Legalization Bill Introduced in Michigan

September 18th, 2015 No Comments Chris Lindsey
Rep. Jeff Irwin

Yesterday, Rep. Jeff Irwin introduced HB 4877, a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in Michigan and treat cannabis similarly to alcohol.

This historic bill would provide protections for Michiganders and state visitors aged 21 and over, license and regulate businesses, establish testing requirements for cannabis, and many other sensible provisions. Six representatives joined with Rep. Irwin in support, including Reps. Singh, Robinson, Hovey-Wright, Chang, Hoadley, and Roberts.

In addition to Rep. Irwin’s bill, two efforts are currently underway in Michigan to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults through the voter initiative process. Michigan now has several options to end the failed policy of prohibition, and 2016 could be the year Michigan joins those that have chosen a better path.

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Forbes Debunks Report on Sky Falling in Colorado

September 18th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

On Tuesday, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,RockyMountainLogo a federal law enforcement organization that has continuously opposed making marijuana legal, released a report claiming that regulating marijuana like alcohol in Colorado is having severe negative consequences and losing support among residents. Supporters of marijuana policy reform quickly and correctly criticized the report as biased and unscientific. MPP’s Mason Tvert said“Yeah, it’s joke[.] It would receive an F in any high school class, let alone any college class.”

The most complete refutation of this report comes from Jacob Sullum in Forbes:

In 2012 Coloradans approved Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use, by a vote of 55 percent to 45 percent. Last February a Quinnipiac University poll found that 58 percent of Colorado voters supported that decision, while 38 percent opposed it and the rest weren’t sure.

For prohibitionists determined to portray marijuana legalization in Colorado as a disaster, those poll results are inconvenient, since they indicate that public support for Amendment 64 was higher after more than a year of legal recreational sales and more than two years of legal possession and home cultivation than it was in 2012. Honest drug warriors would acknowledge the Quinnipiac numbers and perhaps try to balance them with other poll results. Dishonest drug warriors would do what the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) does in its new report on marijuana legalization: change the numbers.

The RMHIDTA, a federally supported task force dedicated to suppressing marijuana and other illegal drugs, claims only 50 percent of Colorado voters supported legalization in that Quinnipiac survey—eight points lower than the actual result. It also understates the 2012 vote for Amendment 64 by a point, but the comparison still supports the story that the task force wants to tell: The consequences of legalization in Colorado have been so bad that public support for the policy already has fallen.

Even assuming that the RMHIDTA’s misrepresentation of the Quinnipiac survey was a mistake, the direction of the error is not random. You can be sure that if the report had overstated support for legalization by eight points, someone would have caught it before the text was finalized. Which underlines a point that should be obvious by now: Despite its pose as a dispassionate collector of facts, the RMHIDTA, which issued similar reports in 2013 and 2014, is committed to the position that legalization was a huge mistake, and every piece of information it presents is aimed at supporting that predetermined conclusion. So even when the task force does not simply make stuff up, it filters and slants the evidence to play up the purported costs of legalization while ignoring the benefits. Here are some examples of what I mean.

Read the complete story here.

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Illinois: Decrim Bill Dies, But Another To Replace It By Year’s End

September 15th, 2015 1 Comment Chris Lindsey

HB 218, an Illinois bill that would have reduced the penalty for possessing a personal use amount of marijuana to a non-criminal fine, will not advance further. Instead, lawmakers are currently working on a compromise with the governor’s office, and a new bill is expected to emerge.

Please take a moment to ask your senator and representative to support a replacement bill before the end of the year. Let them know Illinoisans should not have to wait another year to end the unfair and costly law currently in place.

After the legislature approved HB 218 earlier this year, the governor issued an amendatory veto, making several significant changes to the text of the bill. Unfortunately the clock ran out on approving HB 218 with the amendatory language, but there is still plenty of time for a new vehicle to be used for a proposal the governor can sign. Gov. Bruce Rauner, bill sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and the majority of the General Assembly all agree it is time to stop jailing and criminalizing Illinois residents for possessing a small amount of marijuana — and a solution is in the works.

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Alaska: Third Round of Proposed Marijuana Rules Under Consideration. The Marijuana Control Board should hear from you!

September 10th, 2015 No Comments Chris Lindsey

The third round of proposed rules drafted by the Alaska Marijuana Control Board (MCB) has been issued and those who wish to provide feedback may do so before 4:30 p.m. Thursday, September 10. The current set of rules addresses regulations related to cultivators, product manufacturing, and testing.

If you wish to be heard, please take a moment to provide your feedback to the MCB and take a look at the campaign’s comments, available here.

