Yesterday, Gov. David Ige announced that he will allow a modest decriminalization bill, HB 1383, to become law. The bill will make possession of three grams or less of marijuana punishable by a $130 fine. Under current law, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The bill will take effect on January 11, 2020.
This bill will save some Hawaiians from traumatic arrests, possible jail time, and life-altering criminal records. However, it's an extremely timid step forward. Three grams is the smallest possession limit of any decriminalization or legalization state. Unfortunately, with such a low possession limit and steep fine, lives will continue to be needlessly derailed. And, decriminalization does nothing to control the illicit market.
A more sensible approach would be to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older. Eleven states — including every state on the West Coast — have chosen this approach. Hawaii is lagging behind.
By legalizing taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and older, Hawaii would dramatically reduce marijuana arrests, displace the illicit market, and ensure consumers have a safe, tested product.
Contact your lawmakers today! With your help, Hawaii can take a more sensible approach to marijuana
Recently, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring submitted an op-ed to the Daily Press urging the state to "decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, address past convictions and start moving toward legal and regulated adult-use." Shortly after, lawmakers from both parties, including Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R), also voiced support for decriminalization.
The 2019 legislative session adjourned on February 23. While both legalization and decriminalization bills were introduced this past session, those bills were defeated in committee. With increasing support from elected officials, the focus now shifts to 2020.
Virginia is lagging behind the rest of the country on marijuana policy. Twenty-five states and Washington, D.C. have stopped jailing their residents for possession of modest amounts of marijuana, and 11 of those states and D.C. have legalized marijuana for individuals over 21.
Polling has also shown that almost eight of 10 Virginia residents support replacing criminal convictions for simple marijuana possession with a fine, and 62 percent favor ending marijuana prohibition altogether.
It is past time Virginia reform its marijuana laws. Please contact your lawmakers today, and forward this message to your family and friends in Virginia.
Earlier today, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, ending marijuana prohibition in the country's sixth most populous state. This is a tremendous achievement and the first time marijuana sales have been legalized through a state's legislative process rather than a ballot initiative.
I'm proud to say that MPP's staff and lobbying team played a central role in this groundbreaking victory, and it's important to remember that we are only effective because people like you support our work. As we celebrate today, please make a contribution to help us legalize marijuana in more states and at the federal level.
Beginning January 1, 2020, individuals 21 and older in Illinois will be able to legally possess and consume cannabis. Retail marijuana sales are expected to begin at that time. Illinois' new legalization law is also significant because it contains some of the strongest language of any state around equity and social justice, including far-reaching expungement provisions and programs to help communities that have been most impacted by the war on drugs.
Today is another sign of our remarkable progress in recent years. But a majority of Americans still live in a jurisdiction where possessing marijuana is against the law. When you donate to MPP, you become part of a powerful movement that is not only changing laws, but changing lives.
Please don't sit on the sidelines. Join us in our mission of achieving a world with more humane and just marijuana policies.
Last Thursday, a bill that would allow Delaware patients to grow their own cannabis was introduced. The bill, HB 243, would allow registered medical cannabis patients to grow up to six mature cannabis plants in an enclosed facility.
For some patients, medical expenses and a reduced ability to work make the price of store-bought cannabis out of reach. This important improvement to the medical cannabis program would provide people who could benefit from medical cannabis with safe, legal access to the medicine they need.
In other encouraging news, the Senate has approved a bill (13-6) that would expand decimalization to those under 21 years of age. It now heads to the House for consideration. Under current law, those under 21 years old still face criminal penalties for marijuana possession. This bill would save young adults from life-altering criminal convictions, which can close the door on opportunities including jobs, housing, and higher education.
These pieces of legislation are important steps to improve Delaware's cannabis laws. Please also ask your representative to support HB 110 to end cannabis prohibition and replace it with a system where cannabis is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol.
After months of debate this legislative session on how the state will approach legalization, the legislature adjourned this week without reaching a conclusion.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger's Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act was unable to gain enough support in the Senate to receive a vote before the legislature's deadline.
However, the legislature did approve improvements to New York's decriminalization cannabis policies.
Lawmakers passed legislation to fix the state's decriminalization law and provide for automatic expungement for those with certain misdemeanor cannabis convictions. This reform will save thousands of New Yorkers from arrest and allow those with previous cannabis convictions to move on with their lives. For more details, read our full summary of the bill here.
It is unfortunate that despite the majority of New Yorkers supporting legalization, the legislature failed to act this session. It is past time to end cannabis prohibition in New York. Let your lawmakers know you want them to end prohibition and replace it with a system where marijuana is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to prevent the federal government from interfering with state laws regulating marijuana for all purposes, including adult use.
"Today's vote is the most significant step Congress has ever taken toward ending federal marijuana prohibition."
