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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 07 Feb 2017 04:20:21 PST

Maine: Voter-Initiated Changes In Law Eliminate Marijuana Possession Penalties

Augusta, ME: Maine became the eighth state to eliminate criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.

Language in Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act, specific to the private possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults, took effect on Monday. Maine voters narrowly passed Question 1 on Election Day.

The new law permits adults who are not participating in the state's existing medical cannabis program to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or the harvest from up to six mature plants.

Public use of marijuana is a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine.

In response to voters' approval of Question 1, Maine lawmakers passed separate legislation last week, LD 88, also permitting adults to possess up to five grams of marijuana concentrates. However, other provisions in the measure delay the implementation of retail marijuana sales until at least February 1, 2018. It also prohibits the possession of "edible retail marijuana products" until this date.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption and/or sale of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences.

Oregon: Agency Rejects Adoption Of Per Se Traffic Safety Laws For Cannabis

Salem, OR: Lawmakers should not amend the state's traffic safety laws or institute per se thresholds for cannabinoids, according to the recommendations of a new report issued by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which had been tasked with reviewing the state's driving laws following the passage of legislation in 2015.

Authors concluded that intoxication due to alcohol, not marijuana, remains by far the greatest contributor to motor vehicle accidents and found "no evidence" of an "epidemic of THC-related collisions" post marijuana legalization.

They further reported, "[S]tudies that have been conducted tend to show an elevated risk of crashes while under the influence of THC, but generally a lower overall risk as compared to alcohol impairment." Specifically, authors acknowledged that drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08 possess approximately a 400 percent increase in motor crash risk compared to sober drivers. By contrast, recent crash culpability studies of marijuana-positive drivers report an elevated risk of accident of 30 percent or lower.

Authors also rejected the idea of imposing per se limits that criminalize the act of operating a motor vehicle if the driver possesses detectable amounts of specific drugs or drug metabolites above a set threshold. Under these laws, drivers are guilty per se of violating the traffic safety laws even absent evidence of demonstrable impairment.

Authors acknowledged that evidence quantifying THC/blood levels with psychomotor impairment is not available at this time. Rather than imposing such non-scientific standards, they recommended the creation of standardized field detection tolls "that are able to detect recent use and impairment, separate from levels of THC that may be due to chronic but non-recent marijuana use."

Recent reports by both the American Automobile Association and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also reject the use of per se thresholds as predictors of cannabis-induced driver impairment.

Senators Advance Jeff Sessions' Nomination For US Attorney General

Washington, DC: Members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11 to 9 on Wednesday in favor appointing Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to the position of US Attorney General.

All eleven Republican members of the Committee voted to confirm Sen. Sessions, while all nine Democrat members voted against his nomination.

During his tenure in Congress, Sen. Sessions has been an ardent and vocal critic of changes in statewide marijuana policies. He previously stated, "Good people don't smoke marijuana," and endorsed legislation to execute marijuana traffickers.

During testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, Sen. Sessions said that it is not the responsibility of the Attorney Gneral to pick and choose which federal laws to enforce. "One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act," he said. "If that's something that's not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule. It is not the Attorney General's job to decide what laws to enforce."

Commenting on the vote, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: "On a range of issues, Sen. Sessions represents a return to a bygone eraof state repression against individuals' rights. For marijuana in particular, in a day and age of legal dispensaries, it is troubling to see that a man who once called for the execution of marijuana distributors is now in line to be the nation's top law enforcement officer. It is imperative that Congress acts swiftly to keep existing legislation in place protecting these state-licensed entities from federal interference."

Senator Sessions' nomination now goes before the full Senate, where Republicans hold a 52-seat majority.

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