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The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed an amendment to the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill led by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon to make it easier for qualified veterans to access state-legal medical marijuana.
“One of the greatest tragedies of our time is our failure to adequately deal with the needs of our veterans returning home with wounds both visible and unseen,” Representative Blumenauer said. “Giving them access to medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option to deal with chronic pain, PTSD, and other conditions is critical at a time when our veterans are dying with a suicide rate 50 percent higher than civilians and opiate overdoses at nearly double the national average.
“Medical marijuana can be a safer, more effective alternative,” Representative Blumenauer said. “I commend my colleagues for showing compassion and supporting our wounded warriors. Today’s vote is a win for these men and women who have done so much for us and deserve equal treatment in being able to consult with, and seek a recommendation from, their personal VA physician about medical marijuana.”
“Today, the House of Representative took a big step forward in expanding access to healthcare for all of our veterans,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “By expanding access to medical cannabis for veterans living in states with legal markets, we are empowering our veterans, in consultation with their medical professionals, to make the best possible healthcare decision for themselves and their families.
Six states that allow marijuana use in one form or another have legal tests which supposedly serve to determine who is driving while impaired — but those tests have no scientific basis at all, according to a study done by the largest auto club in the United States. AAA, as a result, has called for scrapping those laws.
The study was commissioned by AAA’s safety foundation, and it discovered that it’s not possible to determine impairment by setting a blood-test threshold for the level of THC, the main component of marijuana responsible the high. Yet the laws in five of those six states automatically presume a driver is guilty of driving while impaired if he or she tests higher than the limit, not not guilty if the level is lower, reports the Associated Press.
The AAA foundation recommends replacing those faulty laws with ones that actually rely on science, using specially trained police officers to determine if a driver is impaired on pot, backed up by a test for the presence of THC rather than a specific level. The officers would be responsible for screening for dozens of supposed indicators of marijuana use.
The foundation’s recommendation to abandon the laws around marijuana and driving in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington comes as legislatures in several more states consider adopting similar laws.
While that’s bad enough, at least it’s noticeably less than the 60 citations handed out on April 20, when thousands gathered in Civic Center to celebrate Cannabis Day.
Recreational use of marijuana was legalized in Colorado when voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, but smoking weed in public remains illegal, reports Katy Canada at The Denver Post.
Last year’s rally — which lasted for two days — resulted in more than 150 police citations.
The Ohio Senate’s State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday accepted a substitute version of House Bill 523, the narrow and restrictive medical marijuana legislation passed last week out of the Ohio House of Representatives.
“This latest version includes a series of high-cost requirements that will effectively keep many patients from being able to access medical marijuana,” said Aaron Marshall, spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana. “These mandates coupled with the legislature’s insistence that home grow be prohibited — and the Senate’s elimination of a medical marijuana discount program for veterans and low-income Ohioans — cements this bill as a deeply-flawed measure helping very few patients.”
Also changed on Wednesday in the Senate’s new version was language specifying that a patient’s pain must be “chronic, severe AND intractable” to qualify under a general pain provision. Intractable is often defined in medical dictionaries as “having no relief” or “resistant to cure, relief or control.”
“In essentially making the pain threshold intractable, lawmakers are cutting off access to thousands of Ohioans who have severe, debilitating, but not intractable, pain,” Marshall said.
In a recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a startling 10 percent of adults living in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties said that they had had their property taken by a police officer without being convicted of a crime. Nearly one in five (19 percent) of those living in these three counties also stated that they know someone who had experienced the same.
One of the ways in which law enforcement can legally take property or money from people in the absence of a conviction is through civil asset forfeiture, a highly controversial policy that allows law enforcement officers to seize cash or property that they suspect has been involved in criminal activity, such as drug sales.
While California law offers greater protections, federal forfeiture laws do not require that police arrest or charge a person with a crime, or convict them. If the owner does not file a claim in civil court and prevail in the case, the property is permanently lost, and the majority of the funds go to the same law enforcement agency that seized the cash or property in the first place.
Last year the Drug Policy Alliance released Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California, a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that revealed the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal laws.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), the committee backing an initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona that is expected to appear on the November ballot, on Wednesday called on leaders of the committee opposing the measure to return a contribution from the alcohol industry.
According to a report published earlier this week by the Phoenix New Times, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP) received a donation of $10,000 last month from the Arizona Wine and Spirits Association, a trade group representing various alcohol wholesalers.
The leaders of ARDP, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, and radio host Seth Leibsohn have repeatedly argued that marijuana needs to remain illegal because it is too dangerous to regulate for adult use. Yet, by every objective measure, marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol.
“Using alcohol money to fund their campaign to maintain marijuana prohibition is grossly hypocritical,” said CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “They want to continue punishing adults for using marijuana, but they have no problem accepting five-figure donations from purveyors of a far more harmful substance.
It makes a big difference, you see, if you are a minority male in the Deep South selling marijuana, or if you are a monied entrepreneur in, say, Washington state or Colorado doing the same thing. If you were of the latter class and geography, you’d get a license from the state allowing you to carry on your business; if you were of the former, you’d get thrown in a cage until you die.
Houston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Conaway in February 2015 sentenced 39-year-old Richard Bolden of Dothan, Alabama, to life in prison for “trafficking marijuana.” He gave Bolden an additional eight years for a felony first-degree bail jumping charge, to be served consecutively (not concurrently) with the life sentence, reports Matt Elofson at the Dothan Eagle.
Assistant Houston County DA Kristen Shields had asked for the maximum sentence of 99 years for the weed trafficking offense, and 20 more years for the bail jumping. Shields told the court Bolden had one prior felony conviction, a federal drug charge in Florida. She claimed Bolden was out on bail for trafficking cocaine when Dothan Police charged him for marijuana.