The latest attempt to rein in the DEA’s prosecution of legal medical marijuana businesses takes place tonight in the US House of Representatives. The House will be debating a spending bill that will include what in the past was called the “Hinchey-Rohrabacher” Amendment after the New York Democrat and California Republican Congressmen who repeatedly sponsor the bill. With Rep. Hinchey out of Congress, Rep. Rohrabacher this time is joined by five other Republicans and six Democrats in sponsoring the amendment that would forbid the Department of Justice, which includes US Attorneys and the DEA, from spending funds to raid and prosecute people obeying state medical marijuana laws. The last attempt to pass the amendment failed in a 165-262 vote in 2007, but one co-sponsor, Democrat Rep. Sam Farr from California said some congress members have changed their mind, and support for medical marijuana is reaching 85 percent even in FOX News polls.
The New York Assembly has once again passed a medical marijuana bill, but it still faces opposition in the Senate. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried’s bill was approved on a 91-34 vote in the Democrat-controlled Assembly. Assemblyman Gottfried has whittled away some of the original provisions of the medical marijuana bill, such as coverage for glaucoma patients. Also, a doctor’s recommendation would only be good for ninety days and medical marijuana would have to be a treatment of last resort. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have been chipping away at Senator Diane Savino’s companion medical marijuana bill. Senator Savino’s bill also excludes glaucoma and requires “treatment of last resort” and also restricts the number of statewide grow sites to twenty and the minimum age to smoke medical marijuana at age 21. Presumably, 18-year-old patients will still be allowed to smoke cigarettes. Both bills allow patients to possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.
Uniform Crime Reports for the City and County of Denver, Colorado, show a drop in the murder rate by 52.9 percent since legalizing the recreational marijuana market. For the first four months of 2013, there were 17 homicides in Denver while the first four months of 2014 have yielded only 8 murders. Sexual assault is down 13.6 percent; robbery is down 4.8 percent; and aggravated assault is down 3.7 percent. Overall, violent crime is down 5.6 percent since the opening of legal marijuana shops. Property crime is also down versus the same period last year by 11.4 percent. All that and the state raised $7.3 million in tax revenue in the first quarter from legalized pot shops that are mostly concentrated in the Denver area.
Oklahomans for Health have kicked off their petition drive to legalize medical use of marijuana in the Sooner State. The Rally today at the state capitol in Oklahoma City featured statewide candidate for office and current state Senator Connie Johnson, who told the crowd, “I am excited about the roll out of the Oklahomans for Health medical marijuana initiative petition as yet another opportunity to have the conversations about marijuana policy reform that many Oklahomans are ready and wanting to have.” The Oklahoma initiative would allow patients 3 ounces and home grow of 6 marijuana plants. A dispensary system would be created and a tax of 7 percent of sales would be added to fund the medical marijuana program, with excess divided 75 percent to schools and 25 percent to drug rehabs. Oklahoma’s initiative provides for 36 qualifying conditions, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, PMS, and painful periods. The initiative also reduces to a misdemeanor 1.5 ounce possession and 6 plants by patients who could qualify but haven’t registered with the state.
The mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, is apparently unaware that there have been medical marijuana dispensaries for over seventeen years in America. The Bridgeport Zoning Commission has halted development of the dispensary, one of 27 approved for the medical marijuana program in Connecticut, after nearby residents complained that the dispensary would lower their property values. Mayor Bill Finch told WCBS Radio “We would like to see some of the other communities take on facilities like this. We are not sure there is a risk, but the uncertainty of this new untried type of facility should be tried somewhere else.” Mayor Finch has apparently not seen the latest crime statistics we reported out of Denver. He also has seemingly not read the numerous studies showing no increase in crime in California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Michigan in the vicinity of medical marijuana dispensaries. We suppose sick people will just have to drive farther to get their medicine or Bridgeport’s illegal weed dealers will have some new customers.