THE LONG ROAD
"Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care. ... It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record."
- DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young, Ruling in the matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition, September 6, 1988
25 STATES HAVE LEGALIZED CANNABIS FOR MEDICAL USE: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, & Washington, D.C.
4 STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HAVE LEGALIZED MARIJUANA FOR RECREATIONAL USE: In Alaska, adults 21 and older can now transport, buy or possess up to an ounce of marijuana and six plants. Oregon voters approved a similar measure allowing adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public and 8 ounces in their homes, set to take effect July 1. Colorado and Washington previously passed similar ballot measures legalizing marijuana in 2012.
Colorado voters were the first in America to pass full legalization of RECREATIONAL use of Marijuana in 2012. In 2016 the government announced that the rate of marijuana use among Colorado high school students were was slightly lower in 2015 than in 2011, the year before Amendment 64 made marijuana legal for adults, according to a statewide survey by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE).
This summer Illinois became the 21st state in the nation to remove the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession; possession of a personal amount (up to 10 grams) is now considered a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100-$200, similar to a traffic ticket. Previously in Illinois, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana was a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500; possession of 2.5 – 10 grams was a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500.
Michigan lawmakers passed laws to establish marijuana dispensaries in September, 2016, but has stopped short of full legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. First offense possession of any amount of marijuana carries a penalty of up to 1 year in jails plus fines and license suspension. Advocates collected almost twice the required signatures needed to place the issue on the ballot this November, but the Board of State Canvassers, State Lawmakers and Judges, including Saginaw’s Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Borrello, who was assigned the and also sits on the Court of Claims, took steps to block voters from having say.
The group MI Legalize submitted an estimated 354,000 signatures to the state on June 1st, topping the 252,523 needed to qualify for the ballot, but many were collected outside of the 6-month window allowed by state law. The group claimed a 1986 state policy for proving the validity of older signatures that entailed obtaining affidavits of voter registration status from local clerks around Michigan was outdated and impossible to comply with, so proposed a new policy that would have allowed petitioners to use the state’s Qualified Voter File Database.
The Road Ahead
On November 8, 2016 ballot questions to tax and regulate marijuana and make its use and possession legal for adults aged 21 and over will be held in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada.
In Arizona, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has qualified its initiative, which will appear on the November ballot as Proposition 205.
In California, MPP is supporting a 2016 legalization initiative, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which will effectively end marijuana prohibition in the Golden State. The initiative will appear on the November ballot as Proposition 64.
In Maine, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has qualified its initiative, which will appear on the November ballot as Question 1.
In Massachusetts, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol has qualified its initiative, which will appear on the November ballot as Question 4.
In Nevada, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has qualified its initiative, which appear on the November ballot as Question 2.