Maine Marijuana Law Approved; Help Defeat Grassley’s Decriminalization Gag Rule
At the very same time Maine voted to repeal same sex marriage, they approved a bill that expands the state’s existing medical marijuana law. With that Maine becomes the third State to License Medical Marijuana Providers:
“This is a dramatic step forward, the first time that any state’s voters have authorized the state government to license medical marijuana dispensaries,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., which drafted the initiative and provided start-up funding for the campaign. “Coming a decade after passage of Maine’s original marijuana law, this is a huge sign that voters are comfortable with these laws, and also a sign that the recent change of policy from the Obama administration is having a major impact.”
Yes, well, one step forward…
In March, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb introduced a bill calling for a wholesale overhaul of the criminal justice system in the United States. Our system is cripplingly large, he argued, and marred by wrongful incarcerations, poor rehabilitative treatment and mental health care and a price tag of $44 billion a year on prisons alone.
Webb called the situation a “national disgrace,” and said the elephant in the room is sky-high incarceration rates for drug users due to the U.S.’s 40-year-old War on Drugs.
Two steps back:
But according to Webb spokeswoman Jessica Smith, “Twenty-one amendments have been filed in Judiciary that speak to our bill. They’re largely from the Republicans [and] I imagine a large amount of them are going to be about drug policy. … They don’t want to go home and say ‘I’m legalizing drugs.’”
Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, offered an amendment explicitly forbidding any recommendations that even discuss drug decriminalization or legalization.
Understandably, this has LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) all fired up. They note that at the same moment the UK government is getting slammed for censoring its drug policy advisers (details here and here), the U.S. Senate is set to vote on what Rolling Stone is calling Grassley’s Gag Rule. LEAP is urging we visit their action center to oppose this “censorship amendment!”
Meanwhile, yesterday Breckenridge, Colorado voters made it the first town in the country to decriminalize possession of drug paraphernalia. It also decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use.
And in Seattle, the new city attorney vows, “We will not be prosecuting simple marijuana cases anymore, which is part of a bigger fix of geniunely facing public-safety threats, not nanny-state concerns.”
None of which is especially surprising. You’ll remember that Gallup poll finding U.S. support for legalizing marijuana (not decriminalizing, mind you) at 44%, an all time high. In July a CBS poll pegged it at 41%.
That makes this yet another case of the law out of step with the culture.