2012 MPPeeps Contest Results

May 29th, 2012 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

This year, the Marijuana Policy Project held its first annual MPPeeps Contest, in which contestants were tasked with using marshmallow Peeps to create dioramas related to marijuana or marijuana policy. These submissions could be related to the historical aspects of marijuana policy, something currently in the news, or even something depicting the future of the movement!

We received many excellent submissions, and in order to determine the winner, we asked our 40,000+ Facebook fans to vote for their favorites. We’re excited to announce that Jay Fisher of Marietta, Georgia won the 2012 contest for his outstanding work! Check out his work, “Peep Walk,” along with the second and third place submissions:

Winning Image

2nd Place              3rd Place

As you can see from our first and second place entries, the Oaksterdam raid, in which federal agents seized the property of law-abiding citizens working at a tax-paying medical marijuana training school, featured prominently in this year’s submissions.

Thank you to our dedicated community for sending in all of the wonderful submissions. We appreciate your support, and it was a lot of fun seeing so many creative entries. Check out our Facebook Gallery with the winning submissions to share them with friends and family!

The staff here at MPP is already looking forward to seeing the submissions for next year’s contest. Congratulations to our winners!

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Obama Still Intercepting Marijuana

May 25th, 2012 29 Comments Morgan Fox

A sneak peak at a new biography of President Obama revealed some interesting things about his marijuana use that are pretty sad when you look at his track record on the issue of medical marijuana.

From the biography:

Barry also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted “Intercepted!,” and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind.

Now, some may look at this and ask how the president could possibly be so against marijuana reform that he laughs at the mere suggestion? How could a (former?) marijuana user continue to advocate putting other marijuana users in jail?

If you really think about it, though, Obama hasn’t changed at all. His behavior now is merely an extension of his behavior as a young marijuana user. He has no problems with his own use, and does not face any legal or social consequences for it, yet has no qualms about interfering with others who are trying to get it.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Here’s hoping the illustrious Choom Gang of Punahou School in Honolulu, circa 1979, will issue its dreaded “veto” over President Barack Obama’s current stance on marijuana policy.

From Buzzfeed.com

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Medical Marijuana

Compassion center legislation enacted in Rhode Island!

May 23rd, 2012 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Fourteen months ago, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee decided to withhold issuing certificates of operation to three prospective compassion centers (dispensaries) chosen by the governor’s own health department. This decision, made unilaterally by the governor, was Chafee’s reaction to a letter from Rhode Island United States Attorney Peter Neronha. The letter – one of several sent by United States attorneys across the country – reiterated the federal prohibition on marijuana, including for medical use. Additionally, it said Neronha’s office could prosecute people who violate the Controlled Substances Act. This stalled years of work done by the Rhode Island Legislature to give patients safe, regulated access to medical marijuana.

Needless to say, that day about 14 months ago wasn’t a good one around the MPP offices. MPP began lobbying to protect Rhode Island’s medical marijuana patients in 2004 and worked to allow compassion centers in the state since 2008. The legislature approved compassion center legislation in 2009, over then-governor Donald Carcieri’s veto. We watched with some frustration as the department needed two different application processes to determine who would operate the three compassion centers, but ultimately cheered the department when they finally approved the centers. We were on the verge of seeing compassion centers in Rhode Island, when Gov. Chafee received his letter. We were not pleased with Chafee or the federal government.

But then a funny thing happened up in Rhode Island: Chafee started feeling the heat of his decision. Patients would show up at his public events and hound him for restricting their access to a medicine that their physicians had recommended. Who is Gov. Chafee to refuse to implement duly enacted law anyway? Rhode Islanders demanded he reverse course. It was inspiring.

Over the course of the next months, MPP, along with our legislative champions, Sen. Rhoda Perry and Rep. Scott Slater, and patient advocates from the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, engaged Gov. Chafee and his staff. An open dialogue was created and ideas were offered from both sides. The governor recognized the legitimate need for regulated safe access to medical marijuana but feared the program as written — with the possibility of thousands of plants per center and millions of dollars of revenue — would draw the ire of U.S. Attorney Neronha’s office.

Last night, Gov. Chafee signed into law legislation that resulted from those good faith negotiations. To limit the size of the centers, the law has been amended to restrict the centers to cultivating a maximum of 150 marijuana plants, no more than 99 of which may be mature. Additionally, the centers may possess no more than 1,500 ounces of usable medical marijuana at a time. To ensure the viability of the centers, the law will allow medical marijuana patients and caregivers to sell their excess medicine to compassion centers, but caregivers must first attest that their patients have had their medical needs met.

