Governor Mario Cuomo of New York officially announced today his plans to revive a dormant 1980 controlled substances law to allow for the medicinal use of marijuana in the Empire State. Cuomo, previously an opponent of efforts in Albany to pass a medical marijuana bill, said in his State of the State address Wednesday, “We will establish a program allowing up to 20 hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana, and we will monitor the program to evaluate the effectiveness and the feasibility of a medical marijuana system.” This proposed system would be the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the country, requiring patients to be approved by a panel of doctors at one of the twenty hospitals for only severely debilitating or terminal conditions. The source of the medical marijuana has not been determined, but initial reports claimed Cuomo would try to get donations of marijuana seized by law enforcement, a move that’s legally impossible, or receive it from the United States federal pot farm in Mississippi, a move the National Institutes on Drug Abuse are unlikely to approve.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska has picked up 150% of the signatures it needs to put legalization on the August primary ballot. Election officials require 30,000 valid signatures and the campaign claims to have well over 45,000. Alaska is unique among states with ballot initiatives in that its initiatives are placed on the primary, rather than the general election ballot. The proposed legislation would be similar to Colorado’s, with adults allowed to purchase marijuana from retail outlets. Alaska’s constitutional privacy provisions already protect Alaskans who grow a personal marijuana garden and possess up to a quarter pound in their homes from law enforcement intrusion. However, passage of the initiative would allow Alaskans to take an ounce outside their homes with no penalty. Over a thousand Alaskans are still arrested for possession annually.
The airports in Denver and Colorado Springs have taken steps to thwart passengers who may be trying to bring recreational marijuana back with them to their home states. In a contentious public hearing yesterday, Denver International Airport formalized the creation of rules allowing for the confiscation and fining of passengers caught in the airport with the marijuana. First time offenders will pay $150, second timers pay $500, and repeat offenders get a $999 fine, similar to the fine structure for open display of marijuana on Denver’s 16th Street Mall and city parks. The airport has already erected signs warning passengers about the ban on marijuana. “You cannot bring marijuana past security and you cannot transport it across state lines,” said airport spokeswoman Stacy Stegman. If the Transportation Security Administration “discovers marijuana, they would notify law enforcement.” Medical marijuana patients protested the ban. Colorado NORML head Rachel Gillette said, “To deny safe access to medical marijuana at the airport is unnecessary, and I think it’s cruel.”
There’s a glimmer of hope that someday the NFL may allow its players to use medical marijuana. Roger Goodell, the league commissioner, was asked by ESPN about the issue, to which Goodell responded, “I don’t know what’s going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries, but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine.” Currently the two top playoff teams, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, play where both medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal, and eight more play in medical marijuana states. Inhaled cannabis has shown to protect the brain from the damage of concussion, an injury the NFL just settled a class-action lawsuit over for $765 million. The NFL need not punish its players now; the collective bargaining agreement with the Players Union only prohibits the illegal use of drugs. The next opportunity to renegotiate for players’ use of medical cannabis doesn’t happen until 2021.
A wall in a building in Seattle was blasted off its foundation six inches when an attempt to manufacture butane hash oil indoors met its predictable explosive consequence. Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said there was no fire, but that a sliding glass door and windows were smashed in addition to the wall damage. The explosion was reported by a woman who was working in a flower shop housed next door who was spared any injuries. Police found butane stored in a freezer along with marijuana and suspect the butane container leaked the heavier-than-air gas, which then seeped into the electrical wiring compartment of the freezer, sparking the explosion. Police also found a full marijuana growing operation housed in the basement of the building. Arson investigators are pursuing leads to level charges of reckless endangerment against the perpetrators.
And finally, Governor Martin O’Malley opened the legislative session in Maryland today by stating he is strongly against legalizing marijuana for recreational use, stating marijuana can be “a gateway to even more harmful behavior” and “I’ve seen what drug addiction has done to the people of our state and the people of our city.” The governor is now in the minority, as CNN’s latest poll shows a majority no longer believe the argument that marijuana is a “gateway drug”.