Archive for the ‘republican’ category

Maryland Senate Approves Decriminalization Bill

March 14th, 2014
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Sen. Bobby Zirkin

For the second year in a row, the Maryland Senate has approved Sen. Bobby Zirkin’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Today’s vote had an even wider margin than last year’s. Seven Republicans joined 29 Democrats for a 36-8 bipartisan vote. SB 364 now heads to the House Judiciary Committee for its consideration.

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee heard nearly eight hours of testimony on proposals to decriminalize and legalize marijuana from MPP and other members of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland

SB 364 would replace criminal penalties for the possession of 10 grams of marijuana with a civil fine of up to $100. This is a much-needed measure in Maryland, which has the fourth-highest arrest rate per capita for marijuana possession. Arrest records have a devastating effect on a young person’s life, and can become an obstacle to obtaining an education, employment, and even housing. SB 364 is a strong step towards ending the ineffective and destructive prohibition of marijuana. This bill would also free up law enforcement to focus on addressing serious crimes instead of arresting adults for using a substance objectively safer than alcohol.

More than two-thirds of Maryland voters (68 percent) support changing state laws to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100, according to a survey conducted in September by Public Policy Polling. The full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/MDpoll.

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Iowa

February 21st, 2014

Earlier this week, lawmakers in Des Moines once again introduced the Medical Cannabis Act for consideration.SEAL_IOWA Unfortunately, the legislation will die for the year if it is not reported out of the Senate Human Resources Committee by the end of the week. If you live in Iowaplease email the committee members today and ask them to hold a hearing on this bill.

If passed, the Medical Cannabis Act will protect Iowans with serious and debilitating medical conditions from arrest or prosecution for using medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The legislation also requires the department of public health to develop rules governing the distribution of medical marijuana to qualified patients. Twenty states and Washington, D.C. have compassionate laws on the books; it’s about time Iowa does the same. 

It’s time both Republicans and Democrats in Iowa stand up for those less fortunate and allow trained medical professionals to recommend medical marijuana when they think its use is appropriate.

 

Support for Medical Marijuana In Florida Reaches Record Levels

November 22nd, 2013

A new poll by Quinnipiac University reveals that 82% of Florida voters support medical marijuana. Florida advocates are currently pushing for legislation that would allow seriously ill residents to use marijuana with a recommendation from their doctors.

Support for the proposed constitutional amendment is high among voters of every political stripe, age and income level, with independents lending the most support: 88 percent, the poll shows.

The overall 82-16 percent support for medical marijuana is the biggest to date. The previous high-point for Florida approval was about 70 percent in a poll taken earlier this year by the medical marijuana advocacy group, People United for Medical Marijuana.

Nearly half of Florida voters favor [legalization] — 48 percent — while 46 percent oppose pot legalization for personal use. That’s within the margin of error, but it’s a leading indicator of a shift in public opinion. Support for legalization is again strongest among independents (57-37 percent), and then Democrats (55-39 percent).

But Republicans are opposed 30-64 percent. Contrast that with GOP voter support for medical marijuana is solid: 70-26 percent.

Medical marijuana is a contentious subject in Florida, where seniors and patients have been working diligently to educate voters and gather support. The political establishment has noticed, and the placement of medical marijuana on the November 2014 ballot could influence the gubernatorial race.

Maryland Gubernatorial Candidates Discuss Views on Marijuana

November 22nd, 2013
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Del. Heather Mizeur

This week, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur (D) released a plan to regulate marijuana like alcohol. “Marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco,” she told the Baltimore Sun. “It has been a failed policy for us as a nation to criminalize the use of this substance.”

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) — who is leading in the polls — has not said he supports legalization. However, he appears to understand that law enforcement should focus on more violent crimes and he “welcomes a continued discussion and analysis” of decriminalizing negligible amounts of marijuana.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Doug Gansler (D)’s spokesman said, “There does not appear to be a groundswell toward full-scale legalization here in Maryland nor does the attorney general feel that unrestrained legalization would be appropriate.”

On the Republican side, current Harford County executive David Craig opposes legalizing marijuana. Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County was also opposed, though he appeared more open to reform. “I just don’t think you’d be able to control it, so I’m not for the version that [Mizeur] has spoken of,” George said, noting he isn’t necessarily opposed to the concept of allowing adults to use marijuana.

A third Republican candidate, Charles County business executive Charles Lollar, said he is undecided.

NBC/Esquire Poll Shows Moderates Support Making Marijuana Legal

October 16th, 2013

On Tuesday, NBC and Esquire announced the results of a poll conducted by both Public Opinion Strategies and Benenson Strategy Group.nbc:esquire The poll asked American voters a series of questions about social, economic, and political issues, and the results indicate a “new American center.” According to the poll, 51% of Americans fall into the new center: 28% of them are Republican, 36% are Democrat, and 36% Independent. The American center is also in favor of marijuana policy reform, with 52% supporting the legalization of marijuana and 34% strongly supporting the movement. You can see a breakdown of the various views of the American center here or view the full results of the poll here.

Everything is Bigger in Texas, Including Support for Marijuana Legalization

October 8th, 2013

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They say things are bigger in Texas and, according to new survey data just released by Public Policy Polling, that includes support for marijuana law reform.

