It’s approaching midterm election time, and my hope is voter turnout will be good thanks to the marijuana initiatives that will be on the ballots for four states (Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, and Utah). The most exciting measure for me personally is the chance for voters to pass recreational marijuana in my home state of Michigan. It’s exciting and surprising that North Dakota will also be voting on a measure for recreational use. Both these initiatives accomplish the same goals of giving marijuana consumers some protection from prosecution, but the language in one is much vaguer than the other. North Dakota is taking a unique approach that hasn’t been standard practice in previous successful initiatives across the country. It simply states that it will allow adults over 21 to possess, grow, and purchase cannabis without any legal punishment. Those with previous marijuana convictions can get those expunged and the initiative also creates penalties for those under 21 who possess, grow, or purchase pot. Other than that, there is no mention of possession or grow limits for adults. Setting tax rates and determining how stores and cultivation centers will be regulated was not mentioned either. An advisor for the campaign claimed the reason for this was to let the legislature do their job and develop all the regulations. It will be interesting to see how this initiative turns out in a highly conservative state with unclear rules.
Polling from both of these states has shown more positive results for Michigan than North Dakota. I think that it is likely a direct result of the clear framework MI Legalize has presented to voters. Many people may see the vagueness as a sign of no rules or limits and vote against it. Medical marijuana has been legal in both states but it still seems like a large jump for North Dakota to go from no medical marijuana in 2015, to full-on legalization. It would be terrible to see this bill not go through and see more people continue to get incarcerated but it wouldn’t be that surprising. At least an opportunity for voters to make a positive change for personal freedoms exists, the same still can’t be said in the majority of the U.S. Michigan has shown some very good polling results in favor of the measure. This is definitely still not a guaranteed win, and it would be the first in the Midwest to do so. Legalization has hit both sides of the coast but has yet to stretch across. Hopefully Michigan can be the framework of the connecting bridge.
Utah and Missouri both have medical marijuana initiatives that desperately need to pass. It’s inconceivable that people are still being considered criminals for treating their health condition with natural solutions. Utah’s initiative is confusing and full of unnecessary regulations that are not in the best interest of patients. Lawmakers have already agreed to create a compromise that will change much of the rules from the original voter initiative. The first key component to Utahs bill is that it only covers a handful of conditions. Qualifying conditions include HIV/AIDS, Cancer, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain. It also prohibits the smoking of cannabis in its natural form. They also decided to impose restrictions on doctors such as not allowing them to recommend cannabis to more than 20% of their patients. This is probably the worst part of the bill and suggests that the percentage of people that could benefit medically from cannabis is very small. In addition, patients will only be allowed to cultivate their own medicine if they live more than 100 miles from a licensed dispensary. The state wouldn’t have the sick miss a great opportunity to pay taxes. Who knows how much worse this bill will become once legislators make good on their promised compromise. At least some patients will be saved the nightmare of an arrest and criminal record.
Campaign organizes not being able to agree on an ideal medical marijuana industry for Missouri has led to their being 3 separate initiatives on November’s ballot. They couldn’t settle their differences and this could lead to a mixed result come voting day. The differences in the initiatives mainly involve qualifying conditions as well as tax rates and where those dollars should go. Amendment 2 wants to set the tax rate at 4% and use that tax revenue to provide services to military veterans. It also allows patients to qualify for marijuana with their doctor’s approval even if they do not have a “qualifying condition”. It also is the only one that would allow home growing. Amendment 3 wants the tax rate to be 15% and send those funds to research institutions that study cancer and other serious diseases. The last initiative, Proposition C sets the tax rate very low at 2%. It would distribute that revenue to a variety of destinations. In the case that more than one of these was successful this midterm, the amendments would take priority over the proposition. Between the amendments, it would simply come down to which receives more votes. It seems that Amendment 2 would be the best option because it keeps tax rates reasonable while allowing the plant to be grown if a patient chooses to do so. It’s important to note that it should be a doctor/patient decision to use medical marijuana, not a list developed by those outside the health industry.
We all know that we aren’t supposed to smoke cannabis in public regardless of its legal status. Realistically, the temptation to light up outdoors on a beautiful day will not be ignored by many stoners. Depending on where you live, the risks vary but it will always result in some form of punishment. Thankfully no one else will ever be arrested for public marijuana use in the U.S. capital. Instead, those that are unlucky enough to evade the police will face a small fine of $25. Police will feel more like they are giving out a parking ticket then capturing some criminal. They will certainly not be going out of there way to cite people with a measly fine. They will likely only cite people who are blatant about their consumption. Catching someone for an arrestable offense always justifies an officers time and effort whether it is for marijuana possession or a serious assault. This policy change strips away the justification for wasting the taxpayers’ money and redirects the polices’ attention to more serious issues.
