Uncategorized

Chris Christie Reaffirms Opposition to State Marijuana Legalization

July 29th, 2015 6 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.

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Uncategorized

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.

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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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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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General, Uncategorized

Nevada Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill

May 30th, 2013 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki
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Sen. Tick Segerblom

Yesterday, the Nevada Senate passed SB 374, which would allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and growers in the state. Sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom, the bill received a 17-4 vote — well above the 2/3 votes needed to advance the bill to the Assembly. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn by early Tuesday morning, so time is running short.

Despite the constitutional rights established in Article IV, Section 38 of the Nevada Constitution, the legislature failed to provide seriously ill patients with a way to obtain medical marijuana — other than growing it themselves or finding a volunteer to do so. SB 374 aims to fix that shortfall by authorizing and regulating producers and providers.

There are still several critical steps ahead for this bill. If you are a Nevada residentplease ask your assembly member to support SB 374.

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General, Uncategorized

San Diego Mayor Urges Jurors to Ignore Federal Law

May 21st, 2013 14 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Mayor of San Diego is encouraging jurors of an upcoming medical marijuana case to reject the prosecution’s argument, which rests on the fact that marijuana is banned at the federal level.

The feds arrested Ronnie Chang of San Marcos in 2009 for operating a medical marijuana dispensary. He is just one of the many Californians who have faced legal consequences for their state-sanctioned efforts to bring relief to patients.

Filner 2
Mayor Bob Filner

Mayor Bob Filner is outraged at Chang’s situation. “Someone should not be going through this stage of prosecution for trying to help people to have access to medical marijuana,” he told reporters.

A champion for civil rights and a former Freedom Rider, Mayor Filner wants jurors to send a message to the federal government this fall, when Chang’s trial is expected to begin.

“[I]t’s time, like with Prohibition, to step back and say this was a stupid thing to do…and juries ought to take the lead in saying that to the federal government.”

In a process known as “jury nullification,” Mayor Filner hopes that those selected to listen to Chang’s case will place their consciences above the evidence and acquit him of any wrong doing.

Let’s hope the jury heeds Mayor Filner’s bold cry for action.

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General, Uncategorized

Texas Judge Spills the Beans

May 7th, 2013 10 Comments Mason Tvert

We often make the case that some law enforcement officials want to maintain marijuana prohibition because enforcing it provides them with job security and bigger budgets. This Texas Monthly article quotes a former Texas judge making that case for us while discussing his support for a bill that would reduce penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Bryan-College Station Judge John Delaney reported that probation officers in Brazos County had told him that passage of the bill, with its removal of incarceration and therefore of probation, would devastate their offices. Why? Because almost half of the county’s misdemeanor probationers have been convicted of possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. “We live off our under-two-ounce misdemeanor guys. They pay the rent.” [MPP emphasis added]

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Tax and Regulate, Uncategorized

MPP’s New Portland Billboard Taunts Vandals of Original

April 11th, 2013 2 Comments Mason Tvert

OR Both BoardsRecently, MPP posted a billboard in Portland (OR) to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Month and upcoming beer and wine festivals, touting the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol. Unfortunately, someone apparently didn’t like that and tore it down within the first 48 hours!

We aren’t going to let that get in the way of our our public education efforts, though, and we conveyed that with the replacement billboard we unveiled today. It appears like the original, but with a very large red rip through the middle and  reads: “Our original billboard was vandalized, but… The truth cannot be destroyed.” It’s already getting attention in the media.

Help us get this truth out to the public by sharing the image of the billboards on Facebook and Twitter.

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General, Uncategorized

Decriminalization Bill Heads to Vermont House Floor

April 11th, 2013 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

After years of work, a bill that would stop the criminalization of Vermont’s marijuana users is headed to the floor of the Vermont House of Representatives. It could get a vote as early as Friday.

Willam Sorrell VT AG
VT Attorney General William Sorrell

Over the last week, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on both sides of the issue. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn, and many others testified in support, and the committee listened. Yesterday, it voted 9-2 in favor of reform.

But the opposition is making their voices heard, too. Yesterday, several police are lobbying against this modest proposal to impose a civil fine — not possible jail time — on possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. It’s vital that lawmakers hear from the 63% of Vermonters who believe police have better things to do than to arrest and book marijuana users.

If you live in Vermont, please write your lawmakers today. Politely ask them to support reducing the penalty imposed on Vermonters who possess a substance that is safer than alcohol. Then, share this message with other sensible Vermonters so that they, too, can speak out for reform.

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General, Uncategorized

Peeposition 64

April 3rd, 2013 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Congratulations to Liz Wohl, this year’s adult runner-up in the Denver Post Peeps diorama and sculpture contest. Wohl’s “Peeposition 64: Peeps’ Bake-Off” depicts Peeps responsibly enjoying the newly legalized marijuana in the comfort of their own home.

She says she thought about dressing her Peeps in tie-dye and dreadlocks, but “didn’t want to be cliche. It’s a nice house, they’re in compliance — they have their six plants,” says Wohl. She added a Gov. Peepenlooper to the party, complete with Goldfish crackers and Cheetos. Judges liked the topicality, details and humor of this one.

Winners of the Peeps dioramas.
(Photo: Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post)

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General, Uncategorized

Oklahoma to Consider Lessening Marijuana Penalties

March 21st, 2013 6 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Cory Williams OK with child
Rep. Cory Williams
Oklahoma has some of the harshest penalties for marijuana possession in the nation. A second offense for possession of any amount of marijuana is a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum of two years imprisonment and a maximum of 10.

Fortunately, legislation awaiting action on the House floor would introduce a dose of sanity. H.B. 1835, sponsored by Rep. Cory Williams (D-34), would make first and second offense possession of marijuana a misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses would remain a felony, but the possible jail time would be reduced to a maximum of five years. Read the rest of this entry »

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