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In the Future All Marijuana Edibles Might Need to Be Pre-Approved By Colorado Government

By: Monday November 17, 2014 7:22 am

In the ongoing effort to decide how to handle the regulation of marijuana edibles, the Colorado Department of Health is planning to recommend that all marijuana products need to go through an approval process before they can be sold. The worry is that some products are too appealing or confusing for children. From the Huffington Post:

A Health Department recommendation, obtained by The Associated Press in advance of a final meeting Monday on edible marijuana regulations, suggests a new state commission to give “pre-market approval” before food or drinks containing pot can be sold.

The recommendation comes a month after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment suggested banning the sale of most kinds of edible pot. That suggestion was quickly retracted after it went public.

This is of course only a recommendation and it will be up to the state legislature to decide whether or not to adopt it.

If the legislature does adopt this rule, it won’t be an unprecedented move. After all the name of the organization behind Amendment 64 was the “Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol,” and this is basically how our government regulates alcohol.

Most people don’t know that before any new label for a beer reaches the market in this country it basically needs to be approved by one guy working in the Treasury Department. His name is Kent “Battle” Martin and he is an interesting character. There are several obscure regulations about what can and can’t appear on a beer label and this one guy is the main referee who every year decides if thousands of labels meet the rules.

If Colorado adopts this recommendation it will be end up recreating this federal job for beer at the state level for marijuana products. Once again our history of alcohol regulation seems to be a useful predictor of how we will treat legal marijuana.

That is the focus of my book After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy, which is now on sale for only $0.99.

Signatures Submitted to Get Marijuana Legalization on the 2016 Nevada Ballot

By: Friday November 14, 2014 9:11 am

The 2014 election just ended but already marijuana reform supporters are getting ready for the 2016 election. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Nevada has turned in what should be more than a sufficient number of signatures to get their legalization measure put on the ballot in 2016.

The ballot measure would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults age 21 and over. It is very similar to the legalization measure approved in Colorado back in 2012. Adults legally would be able to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their home.

The signatures will first need to be verified by the state government. If the campaign cleared the required valid signature threshold then the measure will be sent to the state legislature. The legislature will have the option to either directly adopt the measure or let the initiative get placed on the 2016 November ballot. At the moment it seems likely the legislature will do the latter.

Nevada will likely be the first state where a marijuana legalization initiative qualifies for the ballot in 2016, but it won’t be the last. Campaigns are planning similar measures across the country for the next presidential year election. We will likely see marijuana legalization measures in California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Arizona. Effectively any state that allows ballot initiatives and where a polling found a majority support legalization are potential targets.

Watch Ethan Nadelmann Make the Case Against the Drug War

By: Thursday November 13, 2014 11:58 am

If you want a good speech highlighting the problems caused by the international war on drugs and its origins, you should listen to this TED talk by Ethan Nadelmann executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Whether you agree or disagree with Nadelmann’s positiona, the work Drug Policy Alliance is doing is worth paying attention to because they are playing a real and very direct role in reshaping public policy in this country.

For example, their advocacy and political arm, Drug Policy Action, played a significant role in helping the recent marijuana legalization initiatives in both Washington D.C. and Oregon.

Dear State Politicians, It Is Time You Embrace Marijuana Legalization

By: Wednesday November 12, 2014 8:03 am

If governors and state legislatures take their job as representatives of the people seriously, it is time they start listening to the will of the people.

There shouldn’t be the need for another marijuana legalization ballot initiative in this country. Over the past two election cycles local organizations and national groups, like Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Alliance, already have done everything necessary to make their case to governors and state legislatures around the country.

During the 2012 election they proved that polls showing majority support for marijuana legalization in this country were real. It isn’t just vapid support for a hypothetical idea that would quickly evaporate once the details start getting discussed, but an indication of a serious desire for concrete change. The big wins in Colorado and Washington state showed voters will enthusiastically support smart proposals to legalize, tax, and strictly regulate marijuana.

Over the last two years, the implementation in Colorado and Washington state proved marijuana legalization can be done and the sky won’t fall. The new laws succeeded in the goals of reducing minor marijuana arrests and creating new tax revenue for the state, while producing very few problems.

Finally, the election successes last week in Washington D.C., Oregon, and Alaska should have removed any doubt that marijuana legalization is going to to continue to spread across the country.

The three victories proved that marijuana legalization can win support both in high turnout Presidential elections which favor Democrats and in low turnout mid-terms which favor Republicans. We have seen that marijuana legalization can succeed in blue states (Washington and Oregon), in presidential swing states (Colorado) and even red states (Alaska). It has won in both highly urban jurisdictions, like D.C., and highly rural places like Alaska. It succeeded on the East Coast, the West Coast, and in the middle of the country.

The victory in Oregon also proved there is no blowback against legalization. The people of Oregon got to closely watch legalization unfold right across their border and decided to vote for Measure 91 by an even larger margin than Initiative 502 was approved in Washington state.

If governors and state legislatures take their job as representatives of the people seriously, it is time they start listening to the will of the people on this issue. It is clear that in states like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, Delaware, etc… the voters want their government to end marijuana prohibition.

If local politicians continue to shirk their duties, these national organizations plan to move with marijuana legalization ballot initiatives in more states; but the initiative process is unfortunately a blunt tool and one not available in half the country. While any method that ends the arbitrary and racist policy of marijuana prohibition is dramatically better than letting the status quo continue, an initiative is not the ideal way of dealing with the complex task of writing laws governing a whole new industry because campaigns need to draft provisions that are easiest to explain and poll well instead of writing the best possible policies.

In states with the initiative process the question isn’t will marijuana become legal, but how and when. Local legislatures in these states have a simple choice: They can choose to defy the will of their constituents and watch marijuana become legal without their input, or they can listen to their voters and take part in a thoughtful process to write the best possible law for addressing the issue. This really shouldn’t be a tough call.

Tomorrow Could Be the Beginning of the End of Marijuana Prohibiton in Vermont

By: Tuesday November 11, 2014 9:38 am

On Wednesday the Vermont Legislature is going to receive an update about the potential impact of marijuana legalization during a legislative hearing in the morning and later that day, state officials will hold a public forum on the issue using Vermont Interactive Technologies. It could be the first step in the process for the Vermont legislature to eventually adopt a new marijuana legalization law next year.
Legalise Cannabis Campaign
Beau Kilmer is a Senior Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation. Rand was hired by the state to put together a comprehensive report about the different ways Vermont could reform its marijuana laws and the possible implications of each of these choices. If you want to get a general idea what the report will entail, you can read my interview with Kilmer earlier this year.

Kilmer will present testimony before the Legislative Joint Fiscal Committee about his report at 9:35 am than take part in the public hearing at 3:30 pm with Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding.

The report is not due until January, but tomorrow will give some insight into Rand’s findings and how the legislature is likely to respond to it.

The triple victories for marijuana legalization initiatives in Washington D.C., Oregon, and Alaska should have added significant political weight to those pushing for legalizing in Vermont.

Vermont is one of the most liberal states in the country. Democrats have full control of the state government and it already has some of the more progressive marijuana laws in the country. It is well positioned to potentially be the first state to legalize marijuana via the state legislature instead of via a ballot measure.

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