Marijuana Policy Project posted a diary recently about Delaware and the good chance we have of making progress there.
First step: Senate. 18-3, now on to the House.
The Delaware Senate voted 18-3 today to legalize marijuana for limited medical purposes.
The legislation decriminalizes parts of the state’s drug laws and allows individuals with debilitating diseases to get permission from their doctor to purchase marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary.
Fifteen other states and the District of Columbia have already legalized marijuana possession and use for medicinal purposes. Pennsylvania and Maryland lawmakers are currently considering similar legislation.
This comes after Delaware, as I wrote about here after it was reported, took a big step forward in reforming its laws two weeks ago [drcnet.org]:
The Delaware House of Representatives Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a comprehensive drug sentencing reform bill. The bill, House Bill 19, would, most notably, make simple drug possession offenses misdemeanors. Drug possession is currently a felony.
Meanwhile, Maryland is considering a bill to allow affirmative defense for medical mj.
The Drug War has reached a wonderful milestone:
Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, told an audience at the Pasadena Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, "More African-American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began."
A quote I've used here and elsewhere before, is the lyric from Guru's track dedicated to Donald Byrd: "They're building more jails/It's the new plantation...." (see: Georgia prison strikes and arrest of prison guards for retaliatory beating)
Meanwhile, Montana is set to become possibly the very first state to repeal a medical cannabis program. However, it does not look very likely:
If the bill passes on the final procedural vote, it would then go to the desk of Gov. Bryan Schweitzer (D). If he were to sign the bill, that would mark the first time any medical marijuana state has turned back the clock.
But Schweitzer's signature is by no means a done deal. In previous comments on the subject, Schweitzer said he wanted to see the state's law reformed, not repealed.
The National Cancer Institute's acknowledgement online of medical properties of cannabis has already been scrubbedfrom its website.
A very small step forward has taken place in Illinois.
A medical marijuana bill in Illinois passed its final House committee hurdle Monday and now heads for a House floor vote. The bill, House Bill 30, was approved by the House Healthcare Availability and Accessibility Committee.
The bill would allow people diagnosed by a physician with a debilitating medical condition and their caregivers to register with the Department of Public Health. Patients could possess up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana every two weeks. They would obtain it from a "nonprofit medical cannabis organization" registered with the state.
The bill proposes only a pilot project. It calls for the legislation to expire after three years.
And in case you didn't see the corny jokes from America's most-hated-famous-comedian Jay Leno (about as funny as a cancerous anus), medical cannabis is now a $1.7 billion industry (while black market cannabis is, of course, the #1 cash crop in usa).
Watch out, though, pill-mill-loving Gov Rick Scott in FL wants you to pee in a cup if you work for a government agency. Oh, the irony.
Meanwhile, an expensive Arkansas bill that would have drug tested anyone who gets unemployment was defeated.
Arizona is now releasing the rules for its new, voter-approved medical cannabis program.
In Berkely, and more recently right here in Los Angeles, MPP and others are organizing the ballot effort to legalize cannabis in 2012. Polls suggest that victory is probable.
The Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform 2012 aims to build on the unusual support that coalesced around Proposition 19, which would have allowed adults to grow and possess marijuana and authorized cities and counties to legalize and tax sales.
That campaign drew backing from the California NAACP and the Latino Voters League, which saw it as a way to end disproportionate arrests of African Americans and Latinos for marijuana crimes. Labor leaders in the Bay Area also got behind it, bringing endorsements from some major unions, which saw a legal pot industry as a potential source of union jobs.
The committee announced Friday included Alice Huffman, who heads the California NAACP; Antonio Gonzalez, who formed the Latino Voters League; and Dan Rush, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union official who worked during the campaign to build labor support. It also includes several key players behind Proposition 19, including Dale Sky Jones, who was the campaign's spokeswoman and will be the chairwoman of the new coalition.
Proposition 19 lost 46%-54% in November, but it drew worldwide media attention and stimulated a vigorous debate over the nation's drug policies. Polls have shown growing support for marijuana legalization nationwide, and a post-election poll in California suggested the measure might have passed if proponents had had the money for a campaign to reach swing voters.
Many activists are convinced that, with more money and broader support, a similar initiative could pass during a presidential election year when the turnout tends to be more liberal. The coalition includes several representatives who will be critical to raising money, including Stephen Gutwillig, the California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which has close ties to the major donors who have supported past medical-marijuana and legalization initiatives.
Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act, was the brainchild of Richard Lee, an Oakland medical-marijuana entrepreneur who led the effort to draft it, paid for a signature-gathering effort to qualify it and footed the bill for most of the campaign. He and Jeff Jones, an Oakland activist who co-sponsored the measure, are on the coalition's board.
Lee's singular role in the campaign led some drug-policy-reform activists to keep their distance initially, but as the initiative sparked a nationwide conversation, they decided to embrace it. Although still involved, Lee has stayed behind the scenes as the new effort gets underway.
Cheers to Richard Lee, and jeers to those who spread lies about him last year in order to protect their black-market profits.