Three quarters of Americans now say that “marijuana legalization is inevitable” nationwide. A new poll by the Pew Research Center found that 75% of Americans “think that the sale and use of marijuana will eventually be legal nationwide.” 39% of poll respondents support the legalization of recreational use of marijuana and another 44% support medical use of marijuana, leaving just 16% of the poll respondents who agreed with keeping marijuana prohibition in place as it is. “Saying that we don’t want people to serve prison time for marijuana,” responded Anti-legalization crusader Kevin Sabet, “is very different from saying I want a pot shop in my neighborhood…” even as the poll found 57% of the public would not be bothered by a pot shop in their neighborhood. We’ll have more details on this poll and another from WebMD on doctor’s attitudes toward medical marijuana in our Drug War Data Mining segment at half past the hour.
A coroner in Denver has listed “marijuana intoxication” as a contributor to the death of 19-year-old Congolese student Levy Thamba. The young man fell to his death from a balcony at the Holiday Inn Denver East. Thamba, a student at Northwest College, in Powell, Wyoming, attending on an international studies scholarship, had taken a Spring Break trip with friends to Denver. According to the coroner’s report, Thamba died from “multiple injuries due to fall from height,” which was a “fall from [a] balcony after consuming marijuana cookie”, about which “marijuana intoxication” was a “significant condition”. Thamba’s blood tested at 7.2ng/mL of active THC, over the Colorado legal driving limit of 5ng/mL. The coroner admits pointing the finger at marijuana for any death is “a little unique,” but “that’s all we had. He was fine, he was normal, he was an easy-going kid, and then he ate this cookie and went over the balcony. And this was not a kid who was suicidal.”
A vote on marijuana legalization not only passed in Dane County, Wisconsin, last night, it greatly increased voter turnout. The non-binding referendum, which passed 65% – 35%, advises local politicians to support the legalization of marijuana at the state level. Statewide turnout for this early Spring election averaged about 12%, but in Dane County, turnout was estimated at 19.8%. Also in Wisconsin, the Senate unanimously passed a bill allowing for the use of high-CBD oil for the treatment of seizure disorder, so long as “the cannabidiol is in a form without a psychoactive effect.” Wisconsin’s CBD-only bill follows signing of such a law in Utah, passage of such laws in Alabama and Kentucky, and continued work on similar bills in South Carolina and Florida.
In other Midwest legalization news, activists in Michigan have targeted 11 cities and 1 county for legalization initiatives in the coming elections. Legalization referendums were passed in Detroit and Flint in 2012, with Ferndale, Jackson, and Lansing following suit in 2013. For 2014, the “Safer Michigan Coalition” has its sights set on Saginaw, Mt. Pleasant, East Lansing, Oak Park, Port Huron, Lapeer, Utica, Hazel Park, Clare, Onaway, Harrison and the County of Benzie. Some initiatives will be on the ballot in the August primary and others in the November general election this year. Also, at the state level, advocates are pushing for the passage of HB 4263, which would decriminalize personal use and has the support of 65% of Michiganders.
Although Los Angeles, California’s Proposition D limited pot shops to just about 140, over 450 medical marijuana dispensaries have filed renewals for their city business taxes. This leaves officials still with no idea exactly how many dispensaries are operating in the city. Over 1,100 have registered with the city but cutting out duplicates brings that number down to about 900. If so, the 450 renewals would represent a significant decrease in the number of shops that had been estimated to be as many as 700. “My impression overall is that fewer are operating now,” said Don Duncan, the California director of Americans for Safe Access, which advocates for safe, legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use. “But it’s so hard to quantify.” Los Angeles’ Office of Finance has continued to take new tax license applications from dispensaries that hadn’t previously been allowed open under the Proposition D.