Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has decided that Initiative 502 that legalized recreational marijuana does not prevent cities and localities from banning marijuana sales. “Although (the law) establishes a licensing and regulatory system for marijuana producers, processors and retailers in Washington state, it includes no clear indication that it was intended to pre-empt local authority to regulate such businesses,” Ferguson stated. Initiative author Alison Holcomb responded, “The initiative explicitly and specifically gives the Liquor Control Board the task of providing ‘adequate access to licensed sources … to discourage purchases from the illegal market. It is hard to see how allowing cities and counties to ban stores does not directly conflict with this provision of the state law.” The opinion is not binding, but some advocates fear taking the issue to court may invite the possibility the whole commercial marijuana system is invalidated due to conflict with federal law. Colorado, unlike Washington, explicitly allows localities to opt out of marijuana sales and many have, including the state’s second-largest city, Colorado Springs.
The mainstream media is beginning to pick up on the marijuana theme of a Denver Broncos / Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl. In his monologue, late night talk host Jay Leno joked about “a whole new meaning to the term Super Bowl,” and the Sacramento Bee interviewed officials from NORML and MPP about the possible matchup of the two teams from America’s two largest legal marijuana cities battling it out for the NFL Championship. And in Colorado, the Boston Herald reports on New England Patriots fans in Denver already stocking up at the city’s legal pot shops. “We had 45 people from Massachusetts today — I’d say at least 80 percent of them are here for the game,” said the owner of Mile High Cannabis, just across the street from the formerly-named Mile High Stadium home of the Broncos, “We saw 250 to 300 San Diego Chargers fans last weekend. I know for a fact we’re going to see well over 300 Boston fans.”
A review panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals let stand today three previous rulings by lower courts that rejected appeals by medical marijuana dispensaries. At issue is the pressure used by the federal government against landlords of marijuana dispensaries and the dispensaries themselves for violations of the Controlled Substances Act and other federal laws. Dispensary attorneys had argued for an injunction from the court against the federal government, citing Constitutional issues that they believed should have allowed California’s Compassionate Use Act to protect the dispensaries. The judges ruled yesterday that no new arguments had been raised, the Constitutional issues raised were moot to this application of the law, and federal law still trumps state law on the issue.
State Sen. Diane Savino of New York has said that the recent plan by Gov. Cuomo to use the so-called “Olivieri Law” to provide access to medical marijuana at select New York hospitals is “unworkable”. “If I thought we could do it through the Olivieri law it would be great, but we’ve looked at this, consulted a few attorneys. It’s not possible,” said Sen. Savino, who is sponsoring a medical marijuana measure again in Albany. “Hospitals can’t distribute medical marijuana, period,” she said. “They are federally licensed facilities. The federal government will happily come in and shut them down, take their licenses away, and take away their license to distribute other [scheduled] drugs which they can’t afford to do.” Sen. Savino also doubts the hospitals would have any marijuana to distribute anyway, saying, “You can’t transfer marijuana across state lines. Again, it’s a federal law. The idea that we would allow a hospital to distribute marijuana that’s been seized in a drug raid and give it to patients is absolutely absurd. Nobody knows what’s in that stuff.”
Baltimore City Delegate Curt Anderson has proposed a bill in Maryland to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. “We say let’s have the government regulate it, tax it. We can raise more than $100 million a year. We’ll stop wasting law enforcement resources,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Montgomery County. Baltimore’s own Neill Franklin, head of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, explains, “Sixty percent of the profits made by drug dealers out there today come from marijuana sales.” Sara Love, head of the Maryland ACLU added, “In Baltimore City, African Americans are 68 percent of the city. They are 92 percent of all [marijuana] arrests.” Despite growing support for legalization nationwide, the bill faces stiff hurdles in the form of opposition from the Speaker of the House and the Governor.