President Obama on Thursday said he expects more states to experiment with marijuana legalization. “The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue. My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.” The president went on to discuss a number of issues related to federal application of drug policy. He said that he will continue to have his administration review treatment of nonviolent drug offenders, and said drug policy with regard to marijuana should be treated more as a public health issue than a criminal one. He also voiced concern with the racially unequal application of marijuana laws and noted bipartisan support on the issue.
Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana was a bad idea, the state’s governor said Friday. Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who opposed the 2012 decision by voters to make pot legal, said the state still doesn’t fully know what the unintended consequences of the move will be. “If I could’ve waved a wand the day after the election, I would’ve reversed the election and said, ‘This was a bad idea,’ ” Hickenlooper said Friday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “You don’t want to be the first person to do something like this,” he said. He said that he tells other governors to “wait a couple of years” before legalizing marijuana as Colorado continues to navigate an unknown, nonexisting federal regulatory landscape for the industry. “There’s a whole regulatory environment … that really regulates alcohol,” he said. “We’re starting from scratch, and we don’t have a federal partner because [marijuana] is still illegal federally.”
Lawmakers in Hawaii are beginning to introduce a series of bills that aim to make marijuana more freely available in the state. A bill to decriminalize marijuana is currently being drafted, said Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee. That bill would reduce punishment for using marijuana to a civil violation instead of a felony, he said. Espero plans to introduce at least two other bills on the topic Friday. One bill, SB 190, would allow marijuana growers to serve three medical marijuana patients at a time, instead of the current one-person limit. That’s especially important for elderly patients who may not be able to cultivate a garden, he said. The bill also spells out how patients or caregivers can get seeds or plants. In the House, a bill was introduced Thursday to prohibit discrimination against medical marijuana users in condominiums.
A young girl whose family has been leading the charge to expand Virginia’s medical marijuana laws had a seizure at the General Assembly Thursday. Northern Neck mother Lisa Smith thinks her daughter Haley should be permitted to use medical marijuana, because the cannabis oil helped her daughter’s seizures. Smith and Haley joined other families who went before a Senate committee to talk to lawmakers about expanding the state’s current laws. Last year, Haley, who suffers from Dravet Syndrome, had 1,200 seizures — about 400 more than she had in 2013. The Smiths weren’t alone Thursday. They were joined by other families seeking the right to use medicinal marijuana, including the Collins from Northern Virginia. Jennifer Collins, 15, suffers from seizures as well, and while she used medical marijuana when she lived in Colorado, she can’t now that she is back in Virginia. Some lawmakers are concerned that the science isn’t there yet to prove cannabis oil really works.
Adams County, Colorado, received about 1,500 applications in less than three weeks from people interested in opening a marijuana business in unincorporated areas east of the Denver airport. The names of the first people allowed to apply will be randomly selected during a lottery drawing at 3 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Adams County Government Center. The drawing will also stream live on the county’s YouTube channel. Out of the pool of 1,500, the county will select three retail stores, three grow facilities, three infused-product manufacturing facilities and one testing facility. The 10 selected applicants have six months after the drawing to get a state license, building permit and change-of-use permit for their business. Last year, Adams County voters approved recreational marijuana operations in unincorporated parts of the county along with an additional 3 percent sales tax on all retail sales.