General

Kentucky Medical Marijuana Bill Approved by House Committee

February 28th, 2014 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee made history today when it voted 9-5 in favor of HB 350, the “Cannabis Compassion Act.” This is the first time a Kentucky legislative committee has ever voted to approve an effective medical marijuana bill.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please contact your representatives and senators today and urge them to join this committee in standing up for patients!

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Rep. Mary Lou Marzian

Sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville), a registered nurse, HB 350 would provide safe, legal access to medical marijuana for patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. Qualifying patients would be able to possess up to three ounces at a time and grow up to 12 plants per patient. The bill would also establish safety compliance facilities and would permit one medical marijuana compassion center for every 100,000 residents to ensure safe and reliable access for patients.

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Medical Marijuana

Vermont Legislature Seeks to Expand Medical Marijuana Program

February 28th, 2014 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Vermont’s medical marijuana program has come a long way since the law was first approved by the Legislature back in 2004. In 2011, MPP worked with Vermont legislators and our allies to secure approval for four state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. As a result of that law, which was signed by Governor Peter Shumlin, the fourth dispensary began serving patients in southern Vermont last Tuesday.

This is great progress, but we can’t stop here. The addition of four dispensaries has dramatically improved access for patients, and over 1,000 patients have now registered for Vermont’s program. But there are still a number of issues with Vermont’s medical marijuana law that need to be addressed, including an absurd restriction that only 1,000 Vermont patients may be served by dispensaries.

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Sen. Jeanette White

We are currently urging Vermont legislators to pass S. 247, which would eliminate the 1,000-patient cap and make other positive changes to Vermont’s medical marijuana law. Sponsored by Senator Jeanette White (D), S. 247 would authorize the Department of Public Safety to license two additional dispensaries. It would also allow dispensaries to deliver marijuana to patients, and it would allow naturopaths to certify patients for the program.

S. 247 has already been approved by two Senate committees, and a vote is expected soon by the full Senate.

If you are a Vermont resident, please email your senator and ask them to support his sensible bill.

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Tax and Regulate

Alaska Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Officially Qualifies for 2014 Primary Ballot

February 28th, 2014 12 Comments Morgan Fox

AKRegulateAlaska is on its way to becoming the third state in the nation to end marijuana prohibition!

Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell announced yesterday that an initiative to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and regulate it like alcohol has officially qualified for the August 19 primary ballot. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska now has less than six months to campaign in support of the measure.

A generous supporter has offered to help the campaign get off to a strong start by matching dollar-for-dollar every donation it receives during the next three weeks, up to a total of $15,000.  MPP hopes you’ll take advantage of this special opportunity by making a donation to the Alaska campaign today.

A poll conducted earlier this month found 55% of Alaska voters think it’s time to make marijuana legal and regulate it like alcohol. But victory is far from guaranteed, so it’s critical that the campaign raise money right now to build a strong coalition, mobilize supporters across the state, and run ads in August.

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Medical Marijuana

Oregon Considering Bill That Would Permit Dispensary Bans

February 26th, 2014 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Last week, the Oregon Senate unanimously approved legislation to allow local governments to enact reasonable restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries. As passed by the Senate, SB 1531 would allow municipalities to develop rules about where, when, and how dispensaries can operate. Unfortunately, the bill was amended to allow municipalities to completely ban medical marijuana dispensaries. 

The Oregon legislature passed a bill creating a regulated medical marijuana dispensary program last year. The legislation required the state health authority to create thorough regulations dispensaries must adhere to. These regulations ensure the dispensaries are run responsibly. There is no reason to deny patients access to their medicine simply because of where they happen to live. If you are an Oregon residentplease ask your representative to oppose this unnecessary proposal.

Regulated medical marijuana dispensaries are no more harmful to a neighborhood than a coffee shop. It makes little sense to allow cities to ban them completely when they provide a necessary service to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

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Prohibition

Iowa Decriminalization Bill Introduced

February 26th, 2014 8 Comments Kate Zawidzki
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Rep. Bruce Hunter

Iowa Rep. Bruce Hunter has introduced legislation that would decriminalize simple possession of marijuana. Under current law, those found with under 42.5 grams of marijuana can be arrested and face both heavy criminal fines and jail time. HF 2313 would replace these penalties with the issuance of a simple misdemeanor citation of $300. There would be no arrest and no threat of jail time.

Seventeen states have removed the threat of jail time for the possession of modest amounts of marijuana. Many of these states, including Minnesota, made these changes as far back as the 1970’s. In fact, just yesterday, Richard Bonnie – former director of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse and policy advisor to the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations – submitted testimony in support of a similar proposal in Maryland.

