Story Drafts Legalization Bill
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Story Drafts Legalization Bill
Posted by CN Staff on February 15, 2011 at 08:28:11 PT
By Matthew M. Robare 
Source: Daily Collegian
Massachusetts -- Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) introduced a bill to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana to the current session of the Massachusetts General Court last month. Last November, 69 percent of the Third Hampshire District voted in favor of a public policy question instructing her to support such a measure.The bill, titled “The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act,” was drafted by Richard M. Evans, an attorney from Northampton. The bill would legalize the possession, consumption and sale of marijuana for people over 21 and establish a series of licenses requiring annual fees.
A cultivation license would cost $500 per year and enable holders to “possess, propagate, grow and cultivate cannabis and carry on such other horticultural activities as are reasonably required for the commercial cultivation of cannabis.” Growers, however, could only sell to the holder of a processing license. A processing license would cost $1000 and would only allow licensees to obtain marijuana from a cultivator or an importer. Processors would have to make sure each cannabis package had proper tax stamps, warnings about a $5000 fine for driving while under the influence of marijuana and a label indicating each strain’s tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level.Processors would also only be able to process marijuana into one ounce packages. They could sell seeds to cultivators if the seed was “capable of producing cannabis preparations having a THC content of more than 0.5 percent.”A third step of regulation would create a stage called trade. People with trade licenses would be able to act as middle men, running warehouses and transporting processed cannabis to stores, for a yearly fee of $3000. Stores would need a retail license, purchased for $2000, and could only sell to “adults not visibly intoxicated or otherwise in such a condition as may present a threat to public safety” and could only sell cannabis indoors and at a location specified by the license. Import licenses would also be available, for $2500 a year, and combined cultivation-processing-retailing licenses would be available for the same amount, as long as the entire production process took place at one location.Evans, a former National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) board member, said he first wrote the bill in 1981 “under the delusional view that what we needed was a plan.”He said when he first submitted it to the legislature using the right of citizen petition, he went to a hearing on the bill on Beacon Hill with a few friends. “The room was packed with opponents,” he said. “We were grossly outnumbered.”They were so outnumbered and the committee was taking the hearing so lightly that, when each side had finished its arguments, the chairman asked the audience to vote and the proposal was soundly defeated.Evans again proposed the bill using citizen petition in the spring of 2009 and that time the bill was actually discussed by the committee – a first, he said. He added that they were respectful, too.Legalization has gained more support in public discourse lately, as several states have passed laws permitting people to own and grow marijuana for medicinal use, and other states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Massachusetts did so in 2008, with 65 percent voting in favor of it.However, Evans is not optimistic about the bill’s chances.“I don’t think it’s realistic to expect the current legalization bill to become law,” he said. “I’m real pleased that Massachusetts is in the vanguard. I have to commend Rep. Story; it’s very courageous of her.“The important thing is that all the details are up for discussion. Its purpose is to promote a smirk-free discussion. We’re shifting from a discussion of ‘why’ to ‘how.’”The bill would also establish a Cannabis Control Authority composed of seven part-time directors appointed to seven-year terms with a salary of 20 percent of the governor’s, or about $28,600. Some of the directors would be appointed by the governor with the approval of the governor’s council, some of them would be appointed by the president of the state senate and some would be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Directors would be barred from serving for more than 14 years.The authority would supervise the cannabis industry in Massachusetts, create the rules and regulations participants would be required to follow and be able to revoke licensees for not following regulations, although they would have to hold a hearing. The authority would have to approve all license holders and they would have to keep careful records and file monthly reports with the authority. There would be an excise tax of $10 per one percent of THC content per ounce, collected from the processors and “Subject to approval by the General Court, such excise shall be adjusted by the authority from time to time as necessary to maximize the revenue derived therefrom, and to minimize the incentive for the sale of cannabis not in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.” No municipality would be able to issue more marijuana retail and farmer-processor-retailer licenses than it could issue liquor licenses.“We definitely support the bill,” said University of Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition Treasurer Adam Freed. “We’re glad Ellen Story also got on board with it. This is obviously a big thing for us, because she’s a representative from Amherst. We’ve had some dealings with her in the past; she hasn’t always supported the legalization movement, but I think that she sees that her constituents in Amherst support the movement, especially after we voted . . . in favor of legalizing marijuana last year. We feel like for a representative to come forward with a legalization bill, it’s a big step.”Evans shared that perspective.“Hopefully it’s the first word and not the last word,” he said. “Think of it as a prototype, a concept car from Detroit.”Evans said he believed the legislature “won’t touch the legalization bill with a 10-foot pole.” Many supporters of legalization, he said, are afraid to speak out for fear of being labeled as drug addicts, so he thinks a ballot initiative will be necessary to make legalization a reality. Evans said a successful ballot initiative would have to wait until 2014, because “substantially similar” proposals can’t be filed within four years of each other and he believes that Attorney General Martha Coakley would successfully challenge one in 2012 as being substantially similar to the decriminalization proposal.Representatives for Governor Deval Patrick and Coakley were unavailable for comment, but both opposed decriminalization in 2008 on the grounds it would increase violent crime, traffic accidents and benefit drug dealers, according to reports in the Boston Globe from 2008.Evans will be giving a talk on prohibition and what cannabis legalization activists can learn from efforts to repeal the 18th amendment in Campus Center Room 162 on February 28 at 7:00 p.m.Newshawk: The GCWSource: Massachusetts Daily Collegian (U of MA, Edu)Author: Matthew M. Robare Published: February 14, 2011Copyright: 2011 Daily CollegianContact: editorial dailycollegian.comWebsite: http://www.dailycollegian.comURL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #8 posted by John Tyler on February 16, 2011 at 20:21:04 PT
sensible, convenient, and fair
Legalization is always good, but we can’t have ridiculous restrictions and huge fees and fines. It has to be sensible, convenient, and fair.  
