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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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Vermont House Committee Revives Marijuana Bill

April 15th, 2016 No Comments Matt Simon

Last week, some observers appeared to give up on Vermont legalization bill S. 241 after it was gutted by the House Judiciary Committee. Not so fast! Today, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to amend S. 241 and restore core legalization provisions. 2000px-Vermont_state_seal.svgThe bill would not only legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older, but it would also allow personal cultivation of up to two plants. Next, the bill is expected to be considered by the Appropriations Committee.

In order to legally cultivate two plants, a person would be required to purchase a permit from the Department of Health for $125. Permits would be good for one year, and information on permit-holders would have to be kept confidential by the department (no fishing expeditions by law enforcement would be allowed).

We will continue advocating for a regulated market approach, but we are very pleased with this development, and we will continue to push for improvements as the process continues.

If you are a Vermont resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them to support this measure.

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Tax and Regulate

Oregon Governor Signs Marijuana Policy Bills

April 5th, 2016 No Comments Chris Lindsey

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed four pieces of cannabis-related legislation this year, including two on Monday. One of the bills signed this week, HB 4094, will ensure that financial institutions that serve both medical and nonmedical cannabis businesses will not be subject to state criminal laws. The other, SB 1524, makes it easier for veterans who receive services from the VA health system to renew medical marijuana registrations.

Her signatures follow last week’s signature on SB 1511, the second of two broad cannabis bills passed this year. That bill includes provisions that will allow businesses serving adult consumers to provide medical marijuana products. It also allows medical marijuana dispensaries to sell concentrates to adult consumers.

The other broad marijuana bill, HB 4014, allows out-of-state investors for marijuana-related businesses along with other changes, and was signed on March 3.

With these signatures, attention can now turn more fully to the roll-out of licenses for businesses that will serve the adult consumer market. Many of the changes that came from legislation this year will make it easier for that transition to take place, including provisions that help established medical marijuana businesses enter into the adult retail market.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Court Ruling Allows D.C. to Pass Marijuana Regulation Bill

March 24th, 2016 2 Comments Kate Bell

On Friday, the District of Columbia Superior Court upheld the Local Budget Autonomy Act of 2012, which 82% of D.C. voters approved in spring of 2013. Then, on Tuesday, D.C.’s Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer said they would not appeal.Flag_Map_of_Washington_DC

Now, instead of having to wait for Congress to appropriate funds to D.C., the budget will simply be reviewed in the same way as every other law passed by the D.C. Council. So, the appropriations rider that has blocked the council from making any improvements to D.C.’s marijuana policies will expire on September 30, 2016. This means that the council can move forward to determine how to tax and regulate marijuana and pass a law to do so this fall.

While Congress could still block a tax and regulate bill or a D.C. budget that includes funds for the regulation of marijuana sales, it would have to do so by passing a joint resolution in both houses that would be subject to presidential veto. Thanks to congressional gridlock and President Obama’s support for D.C. choosing its own marijuana policy, this would be much more difficult than simply adding a rider to a lengthy appropriations bill funding the federal government.

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Tax and Regulate

Washington State Lawmakers Pass Limited Marijuana Policy Reforms

March 24th, 2016 No Comments Chris Lindsey

While there were over two-dozen marijuana-related bills introduced in Washington this year, only a handful passed before the regular legislative session wrapped up. Those that did pass now await Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature. They make improvements, but their changes are slight compared with many others that fell short this year.2000px-Flag_of_Washington.svg

Those before the governor include HB 2584, which would limit the amount of information a marijuana business must publically disclose about its operations. Another tweaks the procedural hurdles that might prevent dispensary staff from disposing of marijuana when ordered to do so, and a third would create a category of license for those cultivators who grow plants for cooperatives.

Two other marijuana bills passed but were vetoed because they did so after the regular legislative session ended. One would have allowed retails shops to sell non-marijuana items, and the other addressed laws related to cannabis research licenses.

While many of this year’s marijuana bills technically remain alive as the legislators continue to meet in a special session, most believe they will not advance further. The special session was called to address the state budget, where deep divisions remain in Olympia.

