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Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy in 2012

Looking back at the year we made history.




#1 Colorado and Washington Vote To Legalize Marijuana

Voters in Colorado and Washington  made history by approving ballot measures allowing for the personal possession and consumption of cannabis by adults. Washington’s  law, which removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use (as well as the possession of up to 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form),  took effect on December 6. Colorado’s  law, which allows for the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants in private by those persons age 21 and over,  took effect on December 10. Regulators in both states are now in the process of drafting rules to allow for state-licensed proprietors to commercially produce and sell cannabis.

#2 Most Americans Favor Legalization, Want The Feds To Butt Out

A majority of Americans support legalizing the use of cannabis by adults, according to national polls by Public Policy PollingAngus ReidQuinnipiac University, and others. A record high  83 percent of US citizens favor allowing doctors to authorize specified amounts of marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses. And nearly two-thirds of Americans  oppose federal interference in state laws that allow for legal marijuana use by adults.

#3 Connecticut, Massachusetts Legalize Cannabis Therapy

Connecticut and Massachusetts became the 17th and 18th  states to allow for the use of cannabis when recommended by a physician. Connecticut lawmakers in May  approved Public Act 12-55,  An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana. The new law  took effect on October 1. On Election Day, 63 percent of Massachusetts voters  approved Question 3, eliminating statewide criminal and civil penalties related to the possession and use of up to a 60-day supply of cannabis by qualified patients. The law  takes effect on January 1, 2013.


#4 Schedule I Prohibitive Status For Pot “Untenable,” Scientists Say

The classification of cannabis and its organic compounds as  Schedule I prohibited substances under federal law is  scientifically indefensible, according to a  review published online in May in The Open Neurology Journal. Investigators at the University of California at San Diego and the University of California, Davis reviewed the results of several recent clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of inhaled or vaporized cannabis. They concluded: “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”

#5 Marijuana Arrests Decline, But Still Total Half Of All Illicit Drug Violations

Police made  757,969 arrests in 2011 for marijuana-related offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual  Uniform Crime Report. The total marked  a decline from previous years. Of those charged in 2011 with marijuana law violations, 663,032 (86 percent) were arrested for marijuana offenses involving possession only. According to the report, approximately 43 percent of all drug violations in 2011 were for cannabis possession.

#6 Long-Term Cannabis Exposure Not Associated With Adverse Lung Function

Exposure to moderate levels of cannabis smoke, even over the long-term, is  not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function, according to clinical trial  data published in January in theJournal of the American Medical Association. Investigators at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed the association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function over a 20-year period in a cohort of 5,115 men and women in four US cities. They concluded: “With up to 7 joint-years of lifetime exposure (e.g., 1 joint/d for 7 years or 1 joint/wk for 49 years), we found no evidence that increasing exposure to marijuana adversely affects pulmonary function. … Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana … may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.”

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