Politics 

The latest in cannabis legalization including laws and policies, legislators’ views, election coverage, and more.

The Leafly Roundup: Who Will Legalize Cannabis First, Italy or the United Kingdom?

Cannabis is going global fast – Italy’s Parliament just voted for a legalized, regulated cannabis market, Denmark’s youth is consuming cannabis in droves but it’s no gateway, and the United Kingdom just reached a record high number of supporters for legalization in the isles. On this side of the pond, United States lawmakers are thinking ahead and making plans that could change the game completely. We’ve got the latest in marijuana legalization efforts:

 

U.S. Cannabis Updates

NATIONWIDE

Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer is introducing a revolutionary new bill that would expunge all federal marijuana-related convictions for those who are living in legal medical or recreational states. The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015 would ensure that all individuals that had been charged with a cannabis offense under federal law, but were acting lawfully in accordance with state laws, would have their records expunged. Rep. Blumenauer released a statement on the bill, saying:

“The penalties of failed prohibition should stop ruining people’s lives…People who were caught up in the federal criminal justice system for a marijuana offense that was legal under state law at the time should not carry a drug record.”

 

ALASKA

After Washington state recently outlawed private cannabis clubs, Alaska cannabis entrepreneurs are watching with unease. Cannabis clubs are popular in Alaska, but they walk the line of legality. It’s been debated whether the clubs are considered public or private settings in terms of public consumption, but the recent ban in Washington altered the vague wording of the previous law and made it clear that any place that is exclusively for the consumption of marijuana, private club or not, is breaking the law and could now be considered a felony offense.

Bruce Schulte, the acting chair of Alaska’s newly formed Marijuana Control Board, said they are now looking into including social clubs in the new guidelines and regulations.

 

ARIZONA

Arizona’s Court of Appeals has ruled that the scent of cannabis can no longer be used as probable cause for a search warrant due to the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. The ruling came as a result of a 2013 raid in South Tucson, when officers noticed a pungent smell coming from a row of warehouses. They obtained a search warrant and raided the warehouse with a SWAT team but found nothing. The smell persisted and they obtained a second search warrant. This time, they uncovered a sophisticated growing operation with 357 plants and 53 pounds of cannabis.

During the trial, it became clear that police protocol was to determine whether the activity in question was lawful only after serving the search warrant, thus making medical marijuana patients essentially second-class citizens in the eyes of the law.

 

NEW MEXICO

New Mexico’s marijuana producers and dispensary owners and operators will now become public record due to a recent regulation change by Governor Susana Martinez. The change has been controversial for many of those in New Mexico’s cannabis community; however, the public record-keeping will not apply to the more than 15,000 medical cannabis patients registered in the state.

 

PENNSYLVANIA

A bipartisan task force is working to roll out a medical marijuana compromise bill that could lead to a final vote by the end of the summer. Another attempt to legalize medical cannabis made it through the Senate but lacked traction to make it through the full House Heath Committee when Representative Matt Baker refused to let the committee vote on the measure. Representative Nick Miccarelli (R-Delaware County) threatened to use a legislative maneuver to force the bill out of committee, but House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) intervened to create the task force instead.

The compromise legislation would allow for more than 200 growing, processing, and dispensing facilities statewide and would reasonably take about 18 months to get up and running.

 

WASHINGTON

After the passing of Senate Bill 5052 to regulate Washington’s wild medical cannabis system, implementation is beginning to take effect. As of July 24, 2015, butane hash oil extractions must be processed through a state-regulated processor, physicians who write more than 30 authorizations per month will be required to report to the Department of Health, and single housing units can grow no more than 15 plants regardless of the number of patients therein. The phasing of medical marijuana dispensaries into licensed retail stores will begin July 1, 2016.

 

International Cannabis Updates

DENMARK

A new study out of Denmark found that young Danes prefer cannabis consumption over excessive drinking or hard drugs. From a pool of 70,000 respondents, the number of young male Danes who have experimented with cannabis has gone from 26 to 50 percent since 1996, and in the same time period, young female Danes experimenting with cannabis went from 19 to 31 percent. When tasked with finding the numbers for harder drugs, just 3.9 percent of respondents aged 16-24 reported using any other drugs.

Jakob Johan Demant, a professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Sociology, said:

“There has been a change within the drug culture that has resulted in cannabis being normalized.”

 

ITALY

Italy just took the first few baby steps towards the legalization of cannabis. A cross-party committee of legislators known as the Intergrupo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale has agreed upon a drafted text of regulations for the growth, production, and sale of legalized recreational marijuana. The bill has already been signed by 218 members of Parliament, including members of the Greens, the Five Star Movement, and a surprisingly large number of lawmakers from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party.

The draft would allow Italians to grow cannabis at home or as members of “cannabis clubs,” which would allow up to 50 people to cultivate it in a collective garden. It would also make cannabis state-controlled, and the government would regulate the sale of licenses for cultivation and distribution.

 

UNITED KINGDOM

A petition seeking for the legalization of cannabis in the United Kingdom has gained major traction, with over 150,000 signatures from citizens hoping for a policy change. Once the petition hit the 100,000 mark, it triggered an automatic debate in court. The House of Commons of the British Parliament is now required to take the petition into consideration, although there has not been a date for the debate. This comes on the heels of an announcement that a small town in northeastern England, Durham, will no longer be pursuing charges against small-scale growers or casual cannabis users due to dwindling enforcement resources.


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Which State Has Introduced Multiple Marijuana Proposals? The Leafly Legalization Roundup