Unfortunately, key efforts like establishing marijuana café licenses will have to wait until 2017 when new bills can be introduced. But with the strong interest lawmakers showed in marijuana legislation this year, we will no doubt revisit many of these issues next year.

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Campaign Using St. Patrick’s Day-Themed Billboard to Promote Initiative

March 15th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Monday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts announced the installation of a St. Patrick’s Day-themed billboard in Boston that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

The billboard features a green beer, a glass of whiskey, and a marijuana leaf below the words, “Beer,” “Liquor,” and “Safer,” respectively.unnamed It directs viewers to RegulateMass.com/Safer, which details several ways in which marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society.

“Our goal is to make this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities as educational as they are enjoyable,” said CRMLA Campaign Manager Will Luzier, who previously served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. “While folks are celebrating with a pint of green beer or a glass of whiskey, we want them to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance.”

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

UPDATE: Maine Campaign Files Lawsuit Challenging Initiative Disqualification

March 10th, 2016 2 Comments Morgan Fox
me
Scott Anderson and David Boyer

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine filed a lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court on Thursday challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the measure from the November ballot. According to the suit, which is now available online at http://bit.ly/1pzNhVO, state officials improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on the measure.

Campaign leader David Boyer and attorney Scott Anderson announced the details of the suit at a news conference in the office of Portland law firm Verrill Dana. Anderson is representing a group of Maine voters who signed the petition in support of the initiative, including Boyer, State Sen. Eric Brakey, and State Rep. Diane Russell, among others. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Fighting Ballot Disqualification

March 4th, 2016 20 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Wednesday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in MaineME Release Header - NEW was notified that their ballot measure had failed to qualify for the ballot. The campaign turned in 99,229 signatures in February, but were told that nearly half of them were invalid. However, more than 17,000 valid signatures, more than enough to make the measure qualify for the ballot, were not counted. The reason: a handwriting technicality.

Supporters are not going to let the state take away the political voices of thousands of resident, and are appealing the decision. Now, the officials in charge of validating the signatures are mixing up their stories.

From U.S. News & World Report:

Maine officials have provided inconsistent accounts about whether they contacted a public notary before denying ballot access to a marijuana legalization initiative based solely on the belief the notary’s handwriting was inconsistent on forms containing 17,000 otherwise valid signatures.

The various tellings of whether the notary was asked for an explanation come amid debate on whether they should have been contacted and whether the signature, which is required on petition forms, actually was inconsistent.

On Wednesday, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap seemed to imply his office contacted the notary before its decision, telling Maine Public Radio, “it became apparent to us that we could not get good answers to our questions about the relationship between the notary and the circulator.”

But on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, Kristen Schulze Muszynski, told U.S. News election staff “did not directly follow up with the notary,” as their signature on forms was “markedly different” from one the state had on file and on other documents they had notarized.

“We’re very concerned about the apparent lack of consistency in statements from the secretary of state,” [Campaign Director David] Boyer says. “When you are about to disenfranchise 17,000 registered voters based on a technicality, it is only logical to take a few simple steps to determine whether the notary signed the petitions or not.”

We will keep you posted as this story develops.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Pledge 4 Growth Campaign Can Help Marijuana Businesses Support Reform

March 2nd, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Marijuana sales in states such as Colorado are almost measuring in the billions. Unfortunately, little of that money is going towards promoting further marijuana policy reforms that create new business opportunities and, more importantly, will stop marijuana consumers from getting arrested.

MedMen.Pledge4Growth.LogoFinalwo420-01 copy.pngThe Marijuana Policy Project has been working to revamp state-level marijuana laws for the past 21 years. We’ve had some amazing success in the past five years, but there’s still so much more to do. We need to continue our push to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with sensible regulations — regulations that will allow legitimate businesses to thrive.

If marijuana businesses donate just 0.420% of their gross revenue to MPP, they can support the organization’s lobbying and coalition-building work, its tax-deductible public education projects (MPP Foundation), and its political action committee (MPP PAC).

The Marijuana Policy Project also supports ballot initiatives via separate campaign committees in several targeted states.

If you work in this burgeoning industry, please make the Pledge 4 Growth and help us end marijuana prohibition.

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