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Initiative to End Marijuana Prohibition in California Qualifies for November Ballot

June 29th, 2016 No Comments Mason Tvert

13051785_1561302290867287_3261976781645789533_nCalifornia voters will soon have the opportunity to vote on an initiative that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and replace it with a system in which marijuana is legal and regulated for adult use.

The Los Angeles Times reported this morning:

The Secretary of State’s Office certified that a random sample showed sufficient signatures among the 600,000 turned in to qualify the measure. The initiative is backed by a coalition that includes former Facebook President Sean Parker and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“Today marks a fresh start for California as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself,” said Jason Kinney, a spokesman for California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

The initiative is being supported by a broad and quickly growing coalition of activists, community leaders, and organizations, including the Marijuana Policy Project, which has formed a committee to contribute directly to the campaign. 

“We think voters in California are ready to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a more sensible system,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which has about 200,000 supporters nationwide.

Tvert is confident this year’s measure will do better than past attempts.

He expects activists from all over the country will get involved in the California campaign, either through campaign contributions or working phone banks to get out the vote.

“We are moving to mobilize our supporters,” Tvert said. “There are folks throughout the country who recognize the importance of making marijuana legal in the largest state in the nation. There are a lot of folks who recognize that passage of these laws in other states will make it easier for their state to move forward.”

Click here to join the campaign and learn more about the initiative.

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Uncategorized

Illinois Set to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

May 20th, 2016 3 Comments Chris Lindsey

The Illinois House of Representatives voted Wednesday to remove criminal penalties for possession of a personal amount of marijuana in a vote of 64-50. The bill — SB 2228 — will now be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

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Sen. Heather Steans

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, represents a historic change in Illinois. Instead of arresting and jailing people in possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, those found in possession would simply pay a fine of up to $200. Perhaps more importantly, people would not be stuck with harmful criminal records for the rest of their lives.

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Rep. Kelly Cassidy

This bill is a huge improvement over the current law, which is costly, harmful, and applied unequally around the state. In fact, well over 100 local communities have already lowered criminal penalties. In many respects, SB 2228 simply makes the law more consistent.

Once the governor officially receives the bill, he will have up to 60 days to sign it into law. It reflects changes he requested last year in an amendatory veto, so we are optimistic it will become law.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition, Uncategorized

Kansas Lawmakers Reduce Possession Penalties

May 5th, 2016 No Comments Kate Bell

Early Monday morning, the Kansas Legislature ended their session after meeting for only 78 of the 90 scheduled days. They did take a small step forward by passing a bill that reduces the penalties for 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.index The bill now heads to Gov. Brownback’s desk, and will become law if he does not veto it within 10 days.

Unfortunately, the legislature did not pass any type of protections for medical marijuana patients, although it considered several bills to do so. The House did pass a bill, sponsored by Rep. John Wilson, which would have allowed patients to use low-THC medical cannabis and provided for in-state access. Although those provisions did not pass the Senate, it is significant because this is the first time any type of medical marijuana bill was passed by either chamber of the Kansas Legislature.

If you are a Kansas resident, please ask your legislators to consider a comprehensive medical marijuana bill next year.

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Uncategorized

Arizona Campaign Collects More Than 200K Signatures

April 15th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona announced Tuesday that it has collected more than 200,000 signatures in support of a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona. The campaign needs to collect 150,642 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.

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Uncategorized

Louisiana Considering Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill

April 13th, 2016 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Last week, Louisiana Rep. Ted James (D–Baton Rouge) filed HB 1112, the Louisiana Therapeutic Use of Cannabis Act, which would establish a comprehensive program allowing seriously ill Louisianans to use and safely access medical marijuana.

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Rep. Ted James

While the legislature enacted a bill seeking to institute a similar program last year, problems with that law — and prior ones dating to 1978 — have made the systems unworkable. For example, the current program requires a doctor’s prescription for a patient to legally possess and consume medical marijuana under state law. But under the federal Controlled Substances Act, doctors cannot prescribe marijuana. They can, however, recommend it.

HB 1112 removes this flaw and offers seriously ill patients and their families treatment options that may offer relief. Under the bill, patients could obtain up to 2.5 ounces of therapeutic cannabis from regulated establishments in a 14-day period. For a full summary of the bill, please click here.

If you are a Louisiana resident, please tell your lawmakers that you want to see an effective medical cannabis program in Louisiana and urge them to support HB 1112.

