These 4 States Could See Major marijuana Reform This Midterm Election

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Thirty-one states, plus the District of Columbia, have already legalized marijuana in some form, but that could soon change come Nov. 6.

Voters across four states, including North Dakota, Missouri and Utah, will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote on initiatives that could make weed more accessible. The highly anticipated midterm elections arrive at a time when more Americans than ever before support marijuana’s legalization, according to a recent Gallup poll.

“Now we’re seeing the reform movement reaching into some of the most traditionally oppositional areas of this country.”

Justin Strekal, national political director at NORML

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota will vote on “Measure 3,” which would not only legalize the recreational use of marijuana for those over 21, but also put in place a robust criminal justice reform initiative, removing all criminal and civil penalties for the possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana. It would direct the attorney general to automatically expunge all non-violent records within 60 days of enactment, which could impact up to 117,000 people in the state.ADVERTISEMENT

“It would be the most comprehensive restorative justice ballot initiative ever passed,” said Strekal.

The measure, however, faces challenges in a state with a strong Republican hold. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a vulnerable Democrat up for re-election, noted her opposition to the marijuana ballot initiative during early voting.

MISSOURI

The Show Me State is handling its marijuana initiatives differently than others. Voters will have the opportunity to cast their ballots on three proposals — two constitutional amendments and one statutory amendment — that would legalize medical marijuana. Missourians are permitted to vote either “Yes” or “No” on each ballot, raising concerns echoed by marijuana advocates that the vote could split.

Each amendment varies in its implementation of a state-run medical marijuana program.

Though all proposals would legalize medical marijuana, they differ in who would manage the program’s roll-out in addition to how much tax would be placed on sales, according to the Kansas Star.

“Amendment 2” would change the state constitution to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis for 10 medical conditions.

“Amendment 3” would also alter the state constitution but would place a much higher tax on marijuana sales — 15 percent. The estimated billions of dollars in annual revenue would be used to create a new biomedical research facility headed by local physician and lawyer Brad Bradshaw, who raised substantial funds for the political action committee closely tied to the proposal.

Bradshaw defended the high sales tax written into “Amendment 3” in an op-ed, saying the 4-percent sales tax included in “Amendment 2” wouldn’t account for other general state use and local taxes.

“The total taxes will be well over 4%,” Bradshaw wrote in an op-ed. “Amendment 3 is a fixed flat tax of 15% with no other taxes, period.”

The last initiative, “Proposition C,” would change state law similar to “Amendment 2,” but with different taxation levels. But because it’s a statutory amendment and not a constitutional one, the legislature would be able to change it.

The proposal with the most “Yes” votes will be implemented. If one of the constitutional amendments in addition to “Proposition C” is passed, then the constitutional initiative takes precedence.ADVERTISEMENT

UTAH

More than half of Utahns are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — wielding a powerful influence over the state’s political and social affairs. That includes the marijuana reform movement sweeping across the country.

For the past several months, religious leaders and marijuana advocates have been engaging in a fierce debate over the state’s stance on medical marijuana. However, the opposing groups were able to broker a last-minute compromise that paved the way for medical marijuana to be included on the 2018 ballot.

“Proposition 2” would legalize medical marijuana use for patients with qualifying conditions. However, those with medical marijuana cards would not be permitted to smoke or use a device that would facilitate the smoking of marijuana.

Though Strekal admits the initiative isn’t as robust as others, “it is a big step forward.”

State Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake, drew attention to the marijuana movement in late October when he traveled to neighboring Nevada, where weed is legalized, to try it for the first time.ADVERTISEMENT

“Here it goes, I am going to try it,” Dabakis said as he held an edible gummy bear for the test.

Dabakis explained in a following interview that he found it necessary to try marijuana before a final vote on “Proposition 2” hit the Senate floor.

“I think if the legislature would actually try it, they would find it and realize this is no big deal, and at least let those who are suffering have the help that they need,” he said.

MICHIGAN

Michiganders voted to legalize medical marijuana a decade ago, but now the state will vote on “Proposal 1,” which would regulate recreational cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol.

“It would include aspects for commercialization through micro-licensing to incentivize small businesses and entrepreneurs to be able to share in the economic benefits of the legislation,” said Strekal.

If Michigan approves the ballot measure, it would become the first state in the Midwest to legalize recreational weed.

The legislation would permit individuals to grow up to 12 plants in their residences and implement a 10-percent tax. The revenue would be allocated to local governments, education and road maintenance.

