Prohibition

Penalty Reduction Bills Slated for Virginia Legislative Session

January 18th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Virginia General Assembly convened last week, and marijuana law reform is on the docket! After a disappointing conclusion to last year’s session, the General Assembly appears ready to tackle decriminalization of marijuana.

Late last year, the Virginia State Crime Commission looked at the benefits of marijuana decriminalization in Virginia, and the majority leader of the Senate, Sen. Tommy Norment (R), expressed his intent to introduce a bill to decriminalize simple possession of small amounts of marijuana. Sen. Norment’s bill has not yet been introduced, but he has indicated it will make the first offense a misdemeanor rather than making it a civil offense; we don’t expect the penalty for subsequent offenses to be reduced.

Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), on the other hand, has introduced SB 111, which would reduce the penalty for simple possession to a civil penalty: $50 for the first violation, $100 for the second violation, and $250 for the third and subsequent violations. This bill is a huge step forward for Virginia, and Sen. Norment should stick to his promise of real decriminalization and support SB 111.

Considering Gov. Ralph Northam’s pro-decriminalization position during his campaign and the new makeup of the House of Delegates, 2018 could be the year the commonwealth stops arresting Virginians for simple possession.

If you are a Virginia resident, please contact your Senators today and tell them to support decriminalizing marijuana.

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Uncategorized

Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in Kansas

January 18th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Kansas lawmakers began their 2018 legislative session last week with several marijuana bills before them, including SB 187 / HB 2348, the Kansas Safe Access Act. This bill would create an effective medical marijuana program in Kansas.

These bills were introduced in 2017 (the legislative session carries over from 2017 to 2018), yet never even received a hearing. And, Kansas is one of only two states in the entire U.S. that does not even have a limited low-THC medical cannabis law. Seriously ill Kansans deserve better.

If you are a Kansas resident, please ask your representatives to show compassion and allow patients access to treatments that can help alleviate the suffering associated with serious conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. Medical marijuana can also help reduce patients’ use of dangerous opiates.

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Research

New York Governor Calls for Legalization Study

January 18th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in announcing his budget proposal, included a call for a study of the impact on New York of legalizing the adult use of marijuana.

This proposal is a change from the governor’s past views on the topic; he previously said he was opposed to legalization, citing the now-debunked “gateway theory” as the reason. In fact, marijuana is simply a gateway to the criminal justice system and the lifetime of collateral consequences that come with a conviction.

While this is encouraging news, a study commission is only as good as the experts who serve on it. Please help us ensure that the commission includes experts in public health, marijuana policy, and criminal justice reform as well as the law enforcement officers Gov. Cuomo mentioned would be on it.

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Tax and Regulate

Delaware Legislative Session Begins as Task Force Explores Marijuana Regulation

January 16th, 2018 1 Comment Becky Dansky

The Delaware Legislature is back in session, and your lawmakers need to hear from you! Let them know you want this to be the year that Delaware stops the cruel and counterproductive policy of prohibiting marijuana.

A legislature-created task force is already exploring taxing and regulating cannabis and will present its findings to the legislature and governor by February 28, 2018. Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and Rep. Helene Keeley — who sponsor the Delaware Marijauna Control Act — co-chair the committee, which includes agency heads, lawmakers, advocates, and opponents. The task force has considered important issues like consumer safety, taxation, public safety, and packaging and labeling.

After the task force issues its report, there may be changes made to the bill before it is considered by the legislature.

In states that have already legalized it, regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol is creating good jobs and revenue, while undercutting the illicit market. The New Hampshire House and Vermont Legislature have already voted this year for limited legalization bills. Considering a majority of Delaware voters support making marijauna legal, there is no reason for delay.

If you live in Delaware, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support cannabis regulation.

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Governor Vows to Uphold Legal Marijuana Laws

January 16th, 2018 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker reinforced that Massachusetts will respect the will of Massachusetts voters. In response to Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind Obama-era rules that protected state-legal marijuana markets, state and local law enforcement officials vowed that they would not raid retail marijuana establishments that were operating in compliance with state law.

Shortly thereafter, Gov. Baker echoed those sentiments, stating, “We have two laws in Massachusetts: One that was passed by voters several years ago around the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries, which are regulated and overseen by the commonwealth, and another law that was passed by the voters in 2016 that requires the state to create a legal infrastructure for recreational marijuana. Those are the laws that state and local law enforcement officials are bound to uphold and that’s what they’re going to do.”

