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State Politicians Relaxing Marijuana Laws Hope Congress Will Do the Same

Marijuana leaves

The Buckeye State could become the BudEye State in 2016 — as in the marijuana buds that make smokers, sellers, growers and tax collectors smile.

ResponsibleOhio, one of three groups that have been pushing for a ballot initiative to make weed legal, has succeeded in getting more than 306,000 people to sign petitions calling for a public vote.

“We couldn’t be more excited,” Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio, said in a statement to the Plain Dealer. “Drug dealers don’t care about doing what’s best for our state and its citizens. By reforming marijuana laws in November, we’ll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities.”

The entrepreneurs who recognized the business potential of marijuana are pushing the legalization of pot in Ohio. They don’t care about the green rolled up in a joint or slowing burning in a pipe. They want the long, green dollar bills filling up cash registers from people willing to pay any price to cop a legal buzz.

It’s the same in Pennsylvania, where a proposal to legalize medical marijuana has been approved by the state Senate. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has promised to sign it, but the legislation has stalled in a state House committee.

Be that as it may, people like Tom Perko are ready, willing and hoping they are more than able to start making green by growing green. The partner in Keystone Organic Farms told pennlive.com that he and his company are ready to start growing marijuana 100 feet underground in an old limestone mine.

Perko and his fellow Pennsylvania marijuana entrepreneurs — Keystone Organic Farms is not the only company getting ready to launch a growing operation — are not talking about selling nickel and dime bags of weed.

Sponsors of the legislation to permit growing, selling and using medical marijuana in Pennsylvania anticipate the growth of a new agricultural industry that brings in as much as $665 million a year.

Michigan voters will have at least two ballot proposals to legalize marijuana facing them in November, and perhaps three. The two that have been approved come from two battling groups of marijuana entrepreneurs. The third would come from yet another faction of business people looking to strike it rich in the weed fields.

One group that will have a ballot proposal on the Michigan ballot in November, MI Legalize, claims the other group with a ballot proposal, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, is nothing but a bunch of “rich investors” who want to “monopolize marijuana in Michigan.”

Capitalism is competition, right?

Suzie Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the third group that has yet to circulate a ballot proposal petition, could be speaking for all like-mind marijuana entrepreneurs when she told the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Business Journal, “It’s a business to us. It’s an industry. It’s not just, ‘Oh, let’s legalize it.’”

There could be a problem lurking in the weeds, though, for Mitchell and rest of the marijuana entrepreneurs working on a state-by-state level.

The days of President Obama, who has admitted smoking (and inhaling) pot in his younger days, looking the other way when it came to enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized pot will be ending soon. A change in attitude could be coming, depending on who wins the White House in November 2016.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) promised to enforce strict federal marijuana laws during an appearance on the GOP presidential primary campaign trail.

“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie told a town-hall audience in New Hampshire. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

But there could also be a ray of sunshine brightening legal marijuana patches, too.

The East Bay Express reported in June that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) spoke to a private gathering of “cannabis business people and activists in Colorado.”

It was very definitely a fundraising coup for the Paul campaign. People who responded positively to the invitation from the National Cannabis Industry Association paid as much as $10,400 to get into the summit with Paul.

The National Cannabis Industry Association invitation promised Rand would talk about “his support of federal medical marijuana, his push to reform banking laws so they do not deny services to legal cannabis businesses, his work on justice reform and his support of allowing states to determine their own cannabis laws.”

Good news for those who hope to become the Steve Jobs of marijuana did come from a group of politicians early in August.

The National Conference of State Legislatures approved a policy statement calling on the federal government to led the people and politicians of each state decide whether marijuana should be legal where they live.

The resolution introduced by New Hampshire state Rep. Renny Cushing (D) — who lives in a state where legislation to permit the sale and use of marijuana died for lack of support —reads “members have differing views on how to treat marijuana and hemp in their states and believes that states and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety, health, and economic development of their communities.”

“The voters have stimulated conversation among state legislators and state legislators in response are calling on the federal government not to be an impediment,” Cushing told U.S. News. “[The resolution] means the states are no longer going to be willing participants in the war on drugs.”

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