Medical Marijuana

Missouri Advocates Trying to Put Medical Marijuana on State Ballot

April 4th, 2016 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

MPP is excited that New Approach Missourinamlogoblue is spearheading an effort to give voters a chance to enact a comprehensive medical marijuana program this November. The ballot initiative would allow seriously ill patients who have a certification from their doctor to obtain medical cannabis from dispensaries regulated by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. For our complete summary of the initiative, please click here.

Should voters amend Missouri’s constitution to establish this program, medical cannabis would be subject to a 4% retail sales tax. Revenue from this tax would go to establishing the Missouri Veterans Health Care Fund benefiting veterans with health care assistance, drug rehabilitation services, housing assistance, job training, and tuition assistance.

But voters will not have the opportunity to cast a ballot for this compassionate program unless New Approach is able to collect enough signatures. They need to collect 256,000 signatures by May 8, 2016. Currently they are about 40% of the way to their goal. If you are a Missouri resident and want to get involved, please make sure you have signed the petition, and then review this training video and contact your respective volunteer coordinator to help out.

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Prohibition

Supreme Court Dismisses States’ Lawsuit Against Colorado

March 30th, 2016 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Nebraska and Oklahoma’s lawsuit challenging Colorado’s marijuana regulation laws.

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The decision is available here.

The attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma filed the lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court in December 2014, arguing that the state’s decision to regulate the cultivation and distribution of marijuana was “placing stress on their criminal justice systems.” The Colorado and U.S. governments both filed briefs urging the court to dismiss the suit. Oklahoma Republicans also urged their attorney general to drop the suit. Read the rest of this entry »

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Research

Survey Shows Record Support for Making Marijuana Legal

March 25th, 2016 8 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Friday, even more evidence that most Americans no longer support marijuana prohibition was released.

Washington Post reports:

A new survey released today by the the Associated Press800px-Associated_Press_logo.svg and the University of Chicago finds that a record-high percentage of Americans — 61 percent — say they support marijuana legalization.

The survey uses the same question wording (“Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?”) on marijuana as previous Gallup surveys, which had shown a previous high of 58 percent support for legalization last October.

The survey comes at a potential tipping point for drug reform. Next month, the United Nations will hold a special session in New York to re-evaluate the state of international drug laws. Many researchers and public health experts have been encouraging the UN to take a less-punitive approach to drug policy. Yesterday, a group of medical and public health experts urged governments to decriminalize all drug use and experiment with regulated drug markets in some cases.

 

 

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Attorney General Certifies Medical Marijuana Initiative

March 25th, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine notified Ohioans for Medical Marijuana on Friday that he has certified the summary of the group’s proposed ballot initiative to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program and submitted it to the Ohio Secretary of State.OMM_horizontal-green_logo

The attorney general confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.” The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

The Ohio Ballot Board will now have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws. Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Court Ruling Allows D.C. to Pass Marijuana Regulation Bill

March 24th, 2016 2 Comments Kate Bell

On Friday, the District of Columbia Superior Court upheld the Local Budget Autonomy Act of 2012, which 82% of D.C. voters approved in spring of 2013. Then, on Tuesday, D.C.’s Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer said they would not appeal.Flag_Map_of_Washington_DC

Now, instead of having to wait for Congress to appropriate funds to D.C., the budget will simply be reviewed in the same way as every other law passed by the D.C. Council. So, the appropriations rider that has blocked the council from making any improvements to D.C.’s marijuana policies will expire on September 30, 2016. This means that the council can move forward to determine how to tax and regulate marijuana and pass a law to do so this fall.

While Congress could still block a tax and regulate bill or a D.C. budget that includes funds for the regulation of marijuana sales, it would have to do so by passing a joint resolution in both houses that would be subject to presidential veto. Thanks to congressional gridlock and President Obama’s support for D.C. choosing its own marijuana policy, this would be much more difficult than simply adding a rider to a lengthy appropriations bill funding the federal government.

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Prohibition

New Orleans Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

March 24th, 2016 1 Comment Maggie Ellinger-Locke
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Mayor Mitch Landrieu

On Wednesday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed into law an ordinance decriminalizing marijuana possession in the City of New Orleans! Last week the City Council unanimously passed Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s measure, ordinance 31,148. Thanks to everyone who spoke out or turned out in support and to CommonSense NOLA for leading the charge.

Ordinance 31,148 allows law enforcement to issue a ticket — rather than arrest — for marijuana possession, and reduces penalties from possible jail time to a civil fine of $40 to $100 if the officer cites under local law instead of arresting under state law. The ordinance will go into effect on June 21 of this year. For more details, click here.

Also reminder that the Louisiana legislative session is now open and medical marijuana is on the agenda. If you are a Louisiana resident, please to let your representative and senator know that you wish to see a workable medical marijuana program in your state.

