California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom Releases Marijuana Regulation Report


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As several coalitions are busy crafting language for a ballot initiative to make marijuana legal for adults in California, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been studying the issue, and today released a report that he hopes will help inform the debate:

In a report released Wednesday, the group lays out 58 recommendations and goals for implementing general legalization — an issue expected to go before voters next year.

The document offers broad principles –“protecting California’s youth” — as well as nitty-gritty suggestions for collecting data and limiting advertising.

Gavin Newsom
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom

Newsom said in an interview that he hopes the report offers guidance to proponents of a legalization initiative aimed at the November 2016 ballot, as well as to help lawmakers and officials who would have to implement it if it passed.

The report does not explicity endorse or oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, although Newsom, who is running for governor in 2018, has been outspoken in support of legalization and is the highest-ranking California official to take that position.

MPP is currently working with a broad coalition of advocate groups to draft an initiative that would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol, which should be completed in the near future.

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California Organ Transplant Bill Becomes Law


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Medical marijuana patients in California won a victory Monday when the Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would prevent patients from being denied organ transplants.

The Associated Press reports:

The Democratic governor

Gov. Jerry Brown

announced Monday that he signed AB258 by Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine of San Rafael.

Supporters say some patients who use medical marijuana have been denied life-saving organ transplants because they are treated by doctors as drug abusers. Marijuana is often prescribed to cancer and other patients to help with pain and side effects of treatment.

Levine’s legislation ensures that medical marijuana users have the same right to access organ transplants as other patients by prohibiting a hospital or doctor from disqualifying a person solely because of medical marijuana use.

One such patient was Norman Smith, a Los Angeles resident who succumbed to liver cancer after being denied a transplant. You can learn about his story here.

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California Organ Transplant Non-Discrimination Bill for Medical Marijuana Patients Moves Forward


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AB 258 passed both the California Assembly and the Senate by overwhelming margins, sending the bill to Gov. Brown

for his signature. This compassionate bill would prohibit hospitals from denying medical marijuana patients organ transplants simply because of their choice of medicine. Hospitals, clinics, and members of the medical community who do not support medical marijuana should not be able to kick people who are already down by denying them lifesaving treatment.

The California Assembly passed AB 258 with a 62-12 vote, and earlier this week the Senate passed the bill with only one vote in opposition. Clearly, both Californians and their legislators believe in protecting patients from discrimination based on their choice of medical treatment. The bill now needs only Gov. Brown’s signature to become law.

If you are a California resident, please take a moment to ask Gov. Brown to sign AB 258 when it reaches his desk.

 

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Vote on California Medical Marijuana Anti-Discrimination Bill Approaching


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Norman Smith (Photo: Reason)

In 2012, Norman Smith of Playa del Rey, California, died after being denied a liver transplant because he had used medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. A bill to prevent similar tragedies — AB 258 — could get an Assembly floor vote any time — possibly today.

If you are a California resident, please take a moment to ask your Assembly member right now to vote yes on AB 258. Hospitals and medical professionals who do not support medical marijuana should not be able to kick people who are already down by denying them lifesaving treatment.

The bill emerged from committee earlier this month on a strong 13-3 vote. Help keep up the momentum and be sure your Assembly member hears from you!

The California Legislature is also considering several bills that would impose a regulatory system on the state’s medical marijuana program. One of the bills, AB 643, emerged from committee on another strong vote of 7-0 earlier this week. While the bill contains some positive provisions, it is flawed and is in need of improvement before it is allowed to become law. With several competing bills this year, it is likely the debate over whether and how to best regulate California’s medical marijuana program will continue.

For more information about Norman Smith’s story, please watch this video from ReasonTV.

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Tips on Providing Court Support in Marijuana Cases


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Northern California defense attorney Joseph Tully has posted some useful tips on how to show support in the courtroomCourtroom when someone is facing marijuana-related charges.
According to Tully, whose website highlights his experience defending medical marijuana cooperatives, collectives, cultivators, and caregivers:
Being tried in court for any crime, especially a victimless crime, is a trying process. Not just for the defendants, but for their friends, family, and supporters as well.  When the crime involves medical marijuana in California, it is often the defendant who is victimized.  Community support is important to help a friend get through this difficult time and to support the larger cause. …
What are the best ways to support both the cause and our friends at the courthouse? I have lots of experience as a criminal defense attorney in the courtroom.  My courthouse advice for my clients can apply to their friends and supporters as well.  Here are six ways you can show support during a medical marijuana case.
 
