Apr 172015

Fifty-eight percent of U.S. adults say recreational marijuana will be legal nationwide in the next 20 years, according to a new Bloomberg Politics poll. That includes 13 percent who say it will take 20 years, 26 percent who say it will take 10 years, 17 percent who say it’s just five years away, and two percent who say it will happen in the next year. Four states—Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska—have legalized the recreational use of pot. Nevada voters will decide whether to legalize the drug in 2016, and voters in Maine, Massachusetts, Arizona, and California are poised to follow suit. California, the nation’s most populous state, could prove a tipping point.

A group pressing for the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts by a 2016 popular vote said it submitted draft language for a ballot question to the Attorney General’s Office for an informal review to make sure it meets constitutional muster. Bay State Repeal is not proposing a new regulatory regime or extra taxes on sale of the drug to adults; rather its ballot push is focused on simply legalizing marijuana and curbing access for people under 21, according the group’s news release, the draft language, and one of the group’s board members. For example, the draft language makes selling or furnishing marijuana or a marijuana product to a minor punishable by a fine of up to $3,000 and/or by imprisonment for up to two years for a first offense. It’s notable, however, that the language does not include a special tax on retail sales of the drug. The draft ballot language doesn’t impose a new marijuana oversight agency or restrictions beyond those meant to keep it out of the hands of people under 21.

At the very deliberate time of 4:20 a.m. Wednesday, dozens of D.C. marijuana activists arrived at the Mall. They put on some music, constructed a 42-foot “liberty pole,” and chained themselves to it. Led by the DC Cannabis Campaign, the organization that spearheaded efforts to legalize marijuana in the city, the nearly week-long vigil in which city activists decry congressional meddling into local D.C. affairs began Wednesday. The activists decided to start the around-the-clock protest on April 15, Tax Day, because, as the city’s license plates say, the District has “taxation without representation.” D.C. residents pay federal taxes, but do not have voting representation in the Senate or House.  The vigil is slated to end at 4:20 p.m. on, well, April 20, more commonly known as 4/20 — the marijuana movement’s unofficial national holiday. “We see a lot of similarities between how the English treated the colonists and how Congress treats D.C. residents,” said Adam Eidinger, the chair of the DC Cannabis Campaign.

Breaking from decades of “Just Say No”-type messaging about marijuana use, Colorado law enforcement officials are starting a new campaign designed to promote safe marijuana use. The revised campaign starts this weekend, when tens of thousands are expected at public rallies and concerts in observation of the 4/20 marijuana holiday. Colorado safety campaigns launched last year to coincide with the beginning of recreational marijuana sales offended some marijuana users as condescending scare tactics. Especially irritating to them was a public-health campaign aimed at minors. Using the tag line “Don’t Be a Lab Rat,” the campaign consisted of giant cages stationed outside schools and libraries. At least one school district refused to allow the installation, joining critics who said the campaign was reminiscent of Drug War-era “Just Say No” messages. Instead, the new ads tell marijuana users not to use the drug in public or take it out of state.

An autopsy has concluded that synthetic marijuana was to blame for the death of a Fort Hood soldier shortly after his return from deployment to an Ebola hot zone in West Africa. The body of Kendrick Vernell Sneed was found the morning of Jan. 13 outside an off-base apartment. Ebola tests were given has a precaution but came back negative. A Killeen Police Department statement Thursday says a medical examiner determined “synthetic cannabinoid intoxication” was the cause of death. In the past month, more than 300 people in Alabama and Mississippi have sought emergency care after using synthetic marijuana, according to health officials. In Hampton, Virginia, one woman died and six others were hospitalized over one weekend after using spice. Last August, New Hampshire officials declared a state of emergency after 20 people who used synthetic marijuana sought hospital treatment