MPP’s Illinois Primary Voter Guide

March 19th, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

Primary Election Day happens tomorrow in Illinois, and voters’ choices will have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in the state. Lawmakers are now considering legislation to end marijuana prohibition and legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. Illinoisans should take a close look at whether candidates will stand up for sensible marijuana policy reform.

We’ve done some of the work for you. If you haven’t voted already, please check out our Illinois Voter’s Guide to see where the candidates appearing on your ballot stand on cannabis reform. For more information, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open, check out the state’s website here.

While elected officials are more supportive of legalization than ever before, we want momentum to build, and this year’s elections will have a big impact both in the legislature and in the governor’s office. It’s crucial that supporters of cannabis reform make their voices heard in Illinois.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Deadline Looming for Maryland Cannabis Bills

March 16th, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Monday is a crucial deadline for marijuana policy reform bills in Maryland. HB 1264, which would let Marylanders vote on regulating marijuana for adults, needs to move out of the House Judiciary Committee by then to stay alive this year. HB 602, a bill that would protect the rights of Maryland’s medical cannabis patients, must be voted on by the Senate in order to “cross over” to the House of Delegates and move forward during this session.

If approved by 60% of both chambers of the Maryland Legislature, HB 1264 would place a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot that would make possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis legal for adults 21 years of age and older and require the state to establish regulations and taxation for a legal cannabis market, as well as to ensure diversity in the cannabis industry.

HB 602 would ensure that patients don’t lose their Second Amendment rights under state law simply because medical cannabis helps them with their serious illness. Regardless of what you think about Maryland’s gun laws, no patient should have to lose any of their legal rights because of their status as a patient. This is of particular concern to veterans, who may be dissuaded from trying medical cannabis — a much safer alternative to the opioids they are frequently prescribed for pain or PTSD — because they don’t want to lose these rights.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

New Jersey Governor Commits to Legalization

March 14th, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reiterated his commitment to voters in his budget yesterday, which states that: “New Jersey will join other progressive states such as California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Colorado by legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana,” by January 1, 2019. In his speech, he also refuted claims by opponents that decriminalization alone would address the harms of marijuana prohibition.

“Decriminalization alone will not put the corner dealer out of business, it will not help us protect our kids, and it will not end the racial disparities we see,” he said. “If these are our goals — as they must be — then the only sensible option is the careful legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana sales to adults.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. If you are a New Jersey resident, please thank Gov. Murphy for his continued commitment to sensible marijuana policy and urge your lawmakers to support ending prohibition in New Jersey.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

N.H. House Committee Tries to Crush Legalization Hopes

March 13th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee is attempting to abuse its power by recommending that the House kill the marijuana legalization bill. If the House agrees to the committee’s motion of “interim study” when HB 656 reaches the floor next week, the bill will be dead for the year.

As a reminder, the New Hampshire House has already voted 207-139 to pass HB 656. Instead of legalizing retail sales — which is something a study commission is considering — the bill as amended would simply allow adults to cultivate six plants, three of which could be mature. It would also legalize possession of three-quarters of an ounce or less, and marijuana in excess of that amount would be legal as long as it is stored along with the plants that produced it. You can read a summary of the bill here.

HB 656 should have gone directly to the Senate after it passed the House, but instead it was sent to the Ways and Means Committee, which only deals with issues related to revenue. Some legislators are trying to make this issue complicated, but HB 656 is actually very simple and there is no good reason not to move the bill forward.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please email your representatives right now and urge them to oppose this outrageous action by the committee.

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Medical Marijuana

Virginia Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill

March 12th, 2018 4 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Last Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill into law expanding access for medical marijuana in Virginia. The law allows for practitioners to recommend CBD or THC-A oil for any condition they think would be beneficial to patients. Previously, only those suffering from intractable epilepsy could qualify for CBD or THC-A oil.

Additionally, the law allows any physician to recommend oil to his or her patients. Under the previous law, only neurologists and epilepsy specialists could give a recommendation for medical marijuana. HB 1251 is also considered emergency legislation and went into effect immediately.

We are excited about the many Virginia patients whose lives will be improved by this law.

