Jun 082015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vowed Sunday to eliminate legalized marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington if he’s elected president. The Republican governor, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said his administration would use federal rules that outlaw marijuana to clamp down on states that legalized recreational pot use. “Yes sir,” Christie told host John Dickerson when asked whether he’d go after Colorado and Washington. “If you were president would you return the federal prosecutions in the states of Colorado, Washington states?” Dickerson asked. “Yes,” Christie said. “So, if somebody’s enjoying that now in their state, if you’re president, that’s getting turned off?” Dickerson continued. “Correct,” Christie responded. Christie has been an outspoken critic of legalized marijuana. He says it’s a gateway drug. “I think there’s probably a lot of people in Colorado who are not too thrilled with what’s going on there right now,” Christie said.

A circuit judge has ruled that Missouri’s so-called “Right to Farm” amendment doesn’t allow farming pot. Attorney Dan Viets filed a motion to dismiss felony charges against a couple who grew marijuana to treat glaucoma based on their rights under the Right to Farm amendment to the Missouri Constitution, which won voter approval in August by a thin margin. The amendment states, in part, that “the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state.” Viets argued the language is broad, but Circuit Judge James Journey wasn’t swayed. “There is nothing in the Right to Farm amendment that would prohibit the state from enacting or enforcing laws regarding possession or production of controlled substances,” Journey wrote in a June 2 judgment denying Viets’ motion to dismiss.

United For Care, which last year put a failed constitutional amendment proposal on the November election ballot, expects to begin its main petition push in a matter of weeks to get a new proposal to Florida voters in November 2016. The organization, chaired by Orlando lawyer Morgan, already has a few volunteers pushing petitions. It has resources from the failed 2014 campaign, including thousands of now-experienced, impassioned volunteers, ballot language that already has passed legal muster and Morgan’s checkbook. “We’ll make an announcement at some point here shortly,” said Ben Pollara, the campaign’s manager. “I’m going back and forth with Morgan. But I would expect that to launch sometime in June.” That would put the organization about six months ahead of pace for last year’s initiative. That proposal to legalize marijuana for medical use ended up getting 58 percent of the statewide vote last November, but needed 60 percent to be adopted.

Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill Friday (June 5) that lets employers in Louisiana drug test employees’ hair. The window for detection with hair testing is about 90 days, compared to about two or three days with urine tests. House Bill 379, which has now been signed into law, opens up the option for companies to test hair by putting in place the necessary framework to legally drug test hair samples by requiring the College of American Pathologists to provide accreditation for the diagnostic facilities allowed to perform the testing.

Rep. Ted Lieu’s amendment to a fiscal 2016 appropriations bill would cut funding for the Drug Enforcement Agency’s salaries and expenses account from $18 million to $9 million. The account is used to fund the DEA program to eradicate and suppress cannabis. Next year, Lieu will introduce legislation to eliminate the entire program, he said in a news release, noting that the DEA arrested 6,130 people in 2014 for growing marijuana plants.

The number of companies looking to cash in on marijuana is growing, including some with celebrity backers, like Melissa Etheridge. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, she said marijuana saved her life. She became an unlikely spokesperson for marijuana legalization, and now she’s an even more unlikely entrepreneur. Etheridge helped create a marijuana-infused wine. Etheridge said the cannabis in her wine is not dangerous in moderation: because it is cold pressed, never heated, it doesn’t have a psychoactive effect. Etheridge’s wine is currently only available to medical marijuana patients in California, where pot is legal for medicinal purposes. But she has a vision for her business growth. “Like any good California wine, I would love for this product to be available in restaurants. I would love to see this available to the general public, you know, wherever you buy your fine wines,” Etheridge said.