Massachusetts Campaign Using St. Patrick’s Day-Themed Billboard to Promote Initiative


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On Monday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts announced the installation of a St. Patrick’s Day-themed billboard in Boston that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

The billboard features a green beer, a glass of whiskey, and a marijuana leaf below the words, “Beer,” “Liquor,” and “Safer,” respectively.unnamed It directs viewers to RegulateMass.com/Safer, which details several ways in which marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society.

“Our goal is to make this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities as educational as they are enjoyable,” said CRMLA Campaign Manager Will Luzier, who previously served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. “While folks are celebrating with a pint of green beer or a glass of whiskey, we want them to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance.”

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Connecticut Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Regulate Marijuana for Adults


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Last week, 10 Connecticut state representatives introduced HB 5236, legislation that would legalize the sale and use of marijuana for adults.Seal-of-Connecticut While it is unlikely HB 5236 will pass during this year’s short session, garnering co-sponsors and holding a hearing this year will help build the foundation for passage down the road.

If you are a Connecticut resident and support ending marijuana prohibition in your state, please contact your representative and ask him or her to support HB 5236.

In addition to the four states and Washington D.C. that have already legalized adult use, several of Connecticut’s neighbor states are currently considering legalization including Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

Legalizing marijuana for adults makes the illicit marijuana trade obsolete and would create much-needed revenue to the state during a time of financial hardship. In 2015, Colorado’s system of marijuana regulation brought in over $135 million in revenue for the state.

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Massachusetts Campaign Submits 100K Signatures


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Yesterday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts submitted more than 100,000 signatures to the secretary of state. Only 64,750 signatures are needed, and supporters are confident that the measure will qualify for the 2016 ballot!

Associated Press reports:

The proposal would allow Massachusetts residents 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. It would also create a 3.75 percent state excise tax on retail marijuana sales that would be assessed on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

“You don’t want the tax to be too high because then it’s difficult to undercut the black market, and you want the tax to be high enough so you can finance the regulation and have some money left over,” said Will Luzier, campaign director for the group, as he emptied pages of signatures from two Christmas shopping bags at the state elections office.

The Legislature now has until the first week in May to vote on the proposal, but it’s unlikely to win approval from lawmakers given opposition to legalized marijuana from key state officials including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg said last week he expected voters would ultimately decide the issue. Assuming no action by lawmakers, organizers would need to collect at least 10,792 additional signatures to place the question on the November 2016 ballot.

 

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Ohio Issue 3 Defeat Will Not Impact 2016 Initiatives


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Last night, a controversial Ohio ballot initiative that would have regulated marijuana for adults was voted down by a relatively wide margin, marking the first time that a major state referendum to make marijuana legal for adults has failed since 2010.2000px-Seal_of_Ohio.svg However, the defeat of a marijuana-related ballot initiative in the Buckeye State will have no bearing on the outcomes of several marijuana-related initiatives expected to appear on state ballots next year.

A proposal to make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it like alcohol has already qualified for the November 2016 ballot in Nevada, and similar measures are expected to qualify for the ballots in Arizona, California, Maine, and Massachusetts. The measures do not include the widely unpopular “monopoly” language included in the 2015 Ohio initiative that limited the commercial cultivation of marijuana to only 10 predetermined producers. The 2016 initiatives are also expected to benefit significantly from heightened voter turnout during a presidential election.

MPP is supporting several of the 2016 initiative efforts. We neither supported nor opposed the Ohio initiative this year.

“It’s pretty obvious that the outcome in Ohio does not reflect where the nation stands or the direction in which it is heading when it comes to marijuana policy,” said MPP’s Mason Tvert. “It only reflects where Ohio voters stand on a specific and rather unique proposal in an off-year election. It will not have any bearing on the outcomes of the initiatives that we expect to appear on other states’ ballots in 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

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Massachusetts Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Kicks Off Signature Drive


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Massachusetts Rep. Jay Livingstone, and Regina Hufnagel, a former federal corrections officer, joined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol at a news conference Tuesday in front of the State House to kick off the signature drive in support of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.

Sen. Will Brownsberger and Rep. David Rogers were among the first to sign the petition and offered statements in support of the initiative.

The campaign must collect the signatures of 64,750 registered Massachusetts voters by November 18 to place the measure in front of the Massachusetts Legislature. If the legislature does not adopt the measure, initiative backers must collect 10,792 signatures in June 2016 to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot.

Here is Sen. Brownsberger speaking with NECN:

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Initiative to Regulate Marijuana in Massachusetts Filed Today


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Earlier today, proponents of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts filed an initiative regulate-mass_logo_lgthat would make marijuana legal for adults age 21 and older, and would regulate the cultivation, production, and retail sale of the substance.

You can find a summary of the initiative here.

Once the Massachusetts Attorney General has approved the initiative, proponents must collect the signatures of 64,750 Massachusetts voters over a nine-week period from September to November. The petition would then be transmitted to the Massachusetts Legislature. If the legislature does not adopt the measure, initiative backers must collect 10,792 signatures in June 2016 to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot.

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Massachusetts Legislators Consider Bill That Would Improve Patient Protections


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On Tuesday, Massachusetts patients and advocates urged the Joint Committee on Public Health to pass H. 2065, a bill that would improve Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law. The bill, which is supported by our allies at the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance,mpaa1-logo would protect patients from being discriminated against (with regard to college admissions, professional licensing, employment, and organ transplants, to name a few examples). It would also allow caregivers to provide up to 10 patients, and it would add a reciprocity provision allowing qualifying patients from other states to benefit from the program.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, please contact your state legislators today and ask them to join you in supporting H. 2065. 

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First Massachusetts Dispensary Now Open


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Patients who have been desperately waiting for a dispensary to open in Massachusetts will finally have some good news to celebrate this week. A dispensary in Salem has received a waiver from the state to begin operating, and opened its doors to qualifying patients on Wednesday. (An appointment is required.)

According to the Department of Health’s website, three other dispensaries have received approval to begin cultivating marijuana. These three dispensaries plan to locate their retail operations in Northampton, Brockton, and Ayer.patient-front MA MMJ card

Only 15 dispensary applicants were selected by the department in 2014, but the state announced in June that it was overhauling the dispensary selection process and scrapping its widely criticized scoring system for judging dispensary applicants. The department says that from now on, applications will be considered on a rolling basis, and applicants that meet the state’s standards will be approved. Question 3, which was approved by 63% of voters in November 2012, envisioned up to 35 dispensaries for the Bay State.

The delays have been very frustrating for patients, but hopefully this is a sign that Massachusetts is finally getting its act together and implementing the medical marijuana law in an appropriate manner.

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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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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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