We certainly disagreed with Gov. Chafee’s decision to halt initial implementation of the compassion centers, and we recognize that the compromise legislation is not perfect. However, the ball has been moved forward. The long arm of the federal government started shaking its sword and frightened a governor into inaction. With the help of logic, reason, sincere compassion, and dogged stick-to-it-ness by legislative leaders, Rhode Island has been able to move past the fear and pass legislation that will bring safe access to medical marijuana patients.

We’ve got one piece of advice for U.S. Attorney Neronha: voters will remember if you continue to bully those who provide medicine to the seriously ill instead of focusing on prosecuting real crimes. Be careful how you proceed next.

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UPDATED: Pro-marijuana policy bloc swings Oregon attorney general primary election

May 16th, 2012 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

UPDATE: On May 15, 2012, Ellen Rosenblum defeated Dwight Holton in the Democratic primary for the Oregon attorney general race. On June 6, Gov. John Kitzhaber appointed Ms. Rosenblum to the office of attorney general, effective June 29. Ms. Rosenblum will finish Attorney General John Kroger’s term who is stepping down to assume the role of president of Reed College. Ms. Rosenblum will still face an election in November, but there is no named Republican challenger.

MPP would like to congratulate the soon-to-be first woman attorney general of the state of Oregon and wish her the very best in November’s election.

The rational and peaceable instrument of reform, the suffrage of the people.”
~ Thomas Jefferson

Last night, the people of Oregon took to the ballot and utilized that rational instrument of reform, electing Ellen Rosenblum – champion of marijuana policy reform – to be the Democratic nominee for attorney general of the State of Oregon. With no Republican challenger in the field, Ms. Rosenblum’s victory means she will be Oregon’s next AG.

Ellen Rosenblum defeated Dwight Holton in the Democratic primary, 63% – 37%, in what many characterized as not only a primary election for attorney general, but also a referendum on marijuana policy. The candidates had similar stances on many issues, including environmental issues, consumer protection issues, and civil rights. Where they differed greatly, however, was on the issue of marijuana policy in the state of Oregon.

Ellen Rosenblum has taken a good long look at the problems facing Oregonians and has carefully considered how the attorney general can address those problems. Weighing the pros and cons, Ms. Rosenblum has decided that it makes little sense to divert precious state resources – both in time and money – enforcing outdated, illogical, and draconian marijuana policies. As attorney general, Ms. Rosenblum has also committed to protecting the rights of Oregon’s medical marijuana patients.

Contrast her reasonable approach with that of her challenger: Holton, in his capacity as the interim United States attorney for the District of Oregon, threatened state legal medical marijuana providers with federal criminal charges. His hostilities toward reasonable marijuana policy seeped into the election when he called the medical marijuana program – enacted by the people in 1998 – a “train wreck” and attacked Ms. Rosenblum for putting marijuana law enforcement low on her priority list.

This is a not only a major victory for Oregonians, but for all individuals who yearn to see our state and federal governments finally listen to logic, science, and their constituents and reform our country’s failed marijuana policies. Research comes out daily verifying the efficacy of medical marijuana on many aliments, yet President Obama’s Justice Department continues to interfere with state medical marijuana programs. Polling shows that 74% of the American public wants the federal government to respect state medical marijuana laws. It’s about time the politicians realize that honesty, compassion, and listening to logic and science play well among the American electorate. It’s about time we get more politicians like Ellen Rosenblum.

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Hypocrisy in America’s Favorite Pastime?

May 16th, 2012 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

On May 5, the Orioles’ 2006 first round draft pick, Billy Rowell, tested positive for marijuana and received a 50-game suspension. Following the suspension, Billy called Major League Baseball “hypocritical” for their treatment of him. While that may not be the most appropriate word, the MLB policy on drugs and other illegal activity is certainly inconsistent.

In February 2011, Miguel Cabrera, the current Detroit Tigers’ third baseman, was arrested for DUI after being found in a disabled S.U.V. after he allegedly forced other vehicles off the road and threatened to blow up the bar he had been drinking at previously. While Cabrera rightly faced legal repercussions, the league was mysteriously quiet on the issue. Cabrera did not receive any disciplinary action from the league; he was not suspended, and he did not receive a fine. Cabrera also has a history of both alcohol abuse and violence. In 2009, he was arrested after a domestic disturbance where he had been under the influence of alcohol. I do not mean to single out Miguel Cabrera. Many MLB players have had problems with alcohol in the past. My intention here is to illustrate the bias regarding the penalties given to players by MLB – penalties which are not given out based on the severity of the player’s behavior, but simply on which substance the player puts in his body.

