Approximately one in every eight citations issued by the Colorado State Patrol last year for impaired driving involved suspected marijuana use, according to new statistics from the agency. For 2014, The State Patrol reported that troopers issued 5,546 citations for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Of those, 674 — about 12.2 percent — involved suspected marijuana use, either alone or in combination with other intoxicants. For 354 of those citations — about 6.4 percent of the total, or one in every 16 — marijuana was believed to be the only substance involved. The State Patrol did not provide statistics on the marijuana blood levels found in the cases or how often the citations led to convictions.
Delawareans caught with an ounce or less of marijuana would face just civil fines, not a criminal record, under decriminalization legislation introduced Thursday by a Wilmington lawmaker in the state House of Representatives. The legislation, House Bill 39, would treat simple possession of marijuana, and private use, like a traffic ticket. Selling marijuana, and also possessing marijuana with an intent to sell, would remain criminal offenses. Gov. Jack Markell has also signaled support for decriminalization of marijuana, making it more likely the measure could clear Legislative Hall and reach his desk by the end of June. Rep. Helene Keeley’s bill would impose a $100 fine for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and private use of marijuana. Under the legislation, those caught smoking marijuana in a public place would still face a criminal, unclassified misdemeanor charge, punishable by a $200 fine and up to five days behind bars.
Republican legislators in conservative South Carolina expect to introduce bills next month allowing marijuana to be grown and prescribed for certain illnesses. One would provide better access to a non-psychoactive oil derived from marijuana. Last year, the Legislature approved letting people who suffer from severe epilepsy use cannabidiol, known as CBD oil, to control their seizures. While last year’s law allowed possession of the oil by patients and their parents, no one can legally make it in South Carolina. A separate bill expanding marijuana’s allowed medical uses will be a tougher sell. Dr. Tim Pearce, president of the South Carolina Medical Association, said it would diminish the professionalism of medical doctors.
Advocates for legalizing marijuana are mounting a renewed effort to get Maryland to follow the lead of Colorado and Washington State – if not now, then in a year or two. Legalization efforts have fallen short twice before in Annapolis, and sponsors of this year’s bill acknowledge it’s a long shot this session, too. But they point to a recent poll indicating 53 percent of Marylanders support legalization. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he does not believe legislators were ready to approve legalization. “We’re going to move forward with medical marijuana, try to solve people’s aches and ills,” Miller said. “But in terms of making it available to the general public, I don’t anticipate that happening any time soon.”
A former president of the Seneca Nation of Indians is sponsoring a national conference for Indian tribes that hope to someday cash in on the legalized marijuana business. The Tribal Marijuana Conference is scheduled for Feb. 27 at the Tulatip Resort Casino, near Seattle. Robert Odawi Porter, who served as Seneca president from 2008 until November 2010, is the co-sponsor and organizer of the event. Porter said there has been growing interest among tribes all over the nation since October, when the U.S. Justice Department issued a “policy statement” that it no longer will prosecute marijuana sales on Indian lands as long as sales are controlled. Porter has been closely studying the issue in preparation for what some believe could become a huge business opportunity for Indian tribes, possibly within the next few years.
A Seattle-based marijuana retailer is rolling 12,000 joints in time for Sunday, when the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. Joe Santucci, sales director at Solstice, said his employees will end up using about 6,000 grams of cannabis — a little over 13 pounds — for the massive joint-rolling project. The shop sells a pack of 12 joints, a special “Seahawk blend” comprised of Blueberry Cheesecake and Headband strains, for about $70. The special edition joints are only available to medical marijuana patients for now, Santucci said. The shop will “absolutely” have the product for recreational users next year, once Solstice opens its first licensed retail processing facility later in 2015.