Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

MPP’s Dan Riffle on CNN

December 31st, 2013 1 Comment Morgan Fox

Check out MPP’s Dan Riffle on CNN discussing the issues facing the marijuana industry on the eve of the first legal sales of marijuana to adults in Colorado:

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Tax and Regulate

First-ever Legal Adult Marijuana Sales to Begin Tomorrow in Colorado

December 31st, 2013 5 Comments Morgan Fox
facility8
3D Cannabis Center

The first legal adult marijuana sales will begin Wednesday, January 1 in Colorado. Leaders of the initiative that made marijuana legal, Amendment 64, will hold a news conference at 7:30 a.m. MT at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver — a licensed marijuana retail store with on-site cultivation facility — followed by the first sale at 8 a.m. MT. The licensed marijuana retail store is 3D Cannabis Center, located at 4305 Brighton Blvd. in Denver.

The first customer will be Sean Azzariti, a Denver-based Iraq war veteran who can now legally use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Azzariti appeared in a Yes on 64 campaign television ad last year in which he discussed how legalization would benefit those suffering from PTSD — a condition that is not covered under Colorado’s medical marijuana law despite repeated efforts to add it.

This is sure to be an historic event. We’ll keep you posted on news coverage as the day unfolds.

MPP’s Mason Tvert had this to say:

“Adults are using marijuana in every state across the nation. In Colorado, they will now be purchasing it from legitimate businesses instead of in the underground market,” said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver, which helped lead the legalization campaign.

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Medical Marijuana

Delaware Governor Needs to Ease Plant Limits

December 23rd, 2013 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki
Markell
Gov. Jack Markell

MPP welcomed Delaware Gov. Jack Markell’s August announcement that he would implement the compassion center program, but our enthusiasm was tempered by the fact that he did so on the condition that the program was initially limited to one compassion center that could grow only 150 plants. Since his announcement, the Department of Justice has released new guidance, which makes it clear that these restrictions are unnecessary. If you are a Delaware resident, please call the governor’s office and urge him to remove this limit.

The plant limit will surely result in shortages, leaving patients without access to their medicine. Even states like New Mexico, where there are 23 dispensaries, have experienced shortagesPatients in Delaware need a viable program.

The medical marijuana law already limits the number of compassion centers to three for the entire state. The Department of Justice has indicated that plant numbers and size of dispensaries will not be triggers for enforcement action and other states have proven that these tax-paying entities can be properly regulated. The cap does nothing but jeopardize patient access.

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Research

MPP Calls on NIDA to Investigate Benefits of Regulating Marijuana

December 18th, 2013 2 Comments Morgan Fox

Following the Wednesday release of a national survey on teen drug use, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) called on the agency to investigate whether regulating marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes could produce similar reductions in use among teens.

According to the annual Monitoring the Future national survey on drug use, the current use of alcohol and tobacco has dropped among teens in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. Current marijuana use increased slightly among 8th- and 10th-graders and decreased slightly among 12th-graders. Current use is defined as use within the past 30 days.

“The results suggest that regulating alcohol and cigarettes is successfully reducing teen use, whereas marijuana prohibition has been unsuccessful,” said MPP director of communications Mason Tvert. “At the very least, this data should inspire NIDA to examine the possibility that regulating marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes could be a more effective approach than the current system.”

Yesterday, MPP issued a release based on a preliminary summary of the survey results, in which it announced its expectation that marijuana use had not increased among teens. The full survey results show that marijuana use within thirty days of the survey has increased from 6.5% to 7% among 8th-graders and from 17% to 18% among 10th-graders. It has decreased from 22.9% to 22.7% among 12th-graders. Current alcohol use has decreased from 11% to 10.2% among 8th-graders, from 27.6% to 25.7% among 10th-graders, and from 41.5% to 39.2% among 12th-graders. Cigarette use in the past thirty days decreased from 4.9% to 4.5% among 8th-graders, from 10.8% to 9.1% among 10th-graders, and from 17.1% to 16.3% among 12th-graders.

