Tax and Regulate

California Initiative to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana is Headed for the November Ballot

May 5th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project
The campaign in support of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act announced today that it has collected more than enough signatures to place the initiative on the November ballot.13051785_1561302290867287_3261976781645789533_n
If you want to see California end marijuana prohibition this year, please sign up for the campaign to follow its progress and show your support for the initiative.
The Los Angeles Times reports:

A measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use in California appears headed for the Nov. 8 ballot.

A coalition that includes former Facebook President Sean Parker on Tuesday said it has collected 600,000 signatures, more than enough to qualify the initiative. …

The coalition, which includes some law enforcement and civil rights leaders, needed to collect 365,880 signatures of registered voters to qualify the initiative, which would also place a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition, Uncategorized

Kansas Lawmakers Reduce Possession Penalties

May 5th, 2016 No Comments Kate Bell

Early Monday morning, the Kansas Legislature ended their session after meeting for only 78 of the 90 scheduled days. They did take a small step forward by passing a bill that reduces the penalties for marijuana possession. A first offense would be punishable by a maximum of six months, instead of one year, in jail and a second offense would no longer be a felony.index The bill now heads to Gov. Brownback’s desk, and will become law if he does not veto it within 10 days.

Unfortunately, the legislature did not pass any type of protections for medical marijuana patients, although it considered several bills to do so. The House did pass a bill, sponsored by Rep. John Wilson, which would have allowed patients to use low-THC medical cannabis and provided for in-state access. Although those provisions did not pass the Senate, it is significant because this is the first time any type of medical marijuana bill was passed by either chamber of the Kansas Legislature.

If you are a Kansas resident, please ask your legislators to consider a comprehensive medical marijuana bill next year.

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Prohibition

Tennessee Marijuana Penalty Reduction Signed by Governor

May 2nd, 2016 1 Comment Kate Bell

The 2016 Tennessee legislative session, which ended on April 23, saw an incremental improvement in the state’s marijuana policies.Tennesseestateseallrg Last week, Gov. Bill Haslam signed HB 1478 into law, which will eliminate the provision that makes a third conviction for possession of marijuana a felony. The law will take effect on July 1, 2016.

This change will reduce the penalty for third-time possession from between one and six years of incarceration to less than one year in jail. In addition, having a misdemeanor rather than a felony record will reduce the collateral consequences associated with the conviction. The bill also increases penalties for repeat DUI offenders and defelonizes third-time possession of all drugs except for heroin.

There is more work to be done, however. The sentences for marijuana possession are still unduly harsh for a drug that is less harmful than alcohol, and the law is enforced in a racially disparate manner. If you are a Tennessee resident, please ask your legislators to consider removing all criminal penalties for marijuana possession in next year’s session.

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Prohibition

New Life for New Hampshire Decriminalization

May 2nd, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The New Hampshire Senate killed HB 1631 in April, but last week the plan to reduce marijuana possession penalties to a violation was given new life in the House. In a 12-7 vote, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee agreed to amend a Senate-approved bill, SB 498, by adding provisions that would decriminalize possession of one-quarter ounce of marijuana for first offenses.

We expect that the amended SB 498 will pass the House by a wide margin before it returns to the Senate. Last week, 14 out of 24 senators voted against decriminalizing one-half ounce or less of marijuana, so we will need at least three of these senators to vote in favor of SB 498 in order to pass it. We are optimistic that this can be achieved, in part because Gov. Maggie Hassan has indicated that she would be willing to sign a bill if it was limited to first offenses of one-quarter ounce or less.

The amended SB 498 is far from perfect, but even in this modest form it would prevent many Granite Staters from being arrested and hauled into court for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Please take a moment to follow up with your senator and urge him or her to support this compromise.

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Research, Tax and Regulate

Maine Marijuana Initiative Officially Approved for November Ballot

April 28th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

State officials announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine has officially qualified for the November ballot.

After a court-ordered review of petitions it had previously invalidated, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures that were needed to qualify.ME Release Header - NEW

Last month, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State’s Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.

According to a new poll released this week by the Maine People’s Resource Center, nearly 54% of likely voters would approve the initiative if the election were held today. Only about 42% said they would oppose it. The full results are available at here.

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Medical Marijuana

Connecticut Considers Expanding Medical Marijuana Program to Include Pediatric Patients

April 25th, 2016 1 Comment Becky Dansky

On June 1, 2012, Connecticut enacted a medical marijuana program that allows seriously ill patients access to medical marijuana. However, the law does not allow access for minor patients, many of whom would benefit greatly from access to this safe and effective treatment.Seal_of_Connecticut.svg Of the 24 states that have effective medical marijuana programs, Connecticut is the only state that does not allow access for younger patients.

