Prohibition

Vermont House Votes to Delay Legalization Bill

June 22nd, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

Yesterday, the Vermont Senate amended and passed H. 511, a bill that would make marijuana legal in Vermont. Unfortunately, the House rejected an effort to bring the bill up for consideration, and the veto session ended without further action. H. 511 will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes — either later this year or in January — before it can pass the House and advance to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott.

A group of representatives led by Rep. Don Turner (R-Milton) delayed passage of H. 511 by opposing a vote to suspend rules and consider the bill. The vote to suspend rules — which required three-quarters of members to vote in favor — was 78-63, considerably short of the 107 votes that would have been needed to consider the bill.

If you are a Vermont resident, you can see how your representatives voted and send them a follow-up message.

The House voted to pass a similar bill earlier this year, so there is little question that H. 511 will pass when it is brought to a vote. Unfortunately, this may not be possible until the Legislature reconvenes in January. It’s also possible that the Legislature will hold a special session later this year, and the bill could be considered then.

On the bright side, H, 511 was not scheduled to take effect until July 1, 2018, so this delay may have no impact on the effective date of legalization.

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Uncategorized

Vermont Senate Approves Legalization Compromise Bill

June 21st, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

For the third time this year, the Vermont Senate has passed a marijuana legalization bill. This time, the bill has been revised to address Gov. Phil Scott’s concerns, and we have good reason to expect that he will sign it when it reaches his desk.

Unfortunately, it is not clear at all when the amended bill, H. 511, might receive a vote in the House. The House voted to pass a similar bill earlier this year, so there is little question that H. 511 will pass when it is brought to a vote. However, since the current veto session is scheduled to end tomorrow, the bill will not be considered unless three-quarters of House members vote to suspend the rules and allow consideration.

Republican House Leader Don Turner has said that his caucus will likely block the bill from being considered until 2018. Vermonters should not tolerate this attempt to obstruct a reform that has earned the support of the Senate, House, and governor.

“There is no good reason for the House to delay passage of this modest and sensible legislation,” MPP’s Matt Simon said in a press release. “Now that Gov. Scott has agreed with the House and Senate that marijuana should be legal for adult use, House Republicans should follow the governor’s lead and vote to advance this compromise. Failing to waive the rules will only mean the marijuana regulatory commission has less time to do its important work.”

If you are a Vermont resident, please call your representatives right now, and urge them to push for an up or down vote on H. 511.

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Regulation Bills Progressing

June 21st, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Since the formation of the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation in Maine, a few bills have been progressing steadily.

The first bill is LD 243, which would transfer the authority to oversee adult-use marijuana from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations within the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS). The Bureau would be responsible for licensing adult-use marijuana businesses, in addition to creating and enforcing regulations. LD 243 also allocates $200,000 to the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation and $1.4 million to DAFS to implement Question 1. The bill is now sitting on the Appropriations table. Once appropriated, it will go to the governor’s desk for his signature.

The second bill they have been working on is LR 2391, which would create a framework for retail marijuana testing facilities. By setting up testing facilities first, Maine would hopefully avoid regulatory bottlenecks experienced in other states. Mandated marijuana testing means that enough laboratories are needed to test all the marijuana that will be sold in Maine. LR 2391 is on track to be passed before the Legislature adjourns today.

The Joint Select Committee will continue to meet in the summer and fall, after the Legislature adjourns. We will be working closely with the committee to make sure Maine’s adult-use marijuana program is set up swiftly and responsibly.

To receive updates directly from the committee, please sign up here.

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Medical Marijuana

New York Legislature Pass Bill to Add PTSD to Medical Marijuana Program

June 21st, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Tuesday, the New York Senate took an important step toward improving the state’s medical marijuana program by passing S 5629, which would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition. The Assembly had already overwhelmingly passed an identical bill, A 7006. The bills now head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.

MPP’s Kate Bell said the following in a press release:

“State lawmakers are standing up for thousands of New Yorkers who are suffering from PTSD and might benefit from medical marijuana,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We hope Gov. Cuomo will do the same and sign this important legislation. With a single swipe of his pen, he can help countless people find relief.”

Gov. Cuomo has not yet indicated if he’s supportive. If you are a New York resident, please call him now at (518) 474-8390, and politely ask him to make this important treatment option available to patients! To make it easy, we have a sample script available here. You can also click here to send an email in support.

There are only two drugs that are FDA-approved to treat PTSD, and neither has been shown to be more effective than a placebo. Both of these drugs, and others commonly prescribed “off-label,” have dangerous side effects that cannabis does not. Many veterans suffer from PTSD, which is why the State Council of Veterans’ Organizations has come out in support of this bill. Shouldn’t those who have served our country and others who have survived trauma have access to any treatment that might help ease their suffering?

Please ask Gov. Cuomo to allow New York to join the other 26 states — of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs — that include PTSD as a qualifying condition by signing this legislation.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Health Department Announces First Round of Permits

June 20th, 2017 No Comments Becky Dansky

At a press conference today, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the recipients of the first round of medical marijuana business permits. A total of 12 cultivation and processing permits were awarded, two in each of six designated regions.

The department received approximately 177 applications for this type of permit. The announcement of up to 27 dispensary permit recipients will be made before the end of June.

Act 16, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, allows for up to 25 grower/ processor permits and up to 50 dispensary permits. The department is expected to issue additional permits after evaluating where additional medical cannabis access is necessary. If program implementation maintains its current pace, dispensaries should be able to begin serving patients in less than year. The department recently released regulations for doctors, but has yet to release regulations for patients wishing to participate in the program. The registry for doctors will be available in July.

