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Support for legalizing recreational cannabis has grown steadily among Americans over time, reports Jeffrey M. Jones at Gallup. When Gallup first asked the question, back in the heady hippy days of 1969, just 12 percent of Americans said they thought marijuana use should be legal, with little change in two early 1970s polls.
But by the late 70s, with tacit approval from the Carter White House, support had increased to about 25 percent, and held near that point through the mid-1990s. The percentage of Americans who favored making cannabis legal passed 30 percent by 2000, and topped 50 percent by 2009.
Support has vacillated over the past six years, but averaged 48 percent from 2010 through 2012, and has averaged above 56 percent since 2013.
Canada on Monday voted in Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in a general election, which will have outstanding implications for drug policy reform in the country. The Liberal Party plans to legalize cannabis.
The election puts an end to Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 9-year rule, which was marked by a repressive approach to drugs, including a commitment to rolling out mandatory minimum sentences, pushback to effective supervised injection sites that reduce the harms of drug use, and strong opposition to marijuana reform. In contrast, the Liberal Party has promised to legalize and regulate marijuana and Trudeau has expressed support for harm reduction and the expansion of supervised injection sites across the country.
“With the election of Justin Trudeau, legalization in Canada is certain; what it will look like and exactly when it happens over the next few years, is yet to be hashed out,” drug policy specialist Chris Bennett told Hemp News Tuesday afternoon. “PM Trudeau has spoken out for the rights of patients to grow their own medicine, and compared it to the brewing of beer, so there is hope that will follow through with the Liberal legalization model, and there has already been discussion on how it has looked in States that have legalized in the USA, such as Oregon, Colorado, Alaska and Washington, and what seems to have worked and not worked in those locations.”
“Last night’s victory for Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party is the single biggest news in global drug policy reform this year,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It promises a 180 degree turn in Canada’s national drug policy both domestically and internationally, and will hopefully inject new energy and direction into planning for the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs six months from now.”
U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer ordered the lifting of an injunction against one of California’s oldest medicinal cannabis collectives, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM), reports David Downs at SF Gate.
The injunction can no longer be enforced in the wake of a Congressional spending amendment passed by Congress last year.
Judge Breyer ruled that the newly enacted Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment prevents the federal government from prosecuting MAMM and its founder Lynette Shaw. The ruling, in federal District Court for the Northern District of California, will have a huge legal impact, according to attorneys.
Australian Health Minister Sussan Ley on Friday said she was finalizing changes to the Narcotics Drugs Act to allow cannabis to be grown for medicinal and scientific purposes, reports Jane Lee at The Sydney Morning Herald.
The state governments of Victoria and New South Wales have indicated they want to legalize medicinal cannabis, and are waiting for a regulatory scheme from the federal government before they do so.
The move comes a few days after Greens leader Richard Di Natale said he would put a separate cross-party bill on the medical marijuana issue to the Senate next month.
As representatives from the Oregon Cannabis Association visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) on the House floor called for an end to the federal government’s failed approach of marijuana prohibition.
“Mr. Speaker, advocates from the new emerging marijuana industry in Oregon are descending on Capitol Hill at a very critical time for this fledgling industry,” Congressman Blumenauer said. “They have a report about the implementation of Oregon’s Ballot Measure 91, overwhelming approved by voters last year to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana at the state level.
“Possession became legal July 1st,” Blumenauer said. “Retail sales were authorized in existing dispensaries on the 1st of October to significant interest around the state. The first week saw an estimated $11 million in sales. They are working hard to implement the spirit and the letter of the measure, working closely with the Oregon legislature to refine it – learning from the experiences of states like Washington and Colorado that have already legalized adult use.
“Theirs is a positive story of economic opportunity, product development, tax revenues, more freedom for individuals, and eliminating the racial disparities in the enforcement of a failed policy of prohibition that comes down heavily against young men of color – especially African Americans,” Rep. Blumenauer said.
A group of Pennsylvania religious leaders announceda their support for medical marijuana legislation at a Wednesday news conference on the Lt. Governor’s Balcony in the Pennsylvania State Capitol. They then visited with lawmakers to convey their support in person.
A diverse group of more than 50 clergy members in Pennsylvania have signed a statement urging state lawmakers to adopt a comprehensive medical marijuana law this year.
“We cannot remain silent while people in pain and anguish are deprived of a viable, safe, and responsible remedy,” the statement reads. “While we may practice different faiths and come from different communities, we share the same commitment to improving the broader community through the practice of humanity, healing, mercy, and compassion. That is why, as leaders within our respective communities of faith, we are joining together to encourage the Pennsylvania General Assembly to adopt sensible, comprehensive medical cannabis legislation.”
The dramatic exploits of a lifetime of smuggling came to an end on Thursday when 80-year-old Marshall Herbert Dion entered his guilty plea in federal court to running a huge marijuana-dealing and money-laundering operation.
Dion, who owned houses in Massachusetts, Colorado, and Arizona, had $11 million hidden in a North Reading, Mass., storage facility, and once crawled away from a Wisconsin plane crash as thousands of dollars in cash — suspected drug profits — floated through the air around him, reports Milton J. Valencia at The Boston Globe.
Under his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Dion could serve 5 to 7 years in a federal penitentiary, ending a lucrative career that spanned decades until a chance traffic stop in, of all places, Kansas.
“Over the course of the conspiracy . . . he had sold approximately 3,000 to 10,000 kilograms of marijuana,” Assistant US Attorney Leah Foley claimed during a brief court hearing.a