Tax and Regulate

Oregon to Allow Retail Marijuana Sales at Existing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

July 30th, 2015 No Comments James McArdle
gov
Gov. Kate Brown

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill Monday that would enable adult residents of the state to legally purchase marijuana starting in October. The private use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana became legal this past July, but the state has not begun accepting applications for retail permits. In order to effectively limit the operational scope of illicit market actors before a regulated system is established, representatives from both parties agreed to allow customers to purchase marijuana, tax free, from medical marijuana facilities.

“The bill … passed with significant bipartisan support in both chambers after a great deal of work by an implementation working group,” said Brown’s spokeswoman Kristen Grainger.

The law is explicitly temporary and will only allow non-patients to purchase marijuana until December 31, 2016. Applications for retail dispensaries are likely to be accepted starting in January 2016. Oregonians can expect the first adult retail shops to open next autumn.

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Uncategorized

Chris Christie Reaffirms Opposition to State Marijuana Legalization

July 29th, 2015 3 Comments » Morgan Fox

In recent months, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly said that he does not agree with marijuana legalization and would most likely end the current policy which allows states to determine their own marijuana laws provided they meet certain criteria, earning him a grade of “F” on MPP’s Presidential Report Card.

On Tuesday, Gov. Christie reaffirmed this position, saying that state laws making marijuana legal are numbered if he is elected president. The Huffington Post reports:

“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie said Tuesday during a Newport, New Hampshire, town-hall meeting, Bloomberg reports. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

Christie, one of 16 Republicans campaigning for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, has made no secret of his long-held opposition to cannabis. As governor of New Jersey, he has opposed even his own state’s limited medical marijuana program and has called similar laws in 22 other states a “front” for full recreational legalization. He has described taxes generated from the sale of marijuana as “blood money.” And earlier this year in no uncertain terms, he said that, as president, he would “crack down and not permit” recreational cannabis in states that have legalized it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Prohibition, Research

New Hampshire Poll Shows Increasing Support for Ending Marijuana Prohibition

July 29th, 2015 1 Comment » Morgan Fox

A WMUR Granite State Poll found that 60% of New Hampshire adults support making marijuana legal. It also reported 72% support for decriminalizing  simple marijuana possession.

In early June, the Senate blocked a widely supported bill that Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 12.33.57 PMwould have removed criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. HB 618, which the House approved 297-67 in March, would have made possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense. Under current state law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

 

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Uncategorized

Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Banking Bill

July 29th, 2015 1 Comment » Morgan Fox

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure Thursday that is intended to ensure marijuana businesses have access to banking services.

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Sen. Jeff Merkley

The amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, would prohibit the Treasury Department and its enforcement arm, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, from using federal funds to punish banks that provide financial services to marijuana businesses that are operating legally under state laws.

Many banks are currently unwilling to provide depository and other basic banking services to marijuana businesses because the substance is still illegal under federal law. Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other government officials say marijuana businesses need to have access to banking because operating entirely in cash raises significant public safety concerns.

From a statement released by MPP Director of Federal Policies Dan Riffle:

“Current federal laws are putting a bullseye on businesses that are operating legally under state laws, as well as their employees and customers. It’s almost as if some federal officials want to see marijuana businesses get robbed.

“Forcing these businesses to deal exclusively in cash makes it more challenging for states to collect taxes, monitor transactions, and enforce some regulations. Allowing these businesses to access basic banking services is a critical step toward letting states regulate marijuana as effectively and responsibly as possible.”

The House is unlikely to consider its own Financial Services bill, so it is unclear whether the amendment will be included in any final compromise legislation that is sent to the president.

Earlier this month, Sen. Merkley introduced the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, which would amend federal banking laws to prevent banks from being punished for providing services to state-legal marijuana businesses.

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Medical Marijuana, Research

MPP Publishes Report Criticizing New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Program

July 23rd, 2015 1 Comment » Matt Simon
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Clayton Holton

On this date two years ago, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed HB 573, making New Hampshire the last state in New England to approve a medical marijuana law. Unfortunately, so far this law has failed to benefit patients in any way. Some patients, including well-known patient-advocate Clayton Holton, have passed away while waiting for the law to take effect. Others, such as Ron Mitchell, have had no choice but to leave their families behind and move to another state in search of relief.

To raise awareness about the program’s many shortcomings, MPP has published Confusion, Delays, and Continued Arrests: A Two-Year Retrospective on New Hampshire’s “Therapeutic Use of Cannabis” Law.

This report includes the most recent updates, analyzes why the law is not yet effective for patients, and makes recommendations for improving the law and policy moving forward.

Please read the two-year retrospective today, and then share it with your elected officials and with your friends and family.

