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Poll Finds Americans Want to Grow Their Own Weed, ME Psychedelic Study Bill Goes to Governor, More... (4/11/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1208)

Maine lawmakers reject a xenophobic effort to crack down on illicit pot grows, District of Columbia lawmakers reject an effort to tighten location restrictions on dispensaries, and more.

The psilocbyin molecule. Maine lawmakers have passed a bill to study how to regulate it. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Poll: Most Americans Say That Adults Should Be Able to Legally Grow Marijuana at Home. A poll of US adults conducted by Harris Polling for European marijuana company Royal Queen Seeds finds that 62 percent of respondents think they should be able to legally grow their own weed. Among marijuana users, that figure was 81 percent.

Twenty-four states have legalized marijuana and 21 of them allow home cultivation.

Homegrown marijuana provides consumers with a cheaper alternative to the commercial market, as well as allowing them to control the production of the crop they will consume.

Maine Bill Targeting Foreign-Owned Illegal Marijuana Grows Dies. A bill touted as going after illegal Chinese marijuana grows, LD 2204, died after a motion in the Senate Wednesday afternoon. The measure would have created a new offense of racketeering to go after alleged grow conspiracies, but it also included a ban on land ownership in the state by some foreign nationals and would have encouraged power companies to report changes in usage to law enforcement.

Sponsored by Rep. John Andrews (R-South Paris), the bill had support largely from Republican lawmakers, but other legislators denounced it as racist and unconstitutional.

Andrews said there is a "vast network of criminal conspiracies that need RICO laws to round up the gangsters at the top."

But in addition to creating the state racketeering charge, the bill would also have barred citizens from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, or Russia from buying real estate in Maine without becoming permanent residents. That provision sparked harsh criticism.

"I'm concerned because this bill is discriminatory," Rep. Suzanne Salisbury (D-Westbrook) said. "Illegal marijuana grows in Maine are a problem. They are being addressed. This bill is not the way to further investigate those," she added.

"This is really xenophobic, and it's not tied to their conduct, just what countries they come from," ACLU of Maine Policy Director Meagan Sway said. "It's been found unconstitutional in other states. The ACLU of Florida sued about a very similar law and won," Sway said.

A House vote Tuesday signaled that the bill would not move forward, and the Senate vote Wednesday sealed the deal. That prompted Republicans to play the Red Scare card.

"That we could have addressed yesterday on the state level, but unfortunately, House Democrats again sided with the Chinese communists over Maine people," Andrews said.

Pennsylvania Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed. With the House Health Subcommittee on Health Care set to hold a hearing Friday on marijuana legalization, Rep. Amen Brown (D) has filed a marijuana legalization bill he says is "grounded in safety and social equity."

The measure is House Bill 2210. It would legalize the purchase, possession, and gifting of up to 30 grams by people 21 and over, but would limit home cultivation to medical marijuana patients, who could grow up to five plants. Retail sales would be taxed at eight percent with an additional five percent excise tax. There would be automatic expungement of past marijuana convictions and there are social equity provisions within the bill. A companion measure was introduced in the Senate last year.

The bill "addresses safety by setting the minimum marijuana consumption age at 21 years old and provides the appropriate deterrence to keep marijuana out of the hands of anyone under 21," Brown said in a cosponsorship memo circulated to his colleagues. "It provides law enforcement the means to adjudicate driving under the influence and the authority to pursue and eradicate any illicit market," he said. "Furthermore, our bill bans any marketing directed toward children. The bill will provide workplace requirements regarding marijuana use for all those operating in good faith.

"New Jersey and New York have implemented adult use. It is our duty to taxpayers to seize the initiative and legalize marijuana concurrently with bordering states," the memo says. "Failure to do so risks permanently ceding hundreds of millions of dollars of new tax revenue as well as thousands of jobs at a time when taxpayers can least afford it."

Medical Marijuana

DC City Council Declines to Tighten Location Restrictions on Dispensaries. Under existing District law, dispensaries are barred from operating within 300 feet of schools and recreation centers -- unless they are within a commercial zone. A bill that would have ended that commercial zone exception, PR25-0708, was taken up by the council last week.

The push to restrict dispensaries came after a group of neighbors and parents called themselves 1,000 Feet pushed the council to broaden the ban on dispensaries to those within 1,000 feet of a school.

"Is it appropriate for dispensaries to locate less than 300 feet away from a school just because it's in a densely populated area? We would say no," Michael Shankle, the chair of the area's advisory neighborhood commission, said last week.

But Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D) expressed concerns about how the bill might affect the city's marijuana industry.

It died on a 6-6 vote.


Maine Legislature Sends Psychedelic Study Bill to Governor. Days after the Senate approved a bill to establish a commission to study and make recommendations on regulated access to therapeutic psychedelic services, Legislative Document 1914, the House approved it Tuesday on a voice vote, sending the measure to Gov. Janet Mills (D).

Under the bill, the commission would study how to create a "legal framework for the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs, including but not limited to psilocybin."

The measure from Sen. Donna Bailey (D) would originally have legalized psilocybin and allowed adults to access the drug at licensed facilities, but was gutted in committee and emerged as a study bill.

Rep. David Boyer (R), a vocal supporter of drug policy reform, said the bill still "represents progress, but it wasn’t as much as myself and others would have hoped for, with the evidence that was brought to our committee of how psilocybin can help lots of different people for lots of different reasons."

Gov. Mills is expected to either sign the bill or allow it to become law without her signature.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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