Prohibition

Illinois May Soon Be the Next State to Decriminalize Marijuana

August 14th, 2015 6 Comments » Chris Lindsey
Rauner 2
Gov. Bruce Rauner

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has taken an important step on a bill that would help thousands of Illinoisans avoid arrest, jail, and harmful criminal convictions for the possession of a personal amount of marijuana. The governor has used his authority to amend several key provisions of HB 218 and is sending it back to the legislature for another vote.

If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to ask your state legislators to vote in support of the amended bill.

Time is incredibly short: The legislature has just a few weeks to vote on the amended bill and is only meeting on a few of those days. The amended bill is not perfect, but it would vastly improve current law. It would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, including arrest, jail, huge fines, and a damaged criminal record. The bill would impose a fine of up to $200 — instead of the thousands of dollars possible today. Finally, the bill makes critical improvements to current DUI laws, which today can lead to a conviction even when a person hasn’t consumed marijuana for weeks before driving.

If this bill is not approved by the legislature with the governor’s changes, Illinois’ marijuana consumers will continue to face arrest, jail time, and shockingly unequal enforcement of the law.

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Tax and Regulate

Ohioans Will Vote on Marijuana Initiative This November

August 14th, 2015 No Comments Brendan Valentine

On Wednesday, Ohio’s secretary of state certified ResponsibleOhio’s proposed constitutional amendment to appear on the ballot this November.

The proposal would legalize marijuana in Ohio, making it the first state to do so without first having a medical marijuana program. It would also be the first state east of the Mississippi to replace marijuana prohibition with regulation.

If approved by the voters, the proposal would:

— amend the Ohio Constitution to allow marijuana to be taxed, regulated, and sold in stores,
— allow commercial cannabis to be grown by just 10 farms, with the parcels specified in the measure,
— allow no more than one marijuana store for every 10,000 Ohioans (about 1,160),
— allow adults 21 and older to buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana,
— allow adults to cultivate up to four flowering plants and possess eight ounces of harvested cannabis if they purchase a $50 license, and
— establish a medical marijuana program.

Ohioans will be voting on the proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday, November 3. They will also consider the Ohio Initiated Monopolies measure — Issue 2 — which the legislature placed on the ballot in response to the marijuana initiative. That measure requires two separate votes to enact a measure that establishes a monopoly or oligopoly. It could invalidate the marijuana initiative if both are enacted.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Denver Campaign for Limited Social Use Submits Signatures

August 10th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

The Denver Campaign for Limited Social Use submitted more than 10,000 signatures Monday in support of a city initiative that would allow the limited social use — but not sale — of marijuana at commercial establishments in areas restricted to adults 21 and older.

Campaign for Limited Social Use’s Mason Tvert and Brian Vicente

4,726 valid signatures of registered city voters are needed to qualify for the November 2015 ballot. The city clerk has 25 days to certify the petition.

Under the proposed measure, businesses that have a license to sell alcohol for onsite consumption would be able to decide whether to allow cannabis consumption on the premises. Businesses that choose to allow only cannabis consumption (without licensed alcohol consumption) would be subject to regulation by the city, including restrictions on location and hours of operation. All commercial establishments that allow adults to use marijuana would be required to comply with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which means (1) only non-smokable forms of marijuana would be allowed indoors, and (2) smoking marijuana would only be allowed in existing designated smoking areas that are not viewable to the public.

A strong majority (56%) of likely 2015 voters in Denver support the proposed initiative, according to a survey conducted in June by Public Policy Polling. Just 40% are opposed. The full results are available here.

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Prohibition

Missouri Man Serving Life in Prison for Marijuana Granted Parole

August 10th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

Jeff Mizanskey, a Missouri man who was serving life in prison for non-violent marijuana offenses, was granted parole after public outcry and a Change.org campaign to reduce his sentence.

WDAF reports:

The only man in Missouri serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for non-violent marijuana related
offenses is now getting released from the maximum-security prison in Jefferson City, according to the man’s son.billboard Mizanskey

Jeff Mizanskey was told Monday morning that he has been granted parole, according to his son, Chris. Chris Mizanskey says his dad should be released within 10 to 25 days. He says his dad called him briefly Monday morning to share the news. They planned to talk again Monday night.

Jeff Mizanskey has already served more than 20 years in the prison for repeat marijuana offenses. He is now 62-years old.

 

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

New York Times Publishes Another Editorial In Favor of Regulating Marijuana

August 10th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

On Saturday, The New York Times repeated its editorial support for ending marijuana prohibition, New-York-Times-Logothis time calling on Congress and President Obama to be less timid in their support for regulating marijuana.

Even as support for ending marijuana prohibition is building around the country, Congress and the Obama administration remain far too timid about the need for change.

Last year, residents in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia voted to join Colorado and Washington State in making recreational use of marijuana legal. Later this year, residents of Ohio are expected to vote on a ballot measure that would legalize it. Nevadans will vote on a legalization proposal next year. And Californians could vote on several similar measures next year.