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Tax and Regulate

California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom Releases Marijuana Regulation Report

July 22nd, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

As several coalitions are busy crafting language for a ballot initiative to make marijuana legal for adults in California, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been studying the issue, and today released a report that he hopes will help inform the debate:

In a report released Wednesday, the group lays out 58 recommendations and goals for implementing general legalization — an issue expected to go before voters next year.

The document offers broad principles –“protecting California’s youth” — as well as nitty-gritty suggestions for collecting data and limiting advertising.

Gavin Newsom
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom

Newsom said in an interview that he hopes the report offers guidance to proponents of a legalization initiative aimed at the November 2016 ballot, as well as to help lawmakers and officials who would have to implement it if it passed.

The report does not explicity endorse or oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, although Newsom, who is running for governor in 2018, has been outspoken in support of legalization and is the highest-ranking California official to take that position.

MPP is currently working with a broad coalition of advocate groups to draft an initiative that would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol, which should be completed in the near future.

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Tax and Regulate

Michigan Legislature to Consider Bills to Regulate Marijuana

July 21st, 2015 No Comments Chris Lindsey
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Rep. Jeff Irwin

Michigan Rep. Jeff Irwin believes in regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol, and he is now in the process of introducing a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in Michigan and treat marijuana similarly to alcohol. Rep. Irwin is now seeking representatives to co-sponsor this historic bill, and you can help.

If you are a Michigan resident, please take just a few moments to send a message to your representative to ask that he or she sign on as co-sponsor to this bill, which we believe is the first of its kind in the Great Lakes State.

Voters in Colorado support marijuana legalization more today than when their law was passed in 2012. Both national and Michigan polls regularly find majority support for this better approach.

In addition to Rep. Irwin’s legislation, three organizations have either begun gathering signatures for a legalization ballot initiative for the 2016 election or announced possible interest in doing so. For more information on the different efforts, take a look here.Whether through the legislative process or a voter initiative, legalization is the future of marijuana in Michigan.

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Medical Marijuana

Hawaii Governor Signs Dispensary and Civil Protection Legislation

July 16th, 2015 1 Comment » Robert Capecchi

On Tuesday, two key medical marijuana bills were signed into law by Hawaii Gov. David Ige. While we already knew the bills would not be vetoed, we are thrilled the governor decided to personally support these compassionate proposals by signing them into law instead of allowing them to become law without his signature.

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Gov. David Ige

One of the bills, HB 321, creates a medical marijuana dispensary system. The law allows, initially, 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 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.

The other bill, SB 1291, strengthens existing civil protections for medical marijuana patients and adds new protections. Landlords, schools, and courts may no longer discriminate against medical marijuana patients!

Neither of these good new laws would have been possible without the wonderful work by our allies at Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii and the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii.

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Tax and Regulate

Marijuana Taxes for Colorado Schools Set Record

July 16th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

A portion of the taxes collected from adult retail marijuana sales in Colorado is earmarked for schools under the law, and the amount collected so far this year is already more than was collected in all of 2014.

The Denver Post reports:

In the first five months of 2015, the state’s pot-funded excise tax that collects money earmarked for school construction capital brought in more money than it did in all of 2014. While that specific school tax’s 2015 take may not reach the $40 million number used to lure voters toward the state’s pot-legalizing Amendment 64 in 2012, its recent growth is exciting to lawmakers and industry alike.

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(Image: Dan Gross)

“It sounds very encouraging,” said state senator Pat Steadman, D-Denver. “Voters wanted the school capital construction program to benefit, and despite some bumps in the road at the beginning, it looks like what was intended is coming to fruition.”

The money from the excise tax has grown to $3.5 million in May from $2.5 million in March. This year, the excise tax has brought in $13.6 million through May; the same tax drew in just $13.3 million in all of 2014. The jump is partly because there are more marijuana stores and partly because shops benefitted from a one-time tax-exempt transfer.

Hopefully, other states with cash-strapped education systems are taking notice.

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Medical Marijuana

Massachusetts Legislators Consider Bill That Would Improve Patient Protections

July 15th, 2015 1 Comment » Matt Simon

On Tuesday, Massachusetts patients and advocates urged the Joint Committee on Public Health to pass H. 2065, a bill that would improve Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law. The bill, which is supported by our allies at the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance,mpaa1-logo would protect patients from being discriminated against (with regard to college admissions, professional licensing, employment, and organ transplants, to name a few examples). It would also allow caregivers to provide up to 10 patients, and it would add a reciprocity provision allowing qualifying patients from other states to benefit from the program.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, please contact your state legislators today and ask them to join you in supporting H. 2065. 

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