Prohibition, Research

Legal Colorado Marijuana Market Hurting Drug Cartels

February 2nd, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

According to a story published today by Fox News Latinothe legal marijuana market in Colorado is partially responsible for decreased Mexican drug cartel activity within the U.S. and along the border.

Legal marijuana in Colorado seems to have helped with resolving the problem of drugs in Mexico, says the report, citing the pro-marijuana Weed Blog, which says that over the past two years trafficking of the drug by Mexican cartels has dropped by “up to 70 percent.”Mexico_Flag_Map.svg

An official report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in October 2015 confirmed the reduction, showing that in 2014 there had been a year-on-year 23 percent drop in border smuggling.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

D.C. Voters Want Mayor to Work Around Congressional Ban on Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol

January 29th, 2016 No Comments Kate Bell

A survey release this week by Public Policy Polling showed that 66% of voters in the District of Columbia support Mayor Muriel Bowser pursuing legal methods to allow D.C. to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol despite a Congressional ban.Flag_Map_of_Washington_DC

Voters overwhelming approved Initiative 71 in 2014, which made marijuana legal in the nation’s capital, but Congress passed a budget rider that prevents the implementation of regulated commercial cultivation and retail establishments. Provisions related to personal possession and limited home cultivation were unaffected by the law and are currently legal in D.C.

This poll shows that the vast majority of D.C. voters would support the mayor using reserve funds to implement a system to tax and regulate marijuana. This would not only show that D.C. rejects Congressional interference with the will of the voters, but also bring the illicit marijuana market out of the shadows and reap millions in tax revenue.

In addition, 61% of voters are in favor of giving adults a safe and lawful place to consume marijuana outside their homes. Supporters including MPP met with the mayor last week, and she said she was open to working with us and our allies on the D.C. Council to move forward on a compromise that would end the blanket ban on use outside the home, currently set to expire on April 13. This will help restore the rights that D.C. voters supported when they voted yes on Initiative 71.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Marijuana Policy Bills Progressing in Kansas

January 28th, 2016 1 Comment Kate Bell

Two bills that would improve Kansas’ marijuana policies have passed the House and are moving in the Senate.

The first bill, now called SB 147, would permit patients with seizures to access low-THC cannabis, called medical hemp preparations in the bill.Seal_of_Kansas.svg While it is not a full medical marijuana law and would leave many patients behind, the bill proposes a workable system to provide immediate relief to some seriously ill Kansans. In addition, by passing the House, it has advanced much further than any medical marijuana bill ever has in Kansas.

The second bill, which is currently designated as the Senate Sub. for HB 2049, would reduce the penalty for first, second, and third-time 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, removing many of the associated collateral consequences. The Senate combined the marijuana-related provisions with another bill that increases penalties for burglary, on which MPP does not take a position.

If you are a Kansas resident, please urge your senators to support common sense reform.

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Prohibition

New Orleans City Council to Consider Reducing Marijuana Penalties

January 26th, 2016 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke
SGuidry_0782-1-e1391115260859
Councilwoman Susan Guidry

Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. CST, the New Orleans City Council will consider whether to pass a new bill that reduces the penalties for possession of marijuana. Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s bill calls for law enforcement to give a verbal warning instead of an arrest on a first offense marijuana possession charge. The council chamber meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, January 27, will take place at:

1300 Perdido Street, Second Floor West
New Orleans, LA 70112

In addition to turning up to show support at the hearing, let your council members know you support Councilwoman Guidry’s bill by sending them an email letting them know where you stand on this important issue.

 

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Prohibition

Maryland Lawmakers Override Veto of Marijuana Paraphernalia Decriminalization

January 21st, 2016 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The Maryland General Assembly voted this week to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of SB 517, decriminalizing marijuana paraphernalia.

SB 517, introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), removes criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia. The measure also imposes a new civil fine of up to $500 on public cannabis consumption. Gov. Hogan vetoed the bill in May 2015, after it was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates. MDCoalition2

Maryland adopted a law in 2014 that was intended to decriminalize simple marijuana possession, but it did not include marijuana paraphernalia.

The work is not over, however. Until cannabis is legal and regulated for adults, Marylanders who choose to consume a substance safer than alcohol will still be stigmatized as lawbreakers, racially biased enforcement of marijuana laws will continue to result in unequal justice, and the marijuana market will continue to be in the shadows.

The Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland believes that regulating marijuana like alcohol is the best policy option — and a new poll released Thursday shows that 53% of Maryland voters agree.

