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Legal Or Not Do You Smoke?

Legal to Illegal to Semi-Legal

The Transition of Cannabis in the USA

In the 1970s, many places in the United States started to abolish state laws and other local regulations that banned possession or sale of cannabis. The same thing happened with marijuana sold as medical cannabis in the 1990s. All this is in conflict with federal laws; cannabis is a Schedule I narcotic according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which classified cannabis as having high potential for abuse, no medical use, and not safe to use without medical supervision.

Medicinal preparations of cannabis became available in American pharmacies in the 1850s following an introduction to its use in Western medicine. Around the same time, efforts to regulate the sale of pharmaceuticals began, and laws were introduced on a state-to-state basis that created penalties for mislabeling drugs, adulterating them with undisclosed narcotics, and improper sale of those considered “poisons”.

A 1905 Bulletin from the US Department of Agriculture lists twenty-nine states with laws mentioning cannabis. Eight are listed with “sale of poisons” laws that specifically mention cannabis: North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Vermont, Maine, Montana, and the District of Columbia. In some states where poison laws excluded cannabis, there were nonetheless attempts to include it.

The Pure Food and Drug Act was then passed by the United States Congress in 1906 and required that certain special drugs, including cannabis, be accurately labeled with contents. Previously, many drugs had been sold as patent medicines with secret ingredients or misleading labels. In New York, reform legislation began under the Towns-Boylan Act, which targeted all “habit-forming drugs”, restricted their sale, prohibited refills in order to prevent habituation, prohibited sale to people with a habit, and prohibited doctors who were themselves habituated from selling them.

In the West, the first state to include cannabis as a poison was California. Other states followed with marijuana laws including Wyoming (1915); Texas (1919); Iowa (1923); Nevada (1923); Oregon (1923); Washington (1923); Arkansas (1923); and Nebraska (1927).

In 1925, the United States supported regulation of Indian hemp, also known as hashish, in the International Opium Convention stating that the shipment was required “exclusively for medical or scientific purposes”. Because of the Uniform State Narcotic Act, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics encouraged state governments to adopt the act. By the middle of the 1930s, all member states had some regulation of cannabis.

The use of cannabis and other drugs came under increasing scrutiny after the formation of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in 1930. Then The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively made possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses.

Mandatory sentencing and increased punishment were enacted when the United passed the Boggs Act of 1952 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956. The acts made a first-time cannabis possession offense a minimum of two to ten years with a fine up to $20,000. However, on July 1, 1973, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) and the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) merged to create the Drug (DEA). In January 1976, California’s study of the economic impact of its law repealing prohibitions of use went into effect. Later an amendment created a three-strike law, which created mandatory 25-years imprisonment for repeated serious crimes – including certain drug offenses- and allowed the death penalty to be used against “drug kingpins. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, which legalized medical cannabis.

Gonzales v. Raich (2005) was a decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that even where individuals or businesses in accordance with state-approved medical cannabis programs are lawfully cultivating, possessing, or distributing medical cannabis, such persons or businesses are violating federal marijuana laws. In Gonzales, the respondents argued because the cannabis in question had been grown, transported, and consumed entirely within the state of California, in compliance with California medical cannabis laws, the defendants’ activity did not implicate interstate commerce. The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, finding that cannabis grown within California for medical purposes is indistinguishable from illicit marijuana. Moreover, because the intrastate medical cannabis market contributes to the interstate illicit marijuana market, the Commerce Clause applies. Even where California citizens are using medical cannabis in compliance with state law, those individuals and businesses can still be prosecuted by federal authorities for violating federal law.

Possession of cannabis (marijuana) in the United States now is illegal under federal law. However, some states have created exemptions for medical cannabis use, as well as decriminalized non-medical cannabis use. In four states, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, the sale and possession of marijuana is legal for both medical and non-medical use; and Washington DC has legalized personal use but not commercial sale.

Oregon Marijuana Legalization Gets Boost From Law Enforcement

A coalition of law enforcers is now in support of marijuana legalization in Oregon, under a week before voters will decide the situation in the polls.

“Treating marijuana being a crime has failed,” 30 former law enforcement officials, sheriffs, prosecutors and judges write in the letter released Wednesday by Yes on 91, the campaign supporting legalization in Oregon. “Arresting and citing thousands of people in Oregon and elsewhere for marijuana-related crimes is a distraction to law enforcement and a misuse of taxpayer resources. The time and money spent should go to make our communities safer. Police resources should be focused on violent criminals, thieves and criminal cartels.”

Signers include Pete Tutmark, former Oregon County deputy sheriff; Kris Olson, retired U.S. Attorney with the District of Oregon; Norm Stamper, retired Seattle police chief; Tony Ryan, former Denver Police Department lieutenant; and Stephen Downing, retired L . A . Police Department deputy chief.

Oregon’s Measure 91 will allow adults to acquire as many as eight ounces of marijuana both at home and as much as one ounce in public places. Taxes on marijuana sales will fund schools, police officers, and drug prevention and education services. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would regulate and monitor the business.

