New Bill Builds Bipartisan Momentum Behind Federal Marijuana Reform

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), along with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), introduced bipartisan legislation to evaluate states’ marijuana policies. The Marijuana Data Collection Act directs the National Academy of Sciences to create a federally recognized report on state-level marijuana legalization policies, including both medical and non-medical use, and their effects on public health, safety, the economy, the criminal justice system, and more. The information compiled in the report would provide scientific data and statistics on the impact of various marijuana policies on our nation.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also received the NORML Rufus King Sr. Public Leadership Award for her outstanding public leadership in marijuana law reform. The award was presented at the NORML Congressional lobby day, where activists advocate for federal marijuana reforms on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said: “For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that has ruined people’s lives, torn families apart, and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for nonviolent marijuana charges. In 2016 alone, nearly 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession. Our laws must be informed by facts — not emotion, manufactured stigma and myths. Our bipartisan legislation, the Marijuana Data Collection Act, will lay the groundwork for real reform by producing an objective, evidence-based report on current marijuana laws that exist in 31 states across the country, and their impact on our communities.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

“Federal lawmakers have long ignored the issues of our outdated federal marijuana policy,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo said.“In recent years, however, voters across the country – including in my home state of Florida and overwhelmingly in my district – have called for modernized marijuana policies in their states. This bill takes a commonsense step toward allowing unbiased research into the impacts that marijuana has had in states that have chosen to legally regulate it. I am proud to support the bipartisan Marijuana Data Collection Act to ensure the federal government is no longer an obstacle to legal, regulated marijuana and starts being part of the discussion for a new federal policy.”

Justin Strekal, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Political Director, said: “We appreciate Representative Gabbard for her tremendous leadership in the fight to reform our nation’s failed policy of prohibition. From emphasizing that marijuana policy be evidence-based, to tasking the National Academies with this important work, to her role as a lead on HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, Rep. Gabbard has been one of the most prominent voices in calling for a new sensible approach to cannabis.”

On the House Floor, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:

“For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that’s wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for non-violent marijuana charges. Our outdated marijuana policies have turned everyday Americans into criminals, strained our criminal justice system, cost taxpayers tremendously, and torn families apart – all for a substance that’s proven to be far less harmful and dangerous than alcohol.

“Our federal policies should be based on actual science and fact, not misplaced stigma and outdated myths. However, the fact that marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug –the same category as heroin and cocaine – restricts and even discourages scientific research on marijuana, limiting our ability to create science-based policies. I’ll be introducing the bipartisan Marijuana Data Collection Act with my colleague Congressman Carlos Curbelo so that we can create a study to set the record straight. Our bill would authorize a non-partisan, evidence-based report that analyzes current marijuana policies across the country, and their effects on our communities. I urge my colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation.”

Background: The Marijuana Data Collection Act would:

  • Require data collection and study with regard to the impact of state-regulated marijuana legalization on public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues.
  • Require the Secretary of HHS to coordinate with the DOJ, DOL, and States (to the greatest extent possible) and direct the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to publish a biennial study on the health, safety, and economic effects of state legalized marijuana programs.
  • The Report would also outline best practices for state-led data collection, as well as recommendations to overcome any barriers preventing data collection and gaps in data.

As part of her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has long called for sensible marijuana policies. She is the lead Democratic co-sponsor of H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list. She has called for closing the gaps between federal and state law to resolve current contradictions and provide legally abiding marijuana businesses with clear access to financial services. She is also a cosponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act (H.R. 4815) to reform unjust federal marijuana laws and empower minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the failed War on Drugs, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 2215) to allow equal banking access and financial services for marijuana-related businesses, the RESPECT resolution (H.Res. 943) to encourage equity in the marijuana industry, and more.

Ige Signs Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Bill Into Law

HAWAII: Gov. David Ige has approved a new law that will create up to 16 dispensaries to distribute medical marijuana to Hawaii patients.

In a statement released Wednesday, Ige also announced that four other bills will become law without his signature.

“I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana,” Ige said. “We know that our challenge going forward will be to adopt rules that are fair, cost effective and easy to monitor. The bill sets a timeline. We will make a good faith effort to create a fair process that will help the people most in need.”

Hawaii approved a state law in 2000 allowing for medical marijuana use by patients with a prescription, but never set up a system for distributing cannabis. Patients or their caregivers have been required to either grow their own, or rely on the black market for their supplies.

Marijuana Dispensaries Could Bring Huge Benefits To State

HAWAII:  Medical marijuana advocates say dispensaries in Hawaii could contribute 800 jobs and $65 million a year in sales.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports (http://bit.ly/1IXwkMK ) House Bill 321 calls for 16 dispensaries to open in Hawaii starting July 2016. The legislation is currently awaiting Gov. David Ige’s approval.

About 13,000 state residents are registered to use medical marijuana. Under current law, they have to grow their own pot or buy it illegally.

Executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association Nate Bradley says Hawaii’s total marijuana sales could reach $65 million annually with more patients getting medical marijuana cards.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Passes Hawaii Legislature

HAWAII:  Members of the Hawaii Legislature approved a bill Thursday that would establish a system of medical marijuana dispensaries statewide by next summer.

