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California Cannabis Policy Reform :The Ballot Measure Rundown

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California Cannabis Policy Reform

Twenty years after the medical cannabis was approved by voters with the passage of Proposition 215, Californians are going to be asked (again) to take the next big leap, to legalize the adult use of cannabis. The stage was indisputably set by the ground-breaking Proposition 19 six years ago, which earned more votes than the Republican candidate for Governor but came up short at the ballot box due to a spooked political class, low youth turnout and an unconvinced cannabis industry. After moving the ball forward, four states and D.C. have since legalized, with four to seven states currently slated for legalizing recreational this year, and two or more slated to pass medical cannabis ballot measures. With the strong promise of legalization of cannabis in California over the past few years, a total of 19 state ballot initiatives were created, all with the intent of giving California its best chance at a fairly legalizing cannabis. As time passed, initiatives slowly dropped from the race to legalize—leaving us with only four more initiatives fighting for your vote. 2016 will be a very, very big year for cannabis policy reform, and the remaining initiatives are California’s last hope in creating a better future for cannabis. Here’s a breakdown of the remaining initiatives and what they’re bringing to the table.

 

Adult Use of Marijuana Act (aka AUMA) (15-0103)

This is the “consensus” ballot measure, also known as the Control Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Initiative, drafted and funded by Sean Parker and Weedmaps’ Justin Hartfield, and promoted by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project, which can now claim a broad coalition has backed it (after amendments were accepted.) This ballot measure is 62 pages long and funded by national organizations, high net worth individuals and also supported by the California Cannabis Industry Association.

Pro: Professionally managed, this measure gives the best-funded chance for allowing businesses to receive adult use licenses. It allows for private use for adults over 21, and claims it is “the toughest regulations of any adult-use marijuana proposal submitted to date—in the interests of protecting children and preventing diversion to the illegal market.”

Con: Creates the potential for different standards throughout California, allows cities and counties to set local bans without a vote of the people, and transporting or gifting more than an ounce would remain a criminal offense. Allows for single corporate entities to hold all license types and be fully vertically integrated. Taxation at multiple levels may discourage consumers from leaving the illicit market.

Find out more at: www.letsgetitrightca.org

 

Marijuana Control Legalization Revenue Act (aka MCLR) (15-0120)

The MCLR aka California Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Initiative was initially crafted in an “open source” manner as an editable-by-anyone Google Doc which went through revision after revision for three years, as various policy concepts were studied by grassroots activists, reformers and small business supporters. The ultimate work product of these efforts, however, resulted in Version 7.0 being a streamlined legalization language with a one-page signature form to print at home, collect five signatures, and then mail back to the campaign.

Pro: Would legalize for adults over 21 and create a statewide set of standards for adult use cannabis and its cultivation, manufacture, sales and usage. Would not allow local governments to ban cannabis activities without a local vote of the people. Implementation would be left to the legislature.

Con: Run by political outsiders, it is still unclear where funding to gather signatures and pay for the campaign will come from, unclear whether this generally more permissive language will encourage increased opposition spending. Implementation would be left to the legislature.

Find out more at: MCLR.us

 

ReformCA (15-0075)

This is a ballot measure developed by the board, staff and hired consultants of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform after two years of town hall meetings, stakeholder outreach and public opinion polling. Oaksterdam University Chancellor Dale Sky Jones and NAACP chair Alice Huffman, among other notable supporters, are proponents for this initiative. In late 2015, a majority of the board members split from ReformCA and individually endorsed AUMA. However, despite that fact, this initiative is still in the running. No documentation confirms that ReformCA has given up hope just yet.

Pro: Would legalize for adults over 21 and create a statewide set of standards for adult use cannabis and its cultivation, manufacture, sales and usage. Would not allow local governments to ban cannabis activities without a local vote of the people. More reasonable taxation policies to encourage small businesses.

Con: This organization did not gain support from national reform organizations or their significant donors. It was unable to implement its small donor fundraising strategy, and did not receive significant backing from grassroots activists or cannabis industry leaders. It may or may not continue its journey to November ballot.

