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Cannabis Legalization

New Jersey Governor Vetoes Cannabis Expungement Bill

Jordan Webber

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NJ Governor Vetoes Cannabis Expungement Bill

After the state of New Jersey passed the Jake Honig Medical Marijuana Act a few months ago, lawmakers had proposed another bill to help the convicted marijuana users. However, Governor Phil Murphy vetoed that legislation on Friday, August 23, that would have expedited expungements for individuals with certain cannabis convictions on their record.

According to an article published in High Times, the Democratic governor rejected the legislation “because it did not go far enough” and has introduced his own recommendations on how to improve the state’s current expungement process instead.

“I applaud the sponsors’ commitment to social justice, and their efforts to correct historic wrongs inflicted on our communities by a criminal justice system that has at times unfairly, and harshly punished individuals,” Governor Murphy said.

“I believe, however, that this bill could go further in order to more fully and effectively achieve its intended goals,” he continued.

In rejecting the said bill, Governor Murphy has, instead, urged lawmakers to create a task force designed to help the state come up with a better expungement process for individuals who have not been convicted of crimes for 10 years. The governor’s suggestion also includes looking at Pennsylvania’s recently-passed “Clean Slate Law,” which automatically eliminates certain criminal cases that are 10 years old and older from the public view.

Sponsors of the said bill, however, see the governor’s recent act as “disappointing” and would unfairly exclude some individuals from availing the said process.

“The proposed changes would significantly lessen the number of individuals who would be eligible for expungement,” said state senator Sandra Cunningham, who sponsored the bill.

“If the expungement is a good step toward responsible citizenship, then we should be broadening the opportunity for people to expunge their records and to rejoin the workforce. There has to come a time when we understand the importance of permitting people to have a second chance,” she added.

The New Jersey Senate and Assembly passed the said bill in June, which proposes to clear the records of certain cannabis convictions and reduce the wait times of those who are found guilty with non-marijuana offenses. The bill, however, does not present a clear method of how these proposals would be implemented.

To date, the state Senate and Assembly would need to pass an amended version of the bill, which includes the governor’s suggestions, in order to have the bill signed into law.

“I will continue to work with the Legislature build a more complete system of expungements so that more New Jerseyans are given a second chance and can better reintegrate into our society,” Governor Murphy assured.

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Cannabis Legalization

Community College in Illinois Now Offering Cannabis Course

Jordan Webber

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Illinois Cannabis Dispensary Course

Aspiring budtenders at Illinois dispensaries can now get training certificates with the new cannabis dispensary course at Oakton Community College.

The course helps students prepare for the laws associated with legal marijuana use, consumption, types and treating terminal illnesses. Unlike blow-off classes, this course does not let students touch any marijuana inside the classroom, instead, make use of visuals so students can differentiate each type.

Aside from drug laws, students enrolled in the cannabis dispensary course will learn more about molecular biology and the technical knowledge of working in a marijuana dispensary.

Just recently, the University of Minnesota also opened its new undergraduate Cannabis course.

This is the first and only community college in Illinois that offers a certificate course in cannabis, which highlights practical knowledge on the subject to help students land a job in the multi-billion dollar industry. After the certificate program, students will be trained at a local cannabis dispensary and patient care specialists to help them prepare to work on both medical and recreational settings.

The course will have 12 credit hours with instruction in the business and dispensary operations.

According to the Oakton Community College Vice President for academic affairs, Ileo Lott, the course offering is backed by the increasing demand of people and industry needs. Most of the dispensaries, not only in Illinois, look for employees with relatively high knowledge about marijuana.

Lott added, “They’re [dispensary owners] looking for people who know how to work with chronically ill patients and understand what they need. They’re not looking for enthusiasts who love to use the product.”

Marijuana Legalization In Illinois

The regulations about the medical cannabis patient program or MCPP is yet to be finalized by the Illinois legislation, in preparation for the legal commercial marijuana sales effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Additional medical conditions for the MCCP includes a minimum age of 21 for purchasing smokable medical cannabis like vaping products and other associated accessories. Registered MCCP patients can also grow up to five cannabis plants for personal consumption.

The new medical conditions that qualify for the MCCP include autism, chronic pain, migraines, anorexia nervosa, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Neuropathy, Ulcerative colitis, Polycystic Kidney diseases, Osteoarthritis, Superior canal dehiscence syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and Neuro-Bechet’s autoimmune disease.

Medical practitioners such as nurses and caregivers can also apply for the MCCP to assist patients as opposed to only physicians.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced last Aug. 12, 2019, the permanent medical marijuana program and qualifying conditions for the MCCP.

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Arts & Culture

The Role of LGBT Community in the Cannabis Industry

Stacey Wellington

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Cannabis and LGBT Culture
Cannabis and LGBT

No cannabis historian worth their salt can deny the contributions of the LGBT community in the world of marijuana. Some of the most important events in cannabis history are connected with members of the queer community. If this is the first time you are hearing about this, worry not because here are the most notable connections between both communities.