If you are an Iowa resident, please ask your state representative and senator to support this noncontroversial bill.

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Prohibition

Maryland Police Chief Cites Fake News Report in Senate Hearing

February 25th, 2014 32 Comments Morgan Fox

At a Maryland State Senate hearing to discuss decriminalizing marijuana Tuesday, a high-ranking law enforcement official betrayed his total ignorance about marijuana when he claimed that decriminalization would cause a slew of overdoses throughout the state.

From the Capital Gazette:

“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” [Annapolis Police Chief Michael] Pristoop said in testimony at Tuesday’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”

That information is straight from the Daily Currant, a well-known satirical news site, which claimed that Colorado hospitals were overwhelmed with emergency cases caused by marijuana use.

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Chief Michael Pristoop

Apparently Chief Pristoop didn’t know that marijuana was already being used widely in Colorado, just like in every other state, and that it is impossible to die from a marijuana overdose.

Maybe Pristoop was truly ignorant of these facts, in which case he probably shouldn’t be testifying in support of continuing Maryland’s failed marijuana prohibition. Or maybe, like law enforcement bosses in Minnesota and around the country, he’s just worried about his budget.

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Tax and Regulate

MPP’s Mason Tvert Discusses Colorado Marijuana Tax Revenue On CNN

February 24th, 2014 6 Comments Morgan Fox

Last week, new estimates of the tax revenue that Colorado stands to gain from legal marijuana sales were released, and they are significantly greater than originally thought.

Watch MPP’s Mason Tvert  discuss these revenue projections and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s plans for the extra money on CNN:

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Prohibition

Life In Prison for Marijuana?

February 21st, 2014 1 Comment Morgan Fox

As more and more Americans support ending marijuana prohibition and an increasing number of states consider marijuana policy reform legislation, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are still a lot of people in prison for marijuana-related violations. As shocking as it may seem, some are slated to spend the rest of their lives behind bars for something that millions of Americans do every day and that people in Colorado and Washington do legally.

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Jeff Mizanskey

One such person is Jeff Mizanskey. He is currently serving life without parole after his third non-violent, marijuana-only offense due to Missouri mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Please sign this Change.org petition asking Gov. Jay Nixon to grant clemency to Mr. Mizanskey.

If you would like to know more about prisoners serving insanely long sentences for marijuana, please visit Life For Pot and share these stories with anyone who will listen. No on deserves to be arrested for a substance that is safer than alcohol, but putting people in cages indefinitely for it is inexcusable.

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Prohibition

Maryland Governor Suffering From Reefer Madness

February 21st, 2014 8 Comments Morgan Fox
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Gov. Martin O’Malley

Gov. Martin O’Malley has stated repeatedly that he opposes decriminalizing marijuana, a sensible measure already adopted by 16 other states, including red states like Nebraska and Mississippi. Gov. O’Malley does not support measures being considered in the legislature that would remove criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. One such bill passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote last year, but the House never took it up.

Gov. O’Malley needs to hear that caging people, entangling them in the justice system, and burdening them with criminal records for life, simply because of a few joints, is a waste of law enforcement resources. The ACLU of Maryland estimates that $106 million is wasted annually on enforcing marijuana possession laws. Criminalizing marijuana has destroyed lives, making it difficult for people to find a job or even get housing. These anti-marijuana laws also disproportionately target African Americans.

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General

Slate of Marijuana Bills Under Consideration in Florida

February 21st, 2014 5 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Shortly after the Florida Supreme Court cleared the way for the medical marijuana ballot initiative to appear on the November ballot, lawmakers in Tallahassee took note and introduced a flurry of legislation to sensibly reform the Sunshine State’s marijuana laws. A bill to allow patients with devastating seizure disorders to use high CBD marijuana was the first to be filed. While this bill is an improvement on the status quo, it will also leave many patients without access to effective medicine.

Thankfully, Sen. Jeff Clemens and Rep. Joe Saunders realize this flaw and have introduced comprehensive medical marijuana legislation that would finally bring Florida in line with the growing list of compassionate states that treat, rather than jail, patients. 

Randolph Bracy
Rep. Randolph Bracy

Finally, legislation was introduced yesterday by Rep. Randolph Bracy to end Florida’s prohibition of marijuana, replacing it with a system that regulates and taxes adult sales, similarly to our alcohol laws. This proposal will finally allow Florida to control who is selling marijuana, where, and to whom. It will also allow the state to collect tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue on adult sales, while striking an economic blow to the criminal organizations that currently monopolize the marijuana market. 

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