing the banks’ burden a bit and more importantly clarifies where law enforcement focuses its attention.”
While this is a good start when it comes to allowing marijuana businesses to operate the same as those in any other regulated industry, memos such as these can be ultimately overturned by future administrations. To make this change lasting and binding, Congress must now act to codify it into law. The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act is currently pending before the House of Representatives and would do just that. You can click here to quickly and easily write your representative and urge him/her to support this important legislation.