Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Legal Adult Marijuana Sales to Begin in Oregon Tomorrow

September 30th, 2015 6 Comments » Robert Capecchi

Beginning tomorrow, adults 21 and older in Oregon will be able to legally purchase limited quantities of marijuana and marijuana plants from certain medical marijuana dispensaries. This allowance, passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Kate Brown,flagfrontbig gives adults a legal and regulated access point to purchase marijuana while the state develops the regulatory structure that will govern the marijuana market moving forward.

Individuals 21 and older will be allowed to purchase up to seven grams of marijuana and up to four seedlings from participating medical marijuana dispensaries. The state requires a dispensary to post a sign indicating whether they sell to recreational customers or if they limit sales to medical marijuana patients and caregivers, but it will not keep a list of dispensaries that have chosen to open their doors to all adults 21 and older.

Please remember that it is still illegal to smoke marijuana in public. Violators may be issued a Class B violation, which is akin to a traffic ticket. For more information, please visit the Oregonian’s FAQ page.

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Medical Marijuana

South Carolina Senate Subcommittee Advances Medical Marijuana Bill

September 29th, 2015 1 Comment » Brendan Valentine

Last week, a South Carolina Senate subcommittee approved H 4037/S 672, sponsored by Sens. Tom Davis and C. Bradley Hutto.715px-Seal_of_South_Carolina_(Alternative).svg The bill would allow qualified patients to possess and use medical marijuana for a variety of conditions. It now moves on to the Medical Affairs Committee, which will meet again in January. It is hopeful to see the Palmetto State demonstrating openness to policies that will protect the sick and suffering from arrest for using medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation, but passage of this legislation is by no means guaranteed.

Support for compassionate medical marijuana legislation continues to grow in South Carolina, and last week’s hearing demonstrates that the legislature is taking notice. If you are a South Carolina resident, please make sure your senator and representative know that you support compassionate access and that they should too.

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Prohibition

FBI Reports Marijuana Arrests Increased Last Year for First Time Since 2009

September 28th, 2015 12 Comments » Morgan Fox

The annual number of arrests for marijuana offenses in the U.S. increased last year for the first time since 2009, according to the Uniform Crime Report released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

UCR

An estimated 700,993 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana-related offenses in 2014 — up from 693,058 in 2013 — of which 88.42% were for possession. On average, one person was arrested for a marijuana-related offense in the U.S. approximately every 45 seconds (every 51 seconds for possession).

From U.S. News & World Report:

It’s unclear why the number of arrests increased last year, particularly given the nationwide sea change in attitudes about the status of marijuana and political actions that decriminalized or abolished penalties for possessing the drug.

Retail marijuana shops opened in Colorado and Washington state in 2014, where most adults are allowed to possess small quantities of pot. In November, voters in Alaska, Oregon and the nation’s capital voted to legalize it, too — though penalties technically weren’t ditched right away.

Maryland, meanwhile, decriminalized small-time pot possession in October 2014, replacing arrests with citations. The nation’s largest and fifth-largest cities made similar moves, and monthly marijuana arrest rates reportedly fell about 75 percent after New York City and Philadelphia implemented the policies in November and October, respectively.

With several states — including Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — preparing to vote on legalization in 2016, following Ohio voters this November, Angell says arrest numbers should soon drop significantly.

National polls generally show majority support for marijuana legalization, with larger majorities supporting states’ rights to legalize the drug or believing legalization is inevitable. 

While law enforcement was busy making nearly three quarters of a million marijuana arrests, more than 35% of murders went unsolved, the clearance rate for rape was less than 40%, and for robbery and property crimes, it was below 30%. 

The full report can be read here.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Washington to Issue Additional Marijuana Retail Licenses

September 24th, 2015 No Comments Robert Capecchi

On Wednesday, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced the adoption of emergency rules that will allow the agency to begin the process of licensing additional retail establishments that will sell both medical and adult-use marijuana.LCB Existing Washington retail stores can apply for a medical marijuana endorsement as well.

The application window opens October 12. The WSLCB has not capped the number of licenses they will approve initially. Please note that existing dispensaries “must be licensed by July 1, 2016 or face closure by local authorities.” The WSLCB also announced that medical cooperatives can register with the agency after July 1, 2016.

