Today 56 percent of voters approved the use of medical marijuana in the US Territory of Guam. The votes have been collected for 56 of 58 precincts have been collected, indicating that support for the measure was wide spread.
Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance issued this statement, “Guam is quite conservative politically, and home to a significant U.S. military presence so this resounding victory is a confirmation of medical marijuana’s broad support across the political spectrum.”
Though the bill is significantly more restrictive than most medical marijuana programs in the United States, this victory is for the ailing patients of Guam in need of life-saving medicine. The medical marijuana program in Guam won’t allow for patients to grow their own medicine and must come with a doctor’s acknowledgment of “debilitating medical conditions.” The bill will no doubt help thousands of the current 160,000 residents on the island.
As election day unfolds this may be the first of several victories for the marijuana advocates. Stay tuned in for results from Alaska, Florida, Oregon, DC, and several other cities across the United States.
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A new report from GreenWave Advisors says that the booming marijuana industry could be worth up to $35 billion by 2020, but a lot of things have to happen before then. First order of business: the federal Government needs to legalize cannabis for all 50 states. Although the legalization movement is quickly gaining steam across the country, it’s a tough call to say whether the federal government will legalize any time soon. GreenWave has accounted for this as well.
According to the advisory group, even if only twelve states legalize by 2020 the industry will still be worth up to $21 billion. The states would include:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
In addition to theses states, there would need to be an 37 states with medical marijuana programs; of which there are currently 23. The GreenWave group claims to have closely examined whether each state has made any significant progress towards legalization, and based their projections this information.
Founder Matt Karnes said, “We assume that once legalization occurs, it will take a little over a year to implement a program and have product available for sale. So for example, for Florida, we expect the ballot measure to pass yet our sales forecast starts in year 2016.” However, Karnes noted that as legalization happens in more and more states that the time to get each states’ program up and running will become progressively shorter.
Recent projections from the industry leading ArcView Group say that the market value was at $1.53 billion in 2013 and will reach $2.57 billion by the end of 2014. ArcView’s five year estimate chalks the industry’s value up $10.2 billion. It seems likely then that ArcView has accounted for a more conservative road toward legalization where some if not all of the 12 states mentioned pass legislation. Considering that marijuana is still scheduled as a Schedule I Drug, this conservative estimate seems more likely in current circumstances.
In Colorado, recreational sales have officially eclipsed medical sales and tax revenues continue to climb. Meanwhile, Washington’s can’t seem to fill the demand for recreational marijuana. With the fate of marijuana legislation already on three ballots for this fall one thing is certain: the industry is expanding quickly.
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Cash is flowing into Oregon in an effort to legalize marijuana and voters seem to be reacting positively. Portland’s Fox 12 News conducted a poll last week in which Portland voters ranked marijuana legislation as the second most important issue this November, only losing out to Jobs & Economy. The poll was conducted October 8 through October 11 with over 500 likely voters.
Just two years ago, a separate measure to legalize marijuana failed 53 to 47 percent. Although the numbers were close, the failure to pass the ballot measure boiled down to one thing: lack of funding. While Oregonians struggled to pass the measure back in 2012, out-of-state cash flowed into both Colorado and Washington helping each state secure a victory for the legalization team. The defeat is still fresh in the minds of Oregonian legalization proponents while their neighbors to the north are enjoying a renewed sense of personal freedom. Perhaps that’s why Oregon has gotten serious with their campaign this fall and taken on serous funding.
Although earlier polls pegged the number of supporters as much lower (44% supporting and 40% opposing) it looks like there is growing support for legalization. According to Fox 12’s more recent poll, it looks like legalization is leading by several percentage points for November’s vote.
The state’s legalization campaign, New Approach Oregon has now raised over $3 million in cash and contributions to support the campaigns efforts with education and a wave of statewide ads. Among top contributors to the cause are George Soros who gave over half a million through Drug Policy Action (the political arm of Drug Policy Alliance) and the late billionaire Peter Lewis who gave $300,000 just last week.
Opponents of the measure have not faired as well in their efforts to halt legalization. The Oregon State Sheriff’s Association was the largest contributor to the Vote No on 91 campaign which has raised just $168,337 with $145,000 of that coming from the State Sheriffs’ Association. If funding is the biggest indicator of ballot results, it looks like the pro-legalization team has this one in the bag. Read below for some of the top donors to each campaign.
The Top five cash donors to New Approach Oregon:
1. Drug Policy Action,* $940,000
2. New Approach PAC,* $750,000
3. Drug Policy Action Fund for Oregon, $150,000
3. Philip Harvey,* $150,000
5. Henry van Ameringen,* $100,000
The Top five Cash Donors To No On 91:
1. Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, $145,000
2. Oregon Narcotics Enforcement Association, $20,000
3. Save Our Society from Drugs,* $500
4. Shirley Morgan, $500
5. Tiffany Hicks, $500
* Denotes out-of-state contributor
Photo Credit: Oregonlive.com
Colorado’s monthly marijuana sales tax report for August was released at the beginning of this month and indicated yet another month of growth. Marijuana purchases in August totaled more than $60 Million, but some of those purchases aren’t staying in Colorado. The issue has become frustrating for Nebraska cities bordering the Colorado state line.
In the small town of Sidney Nebraska, population 7,000, police are facing a 100% increase in marijuana arrests between 2013 and 2014. Sidney Police Chief BJ Wilkinson says that 50% of traffic stops result in a marijuana arrest. It’s not just affecting Sidney though, all of Cheyennne County has been afflicted by the abundance of legal marijuana just 10 miles away. “It has affected on the budget side just because on the jail side we’ve had an increase of people,” said Cheyenne County Sheriff, John Jensen. Cheyenne county saw just 15 marijuana related arrests in 2009. Those numbers surged to 60 arrests in 2013 and the trend is likely to continue upwards as access to the plant just became a whole lot easier.
Local law enforcement officers site jailing costs, public defenders, and police overtime as some of the biggest expenses that come as a result of this influx of marijuana. Authorities are looking for stiffer penalties to discourage residents from bringing cannabis back across state lines. “You know if you can smoke marijuana and walk out of court with 120 dollars fine and nothing else that may not be as much of an impact if you walk out of court with a 1,200 dollar fine,” said Sidney Police Chief BJ Wilkinson.
However, stronger penalties may not do enough to restrict residents from possessing and consuming a plant that is perfectly legal just a stone’s throw away in Colorado. Perhaps it’s time for law enforcement to consider ballot initiatives to decriminalize the drug like some major cities in Texas have done. Until then, it is unlikely that Nebraska residents will quit smoking or find a better place to access safe, regulated, and taxed marijuana.