Three dot pot shots: ‘Real soon now’ edition

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Legal marijuana sales begin in California next Monday (Jan 1, 2018), and they’re gonna’ be huge — Real Soon Now. Cali’s roll-out will be a lot like Colorado’s — just a few dispensaries open in a few places: Oakland, Santa Cruz, San Diego, Shasta Lake… San Francisco’s first licenses will be issued Real Soon Now (days); L.A.’s will be issued Real Soon Now (weeks)…

     

Massachusetts, whose voters opted for legal marijuana at the same time as California’s, is on track to see legal sales start Real Soon Now (July 1, 2018). The state’s newly-created Marijuana Control Commission finished its draft regulations right before Christmas…

     

Vermont is on track to legalize pot Real Soon Now (days or weeks). Last spring Vermont lawmakers passed a legalization bill that Governor Phil Scott vetoed, citing concerns about stoned driving and the children. Then last summer the State Senate passed a modified version of the bill that he’s cool with and has promised to sign… if the State House votes for the Senate-passed bill shortly after the legislature convenes on January 3, Vermont will be the first state to legalize marijuana by legislative action…

     

New Jersey will likely be the second. Incoming Democratic Governor Phil Murphy campaigned on marijuana legalization, and his allies in the state legislature are ready to introduce a legalization bill nano-seconds after out-going drug war dead-ender Governor Chris Christie leaves office. The bill’s state senate sponsor says he wants to get it to the Governor’s desk Real Soon Now (within the first 100 days)…

     

Meanwhile over in New York, three State Assembly committees (Codes, Health, and Alcoholism and Drug Abuse) will hold a joint session (could there have been any other kind) Real Soon Now (January 11) on “the potential for allowing regulated sale and adult possession of marijuana in New York and how it would affect the public health and criminal justice systems… Chances are New York lawmakers noticed that legal marijuana sales had the support of 62 percent of New Yorkers in a recent poll, and an election was coming up Real Soon Now (November) in which marijuana arrests are expected to be an issue…

     

Speaking of elections, Oklahoma voters will be voting on medical marijuana legalization Real Soon Now (June, or November at the latest). Activists collected enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot last year, but wrangling over the ballot title kept it from being voted on in 2016… Republican Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin will decide Real Soon Now whether the vote will take place in the June primary election or the November general election…

     

Backers of a Michigan initiative to legalize recreational marijuana expect to hear from state election officials Real Soon Now as to whether they turned in enough valid signatures to get their proposal on the November ballot. The group turned in 365, 000 signatures on November 22; it needs 252,000 valid ones… state election officials said they would need a couple of months to check the signatures… If the petitioners have enough signatures, the Michigan legislature will have 40 days to adopt the measure (fat chance) or it would be put on the ballot…

     

The legalization movement may have gotten a big boost from an unexpected quarter — the recently passed tax-reform law — that will become evident with a vengeance Real Soon Now. The law caps the maximum combined amount of state and local income, sales, and property taxes that can be deducted from a tax-payers federal income taxes at $10,000. That means that a number of revenue-strapped states are going to be looking for new revenue sources that do not involve raising income, sales, and property taxes — like legalizing recreational marijuana and taxing it… Connecticut, Illinois, Rhode Island, Delaware, and New York all fall into this category and bills to legalize marijuana and tax it like alcohol are expected to be introduced in their legislatures. Real Soon Now.