Quick Hits: Arizona Will Join Four Other States on Legalization Ballot


PHOENIX, Arizona – The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has endorsed the Arizona initiative to legalize marijuana that appears poised to make the 2016 ballot. Activists from the campaign turned in over 250,000 signatures for the initiative, which only requires around 150,000 valid signatures. However, a group called Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy has filed suit to stop the initiative, claiming that proponents are misleading citizens about the full effect of the initiative. Legalization campaigner J.P. Holyoak called the lawsuit a “desperate attempt” to defeat the popular initiative. The first hearing over the lawsuit will take place tomorrow.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – Activists with Philly NORML and DCMJ will bring the infamous 51-foot marijuana joint to celebratory gatherings at the Democratic National Convention. With the Democratic Party platform likely calling for reform of the nation’s marijuana laws and the city of Philadelphia having decriminalized personal marijuana possession, there will be numerous events aimed at increasing awareness of marijuana reform. On Sunday, July 24, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer will speak at a $250 fundraiser. At 4:20pm on Monday, July 25, activists will engage in a “flash smoke-in” to kick off DNC celebrations, followed by an 8pm-to-midnight free party at a local club. The inflatable joint will march through the streets on Thursday, July 28, for a Cannabis Pride Parade to close the DNC.

ATLANTA, Georgia – A father and daughter researching at the University of Georgia have concluded that legalization of medical marijuana nationwide could save Medicare almost a half-billion dollars annually. The pair looked at Medicare Part D payments for prescription drugs between 2010 and 2013. In the 17 states that had medical marijuana laws, they found doctors writing fewer prescriptions for the pharmaceuticals that medical marijuana can replace, but no change in other prescriptions for other drugs like blood thinners and anti-biotics than marijuana can’t replace. Most strikingly, doctors in medical marijuana states issued 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers.

BALTIMORE, Maryland – Controversy surrounds a state lawmaker who helped usher in medical marijuana in Maryland and who is now applying for one of the limited production licenses in the state. Del. Dan K. Morhaim is the clinical director for a company seeking to grow, process and sell medical marijuana, a fact he had never disclosed in meetings with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission or during his time sponsoring the medical marijuana law in the assembly. Morhaim is denying any sort of conflict of interest and he says he has cleared his activity with the Maryland General Assembly’s ethics advisor.

LANSING, Michigan – Michigan State Police are setting up their first five counties to become test sites for roadside drug impairment testing of drivers. In addition to traditional field sobriety tests, the police will be administering roadside saliva tests for the presence of marijuana, heroin, or cocaine. Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said that they will not be “randomly testing people,” but that “there’s still going to be probable cause for a traffic stop — just like it was.” A recent New York Times Magazine exposé showed that these cheap roadside drug detection kits are very unreliable.

LOS ANGELES, California – Former NFL wide receiver and future Hall-of-Famer Randy Moss spoke out against testing for marijuana use among NFL players. Moss was open about his marijuana use during his career and criticized the league for considering marijuana use a “character issue”, referring to the case of a recent draft pick who was dinged for appearing on social media smoking pot. “I think if a guy is out there driving under the influence, beating women or doing something that will really hurt others, that’s where you have to be able to draw the line.”

Russ Belville

"Radical" Russ Belville is a blogger, podcaster, and host of The Russ Belville Show, a daily two-hour talk radio show focused on the evolution of the legal marijuana industry in the United States. The program is airing live at 3pm Pacific Time from Portland, Oregon, on CannabisRadio.com, with podcast available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio. Russ began his marijuana activism in 2005 with Oregon NORML, then in 2009 went on to work for National NORML, and found and direct Portland NORML.in 2015.