General, Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

DNC Calls for Reform of Marijuana Laws

June 27th, 2016 No Comments Rory McPeak

Over the weekend, the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Drafting Committee established a party platform calling for states’ rights to decide their ownjzH0I1Ka marijuana laws, allowing for greater research on the medical properties of cannabis, and protecting the rights of legally established marijuana businesses:

“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”

An earlier proposed measure called for the total removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, but that measure did not make it to the draft that was unanimously approved by the drafting committee.

Click here for more information on the DNC’s new marijuana plank.

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General, Medical Marijuana

Rhode Island Legislative Session Closes Without Legalization Vote

June 22nd, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Rhode Island legislative session came to close early on Saturday morning.  Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support for reform, leaders of the House and Senate did not allow legislators to vote on the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act this year.riseal

Other notable outcomes of the 2016 legislative session include:

— Passage of Article 14 in the state budget, which makes significant changes to the medical marijuana program. You can find a summary of the new regulations here.

— Passage of legislation to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

— Passage of legislation to regulate hemp cultivation.

We will continue our efforts to build support for ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in the summer and fall, with plans to work with lawmakers to re-introduce legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana in the 2017 legislative session.

In the meantime, we encourage supporters of sensible marijuana policy reform to become engaged in local legislative races and make marijuana policy reform a salient electoral issue. You can find information about local races in your district by visiting the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s website.

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Prohibition

Canadian PM Promotes Legalization at Economic Conference

June 20th, 2016 1 Comment Morgan Fox
pm_trudeau_230x306_v3
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has publicly supported ending prohibition in that country, is becoming something of a trailblazer when it comes to world leaders’ positions on marijuana policy.

Washington Post reports:

Speaking Wednesday at an economic conference, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made one of the more buttoned-down, straight-edged arguments for marijuana legalization I’ve heard in recent years. It’s worth quoting at length so I’ve done that below:

Look, our approach on legalizing marijuana is not about creating a boutique industry or bringing in tax revenue, it’s based on two very simple principles:

The first one is, young people have easier access to cannabis now, in Canada, than they do in just about any other countries in the world. [Of] 29 different countries studied by the U.N., Canada was number one in terms of underage access to marijuana. And whatever you might think or studies seen about cannabis being less harmful than alcohol or even cigarettes, the fact is it is bad for the developing brain and we need to make sure that it’s harder for underage Canadians to access marijuana. And that will happen under a controlled and regulated regime.

The other piece of it is there are billions upon billions of dollars flowing into the pockets of organized crime, street gangs and gun-runners, because of the illicit marijuana trade, and if we can get that out of the criminal elements and into a more regulated fashion we will reduce the amount of criminal activity that’s profiting from those, and that has offshoots into so many other criminal activities. So those are my focuses on that.

I have no doubt that Canadians and entrepreneurs will be tremendously innovative in finding ways to create positive economic benefits from the legalization and control of marijuana, but our focus is on protecting kids and protecting our streets.

Trudeau made these remarks in response to a conference participant who said that “Canada could be to cannabis as France is to wine.” These enthusiastic predictions about the burgeoning marijuana industry — billions of dollars in revenue and taxes, thousands of jobs created — should be familiar to anyone who’s followed efforts to legalize pot here in the United States.

But Trudeau’s argument for legalization is concerned less with creating benefits, and more with reducing harms. He starts from the same place that many legalization opponents start from — concern for the safety of children.

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Research

Study Shows No Increase in Colorado Teen Use After Legalization

June 20th, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

Rates of marijuana use among Colorado teens have NOT increased since the state made marijuana legal for adults, according to results of a statewide survey released Monday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among Colorado teens also continue to be lower than the national average.HKCSB1

“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization,” according to a CDPHE press release.

The biannual Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) found that 21.2% of high school students in Colorado reported using marijuana within the past 30 days in 2015, down slightly from 22% in 2011, the year before Amendment 64 was approved and enacted, and 24.8% in 2009, the year hundreds of medical marijuana stores began opening throughout the state. The HKCS also found that the rate of lifetime use among Colorado high school students dropped from 42.6% in 2009 to 38% in 2015. The decreases do not represent statistically significant changes, and the state agencies that support the survey have reported, “The trend for current and lifetime marijuana use has remained stable since 2005.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tax and Regulate

D.C. Council Primaries Bode Well for Marijuana Policy

June 15th, 2016 No Comments Kate Bell

The District of Columbia held its Democratic primary yesterday, and the results are mostly good news for supporters of marijuana policy reform.Flag_Map_of_Washington_DC Below are the (unofficial) results, along with the grade the council candidates received in MPP’s voter guide:

Ward 2: Jack Evans (A+) won (unopposed)

Ward 4: Incumbent Brandon Todd (F) beat challenger Leon Andrews (A), 49% to 41%

Ward 7: Challenger Vincent Gray (C+) beat incumbent Yvette Alexander (D), 60% to 33%

Ward 8: Challenger Trayon White (C+) beat incumbent LaRuby May (D), 51% to 42%

In the at-large race, all the candidates received an A or A+ from MPP. Challenger Robert White beat incumbent Vincent Orange 40% to 37%.

As the general election on November 8 approaches, MPP plans to update our voter guide to keep you informed on all the candidates’ positions, so stay tuned!

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Prohibition

MPP Endorses Gary Johnson for President

June 15th, 2016 1 Comment Michael Wilcox

Johnson-162x300-1MPP has formally endorsed Libertarian Party nominee and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in the race for president. Johnson is one of two candidates who received an “A+” grade in MPP’s presidential candidate report card.

Below is a statement from our Executive Director, Rob Kampia, that contextualizes MPP’s endorsement.