The First Medical Marijuana Dispensary in the US

Did you know that the first-ever medical marijuana dispensary in the United States was established thanks to the efforts of a gay man? Dennis Peron is the owner of the first dispensary in the country which was launched back in 1991 in San Francisco, California.

Wondering why and how he did so? Well, Peron lost his partner to AIDS, which even then is known to be a condition that can be treated using marijuana. Together with another advocate, he arranged a ballot initiative called Proposition P, which made medical marijuana an accessible option for patients. Around 80% of the voters approved of the bill.

By 1996, Peron organized a signature campaign called California Proposition 215 (also called the Medical Use of Marijuana Initiative or the Compassionate Use Act). The ballot initiative was passed in the November 1996 elections.

Today, Peron’s efforts paid off as California now allows the use not only of medical but also recreational cannabis. In fact, the recreational use of the plant is legal in 8 other states, including Washington D.C. AIDS and HIV are also listed among the chronic and debilitating symptoms and conditions that qualify for MMJ.

The Connection with Harvey Milk

Peron also worked with Harvey Milk, California’s very first openly gay individual elected into public office. Milk was San Francisco’s city supervisor when the Proposition W (also called Stop Prosecuting Marijuana Offenses) was passed on November 1978 with 63.7% voter approval.

The Proposition seeks to cease the arrest and prosecution of people who cultivated, transferred and possessed cannabis. It was organized by Peron, friend and supporter of Milk. The Guardian reported that Milk “helped push” the ordinance.

Milk also advocated rent control and restriction of real estate speculation. Moreover, he worked with labor leaders and opposed corporate interests including redevelopment plans. Unfortunately, Milk was not able to continue his work as he was assassinated by a homophobic cop in November 1978.

Some Marijuana Companies Support the LGBT

Suzannah Weiss from Weedmaps acknowledged that there is evidence of gender inequality in the cannabis sector. According to her, sexism and mistreatment of the LGBT occur in the industry. However, the marijuana community has shown support of the queer community in the past.

While there are companies who rode the support bandwagon to make money, there are cannabis-focused companies that funneled their funds to actually support the community.  Kiva Confections, an edibles producer, made a five-figure donation to the Los Angeles LGBT Center. The donation was announced during RuPaul Drag Race alumni Laganja Estranja’s Pride party last June.

There are also brands that directly collaborated with the queer community throughout the years through charities.

Just as the LGBT community is fighting for rights that have been long denied them, the cannabis community is also advocating for a plant that has contributed to humanity for millennia but has been negatively judged throughout the years. There’s no room for prejudice when talking about the right to use cannabis.

With the oppression and injustices faced by marijuana users in the past, including unjust imprisonment and even death, it makes sense for cannabis advocates to fight for the legalization of the plant. And the LGBT community has contributed greatly to this cause.

 

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Cannabis Legalization

Petition to Legalize Marijuana Submitted to Mississippi’s Secretary of State

Jordan Webber

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Mississippi Medical Marijuana

Mississippians for Compassionate Care, an organization advocating for medical marijuana legalization, turned in a petition to the secretary of state’s office on Wednesday aiming to register medical marijuana on Mississippi’s 2020 ballot.

According to a report from WLBT, the group has submitted a petition with a total of 105, 686 signatures. This totaled way above the minimum of 86,185 signatures required by state law to qualify Initiative 65, aka Medical Marijuana 2020, to appear on the ballot for next year’s election.

Under the law, a minimum of 86,185 certified signatures, with at least 17,237 certified signatures from each of the state’s five congressional districts, must be submitted to the Secretary of State in order for an initiative to be placed on the ballot. Moreover, all signatures must also be certified by county circuit clerks before submission.

The Mississippians for Compassionate Care had managed to originally collect 214,000 signatures in total. However, only 105,686 were certified by local clerks. Nevertheless, the group had insisted they were able to meet all the given requirements.

“The medical marijuana petition, No. 65, was filed [Wednesday]. At this time, we do not know whether the signature requirement has been fulfilled,” said a spokesperson for the secretary of state. “We are in the process of reviewing and determining the number of signatures so as to file with the Legislature on the first day of the 2020 session in accordance with [state law].”

The legality of Cannabis in Mississippi

Under the current Mississippi law, medical and recreational marijuana use remains to be illegal. However, should the initiative be approved by the Secretary of State, the Medical Marijuana 2020 will appear on the ballot for Mississippians to vote on during the November 2020 election.

Once approved by the voters, doctors from Mississippi will be allowed to prescribe medical marijuana for certain medical conditions. This includes cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, and other debilitating diseases.

Although the petition had garnered an impressive number of signatures, many remain to be vocal in opposing the initiative. This includes Gov. Phil Bryant, who had previously shared his opposition on Facebook.

Nevertheless, the Mississippians for Compassionate Care said they remain to be confident that the initiative will be approved by the secretary of state’s office.

“The polling is extremely positive,” said Jamie Grantham, the group’s spokesperson. “It polls above 77 percent, with every age group, religious affiliation, political affiliation, and other groups. Also, to that point, we saw the overwhelming support from the number of signatures we received.”

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