Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens told NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday that marijuana should be legalized nationwide. The 94-year-old former justice is promoting his book, “Six Amendments”, which calls on constitutional changes to election financing, firearms possession, and the death penalty. Stevens said, “I really think that [marijuana prohibition’s] another instance of, public opinion has changed and recognized that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. The alcohol – the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has, I think, been generally, there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really that in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug.” Stevens was on the bench when Judge Douglas Ginsberg’s nomination to the Supreme Court was scuttled in 1987 due to his admitting to smoking pot in college at Harvard.
Iowa is set to become the next state to legalize the use of cannabidiol oil for epileptic seizures. Five states – Utah, Mississippi, Alabama, Wisconsin, and South Carolina – have legalized the non-psychoactive component of marijuana. Like most of these CBD-only states, the Iowa law would not allow patients to grow their own marijuana to harvest CBD oil or allow them to purchase CBD oil within the state; patients are explicitly told they will need to acquire the CBD oil from out-of-state, presumably Colorado, where they’d be breaking state and federal law trafficking the substance. The House Public Safety committee approved three new amendments that remove reciprocity for patients with out-of-state medical marijuana recommendations, establishes a 32-ounce limit for possession, and directs the University of Iowa to study CBD’s effectiveness. The bill returns to the House floor for further debate; the Senate would need to also concur on the three new amendments for the bill to advance to the governor.
Meanwhile in Florida, the Senate has passed a bill to legalize CBD oil by a margin of 36-3. The bill would create a system of authorized “dispensing organizations” that could produce the oil, so long as it contains less than 0.8% THC. Patients added by their doctor to a “compassionate use registry” would then be able to access the oil for treatment. The House version of the bill expands the conditions qualifying for CBD treatment to not just epilepsy, but also Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, post-traumatic stress disorder and cancer. Florida will be voting in November on a more expansive medical marijuana constitutional amendment and some believe that passage of this CBD-only law would hinder the full enactment of that amendment. Florida’s Surgeon General has spoken out against the CBD bill and Gov. Rick Scott’s office has not indicated his position on signing or vetoing it should it come to his desk.
Minnesota’s Senate Judiciary Committee panel today approved a bill that would legalize medical use of marijuana, sending the bill to the full committee. The bill would recognize the standard eight conditions (cancer, AIDS, cachexia, glaucoma, seizures, spasms, pain, and nausea) as well as Hepatitis C, Tourette’s Syndrome, ALS, and PTSD. Patients could possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and shop at a limited number of “alternative treatment centers” that could dispense marijuana. Patients could not grow their own marijuana and any patient under age 18 would need recommendations from two doctors. Out of state patients would be protected as well, and no patient would face discrimination over housing, education, organ transplant, or child custody simply for being a patient. The target date for implementation of this legislation, should it be signed by the governor who has always taken a veto position on medical marijuana, is July 1, 2015.
State marijuana regulators in Colorado are considering revisions to the law concerning medicated edibles in the wake of highly-publicized stories of cannabis overdose. The Department of Revenue, charged with marijuana packaging regulations, says a task force “in advance of a formal rule-making process” will be reviewing the current laws, which considers 10mg of THC to be a “serving” of marijuana edible, but allows up to ten “servings” to be contained in a package. Recently, a college student leaped to his death after consuming an entire 65mg THC cookie and a man on a 911 tape can be heard allegedly murdering his wife after eating a 100mg THC candy bar. Options under consideration include requiring easily distinguishable 10mg servings, such as a chocolate bar breakable into marked 10mg chunks, or limiting the packaging of any product to just 10mg.
This Saturday is the Global Cannabis March all across the world! Join me and Urb Thrasher and most of the Portland-area’s marijuana reformers for our march and speeches to begin and end at “Portland’s living room”, Pioneer Courthouse Square. I began my career in activism at the 2005 March, so this will be my tenth opportunity to march the streets of Portland to demand our cannabis rights and hemp heritage. It’s free, but please leave your dog, your drugs, and your alcohol at home – this is about freedom, not partying.