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Comment #7 posted by Storm Crow on February 16, 2011 at 10:55:32 PT
Theodore has long since passed away, but I don't think he'd mind my mentioning him here. Theodore had a progressive nerve disorder that left him appearing as if he were very drunk, complete with slurred speech, confusion from the brain damage, and staggering while walking. He had been arrested for being publicly drunk more than once, only to pass the breath-a-lizer test! Although legally qualified (to the max!)to receive medical cannabis, in Massachusetts, he would be denied access with this new law!“adults not visibly intoxicated or otherwise in such a condition as may present a threat to public safety”Theodore appeared to be "visibly intoxicated" even when totally sober! And just who is going to judge a sick client's sobriety, or lack there-of? Will dispensaries have to have a breath-a-lizer and oral drug testing kits on site to "field check" for sobriety? I just wonder how many "Theodores" there are in Massachusetts? And will they be denied access to legal cannabis BECAUSE of their medical condition's symptoms?
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on February 16, 2011 at 10:02:34 PT
Welcome to CNews and I am glad your health is good now.
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Comment #5 posted by Brian Casey on February 16, 2011 at 09:59:09 PT:
legalization & taxation
 Its time too legalize & tax and help the state of things.
Ive been a cannabis user now for 45 yrs When I 
had a quad bypass 9yrs ago the surgeon who worked on me complamented me on what great physicalk shape I was in and how healthy my organs were. This guy had done dozens of heart & lung transplants. Ive known so many people including relatives who drank most of there lives and had ruined themselve physicaly, some of those are dead and many of them who are still alive and are physically a mess. By the way my heart troubles were from being on a pick line for severe tick born diseases. 
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Comment #4 posted by Garry Minor on February 16, 2011 at 07:33:22 PT
Back in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS — The first hearing on S.B. 192 took place today to discuss the need to study the marijuana laws in Indiana and find alternatives to arrest and incarceration. S.B. 192 would create a mandate requiring lawmakers to investigate other options to the marijuana laws that put non-violent Hoosiers behind bars and tie up scarce resources that the public would rather see spent on infrastructure. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Dist. 4).
 “It has become painfully obvious that our current marijuana laws are not effective,” Sen. Tallian said. “We spend a sizable amount of money every year going after marijuana users and locking them up for a non-violent crime, while more important programs that desperately need funds go wanting. I think we need to take a very close look at the laws we have, determine what is working and what isn’t, and explore every possible alternative. This bill will make sure that we, as lawmakers, commit to this course.”
     Over a dozen people testified at the hearings, including policy experts, former law enforcement officers, and medical marijuana patients that suffer from the threat of arrest under the present system. One speaker, C.J. Parker, said, “I am a Gulf War Era Veteran and former police officer who suffers from over 20 diagnosed illnesses, including PTSD, and have been 100% unemployable since 2004 due to the combined effects of my illnesses. I have had no success with the over 30 pharmaceutical medications that have been prescribed to me over the last 9 years, but have found great relief from treating my illnesses with marijuana. It is time my elected leaders take a look at how to allow people like me to live without the fear of arrest.”. snipped The testimony by a republican representative with MS was quite good. Rep. Tom Knollman said he has spent up to $25,000 a year on pain medication that is often ineffective. "I hear that one of God's plants is working to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis," said Knollman. "I know that when my leg starts twitching and I hurt, I'm looking for any alternative." Knollman told committee members he regarded himself one of the most conservative members of the legislature but that he believed legalizing marijuana for medical uses should be considered. From my local paper:
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on February 15, 2011 at 09:39:24 PT
interesting medical marijuana note
found this fascinating website on medical quackery:'m pleased to report that "cannabis" and "marijuana" do not appear anywhere on the list!great argument against those who level the charge of "quackery" on medical cannabis, as many of our govt. friends still do.
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on February 15, 2011 at 09:36:20 PT
some scary stuff in this bill, almost an Orwellian vision of legalization. regulating and taxing THC content seems absurd.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on February 15, 2011 at 09:20:27 PT
But wait.
When I first read this article, one thing stood out."warnings about a $5000 fine for driving while under the influence of marijuana"That doesn't not seem fair and may open the door to government abuse. Notice it says "under the influence" and does't indicate being over a limit where someone is a danger on the road. -0-We need legalization but it needs to be free of questionable policies. I support keeping people off the road who are an honest danger to society, as I think most people are, however this may go too far. And going to far may eliminat some of the support needed by cannabis friendly citizens. -Going too far may have effected Cal's. 19.
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