Instead of standing by as change sweeps the country, federal lawmakers should be more actively debating and changing the nation’s absurd marijuana policies, policies that have ruined millions of lives and wasted billions of dollars.

You can read the full editorial here.

In July 2014, the paper of record published a series of editorials covering a variety of marijuana policy issues and supporting making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol.

 

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Tax and Regulate, Video

Arizona Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Gathers 50K Signatures

August 7th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona has gathered more than 50,000 signatures out of the 150,000 that they will need to obtain by next July in order to secure a vote on the issue. Opponents of the measure have already conceded that the vote is likely inevitable.

Proponents think this is an indicator that adults in Arizona are sick of being charged as felons for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.

KPNX reports:

Click here if you’re having troubles viewing the video.

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Prohibition

National Conference of State Legislatures Urges Federal Government to Respect State Marijuana Laws

August 6th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution Thursday urging the federal government to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies. For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75% of the states represented at the conference’s general business meeting.

08.06.2015_NCSL_Renny Cushing w Karen O'Keefe - Matt Simon - Bob Capecchi
Rep. Renny Cushing (second from left) with MPP’s Karen O’Keefe, Matt Simon, and Robert Capecchi

The preamble to the resolution, introduced by New Hampshire State Rep. Renny Cushing, notes that “states are increasingly serving as laboratories for democracy by adopting a variety of policies regarding marijuana and hemp,” and it highlights the fact that “the federal government cannot force a state to criminalize cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana or hemp — whether for medical, recreational, industrial, or other uses — because doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.”

The resolution states:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures believes that federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference and urges the administration not to undermine state marijuana and hemp policies.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures recognizes that its members have differing views on how to treat marijuana and hemp in their states and believes that states and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety, health, and economic development of their communities.

The full resolution can be found here.

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Tax and Regulate

Initiative to Regulate Marijuana in Massachusetts Filed Today

August 5th, 2015 1 Comment » Morgan Fox

Earlier today, proponents of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts filed an initiative regulate-mass_logo_lgthat would make marijuana legal for adults age 21 and older, and would regulate the cultivation, production, and retail sale of the substance.

You can find a summary of the initiative here.

Once the Massachusetts Attorney General has approved the initiative, proponents must collect the signatures of 64,750 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.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

DOJ Misled Congress to Influence Medical Marijuana Vote

August 5th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

In a Marijuana.com exclusive, Tom Angell reports that the Department of Justice intentionally misled Congress to discourage2000px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Department_of_Justice.svg passage of a budget restriction that would prevent them from spending funds to interfere with state implementation of medical marijuana programs.

 

Justice Department officials misinformed members of Congress about the effects of a medical marijuana amendment being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives, according to an internal memo obtained by Marijuana.com.

The amendment, which lawmakers approved in May 2014 by a vote of 219-189 despite the Obama administration’s objections, is aimed at preventing the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

But in the days leading up to the vote, department officials distributed “informal talking points” warning House members that the measure could “in effect, limit or possibly eliminate the Department’s ability to enforce federal law in recreational marijuana cases as well,” according to the document. [Emphasis added.]

The newly obtained memo, drafted by Patty Merkamp Stemler, chief of the Criminal Division’s Appellate Section, admits that the talking points were “intended to discourage passage of the rider” but do not “reflect our current thinking.”

Basically, the DOJ told Congress that a piece of legislation they did not like would have more impact than intended. Now that it has been enacted, despite their efforts, they are saying that it does less than intended!

Please take the time to read the full report.

We need laws based on facts. Congress should be able to count on law enforcement to give them accurate information, not propaganda to support their policy preferences.

If you would like to tell the DOJ what you think about these tactics, you can contact the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs at (202) 514-2141 or via email.

 

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Medical Marijuana

New York Awards Medical Marijuana Licenses

August 4th, 2015 No Comments Brendan Valentine

On Friday, New York’s Department of Health awarded five organizations licenses allowing them to produce and dispense medical marijuana. Each of the five businesses will be allowed to operate up to four dispensaries within the state and must be doing business within six months.

The companies awarded licenses are Bloomfield Industries Inc.,NY health dept Columbia Care NY, Empire State Health Solutions, Etain, and PharmaCann. They plan to operate dispensaries that will serve only parts of the eastern portion of the state, with the exception of Monroe County, where Columbia Care NY plans to operate a dispensary. The Department of Health selected these five companies out of 43 applicants.

The Compassionate Care Act was signed last summer by Gov. Andrew Cuomo after he insisted on revisions that made the program among the most restrictive. Patients may neither smoke marijuana nor cultivate it at home, and several important conditions have been left out of the law. In addition, the number of registered organizations is extremely limited and will force some patients to travel long distances to get their medicine. Patients are in need of medical marijuana and continue to wait for access, but by January, eligible New Yorkers should finally have some legal in-state options for treatment.

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