Prohibition

MPP Releases Presidential Candidate Report Card

July 2nd, 2015 34 Comments Morgan Fox

Last Friday, MPP released the 2016 Presidential Candidates Report Card, which grades the various major candidates based on their support for marijuana policy reform or the willingness to allow it to move forward. Since then, a wide variety of news outlets have written about it, including the New York Times, Huffington Post, Washington Times, and others. In particular, there was quite a bit of interest in Republican Sen. Rand Paul receiving the highest grade of any candidate: A-.

Washington Times reports:

Mr. Paul, received a grade of “A-” from the Marijuana Policy Project. The group said his grade was based largely on his sponsorship of a medical marijuana bill, support for reducing marijuana-related penalties and support for allowing states to regulate marijuana for adult use.

Mr. Christie and Mr. Santorum, meanwhile, two other GOP contenders, both received a grade of “F” “because they oppose reform efforts and they are the most vocal supporters of enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal,” the group said.

“Some of these guys who tout states’ rights, fiscal responsibility, and getting the government out of people’s private lives want to use federal tax dollars to punish adults for using marijuana in states that have made it legal,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the group. “They say using marijuana is immoral or just too dangerous to allow, but serve alcohol, a more dangerous substance, at their fundraisers. The hypocrisy is astonishing.”

Not surprisingly, Sen. Paul has gotten a lot of attention this week by being the first presidential candidate to actively court the marijuana industry for campaign donations.

report card

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Medical Marijuana

First Minnesota Dispensary Open Today

July 1st, 2015 5 Comments Robert Capecchi

Today at 12:01 a.m., doors opened to qualified medical marijuana patients at Minnesota’s first dispensary — Minnesota Medical Solutions’ Minneapolis location. The July 1 opening date adheres strictly to the implementation timeline proscribed by lawmakers last spring. To say that MPP is thrilled that some seriously ill Minnesotans finally have legal access to medical marijuana products recommended by their doctors is an understatement. That said, we know there is plenty of work still to do.

While the Minnesota medical cannabis law will offer relief to some seriously ill Minnesotans, it offers no relief to others suffering unnecessarily. For instance, patients suffering from intractable pain are still excluded — though the health department is required to consider whether to recommend adding that condition.

Even for those patients with qualifying conditions, severe limits on the number of dispensing locations and unnecessary health care practitioner participation requirements will make it difficult to benefit from the program. We are hopeful that the program will prove helpful for those who do qualify and that lawmakers will compassionately expand it in the near future.

For more information on the medical marijuana program, visit the Office of Medical Cannabis’s website.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Marijuana Officially Legal for Adults in Oregon Today

July 1st, 2015 12 Comments Robert Capecchi

Last November, 56% of Oregon voters approved Measure 91 — choosing to regulate marijuana like alcohol and allowing adults to use, possess, and cultivate it. Today, legal protections for adult possession, use, and cultivation official take effect!

As of 12:01 a.m., individuals 21 or older may possess up to eight ounces of marijuana and grow up to four plants in their household.10995393_10152839035666816_1877561359108028132_n Adults may also gift up to an ounce of marijuana to other adults. The state is setting up regulations that will govern the production and sale of marijuana, so access is currently limited to home cultivation. However, the state is considering legislation that will allow medical dispensaries to sell limited quantities of marijuana to any adult 21 and older starting this October.

Measure 91 resembles ballot measures that have removed penalties for adults’ possession and use of marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. Colorado and Washington have implemented effective public health and safety regulatory structures governing the production and sale of marijuana, and Alaska and Oregon are in the process of doing the same. In the meantime, ask your state representative and senator to support legislation that will more quickly take the marijuana market from criminal actors.

None of this would be possible without the good and hard work of the New Approach Oregon campaign, their volunteers, and, of course, the voters of Oregon. For more information about Measure 91, please see our summary.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Louisiana Gov. Signs Two Improvements to Marijuana Laws

July 1st, 2015 2 Comments Brendan Valentine

Earlier this week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed two positive marijuana-related bills into law — a penalty reduction bill and a flawed medical marijuana program.

The first, HB 149, significantly reduces penalties for marijuana possession! Although penalties will still be harsh for possessing a substance safer than alcohol, HB 149 is an important step forward — it shaves months, and in some cases years, off of cannabis consumers’ sentences. This law is effective immediately.

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Gov. Bobby Jindal

While first offense marijuana possession remains a misdemeanor, the penalty for possessing 14 grams or less is now far less severe than it was. The maximum jail sentence is reduced from six months to 15 days while the maximum fine is reduced from $500 to $300. HB 149 also significantly reduces the sentences for second and subsequent marijuana possession charges.

Gov. Jindal also signed into law a bill that could, in the future, support a compassionate medical marijuana program for Louisianans, although it will not allow patients to use the medicine in smokable form.

SB 143 allows Louisiana physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in accordance with FDA and DEA guidelines. Since these federal guidelines don’t exist, this law is not currently operable. Physicians risk losing their prescription license if they use it to prescribe marijuana. But hope remains for future regulatory improvement. Overall, both new laws signed by Gov. Jindal represent improvements for Louisiana’s marijuana policies.

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Medical Marijuana

Hawaii Dispensary Legislation Will Become Law

July 1st, 2015 3 Comments Robert Capecchi

On Monday, June 29, Hawaii Gov. David Ige released his list of bills that he intends to veto. Thankfully, legislation creating a medical marijuana distribution program was not on this list, meaning HB 321 will become law with or without Gov. Ige’s signature!