Though Michigan is recognized for its high percentage of smokers, not everyone is on board with recreational use. Scott Greelee, president of Healthy and Productive Michigan, says it’ll do more harm than good.

“Why not take a look at what’s really going to happen if this were passed and that is a lot more people, a lot more folks on those roads are going to be in danger and are going to need to help them long-term,” he told Circa affiliate WPBN-TV.

Current polling suggests the measure will pass, but opposition groups are contributing large sums of money in the final days leading up to the midterms.

Boehner calls For more Marijuana Reforms Ahead of Midterms

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Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who sits on the board of a cannabis corporation, expressed his support for marijuana legalization ahead of this year’s midterm elections. 

“The trend could not be clearer: Cannabis prohibition is coming to an end,” Boehner wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published on Sunday. “A Gallup poll last month found 66% of Americans favor legal marijuana. I am now one of those Americans.”

Boehner stated that he began to support marijuana use after a friend who suffered from chronic back pain began using medical cannabis. Boehner also writes that his experience on the board of Acreage Holdings has helped him learn more about how people have used the drug to combat pain. 

He goes on to urge Washington to respect states’ rights to regulate cannabis within their own borders, a call that comes as four states prepare to vote on Tuesday on measures that would relax marijuana restrictions. 

“Until cannabis is legalized federally, Washington needs to respect states’ rights to regulate it within their borders. The 10th Amendment clearly protects states’ prerogative to do so, and we must not allow the federal nanny state to dictate otherwise,” Boehner writes. 

In addition, Boehner calls for other reforms surrounding marijuana legislation, such as calling for the Drug Enforcement Administration to stop classifying “marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic, the same category as heroin.”

“As a congressman, I learned that government works best when it listens to its constituents,” Boehner concludes. “Representatives must use what the people tell them to question constantly which policies are serving the greater good. It’s past time for government to rethink how it approaches cannabis.”

Boehner’s call comes just days before states such as Michigan and North Dakota vote on whether they should permit recreational use. Missouri and Utah voters will vote on whether the states can permit medical marijuana use. 

Recreational marijuana is currently legal in nine states and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in another 29.

Source: The Hill

Missouri’s Medical Marijuana Question

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Missouri voters won’t just vote on medical marijuana on Tuesday, they’ll vote on three competing measures. So, what’s the difference between the measures?

Here are summaries, with information pulled from the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office:

  • Amendment 2 — This measure would amend the state constitution to allow the use of marijuana for medical uses and creates regulations and licensing procedures. It would impose a 4 percent tax on retail sales of marijuana, with funds going to the Missouri Veterans Commission and the Department of Health and Senior Services. The amendment also would allow patients to grow as many as six plants, or a caretaker to grow 18 plants.
  • Amendment 3 — This would amend the state constitution to allow use of medical marijuana and create regulations and licensing procedures. It would impose a 15 percent tax on retail sale and a tax on wholesale sale of marijuana flowers and leaves. Proceeds would establish and fund the Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute, led by Springfield lawyer and physician Brad Bradshaw, who has pushed the measure.
  • Proposition C — This would amend state law, not the constitution, thus giving state lawmakers say over regulations and licensing procedures. It would impose a 2 percent tax on retail sales, with money going for veterans’ services, drug treatment, early childhood education and public safety.

If more than one of the measures passes, either of the constitutional amendments would trump Proposition C. If more than one amendment passes, the one with the most “yes” votes would go into effect.

Source: Kansas City Business Journal

Maine Gives Potential Marijuana Consultants an Extra Week

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AUGUSTA, Maine — Consultants hoping to advise Maine on recreational marijuana sales have extra time to apply.

The deadline is Thursday for those applying to guide state agencies as they craft adult-use marijuana regulations and review Maine’s medical marijuana program.

Mainers in 2016 voted to allow adult-use possession and retail sales of marijuana.

Adults over 21 can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. But lawmakers delayed sales, which won’t become legal until agencies pass regulations and get legislative approval.

Maine must start accepting recreational marijuana applications 30 days after regulations are adopted.

Department of Administrative and Financial Services spokesman David Heidrich recently said rulemaking will begin once a consultant is hired.

Heidrich estimates a contract will be signed in December and start January.

Then, the department would complete regulations by April 30.


