Well the year is ending and we are looking forward to the New Year with hope and anticipation when it comes to marijuana law reform. Several big changes are working their way through the system but there will not be any big changes to the drug law situation till after the New Year.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet in January to, according to Senator Patrick Leahy Chairman of the committee, hold a hearing in light of recently passed State laws legalizing personal marijuana use. Given the fiscal constraints of Federal Law enforcement, Leahy asked in a letter to the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske how the administration plans to use Federal resources in light of new laws in Washington and Colorado, as well as what recommendations the agency is making to the Department of Justice. Time to start burying that committee in letters! Listed below are the current committee members. They might change after the new Congress in January but most will remain the same.
Senator Patrick Leahy, D Vermont, Senator Herb Kohl, D Wisconsin, Senator Dianne Feinstein, D California, Senator Chuck Shumer, D NewYork, Senator Dick Durbin D Illinois, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D Rhode Island, Senator Amy Klobuchar, D Minnesota, Senator Al Franken, D Minnesota, Senator Christopher Coons, D Delaware, Senator Richard Blumenthal, D Connecticut, Senator Chuck Grassley, R Iowa, Senator Orrin Hatch, R Utah, Senator Jon Kyl, R Arizona, Senator Jeff Sessions, R Alabama, Senator Lindsey Graham, R South Carolina, Senator John Cornyn, R Texas, Senator Michal Lee, R Utah, and Senator Tom Coburn, R Oklahoma. When you write them be sure to address your letters and emails to Judicial Committee Member Senator so and so, or address the letters to the committee as a whole. This is important as Senators do not address concerns of the constituents of other Senators and they will tell you to write your own Senator, but as the committee or a member of the committee they should take your letter under consideration.
On the legal front, the case of the rescheduling petition for marijuana which was denied by the Drug Enforcement Administration should be decided soon. The denial of the petition based on marijuana being ‘dangerous and having no medical value’ could open up the medical marijuana industry. Legal scholars have deemed the Government’s position as not tenable and any ruling that takes marijuana out of its schedule 1 classification opens the door to full implementation of existing State Medical Marijuana laws.
Our friends in South America have gotten busy in the reform of drug laws by holding several high profile gatherings to call for reform in their countries. All are impressed at the progress Portugal has made in reforming Its laws, changing them from the destructive American model of prohibition and punishment to policies designed to lessen the harm of drug addiction and provide rehabilitation to the citizens. Portugal’s approach has cut in half all the markers by which we measure the damage that results from drug use and abuse. Possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use in Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela is not a crime. In some ways these politicians are ahead of the Americans on this issue.
Here in Kentucky the re-filed Gatewood Galbraith Memorial Medical Marijuana Act will be considered by the Assembly. The original version was stalled in the Judiciary committee last year. Also there is a big push by the State Agriculture Commissioner to legalize industrial hemp for production by our farmers. Many believe that Kentucky should go for it and legalize across the board what was originally a Kentucky industry and get a jump on the emerging industrial, medical and recreational cannabis market.
Whatever happens in cannabis law reform, it’s certainly going to be an exciting year. Stick around kiddies, things are about to get, very interesting!