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Prohibition

Virginia Legislature Opens Session With Marijuana Decriminalization

January 15th, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

The Virginia General Assembly began its 2016 legislative session on Wednesday, and already three bills have been introduced to reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil fine. Virginia’s current penalties for marijuana possession are steep: Possessing up to a half an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for first time offenders. Subsequent offenses face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Let your state legislators know it’s past time Virginia took a more sensible and humane approach to cannabis possession.

The three decriminalization bills would prevent marijuana consumers from suffering the life-altering consequences that can come with having a criminal record. This less draconian approach to penalizing possession of personal use amounts of marijuana also saves law enforcement time and money, and brings Virginia more in line with Maryland, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.’s decriminalization policies.

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Prohibition

MPP and Change.org Want Presidential Candidates on the Record About Marijuana

January 15th, 2016 No Comments Robert Capecchi

There has been a lot of discussion about marijuana policy during the 2016 presidential race, but there are still some questions that the candidates need to address.Upvote

In order to get some answers, we have partnered with Change.org for the launch of ChangePolitics, a mobile elections platform that enables voters to engage with the candidates on the issues they care about by asking and upvoting questions.

  • Do you think seriously ill people should be allowed to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it?
  • Do you think it should be a crime for adults to consume marijuana responsibly? Why?
  • If elected, how would your administration address the current tension between state and federal marijuana laws?
  • Do you think marijuana prohibition has been more effective than alcohol prohibition, less effective, or equally effective?
After you visit the site and cast your vote, share our page with your friends and family, and encourage them to do the same.

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Prohibition

D.C. Council Lifts Ban on Private Marijuana Clubs, Reverses Decision Moments Later

January 5th, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

Even though marijuana is legal for adults to possess and grow in the nation’s capital, the only legal place to consume it is in a private residence. Public consumption was not made legal by voters when they approved Initiative 71 in 2014, and the D.C. Council passed an emergency measure that also made consumption at any non-residential private event or location illegal. After hearing complaints from business owners who wish to allow marijuana use their private functions and advocates who noted that a lack of options forced low-income consumers to break the law in order to avoid jeopardizing their public housing, the Council decided to lift the emergency ban.

Minutes later, several council members changed their votes.

Washington Post reports:

The D.C. Council briefly opened the door on Tuesday to legalizing the smoking of marijuana in specially designated areas of public restaurants, music venues and private clubs, by failing to extend a ban on such activity that was put in place when pot was legalized in the city last year.

Within minutes, however, the council reopened debate on the measure, and extended the ban on smoking in private clubs for 90 days.

Council members Ruby May (D-Ward) and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) changed their votes after Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) said he had just heard from Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who was urging the council to continue the ban because the city would have no ability to license pot clubs that may spring up.

It is too bad that Mayor Bowser does not see how making these private gatherings legal will allow the city to regulate them much more quickly and effectively, and that illegal operations will proliferate in the vacuum created by this ban. Fortunately, there is still time to address the issue.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Congress Renews Ban on Justice Department Interference in State Medical Marijuana Laws

December 18th, 2015 1 Comment Morgan Fox

The Justice Department will continue to be prohibited from interfering in state medical marijuana laws under the new federal spending bill unveiled late Tuesday night.

The compromise legislation includes a provision that is intended to prevent the department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to arrest or prosecute patients, caregivers, and businesses that are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. It stems from an amendment sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) that was first approved in the House of Representatives in May 2014 and included in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 signed by President Obama last December.

In April 2015, a Justice Department spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that the department did not interpret the amendment as affecting cases involving individuals or businesses, but merely “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws.” In October, a federal judge ruled that interpretation was inaccurate and that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment prevents the department from taking action against individuals who are acting in compliance with state laws.

Unfortunately, the new spending plan also includes an amendment, introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) and approved earlier this year, which prevents the District of Columbia from regulating the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for adult use. District voters approved a ballot initiative in 2014 to make possession and growing of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older.

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Prohibition

Delaware Marijuana Decriminalization Law Takes Effect

December 18th, 2015 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Delaware’s marijuana decriminalization law officially takes effect today, making Delaware the 19th state in the nation to remove the threat of jail, a punishment far too severe for simple marijuana possession.

Under the new law, the possession or private use of one ounce or less of marijuana will no longer trigger criminal penalties or create a criminal record for adults over 21 years of age. Instead, it will be a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.2000px-Seal_of_Delaware.svg Adults between the ages of 18 and 20 will face the same $100 civil fine for their first offense. Marijuana possession by minors and public consumption by people of any age will remain misdemeanors.

“Delaware’s marijuana policy is about to become a lot more reasonable,” said Karen O’Keefe, who lobbied for the bill as state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most people agree adults should not face jail time or the life-altering consequences of a criminal record just for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Taxpayers certainly don’t want to foot the bill for it, and fortunately they will not have to any longer.”

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