Find out more at: ReformCA.com

 

 California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (15-0050)

Roughly speaking, this is the “free the weed” measure supported by purists, some grassroots activists, and a loose coalition of decades-long supporters. This measure is affectionately known as The Jack Herer Initiative, the Marijuana and Hemp Legalization Initiative, or simply CCHI, and is inspired by Jack Herer and other vanguard activists. Although it has received much less favor by potential voters in comparison to competing initiatives, it is still in the running, and is currently working on collecting signatures up until April 20.

Pro: Would create the least restrictions regarding cannabis and would liberate those incarcerated for cannabis offenses. The initiative’s longevity and legacy of activism is impressive, and it should be applauded for the honesty and truth of its vision.

Con: CCHI has not presented its passion for cannabis legalization in a way that allowed it to gain notable followers of the general public, unlike its competitors. Was unable to successfully promote previous older versions of the initiative, and failed to reach the ballot multiple times in the past. It may or may not continue its journey to November ballot.

Find out more information: cchi2016.org

 

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CO Bill to Allow Schools the Choice to Let Student Patients Medicate

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CO News 1 Medical Cannabis Approved in Schools

Colorado has been struggling with the issue of medical cannabis in schools ever since cannabis was first legalized in the state for medical use. Schools fear a loss of federal funding if they allow cannabis treatment for sick students, since the plant is still federally illegal, while parents, advocates and patients fight for patient access so that students can get relief. This month, cannabis patients won a major victory, as medicating with cannabis will now be allowed in Colorado public schools under a newly passed bill.

According to The Denver Post, House Bill 1373 requires treatment rights for patients, but allows schools to be able to choose where the patients can medicate, and what forms of cannabis they can use. Representative Jonathan Singer, the Democrat from Longmont who supported the bill, claims that schools who do not put such a policy into action are leaving it up to parents and students to choose how and where medication can take place.

The recent bill passed 10-3 in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, showing an overwhelming support for children being able to medicate on school property.

“It forces a conversation,” Singer told The Denver Post regarding the bill, “that we were hoping would be a voluntary conversation.”

This bill works to help patients gain access, since the currently existing bill, allowing medication only if schools create a program, has not been successful. So far, no schools have implemented such a program, so until now, no medical cannabis users have been able to imbibe on school property.

“It’s kind of exciting that they are finally going to let it in after fighting this for five years trying to get children their meds in schools,” explained Shan Moore, the father of Chaz Moore, who fought and struggled while in school to be able to use medical cannabis.

“I do think it’s great—it’s just a little late for my kid,” he added. “Chaz stopped going to school before graduating. He would get sick, not be able to take his meds in school, and got tired of playing that game, and when he went to try and get his GED the same thing happened, since those classes take place in schools as well. So maybe now he’ll be able to get his GED and make something happen. He tried the online schools, but he doesn’t learn well online—he really needs to be there in person.”

Moore hopes that maybe with this new bill in place, his son will be able to medicate in schools, and therefore take the GED and continue his education. Like Chaz Moore, many Colorado children desire an education, but struggle to work and focus because they can’t get the medicine they need. Hopefully with this new bill in place, students who need medicine will be able to receive relief so they can focus on learning.

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Colorado passes Ordinance to Implement a Cannabis Odor Regulation

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CO-LocalNews

At first glance, odor regulations seem like something out of a cartoon or children’s book, but here in Denver they are very real.

According to The Denver Post, Denver City council is concerned about the offensive to some, pleasant to others, aroma that is omitted from dispensaries and other cannabis operations, and recently passed an ordinance to crack down tighter on odors.

While the city has been debating back and forth about how they should treat the expiring moratorium on cannabis businesses, they quickly decided in favor of the odor ordinance. If this passes this month, then this new rule will be officially approved and enforceable by the local Health Department. This new regulation would mean that businesses can file odor complaints, not just private citizens. Then, if a dispensary receives five complaints, they would have 30 days to clean up their act and fix the odor issue before they receive an inspection.

Cannabis businesses and advocates are not happy about this new complication, and are speaking out against the arbitrary nature of regulating odors.

