Marijuana Policy in 2015: Eight Big Things to Watch


1. Oregon, Alaska Plan & Prepare for Legal Marijuana

In November 2014, Oregon and Alaska followed Washington and Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana. While the right of Oregonians and Alaskans to grow marijuana at home begins early on, the commercial market and regulatory system will not begin for one to two years, due to the language in Ballot Measure 91 (OR) & Ballot Measure 2 (AK).

Each ballot measure requires the state to design and construct a commercial market within the bounds laid out in the voter-approved language. Each measure also charges the respective state legislatures and alcohol regulatory bodies to work together to design regulations governing legal marijuana. The latter is where the action will be in 2015. It will be important to watch what Oregon and Alaska decide in setting up rules to govern this new area of policy. These rules may well determine the success or failure of marijuana policy in each state, and the path taken will also offer insight into how states are learning from each other as this policy area expands.

Finally, and of particular note, Oregon will become the first state to legalize marijuana that shares a border with a state (WA) that has already approved legalization. Watching Oregon’s commercial and regulatory choices will be crucial in understanding whether and to what extent states may strive for marijuana market advantages vis-à-vis bordering states. Decisions over taxation in Oregon suggest this may be part of the political, policy, and economic calculus.

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Meet the Family Behind the Legal Weed Industry’s First Credit Union

With the help of his father, mother and little sister, Alex Mason is leading the charge to get cannabis businesses and charities much-needed access to banking

The Mason Family Photo by Jacqueline Collins
The Mason Family
Photo by Jacqueline Collins

When Alex Mason, a gregarious 25-year-old South Carolina native, moved to Colorado in 2012 to pursue advanced wilderness EMT certification and a passion for mountain climbing, he never imagined that he would end up founding the world’s first financial institution dedicated to the legal cannabis industry. That institution, the Fourth Corner Credit Union, received a green light from state banking regulators in November, and is set to open in downtown Denver by mid-January.

“I always saw myself as an outdoorsman who would one day climb the highest mountain,” Mason says. “Maybe that mountain was trying to figure out how to help the legal cannabis industry get banking services.”

But Mason couldn’t scale that peak alone. So he recruited his family – father Mark, mother Rhoda and sister Delaney – to assist with his budding idea.

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The Texas Department of Public Safety is being sued in federal court by a woman who had a full body cavity search on the side of a busy public road after troopers claimed to smell marijuana. [No marijuana found.]

Jennifer Stelly and her boyfriend Channing Castex were driving to Surfside Beach when they said they were pulled over for speeding in Brazoria County in March 2013 according to Houston 2.

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High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide

By D. Mark Anderson, Daniel I. Rees, and Joseph J. Sabia

Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana was classified as a Schedule I drug because it was considered to have no “accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” (Eddy, 2010). Since then, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana; over a dozen more state legislatures have recently considered medical marijuana bills.

The relationship between marijuana and mental health has received a great deal of attention from both proponents and opponents of medical marijuana legalization. Proponents argue that marijuana can be an effective treatment for bipolarism, depression, and other mood disorders (Rosenthal et al., 1996; Grinspoon and Bakalar, 1997; Zimmerman, 1999). They also argue that medical marijuana patients are able to reduce their use of painkillers, tranquilizers, and psychiatric medicines because of their use of marijuana (Lucido, 2004). Opponents, on the other hand, argue that marijuana use increases the likelihood of depression, anxiety, psychosis, and schizophrenia (Zammit et al., 2002; Henquet et al., 2004; Goldberg, 2006; Shulman, 2008). They also argue that the negative effects of marijuana are long-lasting and that users are at risk of suffering from decreased psychological well-being later in life (Green and Ritter, 2000; McGee et al., 2000).

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Simpson talks medical marijuana to Longview tea party group

Representative David Simpson (R-Longview)

Gregg and Upshur County’s state representative hinted Monday at the possibility of working for the legalization of medical marijuana while speaking to a Longview tea party group, some of his most ardent backers.

