US Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and US Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado have introduced two bills that will hasten the end of federal prohibition of marijuana. Rep. Polis has introduced H.R. 1013, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. This legislation would remove marijuana from the schedule set by the Controlled Substances Act; transition marijuana oversight from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and regulate marijuana like alcohol by inserting into the section of the U.S. Code that governs “intoxicating liquors.” Rep. Blumenauer has introduced H.R. 1014, the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015. This legislation would impose a 10 percent federal excise tax on the sale of marijuana for non-medical purposes, rising to 25 percent as the legal market displaces illegal sellers. Medical marijuana sales would be exempt from the tax.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice dismissed multiple federal marijuana charges against 71-year-old Larry Harvey, patriarch of the Kettle Falls Five, because of his deteriorating health brought on by stage 4 cancer of the pancreas, which has begun to spread to his liver. But Harvey’s reprieve remains bittersweet. His family members, who were charged along with him, still collectively face the possibility of decades in prison. “My wife, Rhonda, is my sole caregiver,” Harvey said Thursday. “If Rhonda goes to prison, I don’t know who will take care of me. I will probably have to leave our home for good and move into a nursing facility.” The federal spending bill prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds to go after state-legal medical marijuana programs, but Judge Rice held that the spending prohibition did not apply this case. The Kettle Falls Five trial is slated to begin next week.
Marijuana Policy Project urged a boycott of the Holiday Inn hotel brand after New Vision Hotels Two, LLC filed a lawsuit claiming that they have already lost business at their Holiday Inn location in Frisco, Colorado, due to marijuana legalization. The suit argues that under the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause, which states that federal law generally takes precedence over state law, Colorado’s regulation of recreational marijuana is unconstitutional, because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. On Friday morning, MPP called for the boycott in an email newsletter sent to about 200,000 subscribers, as well as on its Facebook and Twitter pages. MPP also launched a Change.org petition calling on New Vision Hotels Two to withdraw its lawsuit and urged Holiday Inn’s parent company, InterContinental Hotels Group, to support a withdrawal of the suit. At the time of this show, the petition had already received close to 6,000 signatures.
The group wanting to legalize marijuana in Ohio — but to limit growing to 10 regulated commercial sites — released a revised plan Wednesday that would allow Ohioans to grow smaller amounts at home. ResponsibleOhio wants to legalize marijuana for medical use and for personal use for adults over age 21. The group’s plan would limit growing to 10 commercial sites promised to campaign backers, allowing adults over age 21 to apply for licenses to manufacture marijuana edibles and other items and own retail stores. The revised amendment allows adults over age 21 to own up to four flowering plants and possess up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana for personal use — as long as they first obtain a home grower’s license from a yet-to-be created commission. A license would cost $50, but all other requirements would be left up to the commission to decide.
Supporters of a bill to decriminalize marijuana in Hawaii took turns testifying before the Senate Health Committee Wednesday. Under Hawaii Senate Bill 596, getting caught with an ounce or less of pakalolo (the Hawaiian word for marijuana) would result in a fine of up to $100, a civil infraction instead of a petty misdemeanor. “The case for enacting decriminalization legislation in Hawaii has strengthened with each passing year,” said Pamela Lichty, president of the Drug Policy Action Group. She pointed in her testimony to how changes to the law in the 19 other states (plus cities and counties) that have decriminalized marijuana have not affected use among either youths or adults and how polls in Hawaii support it. But law enforcement, Catholic groups and anti-drug advocates told the committee that marijuana is a dangerous, habit-forming drug that should not be legitimized in any way. The committee, chaired by Hawaii Sen. Josh Green, passed the bill after making some amendments.