HB 321 builds on Hawaii’s medical marijuana program, which was approved by the legislature back in 2000.2000px-Seal_of_the_State_of_Hawaii.svg Since that time, most state medical marijuana programs have either been written to include a regulated system for patients to obtain their medicine, or have been amended to so. In fact, enactment of HB 321 will mean that only two of the 23 states with medical marijuana programs will fail to include regulated access to medicine the seriously ill are able to use.

HB 321 will initially allow eight medical cannabis businesses (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai) with two dispensing locations each. Starting in 2017, the state health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants each, as well as two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.

This good news would not have been possible without the wonderful work by our allies at Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii, and individuals across the state who reached out to lawmakers to ensure passage.

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Medical Marijuana

Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill Still Possible in Pennsylvania

July 1st, 2015 No Comments Becky Dansky

Just a few weeks ago, medical cannabis legislation seemed hopelessly stalled in the Pennsylvania House. Thanks to the efforts of advocates, Rep. Nick Miccarelli, and overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, there is strong momentum for passage of effective medical marijuana legislation. While it’s a relief the House is finally moving, it’s important for legislators to hear their constituents want the bill to be patient-focused.

Rep. Nick Miccarelli

As events unfold and legislative strategies are explored, it is important that representatives understand the key components to creating the best possible legislation for seriously ill Pennsylvanians. The most effective legislation, whether it’s SB 3 or a House bill, will allow doctors and patients to decide together from the broadest range of possible strains and will ensure that no matter where a patient lives in the state he or she will have access to these treatments. It’s also vital that the bill include patients with all the serious symptoms that cannabis can alleviate — including severe pain and PTSD.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please call or email your representative and ask them to support strong, patient-focused medical cannabis legislation, whether it’s SB 3 or a House bill.

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Medical Marijuana

California Organ Transplant Non-Discrimination Bill for Medical Marijuana Patients Moves Forward

June 29th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

AB 258 passed both the California Assembly and the Senate by overwhelming margins, sending the bill to Gov. Brown

for his signature. This compassionate bill would prohibit hospitals from denying medical marijuana patients organ transplants simply because of their choice of medicine. Hospitals, clinics, and members of the medical community who do not support medical marijuana should not be able to kick people who are already down by denying them lifesaving treatment.

The California Assembly passed AB 258 with a 62-12 vote, and earlier this week the Senate passed the bill with only one vote in opposition. Clearly, both Californians and their legislators believe in protecting patients from discrimination based on their choice of medical treatment. The bill now needs only Gov. Brown’s signature to become law.

If you are a California resident, please take a moment to ask Gov. Brown to sign AB 258 when it reaches his desk.

 

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Tax and Regulate

Rhode Island Legislators Recess, May Vote on Marijuana Regulation Bill If They Reconvene This Fall

June 26th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

On Thursday night, the Rhode Island legislature was called into recess with many bills still awaiting final approval. There is talk from legislative leaders about calling the legislature back in September or October to address these important issues. Considering its overwhelming public support, we believe the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act should be one of the proposals considered when lawmakers return to Providence. But we need you to make this happen.

If you are a Rhode Island resident, please email your lawmakers and ask them to consider the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act if they reconvene this fall.

Colorado and Washington already treat marijuana like alcohol, and Alaska and Oregon are implementing similar programs. At least five states are considering ballot questions replacing prohibition with regulation in 2016, including neighboring Massachusetts. Rhode Island can and should be a regional leader by taking control of their marijuana market as soon as possible.

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Medical Marijuana

First Massachusetts Dispensary Now Open

June 25th, 2015 7 Comments Morgan Fox

Patients who have been desperately waiting for a dispensary to open in Massachusetts will finally have some good news to celebrate this week. A dispensary in Salem has received a waiver from the state to begin operating, and opened its doors to qualifying patients on Wednesday. (An appointment is required.)

According to the Department of Health’s website, three other dispensaries have received approval to begin cultivating marijuana. These three dispensaries plan to locate their retail operations in Northampton, Brockton, and Ayer.patient-front MA MMJ card

Only 15 dispensary applicants were selected by the department in 2014, but the state announced in June that it was overhauling the dispensary selection process and scrapping its widely criticized scoring system for judging dispensary applicants. The department says that from now on, applications will be considered on a rolling basis, and applicants that meet the state’s standards will be approved. Question 3, which was approved by 63% of voters in November 2012, envisioned up to 35 dispensaries for the Bay State.

The delays have been very frustrating for patients, but hopefully this is a sign that Massachusetts is finally getting its act together and implementing the medical marijuana law in an appropriate manner.

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Prohibition

Delaware Becomes 20th State to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

June 25th, 2015 4 Comments Morgan Fox

Last week, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed HB 39 into law, making it the 20th state to decriminalize — or in four cases, legalize — possession of personal use amounts of marijuana. The Senate approved the bill less than an hour earlier in a 12-9 vote.

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Gov. Jack Markell

Introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley, HB 39 will make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is currently a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. HB 39 goes into effect six months after enactment.

Please thank the governor for his leadership! You can call him at (302) 744-4101 or send him a message on social media or by webmail here.

In other Delaware news, the first medical marijuana dispensary in the state will finally be open and providing medicine to patients on Friday, June 26.

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