Open For Business


It’s been exactly nine years since MPP provided me with a grant to move to Colorado and begin laying the groundwork for a future statewide ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. All of that work came to fruition yesterday when legal marijuana retail stores throughout the state opened their doors to begin selling marijuana to adults.

Sean AzzaritiI wanted to share one of my favorite pictures that I took of the first sale. This is Sean Azzariti, an Iraq war veteran with PTSD, who appeared in an Amendment 64 TV ad discussing his inability to legally access marijuana because his condition was not covered by Colorado’s medical marijuana law. As of yesterday, he can — and he did.

As I said during our news conference yesterday — which was attended by dozens of state, national, and international media outlets — adults are buying marijuana in every state in the nation. Only in Colorado are they now buying it in legitimate, taxpaying businesses instead of in the underground market. MPP is working to change that by passing similar laws in states around the country over the next few years. With your help, we are confident we can do it. This historic event is getting international attention.

Here is just one example of the amazing coverage surrounding the end of marijuana prohibition in Colorado:

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Looking Back on Prohibition


December 5th of this year marks the 80th anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition in the United States. Prohibition lasted 13 years, between January 19, 1920 and December 5, 1933. Prohibition contributed to a failing economy, directly bolstered organized crime, and remains one of the biggest public policy failures in US history.

The restaurant and entertainment industries suffered under prohibition, while thousands of workers lost jobs as barrel makers, truckers, waiters, and every other job associated with the businesses of brewing and distilling.  ProhibitionProhi also cost the federal government $300 million to enforce and lost $11 billion in tax revenue. The problems weren’t just economic; the laws that enforced prohibition were also filled with loopholes. One law allowed pharmacists to prescribe whiskey to patients, which resulted in a huge surge of pharmacy registrations. Another resulted in a surge of church and synagogue attendance, not because of any religious epiphanies but because wine was still allowed in religious services.

Crime surged under prohibition, with newly organized crime syndicates protecting and facilitating the new illicit market. Law enforcement officials were corrupted with bribes, and those that weren’t corrupt filled courtrooms and jails with prohibition offenders. The US started spending more money on the prison system and incarcerated citizens under a law that would be repealed after less than 15 years.

80 years later, we can see that the prohibition of alcohol was an enormous mistake. Americans actually drank more under prohibition than they did before it, and the illicit market for alcohol prompted a new era of organized crime. On this anniversary, let us reflect on current prohibition in the United States. How many tax dollars does the US forfeit in the name of marijuana prohibition? How many of its citizens’ tax dollars does the government waste by arresting non-violent offenders of that prohibition? How has this policy fostered the growth of organized crime and cartels in the United States and abroad? When will the end of marijuana prohibition have its anniversary?

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Mason Tvert Talks Gallup Poll on CNN


MPP communications director Mason Tvert recently appeared on CNN to discuss the Gallup poll that found 58% of Americans now support legalizing marijuana.

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U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearing on ‘Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws’


UPDATE: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will testify at the hearing.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced Monday that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws.” Sen. LeahyLeahy has reportedly invited U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to speak to the committee.

The hearing is scheduled for September 10 at 10 a.m. ET in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

Sen. Leahy has said he believes state laws making marijuana legal for adult or medical use “should be respected.”

MPP’s director of government relations Dan Riffle had this to say:

“Two states have made marijuana legal for adult use and are establishing regulated systems of production and distribution. Twenty states plus our nation’s capital have made it legal for medical use. By failing to recognize the decisions of voters and legislators in those states, current federal law is undermining their ability to implement and enforce those laws.

“Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered, and everyone in Washington knows that. It’s time for Congress to stop ignoring the issue and develop a policy that allows states to adopt the most efficient and effective marijuana laws possible. We need to put the ‘reefer madness’ policies of the 1930s behind us and adopt an evidence-based approach for the 21st century.”

This could be a really big deal. We’ll keep you posted.