America’s Marijuana Map How it Might Change After the Midterms

Four states across American are on the eve of introducing new cannabis legislation

America’s slow burn towards cannabis legalisation continues at the midterms as four states will vote on ballots featuring medicinal and recreational initiatives. Michigan and North Dakota will decide whether to make the drug legal while Utah and Missouri will vote on its medicinal uses. Polls are suggesting that all four ballots are likely to pass.

With two-thirds of Americans now pro-legalisation, it’s fair to say that attitudes have relaxed since the fears of ‘Reefer Madness’ in the late 1930s, making marijuana a rare issue where party politics don’t divide. This should result in an easy win politically to please constituents and generate a lot in tax revenue.

Despite Canada recently legalising marijuana at a national level, America is still yet to progress past the state-level. However, at the midterms, voters will be able to push America further towards its tipping point on federally legalised cannabis. Until then, here’s the current lay of the land.

Weeding Out The Myths of Cannabis

I’ve always been fascinated by the science of plants. It’s the main reason why I studied plant science at university.

But during those university days, I didn’t believe that cannabis would ever become legal in Canada. Cannabis was, basically, just fodder for a lot of jokes with my friends. I spent a lot of time on the science of how to kill weeds grow rather than how to grow weed.

Well, fast forward to 2018 and the legalization of adult-use cannabis has come and gone. Now, a lot of my time is spent talking about the science of cannabis and answering questions about this fascinating plant. And the people who want to know more about cannabis are in one of two camps: Those who use it — or plan on using it — and those who just want to know more about it.

So, whether you are pro-cannabis, anti-cannabis or cannabis ‘neutral,’ here is a little bit of a primer on the heritage and character of this fascinating plant.

When it comes to the cannabis family, plant scientists aren’t unanimous on its region of origin, nor the number of species that are under the cannabis umbrella. However, evidence suggests that a somewhat scrawny central Asian plant called ‘Cannabis ruderalis’ was the ancestor of modern cannabis. And, likely, it gave rise to two species: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis Indica.

C. sativa, generally, has thinner leaves and is taller than C. indica, and takes longer to reach full maturity, while C.indica has rather broad leaves and has a squattier stature.

But to make things a bit more complicated many plant taxonomists argue that there really is only one species of cannabis, not two or three. And to take the family story a bit further, both Indicas and Sativas have been so highly interbred that just about every cannabis plant is a genetic blend of the two species. Often the best one could say about most individual cannabis plants is that they are either sativa dominant or indica dominant.

Still, I suspect that most people really don’t care much about botanical classifications and prefer a more pragmatic division: Psychoactive drug containing cannabis and non-psychoactive drug containing cannabis. Therefore, any cannabis plant that is very low in psychoactive compounds (less than 0.3% of the plant’s weight here in Canada) is just referred to as hemp. Everything else is cannabis!

Now that the classification is somewhat clearer, I’d be remiss if I didn’t explore the fascinating sex life of cannabis. It’s not just interesting, but also essential for growers to understand how they reproduce.

Many people are surprised to learn that there are male and female cannabis plants. Plant species that have both male and female plants aren’t all that common in the plant world but it obviously works well for cannabis.

While the vast majority of plants generate ‘perfect’ flowers with both male and female reproductive structures contained within each flower, cannabis is dioecious, meaning that it produces separate female and male plants. And in the world of cannabis, it’s the female plants that are prized for their high concentrations of psychoactive and medicinal compounds.

Male plants are strictly used for breeding and although they synthesize the same compounds as the female plants, the yield is dramatically lower. Male plants are removed from production facilities the moment they can be identified. Of course, male plants are critical for pollinating females — if a superior seed variety is the goal — but beyond reproduction requirements males, are not wanted anywhere near female plants … pollen is not welcome.

Another really interesting trait that cannabis shares with a number of plants is day-length sensitivity. Cannabis is an ‘obligate short day’ plant, which means that it requires a number of consecutive days where the hours of uninterrupted darkness is equal to or longer that the hours of daylight.

If cannabis plants are exposed to days that are longer than the nights, they will continue to grow bigger, but not flower. Once the nights are longer than the days, the flowering cycle is ‘triggered’ and flowers will form in a few days. A familiar plant that shares this trait day-length sensitivity is the poinsettia.

This is just a taste of what I will be exploring with cannabis in the weeks to come and I’ll do my best to ‘weed out’ the facts and the fiction about cannabis … sorry, couldn’t resist.

Source: The Star Phoenix

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