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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 26 Jun 2018 04:20:21 PST

Poll: Record Percentage Of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana

Washington, DC: Sixty-eight percent of registered voters "support the legalization of marijuana," according to national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

Seventy-three percent of respondents also expressed support for sealing the records of those previously convicted of marijuana-related offenses.

Commenting on the new poll results, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "In an era of increasing partisanship, public support for ending cannabis criminalization is an issue that crosses party lines. More and more, elected officials - and those who wish to be elected - must acknowledge that advocating in favor of marijuana policy reform is a political opportunity, not a political liability."

Oklahomans To Decide Tuesday On Patient-Centric Medical Marijuana Plan

Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma voters will decide on Tuesday on State Question 788 - a statewide voter-initiated measure that permits doctors to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to patients.

Under the proposed plan, licensed medical marijuana patients may cultivate up to six mature plants, and may possess personal use quantities of marijuana flowers, edibles, or infused concentrates.

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, US Sen. James Lankford, and various members of law enforcement and religious organizations have publicly spoken out against the proposal. Opponents are spending nearly $500,000 in the final week of the campaign on advertising encouraging voters to reject the measure. The Governor has also said that she intends to call lawmakers back for a special session if the voter-initiated measure passes.

According to polling data released in May, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788 by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. NORML endorsed the proposal in January.

Under existing Oklahoma laws, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal offense - punishable by up to a year in prison. Engaging in cannabis cultivation or sales may be punishable by up to life in prison. According to a study released earlier this month, Oklahoma's incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people - the highest rate in the United States.

Canada: Lawmakers Reconcile And Pass Historic Legalization Plan

Ottawa, Canada: Members of the Canadian House and Senate reconciled and gave final approval this week to C-45, sweeping legislation amending the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act so those over the age of 18 may legally possess, purchase, and grow personal use quantities of cannabis.

Majorities of both chambers had previously approved different versions of the measure. On Wednesday, Senate lawmakers voted 52-29 to concur with the House's final version of the bill. The new law is anticipated to take effect on October 17, at which time licensed cannabis retailers are expected to be operational.

The Act permits those age 18 and older to legally possess and purchase personal use amounts of marijuana or marijuana-infused products from licensed sellers. Households will also be permitted to grow up to four cannabis plants for personal use. Commercial marijuana production will be licensed by the federal government, while retail distribution of marijuana will be regulated by individual provinces. A Senate amendment that sought to allow provinces to limit or prohibit personal cultivation was ultimately rejected by members of the House. The new law will not amend Canada's existing medical cannabis access regulations, which permit registered patients to grow or purchase cannabis from authorized licensed producers.

New York: Health Commissioner Advocates For Adult Use Legalization, Medical Cannabis Expansion

New York, NY: State health commissioner Howard Zucker announced on Monday that a forthcoming report by his office will recommend lawmakers legalize and regulate the possession and sale of marijuana by adults.

Speaking at a press conference, he announced that the Health Department has concluded that "a regulated, legal marijuana program [ought to] be available to adults in the state." He added, "We looked at the pros, we looked at the cons, and when were done, we realized that the pros outweighed the cons. We have new facts."

A finalized version of the report is anticipated to be released in the near future.

Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, who commissioned the report, has historically been reluctant to publicly support calls to regulate the adult marijuana use market - stating that he is "unconvinced" that legalizing is a preferable public policy to criminalization. The health commissioner's statements come just weeks after an analysis prepared by the New York City Comptroller's office concluded that the state of New York would gain an estimated $434 million annually in new tax revenue under a regulated adult use marijuana market.

The commissioner also announced Monday that the Department has taken steps to immediately expand the state's medical cannabis program so that those seeking to use marijuana as an alternative to opioids may be eligible to participate.

According to data published in May, patients enrolled in New York state's medical cannabis program reduce their use of opioids and spend less money on prescription medications. The study's findings are similar to those reported among enrollees in other states' medical cannabis programs, including the experiences of patients in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

Also this week, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced that police would, under certain circumstances, begin issuing summons rather than making arrests for offenses involving the public possession or use of marijuana. The policy change will go into effect in September. In 2016, city police made an estimated 18,000 arrests for the possession of marijuana "open to public view;" 86 percent of those arrested were either Black or Hispanic.

Study: Medical Marijuana Access Not Associated With Greater Prevalence Of Cannabis-Positive Drivers

Atlanta, GA: The enactment of medical cannabis laws is not independently associated with a significant uptick in drug prevalence among fatally injured drivers, according to data published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

An investigator with Georgia State University assessed the relationship between the passage of medical marijuana access laws and the prevalence of fatally-injured drivers testing positive for the drug's presence over a 20-year period. The crash data made no determination with regard to whether the driver was either impaired at the time of the accident or if he/she was at fault.

The study concluded: "[M]edical marijuana laws in general have null effects on the prevalence of cannabis-positive driving. The key exception is for ... states that regulate the sale of cannabis though dispensaries, a policy framework that was shown to increase the probability of cannabis-positive driving by .011-.014, depending on the counterfactual policy. However, ... this is a relatively small effect, representing an additional 87-113 cannabis-positive drivers in 2014 who were involved in fatal vehicle accidents who might not otherwise have been."

Because THC's inactive metabolites may be present for weeks or even months following marijuana use, it is generally not possible to determine whether cannabis-positive subjects have recently ingested the substance or were under its influence at the time of a motor vehicle accident.

Prior studies have determined that neither the passage of medical marijuana laws or adult use cannabis laws is associated with an increase in overall traffic crashes or fatalities. According to the findings of a 2016 study published in The American Journal of Public Health, medical cannabis laws are associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities among drivers between 25 and 44 years of age. A separate study published that same year reported a decrease in the prevalence of opioid-positive drivers involved in fatal accidents following the enactment of medical marijuana legalization.

Full text of the study, "The effects of medical marijuana laws on cannabis-involved driving," appears in Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Texas: GOP Adopts Marijuana Reforms To Party's Platform

San Antonio, TX: Delegates for the Texas Republican Party have adopted a series of legislative priorities specific to reforming marijuana policies. Delegates voted overwhelmingly to approve the new policy positions at the party's annual convention.

Specifically, the Party acknowledged support for changing state law so that marijuana possession is treated as a civil rather than as a criminal offense.

Under state law, minor marijuana possession violations are classified as criminal misdemeanor offenses, punishable by up to 180 days incarceration and a criminal record. According to 2016 data, police in Texas made nearly 65,000 marijuana-related arrests - the highest total of any state in the nation. Ninety-eight percent of those arrested were charged with marijuana possession.

Delegates also adopted a plank to the Party's platform recognizing industrial hemp as a "valuable agricultural commodity" and encouraging lawmakers in 2019 to pass legislation permitting its cultivation and sale. They also called for an expansion of the state's limited CBD exemption law, and expressed support for the federal rescheduling of cannabis.

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