Voters in Alaska and Washington, D.C., also decide legalization of recreational cannabis on Nov. 4. Florida voters decide whether or not to legalize medical cannabis.

Recent polls show Oregon legalization supporters with a slight edge, 46 percent to 44 percent. Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) has signaled his support for legalization.

“I hear the drumbeats from Washington and Colorado,” Kitzhaber said in January. “I want to make sure we have a thoughtful regulatory system. The legislature would be the right place to craft that.”

The state of Oregon could reap $17 million to $40 million annually on marijuana taxes, the state financial estimate committee has projected. Research conducted recently from personal finance website NerdWallet estimated $50 million to $100 million in annual tax revenue.

Definitely not everyone of Oregon’s law enforcement officials personnel agree the state of Oregon should legalize marijuana. Several district attorneys and sheriffs have already been vocal opponents.

Clatsop County DA Josh Marquis, an opposition spokesman, has cited intoxicated driving and increased use by minors as concerns.

“Marijuana is already functionally available to almost any adult that wants it in Oregon,” Marquis told Oregon Live.

Up to now, 23 states in addition the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, including Oregon in 1998. Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Federal law continues to declare the drug illegal.

Look at the full letter and number of supporters below:

DATE: Oct. 29, 2014

RE: Statement in support of Oregon’s Measure 91 from Law Enforcement

Treating marijuana as a crime has failed. Arresting and citing thousands of people in Oregon and elsewhere for marijuana-related crimes is a distraction to law enforcement and a misuse of taxpayer resources. The time and money spent should go to make our communities safer. Police resources should be focused on violent criminals, thieves and criminal cartels.

A regulated, legal and taxed system for marijuana has already been shown to work better in Colorado and Washington. Colorado, the first state to implement regulated sales, has seen a reduction in teen use, a drop in traffic fatalities, and a falling violent crime rate in Denver, where most dispensaries are located. Revenue is going to fund public services rather than into the pockets of criminals and we expect the same in Washington when data starts to come in from that state. The sky has not fallen and law enforcement officers are now directing their time toward serious crimes, in accordance with their communities’ wishes.

Measure 91 is built on the foundation provided by these states and tailored to Oregon. It will ensure 35% of tax revenue raised goes to law enforcement, including 10% each to cities and counties and 15% for state police. It is a better approach.

Supported by the following 30 law enforcement officials:

Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper (Ret.) (Orcas Island, WA) 34 years
Multnomah County Sheriff Don Clark (Ret.) (Multnomah County, OR) Over 10 years law enforcement experience and a career of public service in Oregon
Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Stephen Downing (Ret.) (Long Beach, CA) 20 years
US Attorney for the District of Oregon Kris Olson (Ret.) (Oregon) 17 years of experience as a prosecutor
Oregon Supreme Court Justice, Court of Appeals Judge and Circuit Court trial Judge, Bill Riggs (Ret.) (Willsonville. OR) 35 years of judge experience
Assistant State’s Attorney Inge Fryklund (Ret.) (Bend, OR) 30 years law enforcement experience
Lieutenant Sheriff Paul Stiegleder (Ret.) (Portland, OR) 30 years
Former Drug Unit Prosecutor Darian Stanford (Portland, OR) 5 years
Former County Deputy Sheriff Pete Tutmark (Clackamas, Oregon) 30 years
Prosecutor Jay Fisher (Denver, CO) 12 years
Denver Police Department Lieutenant Tony Ryan (Ret.) (Sahuarita, AZ) 36 years
Special Agent Finn Selander (Ret.) (Albuquerque, NM) 20 years
Former Detention Officer and Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Thomas (Denver, CO) 2 years
Sergeant John Baker (Ret.) (Parker, CO) 24 years
Former Undercover Narcotics Officer Jay Fleming (Mohave Valley, AZ) 15 years
Federal Probation Officer LeRoy Washington (Ret.) (Kamuela, HI) 34 years
Former Deputy Sheriff Nicholas Dial (Mesa, AZ) 2 years
US Customs Inspector Arnold Byron (Ret.) (Burlington, WA) 21 years
Former Corrections Official Matt McCally (Renton, WA) 7 years
Deputy Sheriff MacKenzie Allen (Ret.) (Santa Fe, NM) 15 years
Former Judge Leonard Frieling (Lafayette, CO) 8 years
Former Prosecutor and Corrections Officer Jim Doherty (Seattle, WA) 6 years
Parole and Probation Officer Shelley Fox-Loken (Ret.) (Portland, OR) 21 years
Former Police Officer James Peet (Sumner, WA) 3 years
Superior Court Judge David A Nichols (Ret.) (Bellingham, WA) 20 years
Narcotics Officer and Military Police Officer David Doddridge (Ret.) (St. George, UT) 21 years
Lieutenant Commander Diane Goldstein (Ret.) (Santa Ana, CA) 21 years
Former Police Officer Kyle Kazan (Long Beach, CA) 5 years
Former Deputy Sheriff Nate Bradley (Sheridan, CA) 7 years
Former Deputy Sheriff Leo Laurence (San Diego, CA) 16 years