David Simpson, R-Longview, breached the topic in front of about 150 people as he laid out his plan for the next legislative session, which is set to begin next week.

“I am going to be pretty bold. I have heard some people in this community come to me again and again and again, in respect to a natural plant that God made, marijuana,” Simpson said. “There are people right in here in the district who are suffering from seizures. … They have tried all the pharmaceuticals and their daughter … has 15 to 20 seizures a day. They went to Colorado, and they went through all the hoops and tested some of the cannabis oil and she went 15 to 20 days without having a seizure.”

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Legislators To Consider Marijuana Bills

BEAUMONT- by Haley Bull

Many advocates are pushing for the reform of marijuana in Texas this upcoming legislative session, including a group in Southeast Texas, NORML. Two bills, one to decriminalize marijuana and another to legalize medical marijuana are in the works, though each faces opposition from groups like the Texas Sheriff’s Association.

One Southeast Texan said the bills are potentially life-saving for him.

“It really works for some people, I’m not doing this for fun,” Jeremy Borque said.

The 38-year old said he’s used and relied on medical marijuana for more than 20 years to treat epileptic seizures.

“I’ve had to get my tongue put back together so many times it’s like hamburger meat. I’m glad I can talk to you all still. I bite through it everytime.,” Borque said. “But just a little bit of cannabis keeps me from doing that.”

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Epileptic Girl Fights For Right To use Medical Cannabis

Alexis Bortell
Alexis Bortell


(KCEN) — Texas is home to some of the most notorious marijuana laws in the country. This year, advocates hope to change those.

A bill recently drafted by the Marijuana Policy Project aims to make medical marijuana accessible in Texas to people with PTSD, cancer, and a variety of other ailments.

If a bill is not passed by state legislators during the upcoming legislative session, many people say they will be forced to move out of state, including the family of 9-year-old Alexis Bortell.

Two years ago, Alexis was diagnosed with rolandic epilepsy.

“We started medicating her at that time, going through standard western pharmaceuticals, and of course, they all failed her,” said Alexis’s father, Dean Bortell.

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Details of Proposed Medical Marijuana Bill Revealed

A proposed medical marijuana bill is similar to working legislation in 23 other states and Washington D.C., according to Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

“It’s not a new idea, and it’s not some kind of new experiment. We are talking about natural, effective medicine,” she said.

Texas’ proposed bill would include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, and conditions causing wasting, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe muscle spasms as qualifying conditions and provide the state the option to approve additional medical conditions.

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CALL TO ACTION: Medical Marijuana in Texas

Grassroots Action for Legislative Reform
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy

Efforts are underway to bring Texans safe and legal access to TFRMP-logo-on-greymarijuana for medical purposes!

Click on the audio link below for an overview of our proposal for a comprehensive, whole-plant medical marijuana program and where our bill stands in the legislative process.

Most importantly, you’ll learn how you can take action to advance the bill!

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Click here to email your legislators in support of medical marijuana access in Texas! (Bill Overview)

Texas Monthly: Could Texas Decriminalize Pot in 2015?

Texas Monthly Logo

The position of Texans—and their leaders—on marijuana has
softened as of late. Earlier this year, Governor Perry changed lanes from his “we can win the war on drugs” rhetoric to speak out about the need to “implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization and keeps people from going to prison and destroying their lives.” Polling from 2013, shortly after the legislative session ended, indicated that a substantial majority of Texans feel the same way. And now, if the legislature is interested in doing something about the changed public attitudes toward marijuana, they’ve got a vehicle to do so.

Representative Joe Moody has introduced a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Texas. Instead of a criminal charge, those cited would face a civil penalty and a $100 fine.

That would be a huge shift, and a significant one: According to the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, ninety percent of drug arrests are for possession, rather than delivery or distribution, and marijuana possession arrests represent ten percent of the total number of arrests carried out in Texas annually, for any crime. In 2010, the ACLU reported that nearly 75,000 Texans were arrested for marijuana possession.

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