A Congressional committee approved a landmark bill Wednesday that would decriminalise and tax cannabis on the federal level—but it’s unclear whether or when the House will vote on it and whether it could ever pass a Republican-controlled Senate.
Big number: 50. That’s the number of co-sponsors on the bill. Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are backers of the Senate’s version.
Key background: Congress passed the first law effectively criminalising cannabis in 1937, and in 1956 passed another law that set mandatory prison sentences for drug-related offenses which included cannabis. Despite Republicans’ opposition to cannabis, 11 states and the District of Columbia have legalised cannabis for recreational usage, while medical cannabis is legal in 33 states plus D.C. As of last week, the Pew Research Center found that two out of three Americans support legalisation.
Tangent: Joe Biden said during a weekend Las Vegas town hall that not “enough evidence” exists to prove whether cannabis is a “gateway drug.” Research, however, says the majority of people who use cannabis do not “go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. An alternate theory suggests that people who use drugs are predisposed to do so, and that drive is not linked to any specific drug.
Wellington’s historic Temperance Hotel has once again opened its doors to the public by housing the Cannabis Science Institute of New Zealand and Wellington’s first cannabis social club, The Daktory.
The Temperance building has long been associated with early development of Courtenay Place, and the commercial and economic growth of Wellington. It is the goal of The Cannabis Science Institute to restore the community spirit and work together with professionals, leaders, and politicians to provide the research and education which the public needs in regards to cannabis. The Daktory will also be located on premises, which will allow this former ‘house of hospitality’ to yet again open its doors, welcoming new members to join and have a safe space to consume their cannabis.
With the upcoming referendum happening in 2020, the Cannabis Science Institute has been established to campaign for the voices of those already in the cannabis community.
“The major opportunity for New Zealand here is to lead the way with this reform by opting for a community focused model, such as the model they are using in Uruguay” says Jeffery Hodgson, Chairman of the Cannabis Science Institute of New Zealand. “In order to do that we need to establish a regulation system that is designed and influenced by the existing cannabis community in New Zealand. The last thing we want is for overseas corporates to come in and monopolise this market, it should be something designed by the people, for the people, in accordance with the New Zealand government’s focus on Mental Health.”
Dakta Green, The Daktory Social Club says “we have members of our social club who are undergoing cancer treatments, and people who would rather have cannabis than alcohol. We welcome people from all backgrounds and walks of life to join us and unite in our desire to see cannabis become financially and physically accessible to all New Zealanders. We provide a safe space for people to consume, have a giggle and spend time with like-minded individuals. Moving to the Temperance building is a fantastic opportunity for our club and community. We look forward to collaborating with the Cannabis Science Institute to provide evidence based research and education.”
The official ribbon cutting ceremony took place at The Temperance, 8 Cambridge Terrace, 19th of November at 4pm. Members of the public and the press were invited to join the celebration.
Two men charged after an undercover raid at a Wellington cannabis club have elected to go to trial.
Dakta Green and John Middeldorp pleaded not guilty before Wellington District Court judge Arthur Tompkins on Monday.
Both men are charged with possessing cannabis for supply, supplying cannabis baked goods and supplying to an undercover police officer at the Daktory.
Their lawyer Michael Bott said it was expected that Middeldorp's wife was to be charged too, and she would also be going to trial.
Both men were remanded on bail to November for their case to be reviewed.
Green, who opened "The Daktory" in Mt Victoria in April, had said the club was a "safe haven" that boasts 700 cannabis consumers.
He said it was high time for a cannabis club in the capital.
Australian Capital Territory has become the first Australian state or territory to legalise the possession and small scale cultivation of cannabis after landmark legislation passed the ACT Parliament.
Under the new legislation, adults will be able to possess up to 50 grams of dried cannabis for personal use and cultivate two plants at their residence – for a maximum of four plants per household.
It puts Canberra completely at odds with Australia's Commonwealth law, under which possession and cultivation is still largely illegal, carrying significant fines and imprisonment in some states.
HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The legislation isn't effective yet
Before you rush to Canberra to light up, you should know that it's not legal quite yet.
The new laws won't become effective until 31 January 2020, when they're due to be signed off on by the health minister. It's a date which will no doubt spark something of an informal festival in the capital.
POSSESSION AND CULTIVATION WILL BE LEGAL BUT WITH LIMITS
As long as you're over 18, you will be able to possess 50 grams of dried cannabis or 150 grams of the fresh stuff. In addition, an individual will be allowed to cultivate two plants at home with a maximum of four plants allowed at one residence.
WHAT'S STILL ILLEGAL UNDER THE NEW LEGISLATION?
It's a long list.
Firstly, you shouldn't get your hopes up before you start organising a February trip to Canberra. There won't be vendors popping up to sell weed and it'll still be illegal to buy any, as has been the case in parts of the US and Canada.