- Steven Hawkins, MPP Executive Director
Yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives, an extraordinary milestone was achieved when the body approved a measure by a 267-165 vote to prevent the Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with the implementation of state laws that have legalized marijuana for adults. Since 2014, Congress has renewed a provision that prevented federal interference in states' medical marijuana programs, but this goes further and includes adult-use legalization, too.
The significance of this development cannot be overstated. As MPP Executive Director Steve Hawkins put it this vote means "Congress is recognizing that the federal government must let the states decide on cannabis legalization — and not the other way around." But this win was only made possible with your support.
Please help MPP continue to achieve victories like this by making a contribution to the effort today.
The bipartisan amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the use, possession, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana. The measure is broader than previous amendments, which applied only to medical marijuana laws.
We should all take a moment to savor this seminal achievement and to appreciate how far we've come as a movement. But we can't afford to rest on our laurels, to count on momentum alone to drive future progress, or to assume others will step up to support ending marijuana prohibition nationwide.
Your gift of support today is critical to ensure that MPP has the resources it needs to keep on fighting and winning. Click here to donate now.
The Senate is expected to take up companion legislation in the coming weeks, and it's going to take all the efforts of MPP's policy experts, allies, and coalition partners to push this bill forward. Most importantly, strong and active support from people like you, who know firsthand the injustice and illogic of marijuana prohibition, will be key to moving this legislation across the finish line.
Thank you for all you've done to help us get this far. The MPP mission to end marijuana prohibition has never been so close to being realized, and with your support, we will make that vision a reality.
There are less than two weeks left in Delaware's legislative session to advance the legalization bill. The bill needs a three-fifths supermajority (25 votes) in the House to advance to the Senate, and several representatives have not yet taken a position on legalization. (The bill will pick up where it left off in 2020.)
Here's how you can take action and help advance HB 110:
1. Join us in solidarity at lobby day on Tuesday, June 25.
When: Tuesday, June 25, 12:00 p.m.
Where: Legislative Hall 411 Legislative Avenue, Dover, Delaware 19901 (meet us in the lobby)
Details on how to RSVP here.
2. Volunteer to help generate phone calls to legislators in key districts! We have a system that allows you to volunteer from home. Please email email@example.com for details on how to get started.
3. If you haven't done so already, contact your state rep now and urge them to vote YES on HB 110.
It is important legislators hear from as many of their constituents as possible. Join us for lobby day June 25 to help us send a strong message to the General Assembly to end cannabis prohibition in the First State!
This Friday, the Rhode Island House will debate H 5151 Sub A, the budget bill for the coming fiscal year. As written, Article 15 of this legislation would make two significant changes to undermine the state's medical marijuana program.
First, the House budget would require all patients who wish to grow for themselves to register as their own caregiver. Then, it empowers the Department of Business Regulation to establish criteria for caregivers, which may include "eligibility" and "a demonstration of need." Depending on how the department uses this authority, it could effectively eliminate home cultivation for all but a few patients.
Second, while the current budget proposal would increase the number of compassion centers from three to nine, it also raises the annual licensing fee for these facilities to $500,000 a year, which is 10-100 times more than what most other states require for medical marijuana business licenses. This fee will ensure that only people with deep pockets can enter the market, and the increased costs will be passed down to patients in the form of increased prices.
Limiting patients' ability to grow their own medicine while simultaneously increasing costs for patients at the compassion centers is a cruel and unnecessary way to balance the budget. Enough is enough.
Thank you for taking action!
Later this week, we have a chance to make a major breakthrough in reforming marijuana policy at the federal level. We need your help to make it happen.
The House is expected to vote on the McClintock-Blumenauer amendment, which would prevent the Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with the implementation of state laws that have legalized marijuana for adults. Since 2014, Congress has upheld a rule preventing federal interference in states' medical marijuana programs, but this goes further and includes adult-use legalization, too.
With Illinois' recent victory, 11 states have ended marijuana prohibition, and more than 25% of the U.S. population lives in a jurisdiction where marijuana is legal for adults. We must protect these state laws and prevent federal arrests for people operating legal marijuana businesses.
A bill to stop arresting and jailing Hawaiians for small amounts of cannabis was sent to Gov. Ige's desk before the legislature adjourned on May 2. Unfortunately, the governor remains undecided on the bill, and there's a risk he could veto this extremely small step forward.
The bill would make possession of three grams or less of cannabis punishable by a $130 fine. Under current law, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
While three grams would be the smallest possession limit of any decriminalization or legalization state, and $130 is a steep fine that can be a hardship for low-income residents, this legislation is still an improvement.
Signing HB 1383 into law will save Hawaiians from arrest, possible jail time, and a life-altering criminal record for possession of a substance that is safer than alcohol. Twenty-five states and D.C. have already stopped jailing their residents for possessing small amounts of cannabis. Hawaii is lagging behind.
Gov. Ige has until July 9 to sign HB 1383. Please contact the governor today and ask him to sign the decriminalization bill, then forward this message to your friends and family in Hawaii and encourage them to do the same.