Baker’s statement is important because it represents a sharp break from Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling who said in a statement he couldn’t guarantee that medical marijuana dispensaries, recreational pot shops, cultivators, and customers would be immune from federal prosecution. We applaud Gov. Baker’s statement and his principled stance against Lelling’s regressive direction on legal cannabis that attempts to flout the will of the voters.

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General

MPP Releases 2018 Strategic Plan

January 12th, 2018 5 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

MPP is excited to be moving into 2018 at a time when marijuana policy reform has unprecedented momentum. While there are sure to be challenges ahead, MPP is confident that we will make great strides this year.

You can find the strategic plan here.

In a great sign of things to come, one of our goals is already on the verge of success. On Thursday, the Vermont legislature passed a bill that would make possession and limited home cultivation legal in the Green Mountain State! The bill is expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks.

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Prohibition

Vermont Poised to Become the Ninth State to Make Marijuana Legal for Adults

January 11th, 2018 11 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Vermont is about to make history!

A bill that would make marijuana legal for adults received final approval on Wednesday from the Vermont Senate and will soon make its way to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott, who vetoed a similar bill in 2017.

Gov. Scott indicated again after passage that he intends to sign H. 511 into law.

H. 511 would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana and remove penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants, beginning in July.

Vermont is poised to become the ninth state to make marijuana legal for adults and the first to do so through its legislature. Eight other states have enacted laws legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use, all through ballot initiatives. In Washington, D.C., voters approved a ballot initiative making personal possession and home cultivation legal for adults 21 and older.

The legislature approved H. 511 just days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the removal of guidelines that urged federal prosecutors to avoid targeting marijuana businesses and individuals who are in compliance with state law.

The Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island legislatures are expected to seriously consider making marijuana legal for adults this year as well, and the New Hampshire House approved a similar measure on Tuesday.

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Medical Marijuana

Georgia Considering Medical Marijuana Improvement Legislation

January 10th, 2018 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Yesterday, Georgia lawmakers began their work in 2018, and they are again considering improvements to the state’s medical marijuana program. Two bills, HB 645 and HR 36, have been proposed to establish much-needed medical cannabis access for patients.

If you are a Georgia resident, please send a message to your state lawmakers in support of a workable system that includes cultivation, processing, and sales within Georgia for the state’s seriously ill patients.

Georgia has a very limited medical marijuana law, but prohibits in-state cultivation, processing, and regulated sales of medical cannabis. Georgia’s law encourages patients to obtain medicine through illicit means. It leaves patients with no option but to travel out of state for access to their medicine and bring it back, which is a violation of both federal law and of state law in places where medical cannabis is available. The law puts Georgians in harm’s way.

Rep. Allen Peake, long a champion for compassionate medical marijuana laws, is working on two possible solutions. First, HB 645 would allow two cannabis business licensees to grow, process, and sell medical cannabis oil. Meanwhile, HR 36 would allow lawmakers to place the issues of business regulations before voters in November.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana to Appear on June Oklahoma Ballot

January 9th, 2018 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On January 4, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin announced her decision to place Question 788, which would create a medical marijuana program in the state, on the June primary election ballot. A majority of Oklahomans support medical marijuana, but primary elections tend to have a lower turnout rate than general elections. Democratic candidate for governor Drew Edmondson called the decision an effort by Fallin to stifle the voice of Oklahomans. If this question is to pass, we need absolutely ever supportive Oklahoma resident to get out and vote on June 26 of this year.

You can register to vote in Oklahoma here.

With just a few short months until the election, it’s imperative that we do everything we can to make sure every Oklahoman knows about Question 788. Make sure you mark your calendar, register to vote, and tell all of your friends and family. If you would like to support the campaign, check out Yes on 788 to donate or volunteer! Let’s make 2018 the last year a patient is forced to live without access to medicine in Oklahoma!

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Prohibition

New Hampshire House Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill

January 9th, 2018 2 Comments Matt Simon

The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill to make marijuana legal for adults on Tuesday by a vote of 207-139. The bill will now move to the House Ways and Means Committee before moving on to the Senate.

HB 656, which was introduced last session by Rep. Glen Aldrich (R-Gilford), would make possession of three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana legal for adults aged 21 and older. Home cultivation of up to three mature and three immature plants would be legal for adults as well.

Last year, the New Hampshire Legislature voted overwhelmingly to replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with civil penalties. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed the bill into law.

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