The first round of pardon applications, which you can access here, will be accepted until Aug. 10
Great news! In a unanimous decision last week, North Dakota's Pardon Advisory Council voted to allow individuals previously convicted of certain marijuana crimes to apply to have those offenses pardoned.
The new policy, supported by Gov. Doug Burgum and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, will wipe the slate clean — free of charge — for thousands of North Dakota residents with marijuana possession convictions on their records. This is a victory for justice and advocates of sensible marijuana policy reform. It will eliminate many hardships, such as obstacles to employment and housing, faced by individuals with prior marijuana records.
The attorney general estimates that up to 175,000 prior convictions will be eligible for pardon. Help spread the word and share the application with others. People who have struggled for years under the weight of a criminal record for marijuana deserve a chance to build a better life.
If you're worried that the needs and interests of medical cannabis patients are being ignored in Rhode Island, I hope you'll join Ellen Lenox Smith from RIPAC and me tomorrow (July 17) at 6:30 p.m. in the Bell Street Chapel (5 Bell St., Providence) to discuss priorities and ways patients and allies can effectively advocate for the program. You can visit the Facebook event page here.
As the state makes significant changes to the medical marijuana program, patients do not have a seat at the table, and political leaders are treating the medical marijuana program as a source of tax revenue. On top of that, we see attempts nearly every year to roll back home cultivation rights, which have been a vital safety net and crucial source of medicine for many patients since the program started.
We are calling on all supporters of the medical cannabis program to come together and discuss ways to strengthen patients' influence over policies that deeply affect them. We believe it's possible to create a more organized and unified voice to fight for the program.
Hope to see you tomorrow evening.
The medical cannabis home cultivation bill still hasn't arrived on Gov. Sununu's desk — there's still time for you to call his office and urge him to sign it!
Gov. Chris Sununu has signed a few cannabis-related bills into law, while vetoing others. On Friday, he signed a very important bill, HB 399, which will allow people who received misdemeanor convictions for possessing small amounts of cannabis prior to decriminalization to have their records annulled. The new law will take effect on January 1, 2020. Our allies at ACLU-NH and Americans for Prosperity, and the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Renny Cushing, deserve our sincere thanks for their outstanding advocacy on this issue.
HB 364, which would allow registered patients and caregivers to cultivate a limited supply of cannabis at home, still has not been delivered to the governor's desk but should be arriving there soon.
Please call Gov. Sununu right now — thank him for signing HB 399 and urge him to sign HB 364!
Here is an update on other medical cannabis bills that passed the House and Senate:
- HB 335 expands the number of possible dispensary locations in the state from six to eight by authorizing regulators to allow each dispensary to open a second location within their assigned geographic areas. Gov. Sununu signed it into law.
- HB 350 allows physician's assistants to certify patients. Gov. Sununu signed it into law.
- SB 88 would eliminate the three-month waiting period for provider-patient relationships. Gov. Sununu vetoed it. It passed by a veto-proof margin in both chambers of the legislature, so it's possible the veto could be overridden.
- SB 145 would allow alternative treatment centers to reorganize as for-profit businesses. Gov. Sununu vetoed it. It was two votes shy of a veto-proof vote in the Senate.
After you call Gov. Sununu, please share this important update with your friends and family!
Last week, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency issued emergency rules signed by Gov. Whitmer to guide the process of establishing a legal cannabis market for adults in Michigan.
The new regulations include several forward-thinking provisions, including the creation of licenses for on-site cannabis consumption areas and temporary events, so long as they are permitted by the local town or city government. The guidelines also address how the agency will work to promote participation in the cannabis industry by communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition. You can read a summary of the emergency rules here. Head regulators have announced their intention to begin accepting applications for marijuana business licenses by November, and sales are expected to start early next year.
MPP was the driving force behind passage of Proposal 1 — the 2018 ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in Michigan. We are excited to see implementation moving forward, and we are proud of the progress that is being made. The voters agreed with us that prohibition must be dismantled, and now, we are watching that happen!
We are grateful to all of you who have steadfastly supported our marijuana reform efforts over the years. The hard work is paying off. Let's remain engaged and ensure that the implementation process in Michigan continues to follow the spirit and letter of the law.
Yesterday, Gov. David Ige let a modest decriminalization bill — HB 1383 — become law without his signature. Effective January 11, 2020, possession of three grams or less of marijuana will be punishable by a $130 civil fine. The bill also provides for the expungement of criminal records for convictions of possession of three grams or less of marijuana.
Hawaii is now the 26th state to stop jailing residents for possessing modest amounts of marijuana. However, three grams is the smallest possession limit of any decriminalization or legalization state. Unfortunately, with such a low possession limit, needless marijuana arrests will continue. A more sensible approach would be to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol.
In other news, Gov. Ige has unfortunately vetoed a bill that would allow limited transport of medical cannabis between the islands. The bill — HB 290 — was approved by the legislature in May.
