A lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to curtail Colorado’s new recreational marijuana law could have dire consequences for all three states, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said. Colorado argued in a response to the lawsuit that Nebraska and Oklahoma were trying to reach across their borders and selectively invalidate state laws with which they disagree. Coffman said if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with the two states that border Colorado, the decision would take away the regulatory system that Colorado has built, but leave the legalization vote intact. “I don’t see anything but chaos on the other end of that decision,” Coffman said, adding that Colorado authorities are already working to keep marijuana within the state. She cited the arrests of a drug ring that was sending marijuana out of state and hauling in millions of dollars.
The marijuana lobby is tired of the “Cheech & Chong” stoner jokes and wants to be taken seriously in Congress. That’s why the National Cannabis Industry Association dropped actor and marijuana activist Tommy Chong from its Capitol Hill lobbying push slated for the end of April. According to an internal email obtained by POLITICO, the cannabis industry wants to move past the stoner stereotypes embodied by Chong as it tries to remake itself as a serious and respectable segment of the economy. In a Monday email sent to Chong’s representatives and allies, NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith said that after deliberations and feedback from “allied members of Congress,” the group decided Chong is not the best representative in stodgy Washington, particularly when it comes to lobbying right-of-center lawmakers. The email was shared by an anonymous source sympathetic to Chong’s work on a successful 2012 campaign to legalize marijuana in Washington State.
Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law has been widely criticized and condemned by many, but an innovative marijuana activist in the state is using the bill’s legal protections as a means to set up a new religious sect — the First Church of Cannabis, where members would aim to use marijuana freely as a sacrament in a state where the substance remains banned. “It’s a new religion for people who happen to live in our day and age,” Bill Levin, the church’s founder, told The Huffington Post in an interview Monday. Levin is dead-serious about his new church. He says it’s founded on universal principals of love, respect, equality and compassion. And similarly to other religious movements like the Rastafarians in Jamaica who see cannabis use as a sacrament, Levin said members of his church will adopt a similar belief in the plant. But unlike the Rastas, there is not a traditional deity at the top of this faith.
Calling it “an historic moment” medical marijuana advocates praised the filing of what has been deemed comprehensive medical marijuana legislation in the Texas House. Introducing the legislation at a press conference on March 17, Rep. Marisa Marquez said “it’s time for the Texas legislature to have this important conversation and adopt access to medical marijuana into law.” An El Paso Democrat who represents House District 77, Marquez said the bill includes limitations to “safeguard the community and minimize the misuse of medical marijuana. It also clearly defines the “serious and debilitating” medical conditions for which cannabis has been found to be an effective alternative treatment such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, seizure disorders and PTSD. Surveys show that 77 percent of Texans support medical marijuana reform, according to Caitlin Dunklee, with Texans for Medical Reform. Senator Jose Menendez of San Antonio filed the medical marijuana companion legislation, SB 1839, in the Senate, Marquez said.
An effort to legalize marijuana is getting underway in the Italian parliament, with some 60 lawmakers having signed onto a motion to do just that by the time it was rolled-out three weeks ago. The effort is being led by Sen. Benedetto Della Vedova, who is also Italy’s undersecretary of state for foreign affairs. A little more than a year ago, the country’s top court threw out a 2006 law that put marijuana in the same legal category as heroin and cocaine and swelled the country’s prison population. That Berlusconi-era approach has been replaced by a sort of decriminalization, where users face misdemeanor charges, but only fines or administrative penalties, such as suspension of a driver’s license. But people caught growing plants still face possible jail time. That softening of the marijuana laws went largely unopposed and unremarked upon.