Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

California Bureau of Cannabis Control accepting public comments on proposed rules

August 14th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Members of the public are invited to provide comments on California’s proposed rules for cannabis businesses. The Bureau of Cannabis Control and other agencies seek public comments as they consider a permanent set of rules — replacing those temporarily in place.

For background, including the text of the proposed rules, summaries, and the agencies’ reasoning for seeking changes, visit the state’s website. Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 27.

For the most part, permanent rules would mirror those currently in place – but there are some key differences. A big improvement is a clarifying statement that adults 21 and older could receive cannabis deliveries at their own homes, statewide. This is a much-needed solution for those who live in parts of the state that have banned retail sales.

Unfortunately, the transition from illicit to legal sales has not gone as quickly as many had predicted in California, due in large part to rural communities that have refused to allow legal sales. By ensuring that deliveries are available for adults everywhere, consumers are given an option for safe, discreet, and legal sales.

Not all proposed rule changes are positive. One change would limit medical cannabis dispensaries to the sale of cannabis products and branded merchandise, preventing them from offering holistic health services such as counseling and support.

If you are a California resident, take a look at the proposed rules and be sure to send comments so they can be received before the deadline on the 27.

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General

MPP has a new executive director!

August 14th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

We’re pleased to announce that Steve Hawkins has been named the new executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. Steve brings three decades of experience fighting for criminal justice reform, having previously served in leadership roles at the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, and the Coalition for Public Safety.

The entire MPP staff is thrilled to welcome Steve to our organization.

Steve began his career as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund challenging racial disparities in the criminal justice system. He later served as executive vice president of the NAACP, spearheading its efforts to end the police practice of “stop and frisk” in New York City and successfully encouraging the NAACP board of directors to adopt a policy in support of marijuana decriminalization. Steve also previously served as executive director of Amnesty International USA, as a program executive for the Atlantic Philanthropies, and as a senior program manager at the JEHT Foundation. You can read a more detailed biography here.

The marijuana reform movement has made incredible gains in the past several years but there’s still a great deal of work ahead. With Steve leading our experienced and talented team of reformers, and with your support, MPP will continue to enact medical marijuana and marijuana legalization laws that serve the interests of the American people.

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Tax and Regulate

Vermont’s primary election is tomorrow

August 13th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Check out our updated voter guides to learn where candidates for state legislature and governor stand on cannabis regulation!

The Vermont state primary election will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14. If you are a Vermont resident and haven’t already voted, please check out our legislative voter guide to learn where candidates for state legislature stand on marijuana policy. Then, please read our guide on the candidates for governor.

This year, we sent candidates a survey consisting of only one question: “Do you support regulating and taxing the production and sale of cannabis in Vermont for use by adults 21 and older?” Our voter guides include responses from candidates for state representative, state senator, and governor, in addition to public statements and incumbent legislators’ votes on the legalization bill.

We have updated the gubernatorial voter guide to include a fifth candidate, state Sen. John Rodgers, who is running as a write-in candidate. At a recent public forum, all five Democratic candidates talked about their support for taxing and regulating cannabis.

For information on where and how to vote in Vermont, click here.

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Tax and Regulate

Connecticut primary election will take place Tuesday, August 14

August 9th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Strong contrast emerges between Democratic candidates for attorney general

The Connecticut primary election will take place next Tuesday, August 14. If you’re a Connecticut resident and you’re not sure how or where to vote, please visit the secretary of state’s website for more information.

On the Democratic ticket, both candidates for governor and both candidates for lieutenant governor have said they support taxing and regulating marijuana. However, in the race for attorney general, there is a strong contrast between the Democratic candidates’ positions. At a recent debate, former U.S. Attorney Chris Mattei spoke strongly in favor of regulating marijuana, while the other two candidates, state Rep. William Tong and state Sen. Paul Doyle, “expressed reservations.” Additionally, Mattei has criticized Tong for his failure to support the medical cannabis bill when it passed in 2012.

None of the five Republican candidates for governor have spoken publicly in favor of ending marijuana prohibition.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana initiative filed in Mississippi

July 31st, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Yesterday, Mississippians for Compassionate Care filed an initiative with the Secretary of State’s office that would make medical marijuana legal in Mississippi. The group is aiming to bring an amendment to the state constitution to voters in 2020. The first step to getting it on the ballot is to collect over 100,000 signatures from all over the state. You can read the proposed amendment here.

The signature collection is a huge undertaking and the campaign will need lots of volunteers to circulate petitions in their area. If you are a Mississippi resident who is willing to help collect signatures, please email the signature collection coordinator: JB Brown.

For more information on the campaign or to get involved, please go to www.medicalmarijuana2020.com. It’s time for patients suffering in Mississippi to have access to medical marijuana.

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Medical Marijuana

Oklahoma medical cannabis law takes effect; revisions to problematic regs proposed

July 27th, 2018 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

Yesterday, the penalty-reduction piece of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana initiative became operational. Individuals possessing up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis face a reduced penalty — a misdemeanor fine of up to $400 — if they “can state a medical condition.”

Meanwhile, regulators made application materials available online for patients and caregivers, along with information for businesses and physicians. It will begin accepting applications on August 25.

