Chris Christie Reaffirms Opposition to State Marijuana Legalization


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In recent months, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly said that he does not agree with marijuana legalization and would most likely end the current policy which allows states to determine their own marijuana laws provided they meet certain criteria, earning him a grade of “F” on MPP’s Presidential Report Card.

On Tuesday, Gov. Christie reaffirmed this position, saying that state laws making marijuana legal are numbered if he is elected president. The Huffington Post reports:

“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie said Tuesday during a Newport, New Hampshire, town-hall meeting, Bloomberg reports. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

Christie, one of 16 Republicans campaigning for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, has made no secret of his long-held opposition to cannabis. As governor of New Jersey, he has opposed even his own state’s limited medical marijuana program and has called similar laws in 22 other states a “front” for full recreational legalization. He has described taxes generated from the sale of marijuana as “blood money.” And earlier this year in no uncertain terms, he said that, as president, he would “crack down and not permit” recreational cannabis in states that have legalized it.

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MPP Releases Presidential Candidate Report Card


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Last Friday, MPP released the 2016 Presidential Candidates Report Card, which grades the various major candidates based on their support for marijuana policy reform or the willingness to allow it to move forward. Since then, a wide variety of news outlets have written about it, including The New York Times, Huffington Post, Washington Times, and others. In particular, there was quite a bit of interest in Republican Sen. Rand Paul receiving the highest grade of any candidate: A-.

The Washington Times reports:

Mr. Paul, received a grade of “A-” from the Marijuana Policy Project. The group said his grade was based largely on his sponsorship of a medical marijuana bill, support for reducing marijuana-related penalties and support for allowing states to regulate marijuana for adult use.

Mr. Christie and Mr. Santorum, meanwhile, two other GOP contenders, both received a grade of “F” “because they oppose reform efforts and they are the most vocal supporters of enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal,” the group said.

“Some of these guys who tout states’ rights, fiscal responsibility, and getting the government out of people’s private lives want to use federal tax dollars to punish adults for using marijuana in states that have made it legal,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the group. “They say using marijuana is immoral or just too dangerous to allow, but serve alcohol, a more dangerous substance, at their fundraisers. The hypocrisy is astonishing.”

Not surprisingly, Sen. Paul has gotten a lot of attention this week by being the first presidential candidate to actively court the marijuana industry for campaign donations.

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Colorado Governor Starts to Come Around on Regulated Marijuana


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People Power: John W. Hickenlooper
Gov. John Hickenlooper

After fighting against the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and  publicly questioning the wisdom of voters in the years since his state made marijuana legal for adults, it appears the Gov. John Hickenlooper is finally realizing that regulating marijuana was a good idea.

The Denver Post reports:

And now this headline — “Colorado Gov.: Pot is ‘not as vexing as we thought it was going to be’ (video)” — tied to “Opening Bell” host Maria Bartiromo’s interview with Hickenlooper at the Milken Institute Global Conference, which runs through today.

“It’s all those young people coming, and they look at marijuana and say, ‘Hey we can drink whiskey, why can’t we have a legalized system with marijuana?’ If you look back it’s turned out to not be as vexing as some of the people like myself — I opposed the original vote, didn’t think it was a good idea. Now the voters spoke so we’re trying to make it work, and I think we are.[“]

Colorado-rooted legalization advocate Mason Tvert said he welcomes the governor’s new turn.

“It’s great to see the governor recognizes that regulating marijuana is working in Colorado and that it has many benefits,” said Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Polls show more voters support the law now than did when it was approved, and it appears he might be part of that late majority.

“Just about everyone who takes an objective look at what is happening in Colorado agrees that things are going quite well.”

You can watch the video at Fox Business News.

Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com

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MPP Calls for Resignation of Sheriffs Suing Colorado to Bring Back Prohibition


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Supporters of marijuana regulation in Colorado are calling for the resignation of the six Colorado sheriffs who filed a federal lawsuit Thursday intended to force Colorado marijuana production and sales back into the underground market.

According to news reports, the sheriffs claim they are experiencing a “crisis of conscience” because they believe federal marijuana laws prohibit them from enforcing state marijuana laws. However, the U.S. Controlled Substances Act includes a provision that clearly states is not intended to preempt state laws, and it specifically authorizes states to pursue their own marijuana laws.

MPP’s Mason Tvert explains on “CBS This Morning”:

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MPP’s Mason Tvert Talks Tourism with “Fox & Friends”


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MPP’s Mason Tvert was a guest on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends this morning to discuss a story out of Colorado regarding marijuana use and tourism.