The league policy on alcohol abuse and violence off the field may be far less stringent than its marijuana use policy, but the difference in how these two cases were treated is astonishing.

Billy Rowell tested positive for marijuana, a harmless substance that he used presumably in the privacy of his own home. No one was hurt. For this, he received a 50-game suspension from the league.

Miguel Cabrera, while under the influence of alcohol, has assaulted his wife, wrecked his car, threatened to blow up a bar, and endangered the lives of other drivers by forcing them from the road. He received no suspension.

It certainly seems as though MLB needs to reconsider its priorities.

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Prohibition, Video

Drug Czar Being Disingenuous and Evasive. No Kidding.

May 14th, 2012 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

UPDATED: This blog post was updated to more accurately reflect the position of the Marijuana Policy Project.

At the Center for American Progress on May 1, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske answered a question from MPP’s Steve Fox regarding marijuana prohibition. Or did he? What Steve essentially asked is that if a great many Americans use both marijuana and alcohol, and alcohol causes disease, violence and death while marijuana is not responsible for any of these problems, why are there laws prohibiting the use of marijuana, if alcohol is legal?

Now, with the exception of some brief gibberish about alcohol prohibition, the issue of allowing a harmful substance (alcohol) to be legally consumed by adults while outlawing a much less harmful substance (marijuana) was completely ignored. What was addressed, however, was the issue of prescription drugs.

The drug czar argued that there is no reason to tax, regulate, and control marijuana because legal prescription drugs take over 15,000 lives a year, saying, “we do a very poor job of keeping them out of the hands of abusers and young people.” This is interesting for several reasons, the first of which being that marijuana has not been responsible for any deaths in recorded human history. Also, medical marijuana patients are able to substitute marijuana for many of the dangerous prescriptions Gil is talking about, thereby minimizing their risk of becoming one of the 15,000 killed each year by legal prescription medications. Another reason for skepticism, and probably the most obvious: why should responsible users of a less harmful substance be penalized because the ONDCP is bad at its job? By keeping marijuana illegal, Gil and the Obama administration are giving drug dealers and cartels responsibility for deciding who can and cannot buy marijuana instead of an objective system of regulation, and to be honest, I’ve never heard of a drug dealer who checked IDs.

You can see the full video here. This kind of doubletalk is disrespectful to both the audience and the American people. If someone cannot be trusted to be honest enough to answer a simple question, how can that same person be trusted to make decisions that impact the lives of private citizens?

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Mitt Romney Clarifies Position on Medical Marijuana. Sort of.

May 14th, 2012 32 Comments Morgan Fox

Last week, Scott Morgan at StoptheDrugWar.com made the argument that it may be premature to think that Mitt Romney would be worse than President Obama when it comes to marijuana policy. He accurately pointed out that Romney was not in favor of medical marijuana, but that he also hadn’t really explained his position clearly. Romney certainly was not openly suggesting the kind of attacks perpetrated by the Obama administration over the last few years. To assume that he would be worse than Obama simply because he is a Republican, the party traditionally most opposed to marijuana policy reform, would be reactionary.

Well, Romney still has not clearly laid out his position, but he gave us all some hints in an interview published the following day. He only spoke about the issue under duress and berated the reporter for bringing it up, saying that marijuana policy reform was not a significant issue.

Here is the gist of what he said:

“I think marijuana should not be legal in this country. I believe it’s a gateway drug to other drug violations. The use of illegal drugs in this country is leading to terrible consequences in places like Mexico and actually in our own country,” said Mr. Romney. “I oppose legalization of marijuana. I oppose legalization of other kinds of drugs, but I can tell you that I have a plan to get this economy going.”

What can we tell from this? Well, most obviously, Mitt Romney does not support making marijuana legal. He outright opposes it.

He is also woefully uninformed of the research showing that the gateway theory is junk science and that prohibition brings marijuana users in contact with harder drugs. In previous interviews, he has also stated that he does not think marijuana is medicine, despite the mountains of research to the contrary.

He does not understand that since marijuana has never killed a single user in recorded history, it must be our marijuana policies that are causing “terrible consequences” in Mexico

He does not understand that making marijuana legal could help get our economy going. In fact, if states were only free to develop their medical marijuana industries without federal interference, they could reap the economic benefits the way Colorado, which has more than 4,000 marijuana industry workers, has done.

