Voters In Two States Nominate Marijuana Legalization Supporters for Governor

Voters In Two States Nominate Marijuana Legalization Supporters for Governor

Tuesday’s primary elections brought in a wave of Democratic gubernatorial candidates who’ve endorsed marijuana legalization—from Maryland to Colorado.

Here’s a breakdown of where the gubernatorial primary winners stand on cannabis.

Maryland

Democratic winner: Ben Jealous, former NAACP president

Jealous campaigned as a progressive, pro-legalization candidate for governor, earning him the endorsements of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), among others. He spoke to Marijuana Moment earlier this month about how comedian Dave Chappelle first put the idea of legalization in his head—and how his stance on cannabis reform further evolved after studying racial disparities in marijuana enforcement as well as the economic potential of full legalization. Jealous told Marijuana Moment that, if elected governor, he would use tax revenue from a legal cannabis retail system to fund universal pre-k education throughout Maryland.

“We know that we have to end mass incarceration—and yet go further,” he said. “We have to really get back to opening up the gates of opportunity for all of our children. And by legalizing cannabis, we get to make progress on both fronts.”

Every single Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Maryland backed legalization during the primary, The Baltimore Sun reported, but Jealous seemed to focus on it more than most other major contenders.

Republican winner: Larry Hogan, incumbent governor

Hogan hasn’t taken an official stance on full marijuana legalization and, notably, declined to respond to a question about whether he felt voters should be entrusted to make that decision as part of a state referendum last year.

Just ahead of the primary election this week, however, Hogan said that “[a]t this point, I think it’s worth taking a look at” in reference to full legalization.

“I was for medical cannabis. I want to make sure we’re off to the right start and we look at every aspect of the issue.”

The governor signed a bill last month that expanded Maryland’s medical marijuana program. The legislation called for increased licenses for cannabis processors and growers; it was also designed to resolve the lack of diversity among individuals and businesses that receive these licenses.

Colorado

Democratic winner: Jared Polis, U.S. representative

The sitting congressman has made a concerted effort to distinguish his support for marijuana reform from his competitors as well as the state’s incumbent Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper. He emphasized the need to protect the state’s recreational cannabis program from federal interference in an interview with Marijuana Moment, saying that, as governor, he “would make sure that we would not cooperate from the state-level and that state law enforcement resources were not used and information was not shared with any federal agent going after a legal, constitutionally protected Colorado activity.”

Polis, who has consistently championed cannabis bills and amendments in Congress, also vowed to approve legislation that would facilitate investments in the state’s marijuana program and expand the list of conditions that qualify patients for medical cannabis to include those on the autism spectrum—measures that Hickenlooper recently vetoed, much to the chagrin of legalization advocates.

The nominee has argued that the state’s regulated marijuana program provides valuable economic resources and that cannabis may serve as a viable alternative to dangerous and addictive opioids for pain patients.

Pro-legalization advocacy group, NORML endorsed Polis in May.

“The results from the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary are not just a victory for Jared Polis and supporters of sensible marijuana policy, they are a victory for anyone who believes that our prohibition on marijuana was a failure and that states should be free to set their own policies when it comes to cannabis, free from federal incursion,” NORML PAC executive director Erik Altieri said in a press release on Tuesday.

“Jared Polis has been the preeminent champion for ending our nation’s failed federal prohibition on marijuana while in Congress and an unrelenting force in standing up for Colorado’s legalization and medical marijuana laws. Just as he has always stood and fought by our side against federal prohibition, we will continue to fight for Jared Polis until he takes his rightful place in the governor’s mansion.”

Republican winner: Walker Stapleton, Colorado treasurer

Stapleton hasn’t gone on the record fully embracing the state’s recreational marijuana program, but he stood out among his Republican gubernatorial competition by disagreeing with the notion of advancing an agenda to repeal Colorado’s legal marijuana law, Amendment 64. He’s also acknowledged marijuana’s medical benefits.

“There have been a lot of unintended consequences that have come with legalization of marijuana,” Stapleton told Westword. “I don’t think a repeal is a realistic option, so as governor, I will work with the industry and stakeholder groups to make this work.”

“We need to have better guardrails in place to keep it out of the hands of children and to address some of the unintended consequences we have seen develop,” he said.

Oklahoma

Democratic winner: Drew Edmondson, former Oklahoma attorney general

The former state attorney general said that he supported earlier legislation that reduced criminal penalties for marijuana possession and said he would also support State Question 788—an initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma that passed on Tuesday.

However, Edmondson stopped short of embracing full legalization. He told Tulsa World that he believes “it is too early for full legalization in Oklahoma, but we do have the benefit of observing the long-term effects in Colorado and other states.”

Republican winner: Mick Cornett, Oklahoma City mayor

Cornett hasn’t said much about his personal views about marijuana reform on the record, but a spokesperson for the mayor told The Associated Press that “[o]ne of the strengths of Oklahomans is their willingness to help people,” in reference to a bill to legalize medical cannabis in the state, which passed on Tuesday.

“If this ballot measure can help Oklahomans, it is likely to pass.”

Cornett’s Republican competitor, Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, was decidedly opposed to the legalization initiative, arguing that it was “poorly written and will create a host of societal problems.”

