It’s official! The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office has confirmed that New Approach Oregon has submitted more than enough valid signatures to qualify their marijuana legalization initiative for the 2014 election in November. The Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act will legalize the personal possession of marijuana and marijuana products by adults age 21 and older, including: one ounce of dried usable marijuana away from the home; eight ounces (a half-pound) of dried usable marijuana at the home; sixteen ounces (a pound) of marijuana-infused edibles; seventy-two ounces (a six-pack) of marijuana infused liquids; and one ounce of marijuana concentrate. Oregon would also allow home cultivation of four plants and create a wide open commercial system for marijuana with taxes capped at $35 per ounce. Oregon joins Alaska in voting on statewide marijuana legalization this November and Florida voting on medical marijuana. More details can be found at NewApproachOregon.com.
Illinois opened up its extremely restrictive medical marijuana program this week to cover children suffering from intractable epilepsy. Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law allowing doctors to give permission for minor patients to use medical marijuana with a parent’s permission. Minors will only be allowed to have non-smokable forms of marijuana. The new law will go into effect in January, which is when regulators believe they will have the broader medical marijuana program operational for all qualifying patients. Illinois will not allow for personal cultivation of medicine and qualifying for the medical marijuana program will be more difficult than almost any other medical marijuana state.
Deb Greene, the 65-year-old retired woman who camped all night to buy Seattle’s first legal marijuana, has donated her purchase to the city’s Museum of History and Industry. Greene donated her $40 purchase of 2 grams of marijuana as well as the t-shirt she was wearing and the book she read in line at Cannabis City, Seattle’s first legal marijuana store. The museum will display the marijuana and artifacts alongside others it has collected as part of a traveling exhibit for April of 2015 dedicated to exploring prohibition.
In other Seattle news, a new study shows that even marijuana legalization doesn’t change some of the racist and classist enforcement of marijuana laws. Since I-502 legalized possession of marijuana in December of 2012, analysis of 82 tickets for public use of marijuana issued in the first six months of 2013 found that 36% ticketed were African-American, compared to blacks making up just 8% of Seattle’s population. 46% of those ticketed had indications of homelessness and over two-thirds ticketed were under the age of forty. Most tickets were issued in the parks of Seattle’s downtown core, where many homeless people gather.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, since the City Council overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize marijuana possession one month ago, 264 citizens were busted for possession. The Council’s 13-3 vote will overcome a veto from Mayor Michael Nutter, who opposes the measure but has yet to act on it, but the city police commissioner vows to keep arresting people for possession even if the measure becomes law. 200 of the 264 were arrested and later released without bail. 140 of the 264 were only charged with possession and no other crime and most of the rest were only charged with other marijuana-related offenses such as paraphernalia or intent to deliver. However, during the same period last year, 476 people were charged with possession in Philadelphia. Racial breakdown of the arrests is unknown but previous reports found 83% of possession arrests in Philadelphia are of African-Americans. One place where there wasn’t a single marijuana arrest was a weekend Phish concert where marijuana use by young white people was glaringly obvious.
Despite offering free weed to petition signers, activists in San Jose, California, came up only a little more than two-thirds the signatures they needed to place a referendum on new dispensary regulations on the ballot. Under the new regulations, marijuana dispensaries are zoned to areas representing less than 1% of the city’s area, putting about 70 of the city’s 80 dispensaries out of business. On Friday at 4:20pm, the activists who had claimed to have gathered 75,000 of the over 33,000 signatures they needed found that they were about 10,000 signatures shy of the quota. Dave Hodges, owner of the All-American Cannabis Club and proponent of the referendum, told San Jose Mercury-News, “At some locations, 75 to 80 percent of the people who told us they were registered voters actually weren’t.” Most current shops will have until July 2015 to find a new location or close.
Voters in South Portland, Maine, will likely be voting on legalization of marijuana in the city. Last year, its larger neighbor, Portland, voted to legalize and activists are currently working to present petitions for legalization in York and Lewiston. South Portland’s City Clerk certified that over 959 valid signatures have been submitted on the petition. However, the first step in the process is that the City Council has the opportunity to pass the initiative, which seems unlikely, as they have already signaled their opposition to the measure. In that case, under the law the initiative goes before the voters in November. The initiative also declares the city’s support for legalization of marijuana in the entire state of Maine, a proposal that will likely be placed before voters in 2016.