That’s all pretty bad. But does it mean that President Romney would use federal resources to interfere with state medical marijuana laws?

Maybe not. In the same interview, Romney also says, “I’m not running on marriage and marijuana. Those are state issues.”

Dare we hope that Romney believes in states’ rights to such an extent that he would respect state medical marijuana laws, even though he feels so negatively about marijuana?

You be the judge. Just take a look at his other positions on states’ rights issues first.

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Medical Marijuana

U.S. House Democrats Support Ending Federal Interference in Medical Marijuana States

May 10th, 2012 22 Comments Morgan Fox

Nearly Three-Quarters of Democrats Break with Administration Policy, Vote to Prevent Federal Agencies from Targeting Individuals in Compliance with State Medical Marijuana Laws

Democrats in the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to approve an amendment to the FY 2013 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill late Tuesday that would effectively end the ability of federal agencies to enforce federal marijuana laws against individuals who are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. The amendment stated that federal agencies may not use any funds to target individuals in states with medical marijuana laws, as long as those people are following the laws of their respective states. This amendment, which was debated five times last decade, was reintroduced after an increase in federal actions against state-legal medical marijuana providers throughout the country over the last year.

The amendment was supported by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-New York), Rep. Sam Farr (D-California), and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-California). It was defeated in the House by a vote of 163-262 at the close of voting. Of those in favor, 134 were Democrats and 28 were Republicans, with 72% of Democrats backing the measure. The strong support among Democrats is notable in light of recent criticism of the Obama administration’s crackdown on medical marijuana providers despite campaign promises that he would not use federal resources to undermine state medical marijuana laws.

“It is encouraging to see so many members sending a clear message to the Obama administration,” said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. “These 163 members are tired of seeing federal resources dedicated to undermining state medical marijuana laws. They understand, especially members from medical marijuana states, that when the Obama administration forces the closure of medical marijuana dispensaries, they are driving patients back to the streets to acquire their medicine. States are doing the right thing by ensuring that patients have safe access to medical marijuana. It is only a matter of time before every member of Congress accepts this truth.”

Currently, 16 states and the District of Columbia allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana with a recommendation from their doctor. Connecticut is poised to become the 17th state to pass a medical marijuana law. Another ten states are considering bills to make marijuana legal at this time.

The amendment performed about as well this time around as it did the last time it was considered in 2007. While that may not seem like progress, it is actually quite a step forward. In the most recent vote, we saw an increase in the percentage of both Democrats and Republicans that supported this policy change. The reason that the overall support for the amendment remained relatively unchanged is that support among Republicans is still fairly low, and many more of them are now in office than in 2007.

If you are curious to see how your representative voted on this amendment, please follow this link.

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Medical Marijuana

Tell Congress to Stop Federal Interference with Medical Marijuana States

May 9th, 2012 4 Comments Morgan Fox

An amendment to the 2013 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill in the U.S. House that would effectively end federal interference in medical marijuana states is being considered today, and we need your help!

The Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Farr-McClintock Amendment would stop federal agencies from spending any funds to target individuals acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. This would include patients and providers, so long as those providers were following the law within their respective states.

If this passes, providers will no longer have to live in fear that the businesses they worked hard to build and keep in compliance with their state and local laws will be arbitrarily raided and destroyed by federal agents. Patients will no longer be forced to buy inferior medicine from dangerous criminals at the whim of U.S. attorneys. States will finally be free to determine the marijuana policies that work best for the seriously ill among their residents.

We need your help to make this happen. Please follow this link and call your member of Congress TODAY! Tell them that they need to support this amendment and make the federal government stop wasting its time and resources on medical marijuana.

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Medical Marijuana

Broken Promises: The Obama Administration and Medical Marijuana

May 7th, 2012 25 Comments Kate Zawidzki

President Obama owes a debt of gratitude to the medical marijuana community for his election in 2008 — a debt that patients, providers, and businesses hoped would be fulfilled by the president following through on the promises he made to respect state medical marijuana laws.

As you can see in this recent op-ed in the Washington Post by MPP’s Rob Kampia, not only has the administration failed to keep its promise of respecting states’ rights on this issue, it is now the most hostile administration in U.S. history towards medical marijuana!

More than three out of four Americans support legalizing medical marijuana for serious medical conditions. With an approval rating of less than 50%, Obama needs to recognize the political ramifications of these continued attacks on the medical marijuana community. If he wants to hold on to the White House this fall, Obama needs to keep the promises he made four years ago, and end the crackdown. As his attorney general said a few days ago, all he has to do is say the word.

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