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Tax and Regulate

Washington State Lawmakers Pass Limited Marijuana Policy Reforms

March 24th, 2016 No Comments Chris Lindsey

While there were over two-dozen marijuana-related bills introduced in Washington this year, only a handful passed before the regular legislative session wrapped up. Those that did pass now await Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature. They make improvements, but their changes are slight compared with many others that fell short this year.2000px-Flag_of_Washington.svg

Those before the governor include HB 2584, which would limit the amount of information a marijuana business must publically disclose about its operations. Another tweaks the procedural hurdles that might prevent dispensary staff from disposing of marijuana when ordered to do so, and a third would create a category of license for those cultivators who grow plants for cooperatives.

Two other marijuana bills passed but were vetoed because they did so after the regular legislative session ended. One would have allowed retails shops to sell non-marijuana items, and the other addressed laws related to cannabis research licenses.

While many of this year’s marijuana bills technically remain alive as the legislators continue to meet in a special session, most believe they will not advance further. The special session was called to address the state budget, where deep divisions remain in Olympia.

Unfortunately, key efforts like establishing marijuana café licenses will have to wait until 2017 when new bills can be introduced. But with the strong interest lawmakers showed in marijuana legislation this year, we will no doubt revisit many of these issues next year.

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Prohibition

Maryland House Votes to Re-Criminalize Public Marijuana Consumption

March 23rd, 2016 No Comments Kate Bell

Unfortunately, the Maryland House of Delegates just took a step backwards and passed HB 777, a regressive bill that would saddle people with a criminal record for low-level marijuana offenses. Although smoking marijuana in public is already punishable by a stiff civil fine of up to $500, this bill would make it a criminal offense.1280px-Flag_of_Maryland.svg A criminal record can make it hard to get jobs, employment, and an education, and it’s all the more alarming given racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement.

The good news is that the strong opposition from the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland helped get several amendments added to the bill that help mitigate its impact. And, although the vote in favor of the bill was a disappointing 102-35, several delegates deserve special mention for speaking out against it: Del. Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery County), Del. Marc Korman (D-Montgomery County), and Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Anne Arundel & Prince George’s Counties). In addition, Del. Dan Morhaim deserves thanks for amending the bill to help protect medical patients by excluding them from its criminal penalties if they are using a vaporizer.

Despite this setback, however, the fight isn’t over. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration, and the coalition will continue working to ensure that Maryland’s cannabis policies continue to move forward, not backward.

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Prohibition, Research

Postal Marijuana Seizures Decrease as Retail Stores Open

March 17th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

New information from the Postal ServiceUnited_States_Postal_Service_(emblem) reveals that inspectors are finding less marijuana moving through the system as retail marijuana stores are opening in states that have made it legal.

U.S. News reports:

Statistics provided to U.S. News by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service show that marijuana package intercepts declined again in fiscal year 2015, the first annual period that wholly encompasses state-regulated recreational marijuana sales in Colorado and Washington state.

Inspectors seized 7,783 marijuana-containing parcels during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a 2.6 percent drop. The collective weight of the contraband was 34,305 pounds, down 12.7 percent from the previous year.

It’s a second year in a row of such declines. In fiscal year 2014, which featured nine months of Colorado sales and three months of Washington retail operations, intercepted packages fell by 12.2 percent and their collective weight dropped by 12.7 percent.

Marijuana is the most common illegal drug seized by postal inspectors, often after reports of a suspicious odor. Though the Obama administration tolerates state-regulated medical and recreational marijuana markets, possession of the drug for any reason outside limited research remains a federal crime, as does shipping it through the mail system, even within state-legal jurisdictions.

As the numbers trend downward, pro-legalization policy advocates sense validation for their claims that black-market illegality can be crushed and drug cartels put out of business by treating the drug like alcohol.

“It’s clear the system is working as intended,” says Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert, a leader of Colorado’s 2012 legalization campaign. “What we’re seeing is adults are purchasing marijuana, but there haven’t been significant efforts to get it to other states through the mail, as some feared. People want to follow the law.”

 

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Poised to Become 24th Medical Marijuana State

March 17th, 2016 5 Comments Becky Dansky

After years of advocacy from patients and their loved ones, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved compassionate, comprehensive medical cannabis legislation this evening!

SB 3 will now return to the Senate, which approved the bill last May, to consider the House’s amendments. Gov. Tom Wolf has been a strong champion of the issue and will sign the legislation when it arrives at his desk.1914591_10153313240631816_4731955737775675460_n

SB 3 allows patients with qualifying conditions to use and safely access medical cannabis with their physicians’ recommendations. As amended by the House, it allows up to 25 growers and processors to produce medical cannabis, which would be dispensed by up to 50 dispensaries with up to three locations each.

Qualifying conditions include cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, seizures, autism, sickle cell anemia, and intractable pain if conventional therapies or opiates don’t work or are contraindicated. More details are available here.

Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard for so long to make this compassionate bill a reality, including the amazing team at Campaign4Compassion, the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, Gov. Tom Wolf, Sens. Mike Folmer and Daylin Leach and their staff, especially MP Tomei, Reps. Mike Regan, Nick Miccarelli, Russ Diamond, and Joe Petrarca and staffer Sarah Speed, Majority Leader Dave Reed, and MPP’s lobbyist Jim Davis!

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