An Arizona mother was jailed in Mexico after Mexican police allegedly found pot under woman's seat. She is accused of smuggling pot in Mexico. Yarina Maldonado's husband fights to free her from Mexican prison. Husband Gary and; father-in-law Larry share their story on 'Starting Point' with John Berman and Christine Romans.
READ MORE: Arizona mom's Mexico drug arrest 'about money,' husband says
As Washington and Colorado work out the details of how to handle the state's new cannabis legislation, two Democratic Congressmen have introduced a pair of bills that would decriminalize marijuana on the federal level and set up a tax code to capitalize on it.
A similar bill was proposed back in 2011 by Congressmen Barney Frank and Ron Paul, but it died before a vote was held.
Oregon Rep. Early Blumenauer is one of the co-sponsors of the current legislation and he joins Starting Point today to discuss the reasoning behind the bill and to explain how much money the federal government could earn by taxing marijuana.
"The goal is to try and rationalize America’s marijuana policy," Rep. Blumenauer says. "A drug that bizarrely is classified under federal law as something worse than cocaine and meth. We’re arresting two-thirds of a million people a year for something that half of Americans think should be legal and an overwhelming majority think should be left to the states. This would change that equation, be able to bring it out of the shadows, and ultimately change a situation that is costing us billions to something that would save money on enforcement and collect money, much like we did during prohibition."
Recreational marijuana has only been legal in the state of Washington for a few hours now, as a result of a landmark ballot initiative passed last month on Election Day but residents are already celebrating. Organizations such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws also known as “NORML,” have been fighting for the legalization of marijuana since it was founded in 1972. NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre joins “Starting Point” this morning to discuss the new Washington state law and the broader implications of how this law could lead to more states enacting laws to legalize marijuana.
St. Pierre says the midnight public festivities by Washington state residents were, “a celebration to be sure that’s pent up 75 years of marijuana prohibition in America.” The NORML Executive Director went on to predict that just like the 18 states that have passed the use of medical marijuana, other states will follow suit with legalizing it as well. St. Pierre says, “Almost the entire West Coast and all of New England are going to move in this direction. It will take decades to infill the middle of the country.”
On the subject of tourism St. Pierre says he suspects, “a few hundred other thousand people” will be frequent visitors of the centennial state and the nation’s capital. He adds, “Why go to Amsterdam? Why go to Jamaica? I love trout fishing and skiing, so I think I’ll be making more trips this year to Colorado and Washington.”
A new law legalizing recreational marijuana use in Washington takes effect today. Adults 21 and over are allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, and while many in the state are lighting up and celebrating the law today, not everyone is supporting it. Steve Sarich is the Executive Director of the Cannibis Action Coalition and runs a local dispensary for medical marijuana patients. He’s also the Manager of the "No on I-502" Committee, which was the most vocal opponent of the Washington law being passed. He shares his view live from Seattle on “Starting Point” this morning.
Sarich and the “No on I-502” group have filed a lawsuit attempting to get the law overturned. The committee sites new DUI rules for their opposition. “My job is to protect patients in the state of Washington,” Sarich says. “And this law criminalizes every single medical marijuana patient every single time they drive,” especially for those under 21. Sarich explains that active THC can stay in the system for up to 30 days. So “that legal joint you smoked two weeks ago is still in your system today, and under the new law if you get pulled over, and they take your blood, you’re going to be guilty of per se DUID” which is “a life changing crime for those under 21.”
He considers the new driving laws and possession limit arbitrary. “We’re not talking about impairment. We’re not taking about highway safety. We’re talking convicting people simply for having trace amounts of THC in their blood,” Sarich says. “Now they’re saying you can legally have an ounce of marijuana, you just better not put it in your body.”
CNN's Sanjay Gupta addresses safety concerns for recreational marijuana use after Colorado residents voted to approve it.