Before this policy change, officers already had the option to cite instead of arrest someone for public consumption. The change in policy simply mandates a citation instead of leaving it up to the discretion of the officer. The new change will of course not apply to minors or people that have outstanding warrants. This law also won’t apply to the large area of the capital that is considered “federal land”. Cannabis is still illegal on the federal level and violators could face federal penalties for consuming and possessing marijuana. Records have shown that possession arrests have been falling ever since marijuana was legalized in D.C. in 2014. The same can not be said for public consumption arrests. They rose from less than 100 in 2014 to almost 300 the past couple of years. It seems the police are targeting the same group of people in a different but legal way. The policy change put forward this past week is targeting this practice and aims to strengthen relationships between members of the cannabis community and the police force.
I would like to think that before the change was made, officers went with a citation more often than not when someone was caught smoking in a public area. While there is no data on how many people were offered citations over an arrest, the number of arrests were far too high. Nobody gets arrested for drinking in public unless they are being obnoxious or are a danger to themselves and others. Cannabis should be given similar treatment and even more leniency then this harmful substance. This issue does seem like a minor thing to discuss considering many states are still arresting people for possession regardless of where they consume it. However, it is important that the punishment always reflects the crime so that the majority of people respect the law and those who enforce it.
Classifying psychoactive drugs into different categories is usually a pretty straightforward process. The consistently documented effects of a substance are compared to one of the three main drug categories: stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. Some drugs have many properties that make it possible for them to fit into more than one of these groups. Determining how drugs affect the central nervous system is the key to differentiating between stimulants and depressants. Stimulants are known for increasing the activity in the CNS, leading to feelings of energy and alertness. Depressants do the opposite, while hallucinogens interact mostly with the chemical serotonin. With drugs like alcohol or cocaine, it is extremely easy to figure out where to classify them. That’s because alcohol will always slow users down mentally(reaction times) and physically when it comes to heart rate and breathing. There aren’t different strains or types of alcohol or cocaine that allow users to have a different experience. The only difference will lie in how potent those depressing or stimulating effects will be from batch to batch. Cannabis is much more difficult to throw into one category.
Everyone has heard the phrase that drugs affect everyone differently. This is true in a sense, but it’s also true that drugs have basic effects that will happen to the vast majority or all of its users. For example, cannabis will make users feel very euphoric and more sensitive to sounds and taste. I’ve never come across someone who has argued food doesn’t taste better while high. The same goes for listening to music. It just sounds so new and full of detail. There are so many strains available now that users can customize their high by selecting a strain that was bred for a specific effect or medical condition. This is the main reason why its difficult to categorize marijuana. If someone were to get their hands on an extremely powerful indica such as Gorilla Cookie or Banana Kush, there would be no stimulant properties to be found. If you manage to stay awake after using one of these strains, the strong feeling of relaxation will make it very tempting to just kick back. On the opposite side of the spectrum, sativas can make people so alert and sensitive to their surroundings that paranoia kicks in. However, no strain will ever cause visuals or make users see things that are not really there.
This doesn’t mean that high-grade cannabis can’t be too powerful or overwhelming to new users. High doses of this new substance can cause distortions in time and cause some people to panic. I don’t believe that this means it should be classified as a hallucinogen. That is because these type of effects will not continue after using the substance several times and they will not happen at all if the dosages are proper. Another reason why it shouldn’t be classified with other psychedelic drugs is that cannabis will never take the user into the deep depths of their mind like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms do. Even the most potent of edibles will not have you rethinking the meaning of life in the way a trip can. The potential for a negative experience is also much higher when dealing with these stronger drugs.
I don’t believe weed should be placed in just one of these categories, it qualifies as both a stimulant and a depressant based on the strain and the user. I know friends who say that weed makes them tired every time they try it, regardless of the strain or grower. Then there are people who are obsessed with figuring out what their ideal strain is, and acquiring it regardless what the cost may be. The stoner stereotype would make it seem that weed is a 100% depressant substance that destroys productivity. At the same time, the successful stoners in our society have modeled that it can stimulate the best of our creativity. Cannabis really is a one of a kind drug.
There seems to be one common similarity among the different states and countries that have moved to legalize marijuana. Each law mentions the issue of public consumption and explains that it is still illegal. Even though the punishment for consuming in public is minor in most jurisdictions, the only legal place the law allows consumption without penalty is your own private property. If you look at any other recreational substance that is popular in our society, it’s clear that it is not a reasonable expectation for people to never consume marijuana outside of their own private property. The local city council in Calgary is concerned with this issue and wants to address it before legalization even takes effect in Canada.
