The United States House of Representatives has voted 219-189 in favor defunding Department of Justice federal enforcement actions against medical marijuana states. This amendment effectively would end DEA raids against medical marijuana gardens and dispensaries as well as US Attorney forfeiture and seizure threats against dispensary landlords and state officials implementing medical marijuana laws. We will provide more detail and analysis of this huge development in Behind the Headlines, right after the news.
Anti-medical marijuana activists in Montana have been approved to gather signatures for an initiative to make all marijuana illegal again. Initiative 174 would amend Montana law to adopt the federal list of Schedule I substances as the state’s official list, thereby effectively repealing the Montana Medical Marijuana Act passed in 2004. The Act was repealed by the state legislature in 2011, only to be preserved by then-Gov Brian Schweitzer’s veto. The legislature responded to the veto by severely curtailing the program, an act that passed into law without the governor’s signature and immediately decreased the medical marijuana patient registry from 30,000 to less than 10,000. The group, SafeMontana, needs to collect just under 25,000 signatures by June 20 to place the measure on the November ballot. Should the initiative pass, it would go into effect immediately, returning over 8,500 medical marijuana patients to criminal status.
The city and county of Fresno, California, are now facing a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union over a countywide marijuana cultivation ban. Despite a similar cultivation ban that was upheld by the courts in the City of Live Oak, the ACLU believes the Fresno case raises different questions that should be adjudicated. Officials in Fresno cite the fear of violent crime linked to marijuana grows as the reason for their ban, but the ACLU believes that the ban violates the Compassionate Use Act which allows patients to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes under a doctor’s recommendation.
The “Weed Fairy” is a huge hit in Seattle. Residents of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood began discovering nuggets of marijuana bud taped to fliers. Using the Twitter account @DanksyAppleweed, a 23-year-old woman named Yeni Sleidi gave the public clues as to where to find the fliers. Soon, successful treasure hunters began posting pictures of their finds and locations. The fliers read: “These are tough times. Take this weed. And keep your spirits high.” Some marijuana activists are worried the weed could end up in the hands of children, but so far there are no reports that it has.
Another entity is poised to give away weed, but this time as an enticement to vote. The Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition announced it would be providing a list of Bay Area dispensaries that will provide free marijuana to anyone who can prove they voted in next Tuesday’s election. The coalition is targeting the mayor and open city council seats in San Jose, as well as the county sheriff’s race. But such pot-for-voting schemes may be illegal under California law, which states than anyone who “offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate” is subject to fines and up to two years imprisonment.
Lawyers for a driver involved in a fatal crash in Long Island argued in court today that frequent cannabis consumers develop a tolerance to its impairing effects. The 18-year-old defendant, ironically named Joseph Beer, is alleged to have been high on marijuana when he sped off the Southern Parkway at over 100mph, killing his four passengers who were all his childhood friends. Defense Attorney Todd Greenberg told the jury, “If you are a frequent user you do build up a tolerance. And the marijuana has less effect on your cognitive abilities, which are the abilities you need to drive a car.” Greenberg stresses that nobody is defending driving while high, but that the charge of vehicular homicide is inappropriate for what was a reckless accident that would have happened even if Beer was sober.
The Denver County Fair is canceling its beer pavilion and doubling the size of its marijuana pavilion. The fair has featured a marijuana pavilion for the past two events, though it is not any sort of open-air marijuana use or display situation. The pavilion features joint-rolling contests (with oregano), ribbons for best plants (as judged in private and shown publicly in pictures), best homemade bong, and other pot-friendly events open only to those 21 and older. The events have become so popular that they are now the headline event of the fair.