A bill currently being considered, HB 5450, would allow minors to be qualifying patients. It would also allow dispensaries to distribute marijuana to hospices and other inpatient facilities and would allow nurses to administer marijuana in licensed health care facilities.

If you are a Connecticut resident, please urge the senate to swiftly pass legislation to help Connecticut’s seriously ill children.

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Medical Marijuana, Research

DEA Approves Study on Treating PTSD With Marijuana

April 22nd, 2016 1 Comment Morgan Fox

On Thursday, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) announced in a press release that they had received approval to study the effects of marijuana on treating PTSD in veterans.q4g89gcyl385qpt0vmeo

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has formally approved the first-ever randomized controlled trial of whole plant medical marijuana (cannabis) as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in U.S. veterans. The DEA’s approval marks the first time a clinical trial intended to develop smoked botanical marijuana into a legal prescription drug has received full approval from U.S. regulatory agencies, including the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study will test the safety and efficacy of botanical marijuana in 76 U.S. military veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD. The study is funded by a $2.156 million grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to the California-based non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is sponsoring the research.

The trial will gather safety and efficacy data on four potencies of smoked marijuana with varying ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). By exploring the effectiveness of a variety of marijuana strains, the study seeks to generate naturalistic data comparable to how many veterans in medical marijuana states currently use marijuana. Results will provide vital information on marijuana dosing, composition, side effects, and areas of benefit to clinicians and legislators considering marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.

Congratulations and thanks go to Dr. Sue Sisley, who has long been the foremost champion of studying the effects of marijuana on PTSD, and the rest of the staff at MAPS for working so diligently in this area.

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Senate Refuses to Reduce Marijuana Penalties for Seventh Time

April 21st, 2016 1 Comment Matt Simon

Despite overwhelming public support for reducing New Hampshire’s draconian marijuana penalties, today New Hampshire senators voted 14-10 to kill this year’s marijuana decriminalization bill. This marked the seventh time since 2008 that the House has passed a decriminalization bill only to watch it be shot down by prohibitionists in the Senate.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please take a moment to thank or criticize your senator for his or her vote.

Fortunately, there is a bright side: Election season is just around the corner, and three prohibitionist senators have already said they will not be running for re-election. Also, Gov. Hassan is leaving the governor’s office to run for U.S. Senate, so New Hampshire will have a great opportunity this year to finally elect a governor who is willing to demonstrate real leadership on marijuana policy.

We have lost another battle with HB 1631, but don’t despair! With statewide polls now showing 62% support for legalization, it is only a matter of time before we prevail and end New Hampshire’s foolish, counterproductive war on marijuana.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

D.C. Council Bans Marijuana Consumption Outside Private Residences

April 20th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Tuesday afternoon, the D.C. Council voted to permanently ban any social consumption of marijuana other than inside a private residence, despite a public forum being scheduled that evening to explore the merits of continuing the ban.Flag_Map_of_Washington_DC

Among the concerns voiced by activists is that the ban forces people who live in public housing, where consuming marijuana can lead to eviction, to break the law by smoking in public. This policy predominantly impacts poor people of color in the District, and many residents think that allowing social use clubs would go a long way toward addressing this issue. There may be options to overturn the ban, however.

DCist reports:

Numerous people brought up the racial disparity in marijuana-related arrests, which continues even in the era of decriminalization and legalization—81.9 percent of the 259 public consumption arrests from July 17, 2014 (when public consumption became a criminal offense) to the end of 2015 were of black people, according to data from the Drug Policy Alliance.

Kate Bell, an attorney for the Marijuana Policy Project, said that the ban isn’t the end of the road. “There are other avenues D.C. could explore,” she told DCist. “We’re not just talking about clubs. It’s a much broader issue.”

Nikolas Schiller of DCMJ has already written a draft referendum on the ban. But it’s an open question whether the referendum, if passed, could be implemented given the Congressional rider that hamstrings the city’s ability to regulate drug legalization. Bell says that MPP is working to ensure that the rider doesn’t appear in next year’s Congressional budget.

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Prohibition

Illinois Senate Approves Decriminalization Bill

April 20th, 2016 3 Comments Chris Lindsey
heather_steans
Sen. Heather Steans

Illinois Sen. Heather Steans’ bill to decriminalize marijuana possession, SB 2228, passed the Senate Tuesday on a vote of 40 to 14. The measure will now be considered by the Illinois House of Representatives.

Sen. Steans’ bill would lower penalties by removing the possibility of arrest and a jail sentence for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. Perhaps more importantly, it removes the possibility of a harmful criminal record for cannabis possession, which can last a lifetime. Instead, the bill would replace criminal penalties with a fine of between $100 and $200.

SB 2228 is part of a multi-year effort to help move away from the harsh penalties currently in place and to help bring more consistency to possession laws in Illinois, which can be unfairly applied.

If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to ask your representative to vote in support of SB 2228.

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