NH Medical Marijuana Bill Faces Veto

The New Hampshire Senate passed legislation 13-to-11 Wednesday, March 28, 2012 to allow a patient with a “debilitating medical condition” or that patient’s designated caretaker to cultivate and possess up to six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants and 12 seedlings at a registered “cultivation location.” It would allow the patient or caregiver to possess two ounces elsewhere. 

Despite vocal support from several traditional opponents including Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley, it failed to gather the two-thirds majority needed for a veto override.

Governor John Lynch has opposed several medical marijuana bills in recent years. He vetoed a dispensary approach in 2009, citing concerns over proliferation and cultivation beyond the dispensaries, and another medical marijuana bill died last year in the Senate after he had promised a veto. 

Following the Senate vote, Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said the bill was even less restrictive than the dispensary approach, and the governor plans to veto it (Boston Globe).

With seven Republicans supporting the bill, allowing the legislation to cross party lines, and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voting 5-0 to approve the bill, Senator Jim Forsythe (R) is leading the charge to build a veto proof majority for the legislation.

If they are successful, the New Hampshire program would resemble those in Maine and Vermont and would end in three years if lawmakers do not renew it, providing an outlet for review and reform.

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Number of States Resisting Federal Drug Policy Could Increase Significantly

The push to resist Federal Drug policy is advancing once again this legislative session with a number of bills and a number of different approaches being taken at the state level.  There are currently 17 states with cannabis legislation this session, despite a new Federal crackdown on cannabis operations in California that were within State and local law.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are now considering a new attempt to address the issue of marijuana, knowing full well that their Governor is not likely to sign anything along those lines.  As Governor Corbett has stated before, he believes that the Supreme Court is the ultimate authority of law and that states cannot freely exercise their power under the constitution until the SCOTUS gives them permission. he’s joined in that view by state Rep. John Lawrence, R-13th of Franklin who said, “I’m not a supporter of the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. This is an issue that should be dealt with at the federal level.”

In Massachusetts, a group of lawmakers led by Representative Ellen Story of Amherst are seeking to establish state level cannabis laws.  The driving force behind “The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act” was a Public Policy Question in the 2010 elections, which clearly instructed Story and others to take this issue on.  This bill will go before the Judiciary Committee March 6th at 1:00, in a Legalization hearing at the statehouse, room A-2.  Anyone is free to attend and address the committee- a prime chance for even those who don’t support marijuana use to explain why in order to be in line with the constitution, cannabis must be addressed at the state rather than Federal level.

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Compassionate Use Act for Medical Cannabis Introduced in West Virginia

Delegate Mike Manypenny (D) has introduced a bill to allow the legalization of small amounts of marijuana by adults for medical purposes.

House Bill 4498 would amend the “Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated … all relating to creating the Compassionate Use Act for Medical Cannabis; providing for protections for the medical use of cannabis; limitations of article; prohibiting discrimination; authorizing addition of debilitating medical conditions; registration of qualifying patients and designated care givers; issuance of registry identification cards; affirmative defense and dismissal for medical marihuana; providing misdemeanor offense and  criminal penalties for disclosing certain information; and otherwise provides for the enforcement of this article

Language in the bill points out that “Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington state and the District of Columbia, have removed state-level criminal penalties from the medical use and cultivation of marihuana.”

If passed this bill it would put West Virginia in conflict with federal laws asserting it is still illegal to use, buy and sell marijuana.

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Will Mississippi Defy Feds, Legalize Medical Marijuana?

Senator Deborah Jeanne Dawkins (D) has introduced a bill to allow medical use of marijuana by seriously ill patients under doctor’s supervision.

Senate Bill 2252 “an act to authorize the medical use of marihuana by seriously ill patients under a physician’s supervision; to define certain terms; to provide an exemption from criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marihuana; to provide limitations on the medical use of marihuana; to provide a legal defense for patients and primary caregivers; to amend sections … of Mississippi code to transfer marihuana from schedule I to schedule II under the controlled substances law; to amend section … Mississippi code of 1972, to exempt the medical use of marihuana from criminal penalties under the controlled substances law; and for related purposes.”

The bill also states: “Although federal law expressly prohibits the use of marihuana, the laws of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington permit the medical use and cultivation of marihuana. The Legislature intends to join in this effort for the health and welfare of the citizens of Mississippi.  However, the Legislature does not intend to make marijuana legally available for other than medical purposes.”

If passed, this bill it would put the state in conflict with federal law declaring itl illegal to use, buy and sell marijuana. As the bill authors point out, 99 out of 100 arrests for marijuana are by the states, but this bill still will not protect the states citizens from federal prosecution. The state is legally within its rights to decide this issue based on the 10th Amendment which declares; “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is the federal government given the authority to regulate what plants we grow or consume. This remains purely a state power.

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Maryland’s Glenn Cites Tenth in New Drug Legislation

“WHEREAS, The General Assembly enacts this Act in accordance with its police power to enact legislation for the protection of the health of its citizens, as reserved to the State in the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; now, therefore,”

…And then the bill goes on, letting the world know what will be permitted under Maryland law…in accordance with the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.  Powerful little amendment, I’d say.

It has also been a popular approach to the problem that every American currently faces, that being their central government’s insistence that DC is the ONLY place to approach and solve We the People’s problems.

Maryland House Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore) had found herself fed up with the bureaucratic process she was seeing- a process that had begun in the previous legislative session.  ‘Workgroups’ were assigned to study the problem of medical cannabis 12 months ago and then deliver a proposal to the state house.  Both had flaws that Glenn was not prepared to tolerate.  It’s understandable really, if you consider the number of complaints about drug policy she must hear as a representative of the people of Baltimore.