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Medical Marijuana

New Mexico Health Secretary Rejects Medical Cannabis Board Recommendations

June 19th, 2017 1 Comment Becky Dansky

Earlier this year, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez vetoed H.B. 527, which would have strengthened and expanded the state’s medical cannabis program. Among other changes, the bill would have created legal protections for agency staff and employees of labs, product manufacturers, and others; added protections for patients visiting from other medical cannabis states; and expanded qualifying medical conditions.

Patients and their families then called on Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher to adopt similar provisions, which the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board had already recommended. Despite the support of the board and the Legislature, Secretary Gallagher announced that she is rejecting most of the recommended changes, while reserving judgment on some issues.

Although this development is deeply disappointing, the fight isn’t over. Marijuana policy reform is always a difficult battle, but across the country, medical programs continue to expand while public support grows stronger.

Thanks to the hard work of advocates like our colleagues at the Drug Policy Alliance and other committed activists, an enormous amount of progress has already been made in New Mexico — which was the first state to explicitly allow medical marijuana for PTSD. With continued determination, more improvements will surely be on the horizon.

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Prohibition

Nevada Governor Signs Marijuana Bills as Adult-Use Sales Cleared for Early Start

June 16th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Nevada is moving toward well-regulated and accessible medical and recreation marijuana programs – Governor Sandoval signed marijuana-related bills into law and the state has approved early-start recreational sales!

Of the bills, the first, SB344, requires marijuana edibles be in unattractive, childproof packaging; the second, AB422, lowers medical marijuana patient fees; and the third, SB487, imposes a 10% tax on recreational marijuana sales – adding the revenue to the state’s rainy day fund and regulating limited access of the fund until 2019.

Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed AB259, a bill that would have expunged criminal records of those convicted of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana or violating any provision of law involving marijuana that is now legal.

The approved bills will join four bills signed into law this session providing a framework for Nevada’s new recreational marijuana industry, while preserving the state’s medical marijuana program.

Additionally, Nevada’s adult-use marijuana industry could begin adult-use sales by July 1. The Department of Taxation approved temporary regulations and applications have already been accepted. However, adult-use sales could be delayed by a legal challenge from alcohol distributors. MPP is monitoring closely and will be working to avoid any delay.

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Lawmakers Attempting to Repeal and Replace Legalization Law

June 14th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

In Massachusetts, the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy just approved a “repeal and replace” bill that bears very little resemblance to the legalization law passed by 1.8 million voters in November.

The bill would undermine efforts to replace the unregulated market with a system of licensed businesses. It would take away the right of voters to decide on local marijuana policy, and it could impose a tax rate on marijuana that exceeds 50%. It authorizes the sharing of information with the FBI on cannabis commerce, including employees and medical patients. It also makes the Cannabis Control Commission — the entity that will regulate marijuana businesses — less unaccountable.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, please call your state representative and tell them not to vote for this bill when it is presented for a vote in the House on Thursday. We must not allow politicians to repeal and replace the will of the people, especially when their proposed changes are so flawed and misguided.

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Tax and Regulate

Regulate Rhode Island Will Not Participate in Flawed Legalization Study Commission

June 14th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Later today, the Rhode Island House is scheduled to vote on a flawed piece of legislation that would establish a 22-person “study commission” on marijuana legalization. According to the bill, a handful of the designated members in the study commission would be representatives of organizations that are part of our Regulate Rhode Island coalition.

Today, the coalition announced that we would not participate as members of this flawed study commission if it is established.

We have talked with legislators throughout the session, and they are interested in practical questions about how to establish a well-regulated marijuana market. We do not believe the proposed study commission can offer recommendations for how to legalize and regulate marijuana if the commission does not acknowledge that marijuana should be legalized and regulated at the outset.

Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat released the following statement in a press release:

“The proposed study commission is not a good faith effort to analyze the issue, it is a flawed delay tactic. It would engage in the same legalization debate that has already taken place during the legislative process. It is not intended to find a solution to Rhode Island’s marijuana prohibition problem; it is intended to avoid one. The only people who benefit from delaying legalization — which is what this study commission would do — are the illegal dealers who are currently profiting from selling marijuana.

“Regulate Rhode Island’s members will not participate in the study commission because we are not interested in helping lawmakers once again avoid a vote on legalization. Sen. Miller and Rep. Slater have proposed a very reasonable compromise that deserves an up-or-down vote in the House and Senate this year. Rhode Islanders deserve to know where their elected officials stand on this issue. We call on House Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Ruggerio to stop stalling and allow our legislators to vote on legalization.”

We remain committed to our demand that the General Assembly hold a vote on a real legalization bill this year. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please call your legislators, and tell them to vote against the flawed study commission legislation and demand a vote on our simple and reasonable compromise proposal.

Our compromise would make up to an ounce of marijuana legal for adults ages 21 and older starting July 2018, when stores would open in Massachusetts. It would also create a small advisory board to study how Rhode Island could regulate and tax marijuana in the future.

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General

MPP’s Virginia Primary Voter Guide

June 12th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

On Tuesday, Virginians across the state will head to the polls to cast their primary ballot for candidates for House delegates and governor. MPP looked at where gubernatorial candidates stand on three critical marijuana policy questions and assigned each candidate a letter grade. You can check out our voter guide here.

After tomorrow’s primary, November’s ballot will be finalized where — in addition to the governor’s race — all of Virginia’s 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for election. If you are a Virginia resident, please consider asking the candidates from your district where they stand on these issues and then let us know if you get any responses. We will be putting together a general election voter guide later this year.

If you do not know where your polling place is located, you can find out here.

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