“Those selling marijuana in the underground market are not asking for ID,” Tvert said. “By regulating marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes and enforcing similar age restrictions, we would very likely see a similar decrease in availability and use among teens.”

Colorado’s experience with regulating medical marijuana suggests that regulation might be reducing teen use. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey released in June 2012 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marijuana use by Colorado high school students dropped 11% from 2009 to 2011, the time period in which the state and its localities began regulating medical marijuana. Nationwide, teen marijuana use increased 11% during that time period.

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Medical Marijuana

Quad-City Times Focuses on Patients In Need

December 17th, 2013 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Over the weekend, the Quad-Cities Timesquad city ran a feature on the “Faces of medical marijuana in Iowa.” The article shined a compassionate light on the daily struggles that many Iowans endure and their frustration at not being able to use marijuana legally, under their physicians’ recommendations. Twenty states and Washington, D.C., protect patients from criminal penalties for using medical marijuana; it’s time Iowa does, too.

There are individuals and families across the Hawkeye state whose lives would be improved greatly if medical marijuana were a legal option in Iowa. Your friends, family members, and neighbors shouldn’t have to move to a more compassionate state in order to find relief.

Illinois recently passed a medical marijuana law and Minnesota is seriously considering doing the same. A 2010 Seltzer & Co. poll found that nearly two thirds of Iowans support the passage of a medical marijuana program. If you live in Iowa please ask your state senator and representative to support compassionate access.

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Prohibition

North Carolina: Will Graves and the Need for Marijuana Policy Reform

December 17th, 2013 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki
North Carolina v Michigan State
Will Graves

Last Friday, news broke that former UNC Tar Heel Will Graves faces misdemeanor charges after police officers found 4.4 grams of marijuana in a house that Mr. Graves rents. Let your lawmakers know that they should not burden responsible adults with criminal convictions for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. If you are a North Carolina resident, please ask them to replace criminal penalties for the possession of a small amount of marijuana with a civil fine.

Mr. Graves just finished his degree. This should be a time of celebration for him and his loved ones. Instead, he must ponder how these charges could affect the rest of his life. While he readily accepts blame for his actions, he shouldn’t be in this situation to begin with. At the very least, simple possession of marijuana shouldn’t result in a criminal conviction that can destroy a person’s ability to pursue their dreams. 

The time is right for North Carolina to take a serious look at its marijuana policies. Draconian penalties have done nothing to prevent use or access but have done a great job of enriching criminal actors and wasting taxpayer dollars. If you live in North Carolina, please take minute to send an email to your state lawmakers asking them to remove criminal penalties for the simple possession of marijuana.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Uruguay’s President Fights Back Against United Nations

December 16th, 2013 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki
Jose Mujica angry
Pres. Jose Mujica

Jose Mujica is not a man who compromises his beliefs. Before he became President of Uruguay, he was shot six times and spent fourteen years in a dungeon-like military prison. Now he lives a modest lifestyle, donates most of his income to social projects, and resides in a one-bedroom farmhouse with his wife, Congresswoman and former acting President of Uruguay, Lucia Topolansky. President Mujica, once known as the world’s poorest President (a nickname he is not fond of), is becoming known for something else – regulating marijuana.

Now that President Mujica’s bill has been made law, Uruguay is facing international opposition. Last week, the United Nations released a statement explaining its position – that Uruguay has violated a U.N. drug convention and not considered the facts about marijuana. Unfortunately, the U.N.I.S. statement is riddled with misconceptions and, as President Mujica would say, lies.

Not only has the International Narcotics Control Board shown ignorance to the science of marijuana usage, but also it has lied about Uruguay’s willingness to work with the U.N., according to President Mujica.

“Tell this old guy not to lie,” Mujica told reporters, according to Colombian daily El Espectador. “Any guy in the street can meet with me. Let him come to Uruguay and meet with me whenever he wants… He thinks that because he’s in an international position, he can tell whatever lie he wants.”

