Tag Archives: Senate

New Hampshire Legalization Bill Making Progress In Legislature

The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee voted to amend HB 492, which would make marijuana legal and regulate it like alcohol, in order to simplify the tax structure and regulatory language. The committee then voted 14-5 to recommend that the House not pass the bill, which would also allow people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. The House is not bound by this recommendation, and will vote on whether the bill should progress to the Senate soon.

The committee’s amended bill taxes and regulates marijuana by imposing a standardized $60 per ounce tax on growers. Advocates claim the tax will generate approximately $25 to $30 million annually.

MPP’s Matt Simon commented that, “Even with a negative recommendation, this thoughtful amendment will make it much more likely that the bill will receive continued support from the rest of the Legislature. We are optimistic that New Hampshire lawmakers will recognize that their constituents do not want to see adults arrested for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

When the bill returns to the House, it will have a battle with its new amendments, especially since it passed the House with a 170-162 vote on January 15. Sixty percent of New Hampshire adults support HB 492, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll released in October by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Just 36% said they are opposed. The entire poll is available at: http://cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/research_publications/gsp2013_fall_gastaxpot102513.pdf.

Maryland Senate Approves Decriminalization Bill

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Sen. Bobby Zirkin

For the second year in a row, the Maryland Senate has approved Sen. Bobby Zirkin’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Today’s vote had an even wider margin than last year’s. Seven Republicans joined 29 Democrats for a 36-8 bipartisan vote. SB 364 now heads to the House Judiciary Committee for its consideration.

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee heard nearly eight hours of testimony on proposals to decriminalize and legalize marijuana from MPP and other members of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland

SB 364 would replace criminal penalties for the possession of 10 grams of marijuana with a civil fine of up to $100. This is a much-needed measure in Maryland, which has the fourth-highest arrest rate per capita for marijuana possession. Arrest records have a devastating effect on a young person’s life, and can become an obstacle to obtaining an education, employment, and even housing. SB 364 is a strong step towards ending the ineffective and destructive prohibition of marijuana. This bill would also free up law enforcement to focus on addressing serious crimes instead of arresting adults for using a substance objectively safer than alcohol.

More than two-thirds of Maryland voters (68 percent) support changing state laws to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100, according to a survey conducted in September by Public Policy Polling. The full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/MDpoll.

Maryland Police Chief Cites Fake News Report in Senate Hearing

At a Maryland State Senate hearing to discuss decriminalizing marijuana Tuesday, a high-ranking law enforcement official betrayed his total ignorance about marijuana when he claimed that decriminalization would cause a slew of overdoses throughout the state.

From the Capital Gazette:

“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” [Annapolis Police Chief Michael] Pristoop said in testimony at Tuesday’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”

That information is straight from the Daily Currant, a well-known satirical news site, which claimed that Colorado hospitals were overwhelmed with emergency cases caused by marijuana use.

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Chief Michael Pristoop

Apparently Chief Pristoop didn’t know that marijuana was already being used widely in Colorado, just like in every other state, and that it is impossible to die from a marijuana overdose.

Maybe Pristoop was truly ignorant of these facts, in which case he probably shouldn’t be testifying in support of continuing Maryland’s failed marijuana prohibition. Or maybe, like law enforcement bosses in Minnesota and around the country, he’s just worried about his budget.

Maryland Governor Suffering From Reefer Madness

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Gov. Martin O’Malley

Gov. Martin O’Malley has stated repeatedly that he opposes decriminalizing marijuana, a sensible measure already adopted by 16 other states, including red states like Nebraska and Mississippi. Gov. O’Malley does not support measures being considered in the legislature that would remove criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. One such bill passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote last year, but the House never took it up.

Gov. O’Malley needs to hear that caging people, entangling them in the justice system, and burdening them with criminal records for life, simply because of a few joints, is a waste of law enforcement resources. The ACLU of Maryland estimates that $106 million is wasted annually on enforcing marijuana possession laws. Criminalizing marijuana has destroyed lives, making it difficult for people to find a job or even get housing. These anti-marijuana laws also disproportionately target African Americans.

Michigan Senator Stalling on Medical Marijuana Regulation Bills

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Sen. Rchardville

The Detroit Free Press published a story  Monday reporting that two key medical marijuana bills, HB 4271 and HB 5104, may be stalled in the Senate. Senate Government Operations Committee Chair, Randy Richardville, indicated he intends to “sit on them for a while” in his committee. Please politely and respectfully let Sen. Richardville know that Michigan’s patients need safe, reliable access to their medicine now.

If you are a Michigan resident, please take a moment to call or send an email to Senator Richardville today and voice your concern. If you have time to write a handwritten letter, it will have the most impact. You can write Sen. Richardville at: P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536.

HB 4271 would ensure patients have safe and regular access to medical marijuana by clearly protecting medical marijuana provisioning centers (dispensaries) in communities that allow and regulate them. HB 5104 would extend the protections currently in place for smoked forms of marijuana to marijuana extracts, a key ingredient in topical applications, tinctures, and other medical marijuana products. As both Senate majority leader and chair of government operations, Sen. Richardville’s support is critical.

If you are a patient in Michigan or know a patient or a medical professional who would like to know more about this issue, please email clindsey@mpp.org for more on how to get involved.