One of the issues that are brought up by opponents of public consumption areas is that there will be a rise in impaired driving rates in cities that allow these type of businesses to run. The truth is that if lawmakers were truly that concerned about the dangers of impaired driving, alcohol wouldn’t be served at nearly every restaurant and corner store. Alcohol has been proven through numerous studies to have a much larger impact on motor skills and leads to more aggressive driving behaviors then marijuana. Not to mention drunk driving is responsible for more than 10,000 deaths a year Anybody that has used both will tell you the same thing. However, the availability of more dangerous substances for public consumption by itself doesn’t justify allowing these places to operate. The fact that there are enormous amounts of people who visit/live in Calgary without owning any property means legally they can’t use marijuana at all. Why make it legal in the first place if only property owners have the right to consume? This essentially keeps prohibition in place for the rest of the local population. People will of course not abide by these rules and smoke in public places regardless, so it’s only sensible they establish designated areas to help regulate where it is used.
Canada’s legalization measure not only banned public consumption of marijuana but it also prohibited its use in apartment buildings, condominiums, and hotels. It seems counterintuitive that the country wanted to eliminate smoking in these locations but did not offer any alternative in order to make this law reasonable. This is why the city council is taking matters into its own hands. It is proposing that there be four separate locations that were selected in relation to their distance from schools and areas frequented by children. All of these locations would be located in Ward 9 and within a relative proximity of one another. Even though the public is most likely going to be in agreement and support the availability of cannabis clubs, the government wants to reach out and receive feedback before the 9th of September. The committee will be holding a meeting on the 9th of October where the public can also make comments in person about the important issue. Calgary should have a clear decision made by the time the new law goes into effect so consumers won’t have to worry about being prosecuted for consuming a legal product.
Smoking, possessing, and growing cannabis will no longer be a criminal offense across the nation of Canada thanks to the approval of a legalization bill by the Senate this past Tuesday. The bill passed with a vote of 52-29. As of today, the bill has been given royal assent, the final step in the Canadian legislative process. While it is officially passed, the law does not take effect until October 17th so don’t become careless and be aware you can still be charged with a crime. The regulation of cannabis will be done in a much different way then it has been done in individual U.S. states. One of these differences is the minimum age required to legally consume and purchase the plant. The federal government has set the age at 18, but provinces can set some of their own unique rules and many are expected to add another year to that federal requirement. Canadian officials argue that setting the age too high will encourage many young adults who will use cannabis regardless to seek out their weed from the black market. Youth consumption rates in Canda are among the highest in the world, and they believe that setting a similar age to the states will only encourage criminal organizations.
When it comes to possession limits the maximum amount a person can possess is 30 grams. While an oz is a decent amount for personal use, setting magical limits is kind of a ridiculous practice. You aren’t allowed to only have 30 cans of beer per person. Every state so far has also set their own unique limits in the U.S. The cool thing about the legislation in Canada is there is no possession limit within a private dwelling. This is a key addition to the law because growing the 4 allowed plants will provide much more than 30 grams of usable cannabis and that’s not taking into consideration leftovers from the last harvest.
Another aspect of the law that makes it unique is the idea of mail order weed. This is already a practice in the medical marijuana industry for registered patients. Soon it will become available for recreational users as well. To protect against youth accessing marijuana, it will not be delivered unless someone is home and able to show I.D. for the package. There aren’t any specific details regarding how much can be ordered at a time but it can be assumed that it’s the possession limit of 30 grams. It will be interesting to see how popular this method of purchase will become in comparison to the retail shops that will also be dispensing marijuana. The convenience of a quick delivery could cause the same problems Amazon has caused for retail shopping giants.
Altogether the Parliment did a good job drafting a well thought out piece of legislation. They thought about many different factors when drafting the rules with the main one being protecting the youth. Limiting advertising and lowering the legal age of consumption are just two of the steps they have taken to eliminate the damage from years of prohibition. The only thing that wasn’t mentioned in the bill that I would have liked to see included would be the expungement of records for those previously convicted of cannabis possession or cultivation crimes. This will likely be something that happens in the future after the law takes effect but it is a crucial step nonetheless.