The INCB president said on Wednesday he was “surprised” that the Uruguayan government “knowingly decided to break the universally agreed and internationally endorsed legal provisions of the treaty.

But Mujica dismissed the criticism as a double standard, pointing out that the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington have already legalized weed and that both of the states’ populations individually exceed Uruguay’s 3.4 million inhabitants.

“Do they have two discourses, one for Uruguay and another for those who are strong?” Mujica asked.

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General

Susan Sarandon is Candid About Her Marijuana Use

December 13th, 2013 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Susan Sarandon, Susan Sarandon graphicrespected actress and member of MPP’s VIP Advisory Board, lightheartedly confessed on Wednesday that she has used marijuana before attending almost all award shows.  The admission came on an episode of “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen on the Bravo network. Cohen, during a popular segment known as “Plead the Fifth”, asked Sarandon to “name one major Hollywood event that you showed up to stoned.” Sarandon replied, “Only one?” and continued to elaborate that she had used marijuana before almost all award shows, except for the Oscars.

Sarandon is a long time advocate for ending marijuana prohibition. In addition to her work for MPP’s Advisory Board, Sarandon has voiced her support in interviews, and cited issues such as racial biases, civil liberties, and economic incentives as reasons to end prohibition.

Click here to see all of the influential members of MPP’s Advisory Board.

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Prohibition

U.N. Opposes Uruguay’s Marijuana Legislation

December 13th, 2013 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Uruguay and its President, Jose Mujica, have been making headlines recently for legislation to regulate the marijuana market. President Mujica has been determined to pass the law, supporting the movement throughout the legislative process and defending the policy to opponents both in his own country and abroad. Now that the law has passed, Uruguay is facing pressure from the U.N., which accuses the legislature of violating an international convention.

The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 essentially bans countries from allowing the consumption or production of specific drugs, except for medical or research purposes. The United Nations Information Service has released a document explaining how Uruguay is violating the convention.

According to the President, “the decision of the Uruguayan legislature fails to consider its negative impacts on health since scientific studies confirm that cannabis is an addictive substance with serious consequences for people’s health. In particular, the use and abuse of cannabis by young people can seriously affect their development.”

Cannabis is not only addictive but may also affect some fundamental brain functions, IQ potential, and academic and job performance and impair driving skills. Smoking cannabis is more carcinogenic than smoking tobacco.

The health claims of the U.N.I.S. are without merit. Studies into marijuana’s effect on the body show that it is safer than alcohol and has fewer long-term effects than tobacco. Furthermore, contrary to what Mr. Yans states, marijuana is not linked with cancer, unlike tobacco, which causes more than five million deaths per year.

The current U.N. drug policy and the 1961 Convention are not compatible with an evidence-based approach to drug policy. Luckily, Uruguay is not the only country looking to reform the world’s approach to marijuana. Recently, there has been evidence that the U.N. is losing support for the war on drugs. Hopefully, international policy can be adapted to reflect current knowledge surrounding marijuana and the consequences of prohibition. Until then, Uruguay and other countries looking to regulate marijuana may find an enemy in the U.N.

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Medical Marijuana

Michigan House Approves Protections for Dispensaries and Extracts

December 12th, 2013 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki
Mike Callton
Rep. Mike Callton

The Michigan House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed two important bills today. HB 4271, sponsored by Rep. Mike Callton, would allow local governments to license and regulate dispensaries. HB 5104, sponsored by Rep. Eileen Kowall, would extend the protections currently in place for smoked forms of marijuana to marijuana extracts, a key ingredient in topical emollients, edibles, and tinctures.

Eileen Kowall
Rep. Eileen Kowall

The dispensary bill received a landslide vote of 94-14, while the vote for the extracts bill was an even more lopsided 100-9 in favor. We wish to thank both Rep. Callton and Rep. Kowall for sponsoring these important pieces of legislation, and thanks to the many groups, lobbyists, and patients who supported this effort. Great work!

The bills will now be transmitted to the Senate. Stay tuned for more alerts as progress on these bills continues.

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