Tag Archives: decriminalization of cannabis

Momentum Builds With Schumer’s Bill To Legalize Marijuana

Seth Goldberg
Seth A. Goldberg

Just weeks after Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo) introduced bi-partisan legislation to make marijuana lawful under a state’s marijuana laws also lawful under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation removing marijuana from the CSA altogether on Wednesday, June 27.  Schumer’s bill also comes just one day after Oklahoman’s passed legislation legalizing medical marijuana in their traditionally red state, and one day before the U.S. Senate passed legislation legalizing hemp for all purposes, including extracts from hemp, such as cannabidiol.

By removing from the purview of the CSA, state-legal cannabis and proceeds derived therefrom, the Warren/Gardner legislation, if passed, would likely have the effect of nationwide legalization, but state operators and consumers would still need to be concerned about marijuana’s Schedule 1 status under the CSA, whereas the Schumer bill, if passed, would eliminate those concerns by removing marijuana from the CSA.

Adult-Use Marijuana Bill Introduced in New Jersey

Seth Goldberg
Seth A. Goldberg

With the election of Phil Murphy as New Jersey Governor in 2017, the possibility of New Jersey becoming one of the next states to pass recreational marijuana legislation became very real, as this was among the issues key to Murphy’s campaign.

On Tuesday, January 9, 2018, less than one week after AG Sessions issued guidance to all US Attorneys rescinding Obama-era policies deprioritizing the federal prosecution of state-lawful cannabis-related activities, that possibility became more of a likelihood, as New Jersey Sen. Nicholas Scutari introduced Senate Bill 830, which would allow for the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes in New Jersey by those 21 and older.

The legislation proposes adults would be permitted to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solids, 72 ounces in liquid form, 7 grams of concentrate and up to six immature plants, and establishes a sales tax on marijuana that would rise incrementally from 7 percent to 25 percent over five years.

2018 Should Be The Year Cannabis Ends The Opioid Crisis…. Fingers Crossed!

Seth Goldberg
Seth A. Goldberg

Articles appearing this week in the LA Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among other recent articles, highlight the horrors of the opioid crisis and the need for research into cannabis as a possible solution.  While the federal government warns about the spiraling toll of the opioid epidemic, it refuses to grant the applications of world-renowned scientists at major universities and research centers seeking to explore the ways in which the well-documented therapeutic properties of cannabis can alleviate the pain and suffering – physical, emotional and financial – being caused by opioid abuse.  There is no shortage of deep pockets willing to fund the research, and US-based scientists are ready, willing and able to get to work, yet the federal government refuses to depart from its antiquated “reefer madness” established in the early 20th Century.  2018 should be the year the federal government stops blocking cannabis research so that scientists can determine if and how cannabis can stem the opioid crisis.  Fingers crossed!



David Feldman

Massachusetts Approves Cannabis Adult Use Legislation

Eight months after Massachusetts voters approved legal adult use of cannabis,on July 28, 2017, reluctant Republican Gov. Charlie Barker signed legislation to start a year long phase-in of permitting adults to buy and use cannabis. The expectation is that the first stores will be open by next July.

The legislation imposes a 20% tax on adult use cannabis, of which 3% will go to local municipalities. Also, in a unique feature, local governments will have the option to prohibit cannabis stores in their area, unless voters approved the measure in their municipality, in which case voter approval would be required to ban stores. Estimates are that as much as $300 million in taxes might be collected in the state just in the first two years after implementation.

A Cannabis Control Commission has to be appointed by August 1 and the commission will issue regulations by March. As the most populous Eastern state to approve adult use, will Boston and other Massachusetts destinations such as Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod see a surge in “cannabis tourism” as Colorado has? Only time will tell.

David Feldman

Lawsuit: Cannabis Criminalization is Unconstitutional

Former NFL star Marvin Washington and others yesterday filed a lawsuit in New York against the US Government and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The suit is seeking to declare the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which makes cannabis illegal under federal law, unconstitutional as to its classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, deeming it as dangerous as heroin. If successful, the suit could result in the immediate national federal legalization of cannabis. Many don’t realize that the CSA replaced another law, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which also was declared unconstitutional in the late 1960s after activist Timothy Leary was arrested for marijuana possession and successfully challenged the law’s validity.

The lawyers behind the suit are well-known in NY cannabis circles and believe they have a legitimate case. Quoted in MJBizDaily, Michael Hiller says bluntly that the CSA “doesn’t make any rational sense, and the federal government knows it.” In addition to Washington, the plaintiffs include two young children, a US veteran and a cannabis industry association all claiming harm by the CSA.

The suit argues that the CSA, or how it was adopted, violated the Due Process Clause, the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. They claim, among other things, that the main purpose the Nixon Administration pushed for marijuana as a Schedule I drug was to incarcerate African Americans and war protesters, believing they were heavy users of cannabis. In the past the US Supreme Court has upheld the right of the federal government to criminalize cannabis, so there is no way to determine whether their efforts will pay off. Interesting stuff.

David Feldman

The World is Slowly Legalizing Cannabis

A fascinating article in Wikipedia scours the globe to see which countries have taken action to legalize or decriminalize the use of cannabis. While we focus heavily on the dramatic trend here in the US, with 29 states and the District of Columbia having legalized at least medical marijuana, it is happening elsewhere too. The most dramatic thus far have been Uruguay, which has fully legalized marijuana, and Canada, which is implementing nationwide legal adult use cannabis next year. South Africa’s prohibitions on private cultivation and use of marijuana were declared invalid this year, so it is now legal there. Possession for personal use of up to 22 grams of marijuana has been legal in Colombia since 1994.

While the majority of countries still prohibit and criminalize the production or sale of cannabis, dozens of nations have decriminalized it, so you just pay a fine if you are caught. Over a dozen countries have legal medical marijuana, and more are considering legal adult use. Here is a list (from the Wikipedia article) of which countries are which.

Legal medical marijuana: Australia, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Macedonia, Mexico, Phillipines, Poland, Turkey, Uruguay

Legal adult use marijuana: Canada (coming), Colombia, India (only in several provinces), South Africa, Spain (with limitations), Uruguay

Marijuana use decriminalized: Belgium, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Greece, Israel (coming), Jamaica (personal use cultivation legal), Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, US Virgin Islands