You can read Tully’s full post, “Weed on Trial: 6 Ways to Show Support in Court,” after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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MPP’s Rob Kampia Gives His Take on What’s Next for Marijuana Legalization


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Executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, Rob Kampia, discusses what’s next for the push to make marijuana legal in the United States:

The state that will most likely be next to legalize is Rhode Island, which would be the first to do so via state legislature. Also this spring, the District of Columbia is expected to enact a similar law through its city council.

There’s also a real opportunity to legalize marijuana through five more state legislatures between now and 2017 – Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Vermont. There will also be serious legislative activity in other states, such as New York, but it is less clear when such legislation will pass.

In November 2016, at least five states are expected to vote on similar ballot initiatives – Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada – and one could potentially appear on the ballot in Missouri.

By the end of 2017, marijuana could be legalized in 15 states and D.C., which would comprise 26% of the nation’s population.

Read the rest of Kampia’s column here.

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Federal Bill Introduced to Increase Veterans’ Access to Medical Marijuana


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Last week, a bipartisan bill that would allow doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana for certain patients was introduced in Congress.

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Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Under current policy, doctors and other specialists working with the VA are prohibited from recommending medical marijuana to any patient, despite growing evidence that it is useful in treating pain, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress, even if a patient lives in one of the 23 states, Guam, or the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) with the support of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.

Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access, said they “are very proud to stand by Congressman Blumenauer and support the Veterans Equal Access Act.”

“The Veterans Health Administration has made it very clear that, as federal employees, they lack the free speech necessary to write the recommendations for Veterans to comply with state programs,” said Krawitz. “This legislation is needed to correct that legal situation and repair this VA doctor patient relationship.”

The status quo has numerous harmful effects, said Blumenauer. “It forces veterans into the black market to self-medicate,” he said. “It prevents doctors from giving their best and honest advice and recommendations. And it pushes both doctors and their patients toward drugs that are potentially more harmful and more addictive. It’s insane, and it has to stop.”

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The Marijuana Policy Project is Already Gearing Up for 2016


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Marijuana advocates made history with three huge Election Day victories in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. and are optimistic for what the future holds.

“The stage is now set for 2016, when measures to regulate marijuana like alcohol are expected to appear on ballots in at least five states,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which was instrumental in passing legalization in Colorado and bankrolled the successful campaign in Alaska.

The five states where MPP has already established committees to push ballot measures in 2016 are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. The measures will likely be similar to the Colorado model, just as the measures in Oregon and Alaska were.

MPP also plans to work to help make marijuana legal through state legislatures, rather than ballot measures. The states that we are focusing on include Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Hawaii, and Maryland.

Most importantly, the upcoming push to make marijuana legal in those states will undoubtedly draw on the lessons learned from the successful marijuana policy reform campaigns so far — which, according to Tvert, fall into two categories. The advocates in Alaska and Colorado focused more on diminishing the fears concerned with the potential harms of marijuana by comparing the substance to alcohol, while advocates in Oregon and Washington argued that making marijuana legal is the safer alternative to marijuana prohibition.

“Our goal from the beginning was to get this message across that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol so that when that last month comes around, and the opponents are trying to scare people away from marijuana by saying it’s so dangerous, their reaction will be to say ‘yeah, but it’s less harmful than alcohol,’” Tvert stated.

Ultimately, by the looks of Tuesday’s election results, marijuana prohibition is on its way out. Moreover, momentum for sensible marijuana policy reform is growing across the country.

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MPP Files Committee in California to Support 2016 Initiative to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana


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The Marijuana Policy Project filed a committee with the California Secretary of State’s Office today to support a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use.

The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, will start raising funds immediately to help place a measure on the ballot.

According to a statement from MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia:

Rob Kampia

“A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible. Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.”

The announcement has generated quite a bit of media interest, which began with a mention in a Washington Post story summarizing the statewide efforts currently underway to end marijuana prohibition.

It noted MPP has filed committees in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Nevada for 2016, and it plans to focus on making marijuana legal through state legislatures in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont over the next few years.

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MPP’s Mason Tvert on ‘Fox & Friends’ with Bishop Ron Allen: Part 2


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Here is the second debate between MPP’s Mason Tvert and prohibitionist Bishop Ron Allen on Fox & Friends, as promised.

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