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Maryland Senate Approves Bill to Address Criminal Overcharging

March 9th, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

Back in 2014, Maryland lawmakers decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. Unfortunately, in some jurisdictions, people in possession of less than that amount are still being criminalized. Increasingly, some prosecutors are charging individuals with “possession with intent to distribute” — a felony — based on very limited evidence, like having their marijuana in more than one baggie (which could easily be because they purchased it that way or had a few different strains, rather than because they were selling it).

In order to address this overcharging, Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, introduced SB 128, which MPP supported. The bill just passed the Senate 45-1. The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.

SB 128 would simply create a legal presumption that people who have less than 10 grams should not be charged with possession with intent to distribute. Prosecutors could still make the case if there’s evidence of an intent to sell.

Even being arrested for a felony can have serious collateral consequences. For example, some jobs will suspend or fire employees immediately due to a felony arrest. Lawmakers intended to reduce the number of people caught up in the criminal justice system for having small amounts of marijuana — ask them to help fulfill that goal by passing this bill.

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Research, Tax and Regulate

MPP and Regulate Rhode Island Release New Legalization Report

March 8th, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Three out of five Rhode Islanders agree that it’s time to legalize marijuana for adult use. The conversation that should be taking place among state policymakers is not if Rhode Island should legalize and regulate marijuana. They should be discussing how it will be done.

Yesterday, we published a comprehensive new report addressing the best way for Rhode Island to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana. We are sharing this document with lawmakers in an effort to accelerate the process and move us closer to enacting real policy.

Although three New England states have already ended marijuana prohibition, Rhode Island’s state legislature continues to delay serious consideration of legalization. Unfortunately, lawmakers are now thinking about extending the legalization study commission established last year, which will only delay progress. However, another bill has been introduced which would put the issue to the voters.

We need the General Assembly to stop dragging its feet and take action. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please contact your state senator and representative and urge them to take action this year on marijuana policy reform.

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Prohibition, Research

MPP Publishes Voter Guide for Maryland Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

March 6th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

MPP has just released our voter guide for the Maryland gubernatorial primary election. We hope that Maryland’s Democratic voters will find this guide useful as they prepare to vote in the state’s Democratic primary elections on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. There are big differences between the candidates, whose grades range from A+ to C based on their responses to our survey, public statements, and record in office. We plan to update our voter guide with information on the general election candidates after the primary.

This is an important election because, even if marijuana legalization appears on the ballot alongside the gubernatorial candidates (which we hope it does), the governor will have a lot of influence over the implementation of taxation and regulation of marijuana. The field is still wide open, as nearly half of Democratic voters remain undecided. The voter guide also provides contact information for all the candidates, and we encourage you to contact them to share your views on marijuana policy reform — and encourage them to discuss the issue.

If you want more information on how to register to vote, please visit the Board of Elections website.

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Medical Marijuana

Support Growing for Medical Marijuana in Kentucky

March 6th, 2018 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

There has been a tremendous groundswell of support for medical cannabis in Kentucky this year, and the legislature is finally beginning to listen. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee began considering testimony in support of HB 166, a bill that would make Kentucky the 30th state to pass an effective medical cannabis law. A similar bill, SB 118, has already generated quite a bit of discussion in the Senate.

Patients who are struggling with serious medical conditions in Kentucky have already waited far too long for legal protections and safe, legal access to cannabis. The current legislative session is scheduled to end in mid-April, so it’s time for representatives and senators to demonstrate strong leadership on the issue.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please email your representatives and senators right now and urge them to support medical cannabis legislation in 2018.

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Texas Primary Voter Guide

March 5th, 2018 No Comments Morgan Fox

Primary Election Day is tomorrow, Tuesday, March 6, and voters’ choices will have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in Texas. As sweeping change continues around the country, Texans should take a close look at whether candidates will stand for sensible marijuana policy reform.

We’ve done some of the work for you. If you haven’t voted already, please check out our Texas Voter Guide to see where the candidates appearing on your ballot stand on cannabis reform. For more information, including where you can cast your ballot, check out the state’s website here.

If we want to stop the criminalization of cannabis consumers in Texas and allow medical cannabis, it’s crucial that supporters of cannabis reform make their voices heard in Texas politics.

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