Three congressional lawmakers from California are accusing the U.S. Department of Justice of overreach in an ongoing crackdown against Harborside Health Center, widely considered to be the largest and one of the most well-respected medical marijuana dispensaries in the nation. “We believe DOJ has overstepped its bounds in the Harborside case,” Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R), Sam Farr (D) and Barbara Lee (D) wrote in a letter last week about U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s effort to shut down the Oakland, California-based Harborside. “We believe DOJ is not acting within the spirit or the letter of the law nor in the best interests of the people who depend on Harborside for reliable, safe medical marijuana.” The letter notes that public acceptance of medical marijuana has grown nationally, even as federal policy on the substance “stagnates.” To highlight his support, Rohrabacher posed with Harborside’s co-founder and executive director, Steve DeAngelo, at the dispensary.
Drafters of this year’s proposal to legalize marijuana in Ohio said Tuesday they’ve added language to allow adults over 21 to get a license to grow at home. They also cut the suggested tax on retail sales from 15 percent to 5 percent. Until Tuesday, the proposed constitutional amendment from ResponsibleOhio said nothing about people growing at home. Lydia Bolander, the group’s spokeswoman, said “[W]e had a lot of input from experts and concerned citizens, not just here in Ohio but nationwide,” Bolander said, “and the more we thought about it, staying silent on the home-grow issue was only going to create more confusion.” ResponsibleOhio needs to collect at least 306,000 signatures to place the proposed amendment on the November ballot. The amendment would provide for 10 privately owned grow sites – three of which would be in Greater Cincinnati. But potential supporters argued that leaving out home growers could hurt the proposal.
Vermont could become the first state in history to legalize recreational marijuana via state legislature with a new bill submitted Tuesday that aims to end prohibition of the plant. Senate Bill 95 would legalize the possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana in the state for those 21 and older. Adult residents could possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to nine plants (two mature, seven immature) for personal use, including any additional marijuana produced by those plants. Personal cultivation would be limited to secure indoor facilities. Non-residents could also enjoy the new laws, legally purchasing up to one-quarter of an ounce of marijuana from a licensed retail shop. The bill also proposes an excise tax of $40 per ounce of marijuana flower, $15 per ounce of any other marijuana product and a $25 tax on each immature cannabis plant sold by a cultivator.
Several veterans showed up Tuesday at the Washington State Capitol to testify in favor of Senate Bill 5379, which would add PTSD to the list of terminal or debilitating conditions that qualify patients for medical marijuana use. Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said that adding PTSD to the list of eligible diagnoses would help veterans who continue to suffer from wartime injuries and psychological stress. Hobbs, who is the prime sponsor of the legislation, served in Kosovo and Iraq and is a member of the Army National Guard. Active duty service members and reservists are banned from using marijuana under federal rules, even if it is to treat a medical condition. Veterans who have left the service, however, are not subject to the same rules, and several veterans told lawmakers Tuesday that using cannabis won’t affect the federal disability benefits they receive.
A group of activists gathered in the New Jersey’s largest city Wednesday to announce a new coalition that will advocate for the legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana. A string of speakers today officially launched “New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform” during a press conference in Newark. The coalition – which is made up of members like the ACLU-New Jersey, NAACP State Conference of New Jersey, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – argued that legalizing the drug would increase revenue to the state, lighten enforcement burdens on police departments and prosecutors, and streamline usage. The group cited statistics claiming that New Jersey police officers make about 21,000 marijuana-related arrests each year, and argued that the time spent processing these arrests could be focused on other “more serious” crimes. Gov. Chris Christie has said that he will not support the legalization of recreational marijuana, arguing that it gives the wrong message to the state’s children.