In fact, it'll still be illegal in the ACT to even be given any. ACT chief police officer Ray Johnson has warned that even if no money changes hands, gifting or sharing weed is still technically an offence.
"If there's evidence that someone is providing cannabis to someone else, that's supply and that's an offence," he told ABC radio on Wednesday.
You can't smoke in public space and you also won't be able to buy, sell or provide seeds to anyone in order to grow plants. That creates a strange legal space where you'll have to technically break the law to begin legally growing.
Any hydroponic or "artificial" cultivation remains illegal, as does growing on commercial or community property, including nature strips. That goes to for driving under the influence of cannabis as well.
CANNABIS IS STILL ILLEGAL UNDER AUSTRALIAN LAW
That means that while Canberra's territory laws allow possession and cultivation, you could still be prosecuted under Commonwealth laws. It puts police officers in a very strange position.
"On the face of it, regardless of the passing of the bill, possession of cannabis would remain illegal in the ACT by effect of Commonwealth law," Johnson wrote to the ACT's Legislative Assembly. "This would create a tension for ACT Policing members between their obligation to implement ACT government policy intent and to have regard for the Commonwealth criminal law."
Those Commonwealth laws are pretty tough, including a maximum prison sentence of two years.
While clarity is still lacking, the general idea appears to be that it remains up to individual police to decide how to proceed. It's assumed they'll use discretion and go by the new Territory laws, but no one really has a concrete answer at this stage.
WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE THE OTHER STATES AND TERRITORIES?
Again, it's very much illegal elsewhere in Australia – including New South Wales which fully encircles the ACT.
If you were to take legal weed from Canberra and then leave its borders, you can be charged just as you were before the legislation came into effect. Those penalties include fines and, in the most serious cases, imprisonment.
This story originally appeared on BusinessInsider.com.au
Possessing and growing cannabis for personal use looks set to become legal in Australia’s capital.
The ACT Legislative Assembly is expected to pass a private member’s bill on Wednesday from Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson that would allow Canberrans over 18 to possess 50 grams of cannabis and grow two plants.
Labor needs the backing of the Greens to pass the bill, and they have offered conditional support.
The attorney-general, Gordon Ramsay, told the assembly it was time to treat drug addition like a health issue rather than an issue of “right and wrong”, which is why the laws would be accompanied by more drug and alcohol services and the introduction of specific drug courts.
He acknowledged possessing and growing cannabis would remain a federal offence, and the risk of prosecution was “not entirely removed”, but “in practice” the laws would not apply.
The ACT shadow attorney-general, Jeremy Hanson, told the assembly on Wednesday the Liberal opposition would not be supporting the bill as it was badly drafted and would lead to a number of “perverse outcomes”.
He said it would encourage more people to use cannabis – which medical professionals say would lead to increased rates of psychosis – and more people would be charged with drug-driving.
And the fact it conflicted with commonwealth law would be confusing for police.
“This puts not only individuals at a greater level of risk but our police will be out there on the beat working in this unclear legal framework,” Hanson said.
A review of the laws will be conducted within three years.
Residents of the bush capital wouldn’t be able to light up immediately, with the ACT’s health minister needing to sign off on when the law would come into effect.
Pettersson said a defence exists for cannabis use under commonwealth law if the use is excused or justified by state or territory law.
“Commonwealth law has been written with the express understanding that there are differences,” Pettersson said.
“I don’t think it’s particularly likely the commonwealth government will try to fight this.”
Federal attorney-general Christian Porter said the bill was a matter for the ACT, but where commonwealth laws applied they remained enforceable.
A spokeswoman for ACT chief minister Andrew Barr said the government had consulted with ACT Policing and the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions.
A spokesman for federal health minister Greg Hunt said any problems with commonwealth law were a matter for the attorney-general, but the federal government did not support legalising cannabis for recreational use.
Amendments made to the original bill require cannabis to be kept out of reach of children, and bar adults from using it near children or growing it in community gardens.
It’s not the first time laws introduced by the territory have clashed with federal laws.
In 2013, the capital legalised same-sex marriage only to have the federal government revoke the law after it took a challenge to the High court.
Before that, in 1995, the Northern Territory legalised voluntary euthanasia only to have the federal government later legislate to stop the nation’s territories from specifically introducing assisted dying.
Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa set to introduce legislation banning most flavoured e-cigarettes
Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa has today announced that the government will introduce legislation banning most flavoured e-cigarettes, with the exception of tobacco, menthol and mint.
The new legislation also includes heavy restrictions on marketing, treating e-cigarettes in a similar way to tobacco, with bans on advertising, social media and discount pricing.
If you feel that this goes against New Zealand achieving the Smoke-free 2025 goal, or will impact you in any way, please let the government know your views by sending an email to Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa: firstname.lastname@example.org and Health Minister David Clark: email@example.com
You can also join the campaign to stop the proposed ban on flavoured e-cigarettes at the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy Group on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/groups/NZAVCA/