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Uncategorized

New Video Features Pennsylvania Patients and Families Who Are Sick of Waiting for Medical Marijuana

March 4th, 2016 4 Comments Becky Dansky

For more than two years, a remarkable group of Pennsylvania advocates has been fighting for seriously ill patients to have access to medical cannabis, a safe and effective treatment option. Last month, patients and their loved ones gathered in the Capitol rotunda to tell the House of Representatives that they were sick of waiting for the House to act. Days later, Majority Leader Dave Reed announced S.B. 3 will finally be brought to the House floor for consideration on March 14.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please call your representative to ask him or her to vote yes on S.B. 3

Check out this new video filmed that day in Harrisburg! Hear directly from these incredible advocates about why they can’t wait any longer.

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Uncategorized

Marijuana Regulation Bill to Be Introduced in Maryland

February 22nd, 2016 7 Comments Kate Bell

Maryland Del. Curt Anderson is introducing a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. This sensible approach would stop punishing adults for using a substance that’s safer than alcohol, while raising millions in tax revenue and creating thousands of good jobs.MDCoalition2

Although 53% of Marylanders support this policy, the General Assembly will not move forward unless they hear from YOU — their constituents. That’s why the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland is having a Lobby Night on Monday, March 7 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. in Room 142 of the House of Delegates Office Building. After hearing an update directly from legislators and some talking points from coalition leaders, you can meet with your legislators to urge them to support our bill to tax and regulate cannabis. Click here for more information and to sign up.

If you are a Maryland resident and cannot attend the lobby night, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol.

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Presidential Candidates Respond to MPP’s Question on ChangePolitics

February 8th, 2016 5 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Last month, MPP partnered with ChangePolitics for the launch of its new platform, which is designed to ask ChangePolitics-Socialshare-280x150questions of the presidential candidates and get them on the record about various policy issues.

One of MPP’s questions made it into the top 10 “Most Popular in New Hampshire,” and the Concord Monitor editorial team selected it as one of the final five to be answered by the candidates just ahead of the nation’s first primary election on February 9. 

If elected, how would your administration address the current tension between state and federal marijuana laws?

You can check out the responses from the Democratic candidates and the responses from the Republican candidates at ChangePolitics.org. Also be sure to visit MPP’s profile page to view and vote for all of our questions so we can get more responses from the candidates.

 

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Uncategorized

Iowa State University NORML Chapter Wins Censorship Case

January 25th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Last week, a federal court ruling struck a blow against censorship directed at marijuana policy reform advocates at Iowa State University. The case, brought by two students with the university’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), was heralded as a major victory by the plaintiffs.

…the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa issued a permanent injunction barring Iowa State University (ISU) administrators from using a trademark policy to prevent the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML ISU) from printing t-shirts depicting a marijuana leaf. Students Erin Furleigh and Paul Gerlich, both former presidents of the group, sued ISU in July 2014 as part of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.

Because ISU had rejected the student group’s t-shirts “due to the messages they expressed” in an effort to “maintain favor with Iowa political figures,” the court found that ISU engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.

The court also denied the defense of qualified immunity to the named defendants, including ISU President Steven Leath and Senior Vice President Warren Madden, meaning that they may be held personally liable for violating Furleigh and Gerlich’s First Amendment rights. In so ruling, the court found that “a reasonable person would understand that Defendants’ actions treaded on Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights of political expression and association.”

Senior District Judge James Gritzner, who issued the ruling, observed that “[t]he development of First Amendment doctrine in the university context has repeatedly affirmed that student groups may not be denied benefits on the basis of their espoused views.” After reviewing the record, the court concluded that “Defendants took action specifically directed at NORML ISU based on their views and the political reaction to those views so that Defendants could maintain favor with Iowa political figures.”

In their original complaint, the students detailed how the university censored the group’s t-shirts based on their marijuana-related messaging and imagery, removed NORML ISU’s advisor, and implemented new guidelines for using ISU’s trademark in order to restrict NORML ISU’s speech. And in a January 2015 ruling, the court rejected every argument ISU made in its initial attempt to have the case dismissed.

You can view the full press release here.

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Uncategorized

Marijuana Policy Predictions for 2016

December 28th, 2015 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

MPP executive director Rob Kampia’s “Marijuana Policy Predictions for 2016” has been published by The Huffington Post.

predictions 2I don’t often use superlatives, but it’s easy to say that 2016 will be the most significant year yet in the battle to repeal marijuana prohibition in the United States.

Up until now, the two biggest years were 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, and 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older.

2016 will likely comprise a cornucopia of cannabis policy advances, which I’ll enumerate in the form of predictions.

Click here to read the entire column.

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