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Today, Michigan joined Utah and Oklahoma as states that will decide marijuana reform measures in 2018. Activists collected well over the 252,000 signatures needed to qualify and the official result should be announced Thursday. If passed, Michigan would legalize marijuana for all adults 21 and older. Possession in public would be limited to 2.5 ounces, with 10 ounces allowed at home. Adults could cultivate 12 marijuana plants in a residence, regardless of how many adults live there. A robust system of cannabis commerce would be established with a 10 percent excise tax and licensing for direct-to-consumer small farms known as “microbusinesses.” A poll last month by EPIC-MRA commissioned by Michigan NORML found that 61 percent of Michigan voters support the initiative. Some Republicans in Lansing, fearing that legalization would drive young Democratic turnout, are considering passing their own law to undercut the ballot initiative’s support.
Four candidates for governor of California were asked by the San Diego Union-Tribune what one thing they’d most like to change about the state’s marijuana legalization. Democrat Delaine Eastin, former State Superintendent of Public Instruction: [EASTIN CLIP: “I think we need to create a public bank in California that will allow for the deposit of money so that is safely kept.”] Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa, former Mayor of Los Angeles: [VILLARAIGOSA CLIP: “I also think we need a standard to determine if someone is driving under the influence.”] Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen said he would get rid of recreational marijuana if he could. [ALLEN CLIP: “Where it was tried in Colorado, they now have the second-highest teen usage rate of marijuana in the nation.”] Republican Businessman John Cox would like to see mandatory rehab for adult pot smokers. [COX CLIP: “I’d like to go to the Portugal system, where they actually put people who use marijuana in hospitals and cure them of their substance abuse.”] Current Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is leading in the polls, did not attend the event.
A former Clinton Administration prohibitionist running for Senate as a Democrat in Florida has suddenly seen the light on medical marijuana. Donna Shalala, who served President Clinton as Secretary of Health and Human Services during both his terms, tweeted on 4/20 that “Decriminalizing marijuana shouldn’t just be a policy priority — but a moral imperative.” But during her time in the federal government, Shalala fought to quash the nascent medical marijuana movement. In 1995, Shalala said, “Marijuana use is illegal, dangerous, unhealthy, and wrong.” In 1997, Secretary Shalala, along with then-Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and Attorney General Janet Reno, were successfully sued for violating doctor’s free speech rights to recommend medical marijuana under California’s new Compassionate Use Act. Even in 2013, Shalala was dubious of Florida Democrats’ support for the medical marijuana amendment that failed in 2014 but passed in 2016 with 71 percent support.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill today legalizing industrial hemp. In a press release, the governor said, “Industrial hemp has the potential to become a source of steady, recurring revenue for our state.” With the addition of Oklahoma, three dozen US states now recognize non-psychoactive cannabis as a legal crop for farming. The pilot program will be overseen by state agriculture officials and Oklahoma’s higher education institutions.
USA Today’s coverage of marijuana’s unofficial 4/20 holiday signifies just how mainstream the herb has become. Staying with tradition, a pot-pun in the URL of one story notes that “4/20 marijuana sales [were] highest ever,” continuing in the lead paragraph that notes how “marijuana retailers raked in the green.” This 4/20 was predicted to bring in $1.17 billion in sales, 51 percent higher than a regular Friday and 30 percent higher than last 4/20. Another USA Today story describes the rise in cannabis tourism and features a section on cannabis- friendly room rentals that mentions Delta-9 House and Studios, home to this Cannabis Headline News podcast and The Marijuana Agenda