Alaska Regulators to Allow Onsite Consumption in Some Marijuana Retail Stores

November 23rd, 2015 No Comments Chris Lindsey

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board voted on Friday to create a class of retail marijuana license that will allow onsite consumption. This is an important decision that benefits adult consumers, those who will be licensed to provide to them, and the communities that want to regulate use.Alaska-StateSeal.svg

Despite clear language contained in Measure 2, some state staff members had advised the board that it could not authorize retail licenses to allow onsite consumption. Many of those who supported Measure 2 were concerned that the issue would be confused and needlessly delayed as the board deferred to lawmakers rather than exercise its own authority. Public comments submitted to the board overwhelmingly supported this change, and we applaud the board for taking this important step.

While the definition of “public,” adopted by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in February, did improve with this change, it unfortunately still falls short of acknowledging the rights private business owners have under the law. Nonetheless, this decision marks an important moment in the rule-making process and a victory for those who worked so hard to make Alaska’s regulations successful.

Read more


Brookings Institution Report Calls For Broad Reforms in Marijuana Research Policy

October 23rd, 2015 2 Comments Morgan Fox

Early this week, the Brookings Institution released a report titled ‘Ending the U.S. government’s war on medical marijuana research’, which analyzes the ways in which the federal government hinders effective research, and how these policies could be changed.logo_brookings_-axd_

The federal government is stifling medical research in a rapidly transforming area of public policy that has consequences for public health and public safety. As medical marijuana becomes increasingly accessible in state-regulated, legal markets, and as others self-medicate in jurisdictions that do not allow the medical use of cannabis, it is increasingly important that the scientific community conduct research on this substance. However, statutory, regulatory, bureaucratic, and cultural barriers have paralyzed science and threatened the integrity of research freedom in this area. It is time for the federal government to recognize the serious public policy risks born from limited medical, public health, and pharmaceutical research into cannabis and its use.
The report specifically argues that simply rescheduling marijuana will not be sufficient to remove barriers to scientific study, and that broader reforms are needed. Currently, marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug under federal law, and all research must be approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

You can read the full report here.

Read more


Federal Court Ruling Is Big Win for Medical Marijuana Patients, Businesses

October 20th, 2015 1 Comment Morgan Fox

A federal judge ruled Monday that a budget amendment approved by Congress prevents the Department of Justice from taking action against medical marijuana patients and providers who are operating in compliance with state laws.

Northern District of California Judge Charles Breyer

Judge Charles Breyer, U.S. District Court. 01/02/2013 060-2013
Judge Charles Breyer (Photo: Hillary Jones-Mixon / The Recorder)

said that by enacting the so-called Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, “Congress dictated…that it intended to prohibit the Department of Justice from expending any funds in connection with the enforcement of any law that interfered with California’s ability” to implement its own state medical marijuana laws. The decision was prompted by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s efforts to shut down the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a prominent San Francisco-area medical marijuana dispensary. Judge Breyer’s ruling is available here.

The Washington Post reports:

When the legislation was passed, advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the issue agreed that the bill basically prevented the DEA from going after medical marijuana dispensaries, provided that such dispensaries were acting in compliance with state law. The DEA, however, didn’t see it that way. In a leaked memo, the Justice Department contended that the amendment only prevents actions against actual states — not against the individuals or businesses or business that actually carry out marijuana laws. In their interpretation, the bill still allowed them to pursue criminal and civil actions against medical marijuana businesses and the patients who patronized them.

The DoJ’s reading of the amendment infuriated its sponsors. They called for an investigation into the Department of Justice’s “tortuous twisting of the text” of the bill, saying it violated common sense. Yesterday, judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. district court in northern California agreed.

Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project agreed. “This is a big win for medical marijuana patients and their providers,” he wrote in a statement, “and a significant victory in our efforts to end the federal government’s war on marijuana. Federal raids of legitimate medical marijuana businesses aren’t just stupid and wasteful, but also illegal.”

The ruling could discourage the DoJ from creative interpretations of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment going forward, which should let medical marijuana businesses and their patients in 23 states breathe a sigh of relief.

Read more


Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Historic Medical Marijuana Regulations

October 12th, 2015 No Comments Chris Lindsey

Gov. Brown signed three landmark bills on Friday that together usher in a new era for medical marijuana patients and those who provide to them. AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643 establish important protections and regulations for California businesses that make medical marijuana available to patients. The Marijuana Policy Project applauds Gov. Brown and the legislature for adopting a much-needed regulatory framework for the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana in California. This is an important and long-awaited step forward not only for medical marijuana patients and providers, but also for the state as a whole. Nearly 20 years ago, California paved the way for patients’ rights to access medical marijuana. Finally, it is following in the footsteps of states around the country that have proven that regulating marijuana works. We hope localities that have banned medical marijuana establishments will rethink their policies now that these establishments have clear and uniform rules to follow. We wish to thank the many legislators and organizations that all contributed to this effort, including the governor’s office. Despite the many differences over how to proceed, the process saw unprecedented agreement on the solution. Read our summary of the new laws here.

Read more


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.

Read more


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.

Read more


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.

Read more


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.

Read more


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.”

Read more


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.

Read more