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Vermont House Approves Marijuana Decriminalization

Montpelier — The Vermont House gave preliminary approval Friday to a bill that would change the offense of possessing up to an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor crime to a civil offense similar to a speeding violation.

On roll call vote of 98-44, the House endorsed the bill, which would impose a fine of as much as $300 for anyone caught with up to an ounce of the drug.

The bill also contains provisions designed to eliminate the possibility of a permanent criminal record or future collateral consequences such as ineligibility for certain jobs or government benefits for those convicted of possessing up to two ounces, or up to four plants.

vermontmarijuanaThe legislation now goes to the Senate, which is also expected to pass it.

Supporters of the bill were in two camps: those who wanted to remove the danger of a permanent criminal record that can face young people convicted of possessing small amounts of pot, and those who said they saw the bill as a small step toward their real goal: legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana.

“I think that if this is the process it takes to get to where I think we should be, which is legalization, regulation and taxation, then that’s the step that I’m willing to take,” said Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, who added that he had not consumed alcohol for 28 years or any other recreational drug for longer than that.

But members of the Judiciary Committee, which drafted the bill, said their goal was not legalization.

“It was illegal yesterday, it is illegal today and if this bill is passed by both chambers and signed into law, it will remain illegal,” said Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson, D-Essex and a member of the committee who described the bill to her House colleagues.

Vermont would become the 16th state to have decriminalized, or, in the cases of Washington state and Colorado, to have legalized by popular referendum possession of small amounts of marijuana, said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project.

The bill will be up for final House action on Tuesday. Gov. Peter Shumlin has said he supports decriminalization of possession of small amounts.

Sen. Richard Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Friday he expects the Senate will pass it by a similar margin as did the House — “it should be 2 to 1 or more.”

But the powerful committee chairman, who could have a lot to say about the bill’s fate, was unwilling to say for sure he would support it.

“The devil is in the details,” Sears said. Among his misgivings: Under the House bill, someone younger than 21 caught with alcohol could face a criminal charge but would not for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. “That doesn’t make sense to me,” the Bennington County Democrat said.

Not all Republicans opposed the bill during House debate Friday, but most of those speaking out against it were Republicans.

One exception was Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, who called marijuana a “powerful psychoactive drug.” She joined other critics in saying the legislation would send a message to Vermont’s young people that the state was not serious about forbidding marijuana.

Source

Hawaii Senate Votes Unanimously to Decriminalize Marijuana

Hawaiian sativa

“In an applaud-worthy and eye-opening showing of bipartisan support, Hawaii’s Senate voted today, unanimously, to approve Senate Bill 472 to decriminalize cannabis possession. The measure would make possession of up to an ounce no longer an arrestable misdemeanor offense, but instead a civil infraction of no more than $1,000.

Last week the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure, also unanimously. The bill is sponsored by 13 of the state’s 25 senators.

The bill now moves to the state’s House, where its passage would send it to the governor’s office.

Recent polling shows that 58% of residents in the state support decriminalizing cannabis, while 57% support regulating and taxing it.”

- TheJointBlog

Marijuana legalized in Colorado, Washington

“Today the state of Washington looked at 70 years of marijuana prohibition and said it’s time for a new approach,” said Alison Holcomb, manager of the campaign that won passage of Initiative 502 in Washington state.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who opposed legalization, was less enthused. “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly,” he said.

Hell yeah, it can only get better from here!

Link

Recent News in Medical Marijuana Laws

The legalization of marijuana and medical marijuana laws is a divisive subject that plays along political, spiritual and cultural lines. Here is some of the recent news involving medical marijuana:

  • “Pot Like Wine” – Attitudes towards legalizing pot in the United States are changing. As of April 2012, 12 states have pending bills to legalize the use of medical marijuana and five more are pushing legislation for the regulated use of recreational marijuana: California, Colorado, Missouri, Oregon, and Washington. These bills, such as California’s “Regulate Marijuana Like Wine” and Colorado’s “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” would make marijuana a taxable item sold to those 21 years of age and older, with a penalty for selling pot to minors. Missouri’s bill even proposes the legalization of growing plots up to 10 feet by 10 feet in size.
  • Demographic Support – The majority of the bills are expected to pass, with the California, Colorado, and Oregon bills receiving overwhelming support. The fate of the Washington initiative is less certain, a between more conservative Spokane and pot-friendly Seattle. Overall, men, young adults and liberals are more in favor of legalizing pot than conservatives, senior citizens and women. Some of the biggest detractors of the legalization initiatives, however, are medical marijuana dispensaries. The dispensaries are afraid of losing business if marijuana can be legally obtained elsewhere.
  • Those in Favor – The legalization of marijuana would be a boon to those looking to earn social work degrees, as well as those who are denied medical marijuana cards. Legislation would legalize medical marijuana for people under 21 who would benefit from it usage. A recent Angus Reid poll shows that the majority of Americans are in agreement that legalizing pot would do more good than harm. In the poll, 55 percent favor legalization, while only 40 percent are against.
  • Legislation Process – The key to legalizing pot is mobilization and support. California’s petition gathered 10,000 signatures in just two weeks. Pro-pot America is actively trying to pass pro-pot legislation. For those interested in learning more about the legislative process or even obtaining an online JD degree, educating yourself about the system is a powerful way to help end prohibition.

Sources

Denver Westword Blogs (2012)

StoptheDrugWar.org (2011)

Top 10 Articles on I Love Weed.net

It’s been quite a busy month. I’ve recently started working at a headshop so I haven’t had as much time to work on the site. So I figured I will round up some of the top 10 posts here on I Love Weed for your enjoyment.

6 Awesome Pro-Marijuana Ads [pics]

Top 11 Marijuana Documentaries (with videos)

How to make Weed Brownies

How to Make “Green Dragon”

25 Animals that Love Weed!

Guide to Bud Quality, Quantity, and Smoking Devices

Bong made out of ICE!

Sorry, I’m Illegal [pic]

We’re so baked! [comic]

71 Gram Joint Video

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Hey Everyone!

I’ve been so busy this past week, I haven’t had time to update. Stay tuned for news in the coming week :) Be sure to have a fun day with your significant other. If you don’t have anyone, then just say something to someone. :) Happy Valentines Day!!

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