The U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure late Thursday night to de-fund the federal war on medical marijuana. If passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama, the provision would bring a halt to the three-year-long medi-pot crackdown in California and other states. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment to the $1.1 trillion cromnibus spending bill blocks the use of Department of Justice funds to “prevent [medical marijuana states] from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” The vast majority of Americans (78 percent) support states’ right to allow access to medical cannabis. The crominbus is expected to pass the Senate and be signed by the President.
President Obama supports legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in the nation’s capital as approved by D.C. voters in a November referendum, the White House says. But he also reluctantly supports and would sign a government funding bill that includes a rider blocking the measure, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. Congressional negotiators have quietly tucked into a $1.1 trillion spending deal a provision prohibiting the district from spending money to enact the new policy. “We do not believe that Congress should spend a lot of time interfering with the ability of the citizens of the District of Columbia to make decisions related to how they should govern their community,” Earnest told ABC’s Jonathan Karl. But despite the concerns, “the president supports the passage of this compromise proposal and would sign it if it arrives on his desk.” D.C. voters approved legalization by a 70 percent vote this November.
The federal government is stockpiling hundreds of “suspicious activity reports” that could provide federal agents with sufficient evidence to shut down any state-legalized marijuana business. While it may appear that federal authorities have taken a wait-and-see approach to marijuana legalization in the 23 states that now allow medical or recreational use, these reports are poised like a blade over the budding industry should federal laws be enforced. The federal government has already collected more than 1,100 reports that implicate different cannabis companies in financial crimes nationwide. Some U.S. representatives from Colorado and other states have introduced legislation to federally legalize state-approved marijuana, or at least legalize the industry’s access to banking. But those bills have not advanced, and state-approved marijuana businesses operate solely as a matter of federal discretion. That could change at any time.
A group wanting to make weed legal in Mississippi could begin as early as next week to collect signatures to have an initiative on the November 2016 ballot seeking to legalize marijuana in the state. Mississippi for Cannabis filed a petition in late September with the secretary of state’s satellite office in Hernando, said petition organizer Kelly Jacobs, a longtime Democratic Party official from Hernando. It was the initial step in the ballot process. Petition organizers would have to collect the approximately 110,000 signatures needed to get the measure on the November 2016 ballot. Voters would then have to approve it for it to become law. Jacobs said the ballot initiative proposal would legalize cannabis for adults to own as much as they wish, to use as they wish, just like alcohol or cigarettes. However, it would have to be kept from minors.
A pro-gun group is pushing a ballot initiative for 2015 that would allow users of marijuana to obtain a concealed handgun permit in Colorado. The current County Sheriffs of Colorado application for a concealed handgun permit asks applicants to answer whether they are an “unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” But the Colorado-based group Guns for Everyone wants to eliminate that provision, pointing out that with both medical and recreational marijuana legalization in Colorado, the question simply muddies the waters. The ballot initiative would amend statute to state that a sheriff must issue a permit to an applicant who “is not an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.” It would then state “lawful use of marijuana shall not be cause for denying a permit to carry a concealed handgun.”
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is taking applications for next year’s industrial hemp pilot projects. Potential growers must apply by Jan. 1; farmers who are chosen will be notified in late January. Hemp was grown in 2014 for the first time since it was outlawed decades ago along with marijuana, which has far more of the high-inducing chemical THC. Several research plots were grown by universities, and a handful of farmers grew private plots. Results of the research projects are likely to be released by the end of January.