“As a legislator dedicated to addressing the needs of medical marijuana patients in Maryland, I am very disappointed in both legislative proposals being offered by the commissioned workgroup,” said Del. Glenn. “I am offering a different bill — what I believe is a common-sense approach to this issue, taking into account not only the needs of medical marijuana patients, but also the needs of the larger communities in which they live.”

The radical legislation that this maverick legislator is pushing?  In the big picture it is only a step in the process of addressing cannabis, with the establishment of lawful recognized medical applications.  Compassionate distribution systems are also created in this bill.

Readers of HB 15, the Maryland Medical Marijuana Act, will find a marked similarity in language and concept to a bill recently introduced in Idaho by conservative Republican Tom Trail.

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Washington State: Marijuana Regulation Measure Certified For 2012 Ballot

Washington State legislators have approved a statewide initiative for possible November ballot that would allow the legalization of small amounts of marijuana by adults.

New Approach Washington raised over 350,000 signatures to qualify the initiative for this year’s ballot in November. Backers include two former US Attorneys from the Bush and Clinton administrations and Seattle FBI agent-in-charge. This initiative must go to the Legislature where they must either pass the measure as written, allow it to go on the ballot after either ignoring it or rejecting it, or finally put it on the ballot with a legislative alternative.

The main goals as stated in Initiative 502 would require the state to license and regulate marijuana the same as hard liquor and:
… stop treating adult marijuana use as a crime and try a new approach that:
(1) Allows law enforcement resources to be focused on violent and property crimes;
(2) Generates new state and local tax revenue for education, health care, research, and substance abuse prevention; and
(3) Takes marijuana out of the hands of illegal drug organizations and brings it under a tightly regulated, state-licensed system similar to that for controlling hard alcohol.

This measure authorizes the state liquor control board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age and older, and add a new threshold for driving under the influence of marijuana.

This is a step in the right direction taken by the citizens of Washington State to decide for themselves what should or should not be a legal activity in their state. If passed this November it would put Washington State in conflict with federal laws where it is still illegal to use, buy and sell marijuana.

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Will Kansans Stand Up for Their Right to Choose? Will YOU?

One of the most active fronts in the fight to push back Federal overreach has been resistance to the Controlled Substances Act- a measure passed long ago that would have been soundly rejected by those who created our American system of governance.

The founders knew that something as important as what we put into our bodies should never be left to a far off group of bureaucrats in the central government.  Constitutional design was intended to prevent Federal lawmakers from deciding such important matters- since those lawmakers could never effectively make decisions for people with whom they have almost no contact.

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4 More Governors Bow Down to DC

So now a handful of Governors- one from my current state of WA, have ‘banded together’ to petition the Federal government.

Their demand?

That the Federal Government initiate a multi-year process of examining new evidence that medical marijuana COULD be useful medically.  The process goes like this:

  1. DEA does it’s own analysis on medical cannabis
  2. The FDA does IT’S own analysis, reviewing it’s previous work
  3. The DHHS does the same thing as the FDA
  4. The FDA & DHHS then submit THEIR findings to the DEA for even further review
  5. The DEA, unelected and EXPENSIVE bureaucrats make their decision

And just where does the bidding of We the People fit in the above process?  It doesn’t.

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Is the Drug War Constitutional?

At the recent South Carolina Republican debate, Chris Wallace asked Ron Paul how he expected to win the votes of social conservatives by supporting the legalization of all drugs, including heroin. Certainly, that isn’t a position you will find many Republicans endorsing these days. Paul’s answer was not only the funniest moment of the event, it was also the most instructive.

Here’s the bottom line: the Federal Government does not have the authority to pass laws regarding non-violent personal habits. If such laws were to be enacted, it would have to be done at the State level.

I believe that Congressman Paul is the most qualified candidate to speak on the issue of drugs and drug legalization. First, he is a doctor. He has prescribed medication many times since his days as a flight surgeon in the Air Force. He has also testified in the past that, personally, he doesn’t think drug use and abuse is a particularly healthy lifestyle choice:

…the federal war on drugs has proven costly and ineffective, while creating terrible violent crime. But if you question policy, you are accused of being pro-drug. That is preposterous. As a physician, father, and grandfather, I abhor drugs. I just know that there is a better way — through local laws, communities, churches, and families — to combat the very serious problem of drug abuse than a massive federal-government bureaucracy.”

He simply believes it is not compatible with liberty to make criminals out of those who choose that lifestyle.

Second, Ron Paul’s record shows that he has a better grasp of the concept of Federalism and the Constitution than any other Congressman currently in office. He has earned the title Dr. No because very little legislation passes his strict Constitutional test. It’s a simple one, really: Is the proposed legislation based on powers specifically granted to the Federal Government in the U. S. Constitution? Federal drug prohibition does not pass that test.

So, what is it about the drug decriminalization that gets social conservatives so hysterical? Is Ron Paul right about the Drug Prohibition, or is he simply “smoking something?”

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New England Nullification Tradition Marches On

Though many living in New England today might be loathe to admit it, there is a long history of nullification being used in the region to defy unconstitutional federal edicts. This week, the town of Sedgwick, Maine voted to carry on that proud tradition by nullifying certain federal agricultural regulations.

They did so through what might be the most legitimate form of democratic expression left in America: the New England town meeting. (Which have been held in the Sedgwick town hall since 1794.)

According to one report, the residents of Sedgwick voted to enact a law that not only permits

“Sedgwick citizens…to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing,”

but declares that

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