As with previous rounds, most of the proposed rules are reasonable, but several areas should be improved. For example:

  • The draft rules would prohibit the sale of marijuana-infused cooking oil directly to consumers which could be burdensome to medical marijuana patients who wish to create their own edibles.
  • The rules seek to impose an artificial limit on the percentage of THC available in any product, despite the fact that the federal government has approved a medicine that contains 100% synthetic THC.
  • They would prohibit cultivators from allowing odors to be detected by the public, even for large operations in rural areas.

For a closer look at our comments, take a look at our letter to the board. And if you wish, you can either submit your own comments or click here to send an email to the board immediately.

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Decriminalization is Spreading Across Florida!

September 10th, 2015 No Comments Brendan Valentine

This month is off to a great start for marijuana reform in Florida. Both West Palm Beach and Key West became the latest Florida cities to enact measures intended to replace most marijuana arrests with civil penalties. The Key West City Commission voted unanimously to allow police to issue a $100 fine for possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana, rather than arresting and prosecuting people who have chosen a substance safer than alcohol. West Palm Beach approved a similar ordinance. This trend began in July, when Miami-Dade County reclassified marijuana possession so that police could issue a civil fine in lieu of arresting Floridians. Since then the cities of Miami Beach and Hallandale Beach have followed suit. Similar measures are being considered by Alachua, Broward, and Monroe counties.

Unfortunately, simple possession remains a crime under state law, and police officers may still choose to arrest under that authority. Statewide, possession of small amounts of marijuana carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. According to retired Florida judge Rand Hoch marijuana arrests weigh down the system, “One out of every two offenses, drug offenses that end up in court, are for marijuana.” Statistics from police in Miami Beach show that processing an arrest for possession costs taxpayers five times as much as issuing a citation. A marijuana arrest can also result in a lasting criminal record that diminishes opportunities related to employment, housing, financial aid, scholarships, and immigration. “You have these cases that are going to court, which are already over burdened,” Judge Hoch says. “Anything that can ease the burden on the court and help people not get saddled with a criminal record is beneficial.”

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Initiative to Regulate Marijuana in Massachusetts Moves Another Step Closer to 2016 Ballot

September 3rd, 2015 10 Comments Mason Tvert

Regulate Mass Logo-CIRCLEThe Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has certified the petition in support of an initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana in the state, moving it one step closer to the 2016 ballot.

According to a press release from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts:

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) will now file the petition with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, which has 14 days to sign off on it, at which point the campaign will begin its signature drive. Initiative backers must collect the signatures of 64,750 registered Massachusetts voters over a nine-week period from September to November. The petition would then be transmitted to the Massachusetts Legislature. If the legislature does not adopt the measure, initiative backers must collect 10,792 signatures in June 2016 to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot. 

You can find out more about the proposed initiative, which was filed last month, by visiting the campaign’s website.

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Iowa and New Hampshire Polls Reveal Bipartisan Support for Respecting State Marijuana Laws

August 25th, 2015 1 Comment Morgan Fox

Recent polls conducted in Iowa and New Hampshire in preparation for the presidential primary elections there show that a majority of voters in both parties think states should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference. Public Policy PollingPublic_Policy_Polling_logo reports that 71% of Iowa respondents and 73% of New Hampshire respondents want the federal government to stay out of marijuana policy.

This poll also shows that support for state freedom in determining marijuana policy is non-partisan and has taken hold among Republicans as well as Democrats and Independents. 64% of Iowa Republicans and 67% of New Hampshire Republicans are in favor of the next president respecting state marijuana laws.

For more information, please visit Marijuana Majority. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chris Christie Reaffirms Opposition to State Marijuana Legalization

July 29th, 2015 7 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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Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Banking Bill

July 29th, 2015 8 Comments Morgan Fox

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

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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General, Uncategorized

MPP’s Newest Board Member

June 12th, 2013 9 Comments Kate Zawidzki

MPP's Newest Board Member, Troy DaytonMPP is happy to announce that Troy Dayton will be joining our board of directors later this month! He will serve a three-year term, during which time he will help guide the overall direction of the organization. Troy will be replacing Richard Miller, Ph.D., who has served since 2010 and done an outstanding job.

Troy Dayton was one of MPP’s first volunteers when MPP was founded in 1995. Since then, he has raised over $1 million to support MPP’s work — which is the second-largest sum of money that anyone has raised for MPP.

He also co-founded Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the National Cannabis Industry Association. And Troy made national headlines when he organized religious leaders to endorse MPP’s ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Nevada.

Troy is currently the CEO of The ArcView Group, which was the focus of a recent cover story in “Fortune” magazine. He is quoted often in major media outlets on the topic of marijuana legalization.

The final results showed that Troy secured over 75% of the popular vote from MPP’s members, with Michael Kirshner (16.8%) and Jason Fien (7.1%) placing second and third in the voting.

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