PPP’s polling found that 58% of Texans support regulating marijuana like alcohol and only 38% were opposed. This change in policy was supported by 59% of women, 70% of Democrats, 57% of Independents, a majority of all racial demographics, and a majority of all age demographics.

The survey also reported that 58% of Texans supported medical marijuana and 61% supported the decriminalization of possession of an ounce or less.

You can read the full survey here.

With a high profile governor’s race shaping up between Senator Wendy Davis, the only declared
Democrat, and a Republican challenger (Attorney General Abbot seems to be leading in current polls) the time is ripe to make marijuana law reform a major issue in America’s second most populated state.

TEXANS: You can contact the announced candidates for Texas governor by clicking on their links below. Send them a quick message telling them:

“Public Policy Polling found that 58% of Texans support ending our costly war on marijuana and replacing it with a system of regulation similar to how we deal with alcohol. This majority support was spread across all age and ethnic demographics. It is time we consider a new approach to marijuana. As a Texas voter, I am very concerned with your position on the issues of marijuana law reform and would greatly appreciate if you could inform me of your stance on the taxation and regulation of marijuana, as well as allowing for its medical use and decriminalization of personal possession.”

DEMOCRAT:
State Senator Wendy Davis

REPUBLICAN:
Attorney General Greg Abbott
Tom Pauken
Miriam Martinez
Larry Kilgore

(If you receive a response please forward it to erik@norml.org)

CANDIDATE RESPONSES:

Miriam Martinez (posted in response to a question on her Facebook page): “I support the medical use of marijuana and decriminalization of personal possession.”

John McCain Ready for Legalization?!?

September 6th, 2013

According to Talking Points Memo, Sen. John McCain made some comments Thursday that some may find surprising:

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McCain’s comments could not have been better timed. Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Justice Department’s new policy allowing states to move forward with taxing and regulating marijuana. Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake, is a member of that committee. Sen. Flake will have the opportunity to question Justice Department officials and help shape the future of federal policy on marijuana.

Did Getting Arrested Change New York Lawmaker’s Position?

May 31st, 2013

UPDATE: Katz wrote this article Thursday explaining his voting history and personal feelings about medical marijuana.

On Wednesday, in an unofficial 80-59 vote, the New York Assembly passed legislation to reduce the penalty for publicly holding a small amount of marijuana. Only one Republican assembly member voted in favor of the bill: Steve Katz.

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Assemblyman Steve Katz

Originally a staunch prohibitionist, Katz voted against allowing medical marijuana in 2012, but a brush with the law this past March seems to have brought about a change of heart.

The state police stopped Katz for speeding on the state thruway and subsequently found less than 25 grams of marijuana in his vehicle; he later failed a drug test. Fortunately for the assemblyman, in accordance with a favorable plea deal, his drug charges will be dismissed after he completes a mere 20 hours of community service (and keeps out of legal trouble for six months).

Katz declined to discuss his vote on Wednesday when approached in the Assembly chamber. However, he did issue a statement later in the day saying he hopes the bill leads to “a broader discussion of our state’s policies.”

The bill, if passed, would lower the penalty for the public possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation. It now faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.

Will John Boehner’s Growing Family Change His Mind About Marijuana Policy?

May 15th, 2013

The more people you know who use marijuana, the harder it becomes to say that they should be arrested for possessing it. After all, the vast majority of marijuana users are productive and otherwise law-abiding members of society. This fact has become increasingly evident as more and more people come out of the “cannabis closet” and become open about their experiences with the substance.

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Dominic Lakhan

Last Friday, House Speaker John Boehner’s daughter Lindsay married Dominic Lakhan, a Jamaican-born construction worker. Lakhan was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in 2006.

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Rep. John Boehner

Is it possible that Boehner, who has consistently opposed marijuana policy reform, will start to come around now that he has a convicted marijuana user for a son-in-law? Does he think Lakhan is better off with an arrest record or that Lakhan deserves to be arrested again for using marijuana? Would he care about how it affects his daughter? Only time will tell.

Let’s hope his experience is similar to that of Republican Senator Rob Portman, who changed his stance on gay marriage after learning that his son is gay. While this position initially caused a slight loss in approval among Republicans in his state, the growing acceptance of gay marriage (which has been nearly mirrored by the increasing support for marijuana policy reform) could actually help him in the long run.

Politicians’ thinking traditionally lags far behind the general public on social issues, but it gets a little harder to ignore when that thinking hurts your own family.

Maine Could Become Next State to Regulate and Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol

February 22nd, 2013

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Maine unveiled the details of a new bill that would make Maine the third state in the nation to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol.

If approved during this session, the “Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana,” formulated by state Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) and supported by Rep. Aaron Libby (R-Waterboro), will be referred to voters in the upcoming November election. If the measure gets carried over and approved during the next legislative session, it will be placed on the November 2014 ballot.

“When it comes to keeping marijuana away from teens, keeping marijuana in an unregulated underground market is the worst possible policy,” Rep. Russell said. “Instead, marijuana should be sold by legitimate, taxpaying businesses in a tightly regulated market.”

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Rep. Aaron Libby (WGME)