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MPP’s video ad that began airing Friday on a jumbotron outside the NASCAR Brickyard 400 was pulled later that afternoon by the media company that owns the video screen. Grazie Media, which had solicited the ad from MPP, approved its content, and accepted payment for it, reportedly came under fire from marijuana prohibitionist organizations such as Save Our Society From Drugs, which claimed the ad’s message that marijuana is safer than alcohol was false and misleading.

In a statement, MPP’s Mason Tvert said:

We find it odd that this company is willing to run ads at an alcohol-fueled event, yet unwilling to run an ad that simply highlights the ways in which marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. This is the exact type of hypocrisy that motivated us to run this ad. We wanted to make people think about the absurdity of laws that allow adults to use alcohol but punish them for making the safer choice to use marijuana instead, if that is what they prefer.

Despite only airing at the race for a few hours, the ad generated a wealth of national and local media coverage, including two segments on CNN and one on CNBC. The video has already received more than 550,000 views on YouTube.

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MPP Airs Ad at Brickyard 400 NASCAR Race


NASCAR fans attending this weekend’s Brickyard 400 races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be greeted by an MPP video ad in support of making marijuana legal for adults. It is scheduled to air dozens of times on a jumbotron outside the entrance of the speedway, which will be “the epicenter of American stock car racing and North American sports car racing” this weekend, according to the event’s website.

The ad, which is already getting national media attention, is reminiscent of a beer commercial and highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol by characterizing marijuana as a “new ‘beer'” that is less harmful to the consumer and to society.

Watch the ad below:

MPP released the following statement from communications director Mason Tvert:

“Our goal is to make this weekend’s event as educational as it will be enjoyable. We simply want those adults who will be enjoying a beer or two at the race this weekend to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful product.”

“Marijuana is less toxic and less addictive than alcohol, and it is far less likely to contribute to violent and reckless behavior. We hope racing fans who still think marijuana should be illegal will question the logic of punishing adults for using a safer substance than those produced by sponsors of NASCAR events and racing teams.”

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Father’s Day Has Passed, But It’s Not Too Late to Start a Conversation


For Father’s Day, the Marijuana Policy Project created a video called “Dear Dad” in which a young man talks to his father about his preferences after a long day’s work. He explains how they’re a lot alike — they both work hard and have good jobs — but at the end of a long day, he prefers to use marijuana instead of having a drink.

It is these types of conversations that are going to build the support needed to end marijuana prohibition. This video is an opportunity to show your dad, granddad, or any loved one that enjoying marijuana can be a relaxing activity much like having a glass of alcohol. It is a way to bridge the gap between generations and their understanding of marijuana and its objectively safer effects.

You can also find MPP’s “Dear Mom” video that addresses the same issue between a daughter and her mother. Send these videos to those you love to let them know you’re ready to talk about the choices you want to make.

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Federal Reform Bills Gaining Attention


In the wake of the introduction of federal marijuana reform bills on February 5, the national media has started paying closer attention to the possibility of change in the coming years. One example is this interview with MPP’s director of government relations, Steve Fox:

Such bills have come before Congress in the past with less fanfare, but it seems like this time they are being taken more seriously. Perhaps the fact that voters in Colorado and Washington decided they were sick of marijuana prohibition had something to do with it:

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Prohibition in Chicago: Different Day, Same Story


Like a lot of people, my morning routine involves clicking around a few major news sites to see what people are talking about that day. Disgusting cruise ships and exploding Russian meteorites aside, one of the stories that caught my eye today was a story about Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the head of the notorious Sinaloa cartel in Mexico. Yesterday, the Chicago Crime Commission named Guzman “Public Enemy Number One,” a title CNN notes was created for bootlegger and gangster Al Capone. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rep. Russell Introduces Marijuana Reform Bill in Maine


Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) is seeking to make Maine the third state in the country to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana. The measure would allow anyone 21 or older to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana from a licensed retailer. Sen. Russell discussed the bill and its advantages on MPBN’s Maine Watch:

Read the rest of this entry »

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