“The only thing that can be done is air filtration to ensure that odors are mitigated through carbon scrubbers,” explained Mark Slaugh, Executive Director of the Cannabis Business Alliance, in an exclusive interview with CULTURE. “The ‘problem’ is not the odor per se, since obnoxious odors aren’t outright prohibited or regulated for other businesses with strong scents. The problem is the prejudice giving rise to complaints in the first place and over-reactionary ordinances that unfairly target cannabis businesses and don’t apply equally to other Denver businesses with obnoxious odors.”

Slaugh further argues that the cannabis industry is bringing needed change to the city, and should not be slighted for something as minor as strong odors.

“The cannabis industry is primarily responsible for producing economic benefits for once poor and decaying neighborhoods which the industry improved,” he added. “These areas were once stagnant, filled with commercially abandoned warehouses that eventually became cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities. The city of Denver has required the industry to improve the landscape around those buildings and they have truly begun transforming these neighborhoods.”

“Now, the industry is being targeted under this odor ordinance and under the moratorium as the ‘problem’ of these areas when, in fact, they are the pioneers of neighborhood renovation and a major factor in the rise of tourism and people moving to Denver post-legalization,” he continued. “It would seem that the City council wants to kick out and limit the very pioneers who created a settlement in the first place, all in the name of continued development and gentrification of the neighborhoods cannabis businesses have increased their value in and call home.”

Even some of the City council members are skeptical that this new ordinance will be a good way to fix the problem.

“When you begin to saturate and when you begin to concentrate (businesses), there’s no odor ordinance that can identify where this is coming from,” Albus Brooks, a local Councilman, told The Denver Post. “And I’ve never seen a council so sure of a bill that hasn’t even come through committee yet.”

While there is no doubt that some measures should be taken to ensure dispensaries and grows contain there odors, many seem opposed to this new, somewhat draconian, odor ordinance proposal. A final decision will be reached this month.

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Government Begins Rethinking Scheduling of Cannabis

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OR-LocalNews

There is currently a petition to the FDA in progress that calls the federal government to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act’s Schedule I list, which holds the plant in the same category as hard drugs such as methamphetamine or heroin. Although medical cannabis, and now even recreational cannabis, is legal in Oregon, it still is not recognized as legal by the federal government. The Feds also don’t recognize it as officially serving a medical purpose.

The Controlled Substances Act has very strict criteria for how to classify the drugs on its Schedule I list, and there are many people who think that after many recent studies, cannabis simply doesn’t meet that criteria. To be placed on the list in the first place, a drug not only has to have a high potential for abuse, but it also has to have no medical uses, and be considered unsafe. The fiction of these statements in reference to cannabis is now widely known. A few very recent studies have proved the effectiveness of treating seizures in children with cannabis oil. The people are basically calling the government out and saying, let’s rethink the way we think about cannabis. To get cannabis removed from the Schedule I list, there has to be a petition placed with the Drug Enforcement Administration. There have been many attempts to get cannabis removed from this list in the past. Since 1972, petitions to the DEA have been denied. This time, however, the DEA has requested the Food and Drug Administration to perform a study to see if the classification of cannabis really should be different.

Supporters of the reclassification of cannabis claim that once the plant is no longer controlled by the federal government, federal spending that was once used to enforce cannabis laws and process offenders through the criminal justice system can be reallocated to more important things like education. They also argue that the U.S. government could make tons of revenue on the taxation and regulation of the cannabis industry. We already know this to be true in Oregon, where the state government collected nearly 3.5 million dollars of revenue after only its first month of recreational sales.

The reclassification of cannabis, and its removal from the Controlled Substance Act’s Schedule I list, could mean big changes for Oregonians. It would first of all make a huge difference in the way we think about cannabis locally, and nationally. The stigmas that surround cannabis that are already starting to melt away will soon be gone completely. Secondly, medical growers and dispensary owners will start to face less opposition when trying to operate and run their businesses. Not constantly looking over their shoulder for the Feds. Our state government would finally be in agreement with the federal government, and Oregonians will no longer be breaking federal law when they smoke or sell cannabis. This would create big changes in the eyes of the Oregon State police and court system, and the way they deal with cannabis users.

The DEA has remained pretty silent about their upcoming decision, and their study with the FDA. It has been projected that they will be making a decision by mid-year. Hopefully the U.S. Government can finally recognize what Oregon and many other states already have about the medical benefits of cannabis.

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