While the decriminalization law is an extremely timid step forward, there is still work to be done to improve Hawaii's marijuana laws. Contact your lawmakers today, then forward this message to your family and friends in Hawaii.
Today, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into law. The bill is named after a pediatric cancer patient who passed away last year. Towards the end of Jake's fight, he relied on medical marijuana to ease the symptoms of the terrible disease. His family has since become advocates for medical marijuana reforms and helped spearhead this new law.
The new law will expand patient access to medical marijuana, by allowing more qualifying conditions and increasing the amount a patient can purchase in a month. It also creates a five-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission to govern the medical marijuana program. A summary of the changes can be found here.
While the legislature didn't manage to pass legalization this session, it's only matter of time. Support for changing marijuana laws is growing every day. Just last week, New Jersey state senators held a press conference calling for decriminalization and expungement reform. Together, we can bring about marijuana policy reform in New Jersey.
Delaware Gov. Carney signs expungement bill, two additional marijuana policy reforms sent to his desk!
Delaware's legislature adjourned on June 30, after making some modest but important improvements to marijuana policies. Since the General Assembly holds a two-year session, bills that did not get votes will roll over and pick up where they left off in January 2020.
The legalization bill, HB 110, was approved (8-3) by the House Revenue and Finance committee on June 5 and is now pending in the House Appropriations Committee. To pass HB 110 in 2020, it is very important to keep pressure on the General Assembly and continue our organizing efforts in the interim.
To go the extra mile, let us know if you're up for volunteering to phone bank to generate phone calls in key districts. You can make calls on your own schedule, from home.
Yesterday, Gov. John Carney signed SB 37 into law, which provides for the expungement of certain misdemeanor and felony convictions. This bill will allow for a single cannabis misdemeanor conviction to be expunged after five years and a single cannabis felony conviction to be expunged after seven years.
Additionally, two important bills passed the legislature and are headed to Gov. Carney:
- SB 45, a bill to expand decriminalization to those under 21; and
- SB 24, which would allow patients with any severe and debilitating medical condition to qualify for medical cannabis if they have exhausted other treatments, and the treatments have been ineffective or had prohibitive side effects.
Meanwhile, HB 243, a bill to allow medical patients to grow their own cannabis, was introduced on June 20 and is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
It is past time Delaware end cannabis prohibition and replace it with a system in which cannabis is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol. After you contact your rep, please forward this message to your family and friends in Delaware.
Together, we can end prohibition in 2020!
Although he's staunchly opposed to legalization, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) wants the legislature to consider medical marijuana. For a bill to make it to Gov. Tony Evers' (D) desk, challenges would have to be overcome — such as Sen. Majority Leader Fitzgerald's opposition and securing the rank-and-file votes.
That's where you come in.
To have even more impact, give your state lawmakers a call. Or, better yet, if you or a loved one could benefit from medical cannabis, consider requesting an in-district meeting.
MPP's federal policies director — Don Murphy — was once a law-and-order Republican state lawmaker in Maryland. One day in 1999, a veteran with cancer sat down in Don's office and asked for his help. Don had never given medical marijuana much thought, much less considered sponsoring a bill. But Darrell Putman's plea changed everything, prompting Don to introduce the state's first medical marijuana bill, which laid the groundwork for Maryland's medical cannabis program.
Lawmakers are people, and we've seen honest, heartfelt pleas change minds in state after state. If this issue is personal to you, consider sharing your story with your legislators in person. Let us know if you need some guidance.
And please be sure to spread the word. Together, we can pass a compassionate medical cannabis law in Wisconsin.
Late yesterday, the Rhode Island Senate adopted the House's budget bill, sending the legislation to Gov. Raimondo for her approval. Although the governor's January budget proposal included a plan to legalize marijuana for adults, the state legislature removed it and instead increased the number of licenses for medical marijuana compassion centers from three to nine. The budget also raises the annual licensing fees for these businesses to $500,000 — by far the highest in the nation.
Though the outcome is not what we hoped for, we were successful in avoiding an even worse result. After MPP and our allies called legislators' attention to it, the House amended out a budget provision that would have allowed the Department of Business Regulation to establish "criteria for eligibility or a demonstration of need" for patients and caregivers who wish to grow medical marijuana. Given the department's stated opposition to home cultivation, many patients could have lost their ability to produce their own medicine had this provision not been removed.
Looking ahead, advocates for sensible marijuana policy reform in Rhode Island are regrouping and planning for next year. With the legislative session winding down and no elections coming up, the next six months are an excellent time to contact your state senator and representative and talk with them about the need for sensible cannabis policy reform.
Though it is disappointing when progress does not come quickly, our movement is winning, and our numbers are growing. We must continue speaking out and advocating for reform. I appreciate you for sticking with us and continuing this fight.
Stay tuned for more updates soon.
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