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MPP Launches New Billboards Urging Adults to Be Responsible With Marijuana Products


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The Marijuana Policy Project  is launching billboards this week in Denver and Seattle that encourage parents to keep marijuana out of reach of children. The ads are part of a broader public education campaign urging adults to “consume responsibly” in states where marijuana is legal.

The billboards feature a child looking at what could be a glass of grape juice or a stemless glass of wine and a few cookies that might or might not be infused with marijuana. It reads, “Some juices and cookies are not meant for kids,” and urges them to, “Keep ‘adult snacks’ locked up and out of reach.”

The “Consume Responsibly” campaign made national headlines when it launched in September with a billboard that alluded to columnist Maureen Dowd’s infamous marijuana edibles experience and urged adults to exercise caution when consuming them.

“Now that states are taking a smarter approach to marijuana policy, it’s time for a smarter approach to marijuana education,” said MPP’s Mason Tvert. “Issues such as over-consumption and accidental ingestion are not unique to marijuana, and a lot can be learned from how we handle other legal products. These problems can be addressed by raising awareness and informing adults about steps that should be taken to prevent them.”

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UN Official Criticizes U.S. for Breaking the Marijuana Laws That it’s Forced the World to Live By


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Marijuana is now legal for adult use in Colorado and Washington and will be joined by Alaska and Oregon, in addition to Washington, D.C. — but it turns out that the four states and nation’s capital are all breaking international law.

Yury Fedotov

According to the executive director of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov:

“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing convention.”

Apparently, he has a point; by allowing legal marijuana sales within its borders, the U.S. is technically in violation of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The major UN convention, which was signed by the U.S., prohibits countries from creating regulated markets for the cultivation, sale, purchase, distribution, and possession of marijuana.

Historically, the U.S. has pressured other countries in the convention to adopt measures that enforced American-style prohibition, which has led some to criticize the federal government for being hypocritical by allowing implementation of state marijuana regulations to proceed.

According to Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“The United States has largely dictated international drug laws for decades, and now that it’s becoming clear that Americans will no longer stand with these failed drug policies, we see other countries moving ahead as well.”

“Fedotov’s statements may make it awkward for the federal government, but they won’t stop the momentum toward ending marijuana prohibition.”

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FBI Reports Approximately 693,000 Arrests for Marijuana Offenses in 2013


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An estimated 693,481 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana-related offenses in 2013, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report. More than 87% of those arrests were for simple possession, meaning, on average, one person was arrested for marijuana possession approximately every 51 seconds across the U.S.

However, the 2013 marijuana-related arrest numbers are down from 2012. The Uniform Crime Report from last year showed that 749,842 marijuana arrests were made in 2012.

Marijuana policy reform groups are glad to see that the arrest rates associated with marijuana offenses have fallen since 2012, but continuing to arrest people for the simple possession of marijuana should be seen as unacceptable and a call for further reforms.

According to Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“We’re pleased to see the drop, but arresting even one adult for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol is inexcusable.”

“Law enforcement officials should be spending their time and resources addressing serious crimes, not arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana. Every year, these statistics show hundreds of thousands of marijuana-related arrests are taking place and countless violent crimes are going unsolved. We have to wonder how many of those crimes could be solved – or prevented – if police weren’t wasting their time enforcing failed marijuana prohibition laws.”

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Majority of Americans Continue to Support Making Marijuana Legal in the U.S.


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According to a recent Gallup Poll, 51% of Americans favor making the use of marijuana legal — similar to the 50% who supported it in 2011 and 2012 — but down from 58% support last year.

The October 12-15 Gallup poll was conducted in the run-up to the midterm elections, in which various marijuana policy reform ballot measures were before voters in Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., and Florida, as well as in many cities in Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

Last year was the first time that Gallup found an overwhelming majority in favor of making marijuana legal, at a solid 58%. This year, however, support is shown to be at 51%, which is still a majority, though the percentage is closer to where it was in 2011 and 2012.

According to the communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert:

While most observers would agree there was solid majority support in 2013, many thought 58% was questionably high. Rarely, if ever, do you see public opinion on a controversial social issue jump as much as seven points in the course of one year. It will be interesting to see if the same opponents who declared such a large increase was impossible last year will have the same analysis of such a large decrease this year.  

Things are moving in one direction when it comes to the tangible products of public opinion. I would take passage of laws in two states and our nation’s capital over some jumpy poll results any day. If Gallup finds 49% support in 2016 after five more states vote to end marijuana prohibition, I could live with that. 

The bottom line is that public support for making the use of marijuana legal has clearly increased and continues to increase as more Americans recognize that it makes no sense to punish responsible adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. Four states, the nation’s capital, and two East Coast cities now legally allow the use of marijuana. It is clear that momentum is growing across the nation for marijuana policy reform.

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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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