“MPP is a single-issue organization, and our mission is simple: ‘Regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol in the United States.’ We don’t take a position — and we therefore don’t take into account a candidate’s position — on other issues, such as abortion, guns, gay rights, Iraq, taxes, or Social Security. We also don’t work in Canada or Portugal.

“Of the three presidential candidates who will appear on the ballot in all 50 states and D.C., Gary Johnson clearly has the best position on marijuana policy. When he first advocated for legalization in 1999, he was the highest-ranking public official in the U.S. to do so — as the sitting Republican governor of New Mexico, no less.

“Shortly after he left office, Johnson and I drove around New England lobbying the governors of VT and RI, the speaker of the NH House, and staffers in the NY governor’s office. Johnson is a forceful advocate for legalization and is still one of MPP’s strongest allies.

“Legalization has been Johnson’s number-one issue for 17 years. MPP’s endorsement of Johnson was an easy call; the more difficult question is whether MPP should support a candidate who’s good on medical marijuana but bad on legalization, when the candidate is facing an opponent who’s bad on everything.

“It’s fine if voters prefer to consider a candidate’s marijuana position in the context of a dozen other positions, but that’s not MPP’s mission. We’re narrowly focused on marijuana policy and are happy to work alongside anyone who shares our mission, whether they’re Socialists, Republicans, or otherwise.”

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Becomes 25th Medical Marijuana State

June 10th, 2016 13 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Wednesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed HB 523 into law, bringing the promise of relief to thousands of seriously ill patients in the Buckeye State. His action also marks an important milestone in the medical marijuana movement: Ohio’s new law means that now half the states in the U.S. have workable medical marijuana laws for their citizens. MPP_OMM_horizontal green

While this is an important step, more work lies ahead. Several agencies will administer the program, including the Department of Commerce, the State Board of Pharmacy, and the State Medical Board of Ohio. These agencies are expected to start developing rules in the coming months as Ohio begins the process of creating a workable system. Please join us in our efforts to ensure the system is fair and delivers on the promises lawmakers made to create a compassionate program.

We are very grateful to everyone who worked so hard to bring protections to seriously ill patients. Were it not for the donors, volunteers, and signature gatherers who gave so much to the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana amendment, this day would not have come.  As the process moves forward, we will use that amendment as a road map as we work to implement and improve this law.

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Research

Another Study Shows Marijuana Health Harms Exaggerated

June 8th, 2016 8 Comments Morgan Fox

A study released this week from the Journal of the American Medical Association PsychiatryJAMA-Psychiatry-Logo suggests that the harms associated with long-term marijuana use are much less than previously claimed.

Time reports:

Even after years of heavy use, marijuana doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on the physical health of the body.

So finds a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry, which analyzed data from a group of 1,037 New Zealanders followed from their birth until age 38. The researchers, led by Madeline Meier of Arizona State University, looked at whether cannabis use from age 18 to 38 was linked to several aspects of physical health, which were measured at several points throughout the years of the study through lab tests and self-reports.

The only bad effects pot seemed to have were on the teeth. At age 38, people who used cannabis had worse periodontal health than their peers, and nothing else appeared to be affected. By contrast, tobacco use was connected to all the expected declines: worse lung function, more inflammation and compromised metabolic health. Of course, the results come with a caveat; it’s possible that negative health effects of cannabis could show themselves after the age of 38.

Even more surprisingly, the researchers found that cannabis use over time was linked to a lower BMI, smaller waist circumference and better HDL cholesterol, suggesting that cannabis may be involved in metabolism. But it’s unlikely that this would have a major effect, the study authors note, since pot wasn’t linked to reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.

“There are definitely health risks associated with heavy marijuana use, but there just aren’t as many as we previously thought,” says Dr. Kevin Hill, a marijuana addiction expert and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, whose new commentary on the study is published Tuesday in JAMA.

Compared to the increasingly disproven claims made by prohibitionists about the severe negative health outcomes of marijuana consumption, bad teeth isn’t all that bad. It is certainly not a sufficient reason to continue arresting adults for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol.

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Medical Marijuana

Vermont Governor Signs Bill Expanding Medical Marijuana Access

June 7th, 2016 6 Comments Matt Simon

The Vermont medical marijuana program took an important step forward today when Gov. Peter Shumlin signed S. 14, a bill that will make it possible for more patients to qualify for the medical marijuana program.

Gov. Peter Shumlin. VTD/Josh Larkin
Gov. Peter Shumlin. VTD/Josh Larkin

“At a time when opiate addiction is ravaging our state and drug companies continue to urge our doctors to pass out painkillers like candy, we need to find a more practical solution to pain management,” Shumlin said in a statement.

Specifically, the bill reduces the threshold for a pain diagnosis from “severe pain” to “chronic pain.” It also adds glaucoma as a qualifying condition, and it reduces the required provider-patient relationship from six months to three months. A summary of these changes and others made by S. 14 is available here.

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Tax and Regulate

West Virginia Legislators Propose Bill to End Marijuana Prohibition

June 6th, 2016 17 Comments Matt Simon

The West Virginia Legislature failed to reform its marijuana policies in the 2015-2016 legislative session, primarily because House Speaker Tim Armstead continues to oppose even the most modest, incremental reforms.Seal_of_West_Virginia.svg Fortunately, now that a special session has been called, five delegates have decided this is an opportunity to raise the issue of marijuana legalization. Del. Mike Pushkin (D-Charleston) and a bipartisan group of four co-sponsors have introduced HB 114, which would make marijuana legal on a limited basis in West Virginia.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail published an editorial praising these legislators’ efforts, calling legalization an “excellent idea.” The Gazette-Mail noted that the bill “has no chance” of passing in the special session, but it still presents an important opportunity to raise the issue with elected officials.

If you are a West Virginia resident, please take a moment to contact your delegates and senators today and urge them to consider the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition.

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