The 20th episode of Toke Signals TV with host Steve Elliott takes a look at some of the biggest marijuana news stories of the week.
Find out what you need to know about the week in cannabis/marijuana news, in 30 minutes!
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Toke TV channel on YouTube.
Toke TV Bud Pick of the Week
Toke TV Stories of the Week
Should Florida voters be allowed to decide the medical marijuana question for themselves? The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing arguments that could determine whether voters get to make the call at the ballot box next year.
For the past three years, medical marijuana bills in the Florida Legislature died without Republican leaders even scheduling a vote. Cannabis advocates say they are now acting because the Legislature failed to lead.
Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment which would allow the medicinal use of cannabis with a doctor’s authorization want the court to rule the proposal does not meet ballot requirements, reports Scott Powers at the Sun Sentinel. Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and other opponents claim the ballot language, limited by law to 90 words, is a misleading summary of the six-page amendment.
The Uruguayan Senate next week will vote on a bill that would make their country the first in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults since cannabis became illegal worldwide 52 years ago, under the Single Convention Narcotics Treaty of 1961. The bill was approved in the Uruguay House of Representatives in July with 50 out of 96 votes.
The marijuana legalization proposal was put forward by President José Mujica in June 2012 as part of a comprehensive package aimed at fighting crime and public insecurity. After a year and a half of studying the issue, engaging in political debate, redrafting the bill, and the emergence of a public campaign in favor of the proposal, Uruguay’s parliament is set to approve the measure this year.
“It’s about time that we see a country bravely break with the failed prohibitionist model and try an innovative, more compassionate, and smarter approach,” said Hannah Hetzer, who is based out of Montevideo, Uruguay, as the Policy Manager of the Americas for the Drug Policy Alliance. “By approving this measure, Uruguay will represent a concrete advance in line with growing opposition to the drug war in Latin America and throughout the world.”
Thursday, December 5 marked the 80th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which ended the prohibition of alcohol in 1933. The amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, passed in 1920, after more than a decade of increased crime, dangerously unregulated products, and a failure to reduce consumption convinced the American public prohibition was an ineffective and destructive way to attack the problems associated with substance use.
Alas, it was a lesson quickly forgotten. Decades later America repeated the mistake with the prohibition of drugs — heir to all of the same problems as alcohol prohibition and then some.
As former prosecutor and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) board member James Gierach says, “Al Capone and other gangsters thrived when government outlawed what people wanted. When booze went legit with the 21st Amendment, mobsters had to wait only 40 years before government did it again with drugs. Same problem, same solution: legalize, license, regulate and tax.”
New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has suffered from numerous delays. There were controversies over the state’s vetting process, over the lack of traditional bank financing, over the reluctance of doctors to participate, and over the unwillingness of many local officials to host a dispensary in their town. But the state’s third medical marijuana access point, Garden State Dispensary, finally opened on Wednesday.
The facility occupies an old electronics store between shopping centers and a car dealership in Woodbridge, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. Wednesday’s grand opening was largely ceremonial; the owners and staff had a “soft opening” on November 22, according to Yale Galanter, the dispensary’s lawyer and spokesman.
From the trial launch through 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 430 patients had bought medical marijuana from Garden State Dispensary, according to Galanter. Starting on Thursday, the shop will serve 40 patients a day, he said.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday told reporters he is “not open” to expanding the state’s medical marijuana law, claiming that such efforts are just a back door to legalizing cannabis for everyone.
“See, this is what happens,” Gov. Christie said, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. “Every time you sign one expansion, then the advocates will come back and ask for another one,” Christie said from his statehouse office Tuesday afternoon.
“Here’s what the advocates want: They want legalization of marijuana in New Jersey,” Gov. Christie said. “It will not happen on my watch, ever. I am done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances. So we’re done.”
“What they want is legalization,” Christie said. “They’re not getting legalization under this governor.”
Federal prosecutors routinely threaten extraordinarily severe prison sentences to coerce drug defendants into waiving their right to trial and pleading guilty, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Thursday. In the rare cases in which defendants insist on going to trial, prosecutors make good on their threats.
Federal drug offenders convicted after trial receive sentences on average three times as long as those who accept a plea bargain, according to new statistics developed by Human Rights Watch.
The 126-page report, “An Offer You Can’t Refuse: How US Federal Prosecutors Force Drug Defendants to Plead Guilty,” details how prosecutors throughout the United States extract guilty pleas from federal drug defendants by charging or threatening to charge them with offenses carrying harsh mandatory sentences and by seeking additional mandatory increases to those sentences. Prosecutors offer defendants a much lower sentence in exchange for pleading guilty.
Since drug defendants rarely prevail at trial, it is not surprising that 97 percent of them decide to plead guilty.
Toke TV Must Reads of the WeekLet’s Set The Record Straight About Moms For Marijuana by Candace Junkin
This is the response from Candace R. Junkin, recently departed Assistant Executive Director of Moms for Marijuana International, to Serra Frank’s Cannabis Community Blogs. It’s important to hear and consider both sides of the story; only one side has been told by Frank’s posts. Here’s the other side.
Enjoy All Your Favorite Holiday Flavors… With Weed! by Cheri Sicard
In the classic stoner flick Half Baked (1998) comedian Jon Stewart’s character rhapsodizes how various things, namely everything, is better “on weeeeeed.”
I concur. Which got me to thinking about how much better our favorite holiday flavors would be enhanced “with weeeeeed!” So I got to work and came up with a few. ~ Cheri Sicard
Toke TV is a joint production
of Toke Signals and Indie Media Weekly