PHOENIX, Arizona – The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the smell of marijuana alone is enough reason for police to initiate a search. The court overturned the case of Ron Sisco, a man who had been growing cannabis in a storage unit in Tucson. The appellate court had decided that Sisco could not be convicted, because the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act makes it possible that the smell of cultivating cannabis is coming from a legal source. The Supreme Court disagreed, affirming the right of police officers to conduct searches based on the smell of marijuana unless there are other observations by officers that would lead them to believe cannabis smell comes from a legal source. The Court, however, did conclude that legalization of marijuana in Arizona this November would change the context of their decision.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham held a hearing entitled “Researching the Potential Medical Benefits and Risks of Marijuana” yesterday on Capitol Hill. Notable witnesses included Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), co-sponsors of the CARERS Act – federal legislation to allow legal marijuana businesses to access banking and to allow our veterans to use medical marijuana. Representatives from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Food and Drug Administration expressed optimism for studying the medical benefits of cannabis, but only as isolated compounds. Dr. Stuart Gitlow, a board member for the anti-marijuana group Project SAM, compared medical marijuana to “medical willow trees,” adding, “there really is no such thing as medical marijuana.”
MADISON, Wisconsin – A strong majority of Wisconsinites want to see marijuana legalized, according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll. The poll asked registered voters: “When it comes to marijuana, some people think that the drug should be fully legalized and regulated like alcohol. Do you agree or disagree with that view?” Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they agreed, while 39 percent disagreed. The new poll is a reversal of public opinion found by the poll in September 2014, when only 46 percent of respondents agreed that “the use of marijuana should be made legal.”
TRENTON, New Jersey – Ed Forchion, the activist known as New Jersey Weedman, will be allowed to argue his religious case in court. Forchion maintains a cannabis temple that has been harassed in recent weeks by police. He contends that the temple is a place for respite from the drug war and for visitors to “partake of our sacrament”, referring to marijuana smoking. Police have been shutting the temple down at 11pm nightly, citing codes for business operating hours, but Forchion says that’s infringing on religious rights, like shutting down a Catholic midnight mass for operating past business hours. The court did not, however, prevent the police from shutting down his temple at 11pm while the court case proceeds.
NEWARK, Ohio – Despite the failure of marijuana legalization on the statewide ballot in 2015, local organizers in Ohio are still working to improve marijuana laws. The East Ohio Decriminalization Initiative has turned in over 2,000 signatures to the city clerk for a municipal proposal to depenalize marijuana possession. Under Ohio law, possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana for personal use is decriminalized, earning a ticket and a fine of $150, plus loss of driver’s license for six months. But Newark’s current city ordinance allows for a fine of $500 and 60 days in jail, with half that amount again for possession of paraphernalia. Under the initiative, possession of up to 200 grams would be a minor misdemeanor in the city with no punishment whatsoever.