Tag Archives: Massachusetts

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

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.

The Marijuana Policy Project is Already Gearing Up for 2016

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.

Cambridge, MA Voters Have Say on Making Marijuana Legal

According to Wicked Local Cambridge, next month, Massachusetts’s voters in eight districts — including Precincts 1 and 3 — will get the opportunity to relay to state representatives their opinions on making marijuana legal.

The Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts (DPFMA), a nonprofit organization that supports new approaches to drug control policy, gathered enough signatures to include the following public policy question on the November ballot: “Should state representatives be instructed to support a measure to regulate marijuana similar to alcohol?”

The public policy question will be included on ballots in 56 cities and towns across Massachusetts. In addition, according to DPFMA, one in every 20 resident voters will be given the chance to express their views on the issue.

David Rogers

Cambridge is one of the districts that will get a say on the matter. In fact, the state representative who represents the 24th Middlesex District, David Rogers, said that he plans on voting in favor of the ballot question.

“Although obviously localities cannot legalize marijuana, we do have the ability to influence public discussion and debate, and ultimately public opinion,” Rogers told the Chronicle. “For far too long, the drug laws in the commonwealth and throughout the country have done more than good. It’s time to think creatively about new approaches. I favor legalization coupled with strong regulation.”

Moreover, there is overwhelming public support. Massachusetts’s voters have already approved 69 marijuana public policy questions throughout the state. During elections in 2000 and 2010, ballot questions pertaining to taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol appeared in seven districts and garnered 69 percent support, according to DPFMA.

Massachusetts voters, please continue to support sensible marijuana policy by expressing your views to your state representatives on Election Day. Please encourage family, friends, and neighbors to do the same!

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

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.

The Smell of Marijuana is No Longer Justification for Searches in Massachusetts

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled Wednesday that police officers cannot search vehicles based solely upon the smell of unburnt marijuana, Boston.com reports. The court had previously decided that warrantless searches of pedestrians or cars for the smell of burned marijuana were illegal in 2011. They believed that allowing unwarranted searches based on the smell of marijuana would be inconsistent with the 2008 law that decriminalized marijuana in Massachusetts. The ruling on Wednesday was based on the fact that the human nose cannot discern the presence of a criminal amount of marijuana as opposed to a non-criminal amount. Possession of less than an ounce is not a crime in Massachusetts and, as the police cannot reliably distinguish criminal amounts of marijuana by smell, searches would not be legal. The justices wrote, “We are not confident, at least on this record, that a human nose can discern reliably the presence of a criminal amount of marijuana, as distinct from an amount subject only to a civil fine.”

The court said this decision was consistent with the will of the people who want the police to focus on more serious crimes. The court rejected the argument from law enforcement that they can search vehicles based on the smell of marijuana because possession of marijuana is still a criminal offense under federal law. Justice Barbara Lenk said, “The fact that such conduct is technically subject to a Federal prohibition does not provide an independent justification for a warrantless search.”