Advocates across the state of Michigan are hitting the streets in a major push to gather signatures that would decriminalize possession of small amounts marijuana in up to 18 cities. They have until July 29 to get the signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. If you have not gotten involved already, it’s not too late to help!
Three communities out of the 18 have already qualified. The current effort follows similar campaigns in numerous other cities in years past. Last year, voters in Lansing, Ferndale, and Jackson voted overwhelmingly in favor decriminalization measures. In 2012, voters supported similar voter initiatives in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Flint. MPP wishes to thank everyone involved in this tremendous grassroots effort that is sweeping communities in Michigan!
This afternoon, Vermont became the 15th state to decriminalize marijuana possession (two others have made it legal). Gov. Peter Shumlin, a vocal champion of sensible marijuana policies, signed H. 200 at about 1:30 p.m.
This is a major victory for MPP and our legislative allies in Montpelier, who have worked hard to build support for this sensible reform.
The next step for Vermont policymakers will be to consider legal alternatives to the illicit market for marijuana. Attorney General William Sorrell has publicly argued in favor of decriminalizing plants, and many legislators have made the case for replacing marijuana prohibition with a taxed and regulated system.
If it passes in the Senate and is not vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez, H.B. 465 would make the first offense for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense, punishable only by a $50 fine. Possession of one to four ounces would also be punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. Second offenses would be petty misdemeanors subject to double the fine amount, but would still carry no risk of jail time. Possession of four to eight ounces would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $300.
While the Senate was passing S.B. 472, SD 1, the House was also approving legislation to improve Hawaii’s marijuana policies. The House passed H.B. 667 (allowing out-of-state patients and making other improvements) and H.B. 668 (transferring the medical marijuana program from the public safety department to the health department). The two bills now move to the Senate for committee hearings.
This past year was undeniably the most productive 365-day period in the history of the marijuana policy reform movement. There were a number of significant accomplishments, but here is the Marijuana Policy Project’s list of the “Top 10 Marijuana Victories of 2012.” As with our previous annual lists, it includes neither important scientific developments nor important international developments. Rather, this list focuses on the biggest marijuana-related policy accomplishments in the U.S. in the last year.