Medical Marijuana Update

October 26, 2015 | Christopher Brown

By Paul Ebeling Live Trading New 

Notables

A California federal judge has told the US DOJ to “butt out” of state-legal marijuana businesses in a case involving the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, the Brookings Institution has a new report on the feds stifling research, ASA has a new report on the beneficial impacts of dispensaries, and more.

Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana possession, doling out citations instead of arrests, and within one year of the new policy taking effect, they are seeing positive results: According to police statistics, 3,686 people were arrested for pot possession between Oct. 1, 2013, and Oct. 19, 2014.

From Oct. 20, 2014, to Sept. 5, 2015 – the most recent date for which statistics are available – just 1,012 people were cited for possessing or smoking a small amount of marijuana.

Of those cited over the past year, 170 received a $100 citation for smoking in public and 842 received a $25 citation for possessing under 30 grams of marijuana, according to statistics from the Police Department and the city’s Office of Administrative Review.

Philadelphia mayoral candidate Jim Kenney wants to take it a step further and fully legalize, noting the positive impact it is having on the community:

On top of the racial disparities and custodial arrests, Kenney said that otherwise law-abiding citizens were getting saddled with an arrest record that might prevent them from obtaining employment, entering the military or getting financial aid.

“Now, one year later, there’s literally thousands of people without a criminal record,” Kenney said. “That’s many more people who aren’t in the criminal-justice system and have a better chance of getting a job.”

Activists are hoping to expand decriminalization efforts statewide. In related news, Gallup released a poll this week showing nationwide legalization support continues to rise: A majority of Americans continue to saymarijuana use should be legal in the United States, with 58% holding that view, tying the high point in Gallup’s 46-year trend.

And no surprise, but it is those so-called “fiscal conservatives” who want to continue wasting tax dollars and ruining lives over marijuana: Younger Americans, Democrats and independents are the most likely of major demographic and political groups to favor legalizing use of the drug, while Republicans and older Americans are least likely to do so.

 

National
Last Thursday, ASA released a report on the impact of dispensaries on communities. Americans for Safe Access released a report, Where Will Patients Obtain Their Medicine?, that shows dispensaries do not bring elevated crime rates or other social ills, but do bring economic opportunity and provide access to medicine for patients. “The research shows that well-regulated dispensaries are responsible neighbors and valued members of the community,” said Steph Sherer, ASA’s executive director. “They bring jobs and increased economic activity while providing patients suffering from serious illnesses with an essential physician-recommended medicine. Creating equitable rules for medical cannabis access is a win-win scenario for everyone in a community.”

 

Tuesday, a Brookings Institution report accused the federal government of stifling medical marijuana research. Researchers at the liberal think-tank called on the federal government to eliminate obstacles to medical marijuana research in a strongly-worded report today. “The federal government is stifling medical research in a rapidly transforming area of public policy that has consequences for public health and public safety,” the report, authored by John Hudak and Grace Wallack, says. “Statutory, regulatory, bureaucratic, and cultural barriers have paralyzed science and threatened the integrity of research freedom in this area.” For a start, marijuana should be moved to Schedule II, they said.

California

On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the feds can’t shut down state-legal marijuana businesses. US District Court Judge Charles Breyer ruled that the Justice Department is barred from prosecuting with marijuana operations that are in compliance with state laws. Breyer cited recent votes in Congress to prohibit such actions. The move came in the case of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, which had been ordered closed by a permanent injunction in 2012. Attorneys for the alliance successfully argued that the congressional moves invalidated the injunction, and Breyer agreed. “The plain reading of [Congress’s amendment] forbids the Department of Justice from enforcing this injunction against MAMM to the extent that MAMM operates in compliance with California law,” Breyer wrote. “To the Court’s recollection,” Breyer added, “the Government has yet to allege or even suggest that MAMM was at any time operating in violation of state law.”

Kansas

Over the weekend, the Silver Haired Legislature renewed its push for medical marijuana. The Silver Haired Legislature, which advocates for senior citizens, is again calling on the legislature to pass medical marijuana. At a meeting earlier this month in Topeka, the group adopted three proposed bills it will push to see passed in the next term. Click on the link for more details.

New Jersey

Last Wednesday, the state got its fifth dispensary. The state Health Department said then it had issued its final permit for Breakwater Treatment and Wellness, a dispensary in Cranston, NJ.

New York

Last Thursday, the Seneca Nation was moving toward allowing medical marijuana. The Seneca Nation of Indians is preparing to vote early next month on whether to authorize the National Council to start drafting laws and regulations to govern medical marijuana. The vote would be only a first step toward the tribe getting in the medical marijuana business. The Justice Department opened the door for tribes to get involved in pot operations with a memo last fall.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visitMedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]



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