Great news came from a Florida courtroom this weekend as smokeable forms of medical marijuana became legal for registered patients to possess and use. Prior to this ruling, Florida medical marijuana patients were limited to using alternative oils and forms of the drug that could not be smoked. (Dispensaries have mastered making the best vape cartidges I’ve ever tried) Raw marijuana was allowed, but only if it was being used with a vaporizing device. It appears that allowing raw marijuana but not allowing it to be smoked seemed ridiculous to a Judge who ended up ruling that the law was unconstitutional. The state argued in the case that smokable cannabis was not an effective treatment method for the list of qualified conditions. Judge Gievers said that wasn’t important, and that when the state gave patients constitutional protection from prosecution it shouldn’t have been restricted to different forms of the plant. Even though the original law was unconstitutional, court testimony from suffering patients would have convinced the judge to overthrow the rule anyway.
I knew that the no smoking rule wasn’t going to stick around long in Florida or anywhere else it’s enacted because there is no way to enforce it unless they caught someone in the act. Patients were allowed to have the raw form of the drug because vaporization was allowed. Nothing was stopping that patient from rolling the buds into a joint and smoking them. It’s the traditional way of using cannabis for a reason; it’s extremely effective. A lot of patients need immediate relief when they use their medicine, so they can’t wait around for an edible or pill to take effect. A lot of stoners would argue that the high you get from hitting a vaporizer is a different experience than smoking a joint or bong. There is a more clear-headed feeling to vaporization and some people need the knockout punch that will put them to sleep. On top of that vaporizers are very expensive and many people would prefer not to make that initial investment.
The medical marijuana law enacted in 2016 did not lay out possession limits and prohibited all home cultivation. The Florida Department of Health establishes the amount of cannabis a patient can consume on a daily basis and physicians are allowed to write certifications for three 70 day periods each consultation. There is definitely a ton of regulation and strict rules surrounding the new industry. I believe much of this will disappear like the ban on smoking and patients will be given more rights such as growing their own medicine and not having to visit the physician on numerous occasions each year. I would also predict that the amount of qualifying conditions will expand outside the serious debilitating diseases currently on the list. Many more people can benefit medically from the plant even if their ailments are not life-threatening. However, even with the law as it stands, Florida is definitely leading the way when it comes to the southern United States. Medical marijuana laws are either non-existent or not yet operational/highly restrictive down south. Georgia and Alabama, for example, have no medical marijuana laws available outside of CBD-only forms of the drug. Catching a marijuana possession charge in either of these states means up to a year in jail and possible license suspension. I hope to see Florida continue to lay the foundation for these states and progress to a more sensible system of medical marijuana like Michigan has. The number of patients will likely increase with the news of the judges ruling as will the number of options available at dispensaries.
Up until 2015, marijuana was not legal for medical purposes in Jamaica. While it may not have been hard to find the sweet leaf in reggae’s homeland, there was little protection from prosecution and no taxes or facilities of distribution. Many areas of the island suffer from poverty and the absence of a sustainable economy. There is hope that this new forming industry can provide a tourist goldmine. In March of this year, the first medical marijuana facility opened its doors to anyone with a medical marijuana prescription from any state in the U.S. It is called Kaya Farms, and is located on the northern coastline of the country. They hope to attract tourists from countries all around the world and accept paperwork or licenses of any kind that certifies your use of cannabis is for medical purposes. Those who do not have a recommendation can come along for the trip too because there is a doctor on site at select times that can provide recommendations at the facility. Jamaica is really pushing to stimulate the economy and benefit from its premium outdoor cannabis climate.
I think this is a great move by the government to embrace the history of the plant on the island and that they will be successful in raising money and creating jobs as more facilities open. They are essentially opening their business to an unlimited market of cannabis consumers. One business will not be able to sustain demand for long and many more will enter in to fill the void. Looking at how much money a single state has made off taxing recreational weed sales, entrepreneurs in Jamaica should be hopeful. In the calendar year of 2017, Colorado raised $247,368,473 in tax, license, and fee revenue from operating marijuana businesses (Colorado Department of Revenue). While Jamaica technically is only selling to patients, one site doctors open up their market significantly. A beautiful tropical climate draws plenty of tourists as it is, and a place like Colorado can’t compete with its location. That is not to mention the locals who choose to purchase their medicine from Kaya Farms and other dispensaries. I believe there are likely well-established suppliers on the black market that will remain in competition with facilities like they currently do in the states.
I know I would enjoy a trip to Jamaica much more knowing I’m already certified to purchase cannabis legally while on vacation. Not having to worry about finding a reliable dealer with a quality product would be a great relief. However, because the dispensary just recently opened a few months ago, prices may be inflated. This is likely to happen due to a lack of retail locations with medicine. The quality medicine is going to be sold at a premium that surpasses local distributors. After letting the market develop and saving some cash, the vacation may happen for me.