Hawaii legalized medical marijuana 15 years ago, but has never provided a way to buy it legally. Patients must grow their own or have a caretaker grow it for them.

House Bill 321 would allow eight companies to open two marijuana dispensaries each as soon as July 15, 2016.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously with Sen. Russell Ruderman excused. House lawmakers approved the bill 38-13 after more than a half-hour of discussion. The measure goes next to Gov. David Ige, who has indicated he supports the medical marijuana dispensaries.

Taxes For Medical Marijuana Sales Magically Appear In House Bill 321

HAWAII:  As you might be aware, in 2000 Hawaii enacted a medical use of marijuana law (Act 228, Session Laws of Hawaii 2000). The problem, of course, has been how to get this medical marijuana to those who need

it without violating other laws. So this year our Legislature is working on House Bill 321, which would establish standards for and regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries.

The bill started off in the House and was referred to three committees there: Health, Judiciary and Finance. It passed all three and went over to the Senate. The Senate referred the bill to four committees: Health, Public Safety, Judiciary and Labor and Ways and Means.

After the first two committees, the bill was still a regulatory bill. It then was heard by Judiciary and Ways and Means committees jointly, and those committees amended the bill by, among other things, adding two sections. One creates a special general excise tax rate for retail marijuana sales. The rate is 10 percent. The other imposes a GET surcharge on the same sales. That rate is 15 percent. So here we have a magical appearing tax. Instead of a rabbit coming out of the hat, we get a new, hefty 25 percent tax.

 

Tom Yamachika: No Compassion In Overtaxing Medical Marijuana

HAWAII:  As you might be aware, in 2000 Hawaii enacted a medical use of marijuana law (Act 228, Session Laws of Hawaii 2000). The problem, of course, has been how to get this medical marijuana to those who need it without violating other laws. This year our Legislature is working on House Bill 321, which would establish standards for and regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries.

The bill started off in the House, and was referred to three committees: Health, Judiciary, and Finance. It passed all three and went over to the Senate. The Senate referred the bill to four committees, Health, Public Safety, Judiciary and Labor, and Ways and Means.

After the first two committees, the bill was still a regulatory bill. It then was heard by Judiciary and Ways and Means jointly, and those committees amended the bill by, among other things, adding two sections. One creates a special general excise tax rate for retail marijuana sales with a rate of 10 percent. The other imposes a GET surcharge on the same sales. That rate is 15 percent. So here we have a magically appearing levy: Instead of a rabbit coming out of the hat, we get a hefty new 25 percent tax.

Civil Cafe: Marijuana Debate Heats Up in Hawaii

HAWAII:  What’s next for marijuana in Hawaii?

Medical marijuana dispensaries? Decriminalization? Outright legalization?

All three possibilities are currently being considered by the Legislature, where 29 marijuana-related bills are in the works.

Marijuana was the subject Thursday night at a Civil Cafe featuring a panel that included state Sen. Will Espero, Alan Shinn of Drug Free Hawaii, Wendy Gibson of Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii and Capt. Jason Kawabata, executive officer for HPD’s Narcotics/Vice Division.

About 40 people crowded into the Fresh Cafe in Kakaako to hear the discussion and ask questions of the panel during the event moderated by Chad Blair of Civil Beat.

 

Medical Marijuana Access Takes Center Stage At House Hearing

HAWAII:  Fifteen years after medical marijuana was legalized in Hawaii, legislators considered a bill Saturday that would finally give patients the ability to legally obtain it even if they can’t grow it themselves.

There’s still plenty of opposition to taking that step, even though most of the people who spoke at a hearing before the House committees on health and the judiciary supported HB 321.

The bill would establish medical marijuana dispensaries and productions centers across the state.

Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2000. But unlike most states that have taken that step, Hawaii never passed legislation to help patients access their prescriptions, partly due to opposition from law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office.

In Hawaii: Medical Marijuana For Sale

HAWAII:  Nearly 14 years after the use of medical marijuana was legalized in Hawaii, medical marijuana patients may have a legal way to purchase it, rather than just grow it themselves, within the next few years.

The 21-member group tasked with crafting guidelines for a state-monitored medical marijuana dispensary system is recommending that at least one dispensary be opened in four of the state’s five counties by the start of 2017.

Members of the Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force, which was created during the last legislative session and convened shortly afterward, also agreed that state Department of Health officials should offer at least 30 licenses for medical marijuana producers beginning on June 1, 2016.

“I think it’s a very good start for guidelines for legislation, but the legislative process will lead to compromises and discussions,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti, D, Makiki-Manoa, who sat on the task force and chairs the state House Health Committee.

Medical Marijuana Task Force Recommends Dispensaries In Hawaii

HAWAII:  Hawaii’s medical marijuana laws have created a kind of Catch-22 for patients. They can use it legally, but they can’t buy it legally.

That could soon change.

The Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force has finished its work and recommended that the state establish dispensaries to make it easier for patients with certain conditions like cancer, glaucoma and HIV, among others, to get the drug legally.

In the District of Columbia, Guam and 22 other states, marijuana is allowed for medical use. In most of those states, there is a dispensary where you can buy pot.