Marijuana Ballot Initiative Gaining Support as Advocates Promote Oregon’s Campaign

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A ballot initiative in Oregon is gaining support and local marijuana policy reform advocates describe it as their “number one priority,” the Oregonian reports. New Approach Oregon is working in conjunction with Drug Policy Alliance and others to raise awareness of their campaign to pass the ballot initiative, which would allow adults to possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana. Oregon’s Liquor Control Commission would regulate and oversee the market. Dave Kopilak, an attorney who helped to draft New Approach Oregon’s initiative, claims that if it is passed, Oregon will have lower taxes on marijuana than Washington or Colorado.

Revenue generated by the adult retail market that went to the state would be distributed to a variety of public health and safety programs: 40% would go to the common school fund, 20% to mental health and addiction services, 15% to state police, 10% to cities’ law enforcement, an additional 10% to local county law enforcement, and 5% to drug abuse prevention services. If it qualifies for the ballot, the initiative will be up for a vote in November.

Legal Marijuana Sales Begin TODAY Across Washington

One year and eight months after 55% of Washington voters chose to end the failed experiment of marijuana prohibition, regulated retail marijuana stores have finally begun opening to the public. Washington is the second state to allow adult-use marijuana sales; Colorado’s retail stores have been operational for the past six months.
According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, 25 shops across the state are expected to open today, with more opening in the weeks and months to follow. Adults 21 and over will be able to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana from licensed establishments that must pay taxes and ensure that products are tested and properly labeled. Because the first growers have not been licensed for long, prices may be high and supply may be short in these first months of legal sales.
For decades, marijuana prohibition has drained our federal, state, and local governments of resources while failing to prevent use or abuse. The voters of Washington wisely chose a new approach: Taxing and regulating marijuana cultivation and distribution to adults. Considering it is far safer than alcohol, it’s about time it’s treated similarly.

 

New York Becomes the 23rd Medical Marijuana State!

On Saturday, July 5, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law, making New York the 23rd state with an effective medical marijuana law. The law goes into effect immediately, although patients are not expected to have legal protections or safe access to medical marijuana until 2016.New York flag stae outline

The law’s passage is the product of many years of work by legislative champions, led by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, and, more recently, Sen. Diane Savino, patients, their loved ones, and advocacy organizations, including MPP and Compassionate Care NY. Thanks to each and every one of you who made this law possible.

While there are many reasons to rejoice, the law is unfortunately much more limited than what was introduced, largely due to amendments Gov. Cuomo insisted upon. Many seriously ill patients will be left behind, at least initially.

Only patients with one of 10 serious conditions will qualify, although the health department is allowed to add qualifying conditions. The law allows far too few dispensaries by providing for no more than five growers, with up to four dispensing locations each. Patients will not be able to smoke cannabis. A summary of the new law is available here.

While this is a vital step forward, the work to ensure that all seriously ill patients who can benefit from medical cannabis have reasonable access to it is not done. Stay tuned for updates on how you can help improve New York’s new medical marijuana program.

 

MPP-backed initiative in York, Maine has been submitted to town hall

UPDATE: The York Board of Selectmen has scheduled a public hearing on the petition during their next meeting on Monday, July 28.

A petition that would allow adults to use marijuana has gotten the required amount of signatures and has been submitted to the Board of Selectmen, Seacoast Online reports. The Board of Selectmen in York is scheduled to consider and possibly take action on the petition later today. According to MPP Maine Political Director David Boyer, the petition needed 100 signatures in order to be submitted to the Board of Selectmen. It received 174 signatures and was submitted on June 19. Should the Board decide against holding a public hearing on the petition, advocates would have 30 days to collect 600 signatures in order to bring the petition to a public vote.

The petition, if passed, would allow York residents over 21 to use or be in possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana. It would remove penalties for marijuana possession and allow individuals to consume it privately. Public use would still be prohibited, according to organizers. This is similar to an initiative that MPP helped to pass in Portland, Maine last year that allowed adults to be in possession of 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana. The decision on York’s petition is forthcoming and should be given by the end of the day.

Arizona Medical Marijuana Researcher Fired, Cites Political Retaliation

Sue Sisley
Dr. Sue Sisley

This week, University of Arizona professor and leading medical marijuana researcher Dr. Sue Sisley was fired from her position at the university. The University of Arizona refused to renew Dr. Sisley’s contract after advocates engaged in a contentious political struggle with state lawmakers to secure funding for her clinical study on the beneficial effects of marijuana on veterans with PTSD. Dr. Sisley cites her medical marijuana advocacy and research as the reason for her abrupt dismissal. The university’s action will significantly delay — or even end — her groundbreaking research, which had finally received almost all of the necessary federal approvals.

According to the LA Times:

Sisley charges she was fired after her research – and her personal political crusading – created unwanted attention for the university from legislative Republicans who control its purse strings.

“This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and education I have been providing the public and lawmakers,” Sisley said. “I pulled all my evaluations and this is not about my job performance.”

….

In March, the National Institute on Drug Abuse moved to approve Sisley’s research. The decision came as a surprise because some researchers have long accused the institute of hostility to proposals aimed at examining the possible health benefits of marijuana.

Sisley’s study was designed to involve veterans who would use marijuana in an observation facility on campus. She had lobbied state lawmakers for approval to use state funds collected at medical marijuana dispensaries to help pay for the work. When a powerful Republican senator maneuvered to block that money, some of Sisley’s allies launched an unsuccessful recall effort.

Dr. Sisley has long been at the forefront of medical marijuana science, often traveling to testify in legislative hearings to support compassionate bills and derail the misinformation that is so often repeated by opponents of reform. MPP wishes her luck in appealing this decision and continuing her valuable research.

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(Photo: Mauro Whiteman)

Marijuana Policy Project