South Carolina

Republican winner: Henry McMaster, incumbent governor

Last year, McMaster, who won a runoff election on Tuesday night, said flatly that he believed it was “a bad idea to legalize marijuana” and that he doesn’t “think it’s healthy.”

It was unclear whether the governor was describing his stance on full, adult-use legalizationor if he considered medical cannabis reform an exception, however.

South Carolina Rep. James Smith (D), who became the Democratic gubernatorial primary nominee earlier this month, said he supported medical cannabis and co-sponsored a piece of legislation to legalize a medical program.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Voters In Two States Nominate Marijuana Legalization Supporters for Governor

South Carolina Senate Blocks Medical Cannabis Bill

South Carolina Senate Blocks Medical Cannabis Bill

A bill that would have allowed for the use of medical cannabis for patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain and several other debilitating conditions has been rejected in a vote of 7-4 in the South Carolina state senate.

Additionally, The South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act, S 672, would have created a state regulated system of medical cannabis cultivators, dispensaries, and testing labs. A summary of the failed bill can be read here.

Senator Tom Davis, the bill’s lead sponsor told the Senate Medical Affairs Committee that medical cannabis “is something that is providing real relief to people who are suffering.”

Unfortunately republican Senators Kevin Johnson and Mile Fair said the bill could do more harm than good.

For many South Carolinians news of the bill’s rejection was terrible news.

“Every second of every day my brain tells me to kill myself. I have 5 suicide attempts.”

said Jonathan Lubecky, a Marine Corps and Army veteran who served in Iraq living in South Carolina.

“She needs the whole plant, and we need the availability to try different strains of it, and it’s just like regular medicines–different strains help different conditions and people respond different ways.”

stated April Pace, speaking of her daughter Dixie.

Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Through South Carolina Senate Subcommittee

Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Through South Carolina Senate Subcommittee

A South Carolina Senate subcommittee passed a bill last Thursday to approve marijuana for medical use. The bill would make patients who suffer from a designated list of medical conditions eligible to obtain a medical marijuana license after obtaining a doctor’s prescription.

Following the subcommittee approval, the bill will now head to a full Senate Medical Affair Committee. The subcommittee will first meet to gather input from those opposing the bill in hopes of improvement.

According to the bill, a seed-to-sale tracking system would be put into place and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control would be in control of licensing cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries.

During a hearing Thursday, the subcommittee heard from those opposing the bill, including Mark Keel, the State Law Enforcement Division Chief. Keel said that some doctors in other states with medical marijuana laws have become “pill mills,” just handing out medical marijuana prescriptions to anyone for a fee, even just to accommodate minor aches and pains. He said that those states have seen an increase in overall cannabis use, marijuana-fueled traffic accidents, and emergency room visits for children who ingested edibles. Keel spoke on how he feels about the bill,

“I don’t know of any other proposed legislation that I’ve been aware of, and certainly not since I was director of the Department of Public Safety and more involved with the legislature or since I’ve been the chief of SLED, that I think has the opportunity to negatively impact the state that we live in than this piece of legislation.”

Those who are sponsoring the bill disagree. They believe that there are, in fact, many conditions for which marijuana can provide relief.

One of the supporters, Sen. Tom Davis, believes it not politicians’ right to tell a patient he is not allowed access to something that could help,

“If a doctor, with all his or her training, believes something can be of therapeutic benefit, why in the world would we as politicians, for reasons that are non-medical, step in and say no?”

The bill making it through the subcommittee is a promising step in the right direction for those in South Carolina who need the benefits medical marijuana has to offer.

Rally for the Legalization of Medical Marijuana in South Carolina

Rally for the Legalization of Medical Marijuana in South Carolina

A group called Yeah That Cure encouraged more than six dozen people to rally to support the legalization of medical marijuana in South Carolina.

Organizer of the rally and founder of the group, Emily McSherry (pictured below), remarked that there are not enough people in the city who are doing their part in raising awareness of the issue of medical marijuana legalization in the Palmetto State.

emily mcsherry

Plenty of people disagree with her, however. Executive director Rich Jones of Faces and Voices of Recovery commented that the idea of marijuana being safe is a major issue. His organization helps those on the road to substance abuse recovery, and he feels that if marijuana were legal, it would raise the number of problems people experience. “It creates a mentality that it’s acceptable and it’s okay, and increases the number of kids who will try this,” said Jones.

Jones’s opinion contradicts the recent study by Harvard University, which found that legalization is not encouraging use. His views also do not align with the study that found that states with legal medical marijuana had 25 percent fewer prescription painkiller induced deaths than other states.

On the other hand, McSherry, who plans to eventually organize a seminar to educate people, feels compassion for those who support and use medical marijuana to treat debilitating medical conditins. McSherry explained to WYFF4,

“Even though it started out researching for my own use, now I feel the compassion of being able to expand this for use for everyone in our state, everyone in the country, in the world even.”

She uses cannabidiol (CBD) oil treat her epilepsy which causes her to suffer several seizures per week. Cannabidiol is one of the more than 80 identified cannabinoids found in marijuana, but unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it is non-psychoactive.

As of right now, certain cannabis oils are permitted for particular medical conditions by prescription only, and marijuana containing THC remains illegal in the state. Supporters like McSherry will continue to spread their message and hope to reach out to people across the country with this movement.

photo credit: WYFF4

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