In another encouraging development, regulators released proposed revisions to many of the problematic final regulations. The Board of Health will meet on August 1 at 3:00 p.m. to consider them.

Draft revisions (summarized here) would make several welcome changes, including:

• Removing the ban on selling smokeable cannabis and edibles;
• Removing the THC cap;
• Removing the requirement that pharmacists dispense cannabis;
• Making the physician registration optional;
• Removing the requirement that doctors subject all “females of childbearing age” to a pregnancy test before recommending cannabis; and
• Removing the limitation on hours of operation, which banned Sunday sales.

However, we still have some concerns, including that:

• Patients who are tenants must obtain their landlords’ written permission to cultivate. Given federal law, even landlords who are open to cultivation may be unwilling to assent in writing.
• Physicians must to “ascertain” if a female is pregnant or likely to become pregnant before recommending cannabis. This strong language may essentially require pregnancy tests for many women, which is patronizing and invasive and drives up costs.
• Physicians must provide an in-person medical exam within 30 days of the certification. Oklahoma allows telemedicine for most medications.

Comments can be submitted to [email protected].

These proposed revisions follow a lawsuit filed by the Oklahoma ACLU on behalf of advocates, and advice from Attorney General Mike Hunter that some regulations exceeded the department’s authority.

If you live in Oklahoma, please speak out and spread the word. Congratulations again to everyone who worked to pass SQ 788!

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Tax and Regulate

Vermont: Primary election voter guide published

July 27th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Early voting is already underway for the Vermont state primary election, which is scheduled for Tuesday, August 14.

This year, we sent candidates a survey consisting of only one question: “Do you support regulating and taxing the production and sale of cannabis in Vermont for use by adults 21 and older?”

Our voter guides include responses from candidates for state representative, state senator, and governor, in addition to public statements and incumbent legislators’ votes on the legalization bill. If a candidate in your district has not responded to the survey, we encourage you to reach out to them directly and ask their position!

For information on where and how to vote in Vermont, click here.

If you are a Vermont resident, please take time to read our voter guide for state legislative races and our gubernatorial voter guide before you vote in the August 14 primary. Then, please share the voter guides with your family and friends!

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Medical Marijuana

Maine Legislature overrides Gov. LePage on medical marijuana reform

July 26th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Earlier this month, the Maine Legislature overrode Gov. LePage’s vetoes of LD 238 and LD 1539, bills to improve Maine’s medical marijuana program. LD 238 allows for third-party extraction of medical marijuana. LD 1539 is the culmination of the Health and Human Services Committee’s session-long work reforming the medical marijuana program.

The bipartisan omnibus reform bill:

  • removes the qualifying condition list so that any Mainer can use medical marijuana so long as their doctor thinks it would be helpful for them;
  • eliminates the requirement that a patient must designate a caregiver or dispensary as their sole provider, allowing for more patient choice;
  • adds two more dispensaries to the existing eight dispensaries and removes the cap on the dispensaries after January 1, 2021;
  • allows for caregivers to open storefronts, if the town approves; and
  • much more…you can read a summary of the changes here.

These reforms are a win for the patients and the industry, and a hearty “Congratulations!” is in order for everyone that worked hard to make this happen.

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Tax and Regulate

N.J. hits pause on low-level marijuana prosecutions

July 25th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

It was a confusing news cycle, with Jersey City’s municipal prosecutor, Jake Hudnut, releasing a memo effectively decriminalizing marijuana locally and state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal declaring that action invalid. Now, AG Grewal has told all prosecutors to “adjourn” (postpone) marijuana prosecutions in municipal court until at least September 4, when his office will issue new guidance.

Hopefully, the state will legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana prior to that, and people with pending cases will never be prosecuted. If you are a New Jersey resident, your lawmakers need to hear from you! Please click here to ask them to end New Jersey’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition today, before one more person is branded with a criminal conviction for choosing to use a substance safer than alcohol.

In other good news, Asm. Jamel Holley announced plans to propose amendments to improve upon Sen. Nick Scutari’s bill to tax and regulate marijuana, such as making it easier to expunge prior marijuana convictions. We hope the final bill will also include small business opportunities and provisions that ensure that people harmed by prohibition have an opportunity to participate in all aspects of the industry.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

New Jersey announces it’s doubling the number of medical marijuana businesses

July 16th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Good news! Today, the New Jersey Department of Health announced that it will begin accepting applications for six additional businesses that can grow, process, and sell medical cannabis in the state. The winning businesses are supposed to be announced on November 1. Unfortunately, there is no provision yet for equity applicants, although applicants may be awarded up to 50 (out of 1,000) points for diversity.

With the tiny number of existing businesses, patients have experienced supply shortages and high prices due to a lack of competition. Today’s expansion should help begin to address these problems, although more will need to be done. Separating the licenses for growing, processing, and selling cannabis will help make many more types of products available to patients, and the health department plans to consider additional applications for these licenses beginning in the fall.

In other news, while the June 30 budget deadline came and went without legislative action on any of the pending marijuana bills, Senate President Steve Sweeny has said he believes there could be a vote on legalizing and regulating this summer.

If you are a New Jersey resident, click here to ask for your lawmakers’ support.

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