Chronicle AM: Federal Marijuana Reform Bills Filed Today, DEA Scorched on Seizures, More... (3/30/17)

The Congressional Cannabis Caucus is getting down to business, yet another poll shows strong (and increasing) support for marijuana legalization, Trump names an acting drug czar, a California safe injection site bill is moving, and more.

The DOJ's inspector general is not impressed with DEA asset forfeiture practices. (dea.gov)
Marijuana Policy

New General Social Survey Poll Shows Jump in Support for Legalization. Support for marijuana legalization surged last year, according to new data released by the General Social Survey. The poll has support for legalization at 57% in 2016, up five points from 2014.

Package of Federal Marijuana Reform Bills, Including Legalization, Filed Today. The Congressional Cannabis Caucus flexed its muscles Thursday as members of Congress filed a package of bills aimed at creating a "path to marijuana reform" at the federal level and protecting and preserving marijuana laws in states where it is legal. Two Oregon politicians, Sen. Ron Wyden (D) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) led the charge, announcing a bipartisan package of three bills, including a marijuana legalization bill reintroduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), as well as a pair of bills aimed at cleaning up "collateral issues" such as taxes, regulation, banking, asset forfeiture, descheduling, research, and protection for individuals. Click on the link to read our feature story and see more about the bills.

Vermont Legalization Bill Hits Snag. The effort to legalize marijuana took a detour Tuesday when the House leadership indefinitely postponed a vote on House Bill 170 after it became apparent it didn't have enough votes to pass. The bill isn't dead, but it has now been sent to the House Human Services Committee, where it will sit until the leadership thinks it has come up with enough votes to pass.

Medical Marijuana

Arkansas Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Tax Bill. The Senate voted 31-1 Wednesday to approve House Bill 1580, which would impose a 4% tax on medical marijuana at each transaction. The tax would be levied on growers' sales to dispensaries and again on dispensaries' sales to individuals. The tax would sunset in 2019 after raising an estimated $3.6 million. The bill had already passed the House, but was sent back there for a concurrence vote after amendments were added in the Senate.

Colorado Legislators Vote to Rein In Medical Marijuana Home Grows. The state Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to approve House Bill 17-1220, which would limit the number of medical marijuana plants grown at a single residence to 12. Under current law, up to 99 plants are allowed. The bill now heads to the governor's desk.

West Virginia Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill. The state Senate voted Wednesday night to approve Senate Bill 386, which would allow for the use of medical marijuana for specified medical conditions. The bill now heads to the House of Delegates.

Asset Forfeiture

Justice Department Report Scorches DEA Over Asset Forfeitures. The Justice Department inspector general's office has released a report on DEA cash and asset seizure practices that warns the way DEA operates may pose a risk to civil liberties. The report noted that most seizures result from direct observation by DEA agents or local police, leading to concerns about the potential for racial profiling. The report examined a hundred asset forfeiture cases, and found that fewer than half advanced ongoing investigations. "When seizure and administrative forfeitures do not ultimately advance an investigation or prosecution, law enforcement creates the appearance, and risks the reality, that it is more interested in seizing and forfeiting cash than advancing an investigation or prosecution," the report said.

Drug Policy

Trump Nominates Richard Baum as Acting Drug Czar. The president has nominated Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) veteran and Georgetown University adjunct professor Richard Baum to be acting drug czar. While some of Baum's remarks over the years have drawn controversy, he is generally viewed by insiders as having a public policy approach as opposed to a drug warrior approach.

Harm Reduction

California Bill to Allow Supervised Injection Sites Advances. A bill that would create a five-year exemption from the state's drug laws to allow for the operation of supervised injection facilities advanced in the Assembly last week. The Assembly Health Committee voted 9-4 to approve Assembly Bill 186. The bill now goes to the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

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I didn't know California was considering safe injection sites

That's encouraging news. There's no question they would save lives, and facilitate treatment. Maryland where I live just declared an opioid emergency, but there's no talk of safe injection sites, or the need to allow doctors to prescribe, and insurance to cover MMJ for pain to reduce risky use of prescription opiates, and also allow and cover MMJ use as part of treatment for opiate addiction.

So Governor Hogan is not doing nearly as much as he should be doing to deal with MD's opiate overdose emergency, and the cost is measured in dead Marylanders. Same for Kasich of Ohio, so matter how eloquently he talks on the subject, and no matter how upset he is by these deaths, he is blowing it when it comes to policy. Reefer madness is lethal insanity.

With all due respect, and

With all due respect, and whatever that means anymore, the ONDCP has seemingly had their heart in the right place, but I believe there's a better approach to achieving their long-term goals set forth in their mission statement. When you find yourself on the side of majority, stop and reflect. We're looking at this as an addiction, but I disagree. I think people are seeking relief for pain, which is entirely subjective and at the mercy of what one person describes and an observer interprets. After that everyone seems to be all to content with throwing our arms in the air and forcing treatment onto people whether or not the treatment is something the person wants. We don't treat people, we treat stigma.

 

I favor a repeal of the Controlled Substances Act by this point in time. Replace domination with cooperation, incrimination with legalization, regluation with education, and taxation with collaboration. Overdoses happen for one of two reason I can imagine: 1. Deliberately 2. Accidentally. The former can be accomplished without the use of chemicals in any form and the latter requires consensual education. I don't see what's so difficult about that, since the rest appears to be a concern over what somebody chooses to consume, who it really affects and to what degree. As long as people don't have a choice, people will be forced to seek help elsewhere; and I'm imagining how pregnancies were aborted in back alleys before Roe v Wade when one alternative existed.

 

Just my thoughts on it.

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