The emergency rules allow the WSLCB to move forward while giving officials and the public ample time to read, digest, and comment on the draft rules before they become final. Please visit the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board’s website for further details on licensure and to comment on the draft rules.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Patients and Lawmakers Demand Approval of Medical Marijuana Bill

September 24th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

On Tuesday, a group of Pennsylvania lawmakers, patients, and their families gathered at the State Capitol to demand swift action from the legislature in moving a medical marijuana bill that has been stalled for months.

Julie Michaels, front left, of Connellsville, and Jessica Hawkins, right, of Pittsburg, look on as Hawkins' son Lucciano, 2, right center, gives a hug to Michaels' daughter Sydney, 5, left center, as supporters gather at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building to promote the legalization of medical cannabis in Harrisburg, Pa. on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015.   Dawn J. Sagert - dsagert@yorkdispatch.com
Julie Michaels, front left, of Connellsville, and Jessica Hawkins, right, of Pittsburg, look on as Hawkins’ son Lucciano, 2, right center, gives a hug to Michaels’ daughter Sydney, 5, left center, as supporters gather at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building to promote the legalization of medical cannabis in Harrisburg, Pa. on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. Dawn J. Sagert – York Dispatch

The Patriot-News reports:

In early summer, medical marijuana seemed on the verge of becoming legal in Pennsylvania.

But the effort, which supporters insist easily has enough votes to pass, now seems caught up in delays and stalling tactics, according to supporters who rallied Tuesday at the state Capitol.

One of the supporters was state Rep. Mike Regan, R-York County, a former federal law enforcement officer who said he represents a highly conservative district, and hasn’t received a single call of opposition from a constituent.

“This has got to stop being about politics and it has to start being about people,” he said. “I will not stop fighting until this is law.”

Regan also noted he spent much of his career arresting drug dealers. He said he is convinced medical marijuana is a safe and valuable medication, and won’t become a gateway to illegal drugs and more illegal drug use in Pennsylvania.

A medical marijuana bill introduced by state Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon County passed 40-7 in the Senate in May. In the House, leaders in early summer created a group to draft a bill that would pass the Republican-controlled House.

Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf has come out strongly in favor of medical marijuana and has said he will sign a bill.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident and are tired of waiting for the legislature to enact compassionate, effective medical marijuana legislation, please contact your lawmakers and let them know the time to act is now.

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Kicks Off Signature Drive

September 23rd, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

Massachusetts Rep. Jay Livingstone, and Regina Hufnagel, a former federal corrections officer, joined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol at a news conference Tuesday in front of the State House to kick off the signature drive in support of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.

Sen. Will Brownsberger and Rep. David Rogers were among the first to sign the petition and offered statements in support of the initiative.

The campaign must collect the signatures of 64,750 registered Massachusetts voters by November 18 to place the measure in front of the Massachusetts Legislature. If the legislature does not adopt the measure, initiative backers must collect 10,792 signatures in June 2016 to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot.

Here is Sen. Brownsberger speaking with NECN:

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Tax and Regulate

Vermont Attorney General Predicts Legislature Will Legalize Marijuana 2016

September 22nd, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox
william-h-sorrell
Attorney General Bill Sorrell

While many states will be considering making marijuana legal in 2016, Vermont may be the first to do so through its legislature. MPP’s New England Political Director Matt Simon is so optimistic that he is moving to the state from nearby New Hampshire in order to spend more time working with lawmakers there. Now, the state’s attorney general has predicted that Vermont will make history next year.

VTDigger.org reports:

[Attorney General Bill] Sorrell said in an interview Tuesday that while he doesn’t have any “insider information,” it’s his belief that the General Assembly will pass, and the governor will sign, legislation to legalize and regulate the recreational use and sale of marijuana during the upcoming legislative session.

While no “prominent Vermonter” has told him that marijuana will be legalized, his reading of the tea leaves (“or the marijuana leaves,” he quipped) is that this is the year for legalization.

“Let me put it this way, I will be surprised if marijuana is not legalized in this next legislative session,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Prohibition

GOP Presidential Hopefuls Debate Marijuana Policy

September 21st, 2015 14 Comments » Morgan Fox

Last week, Republican presidential candidates were asked about their positions on marijuana policy reform. While most of them responded that they would let states determine their own policies, they also stated their opposition to making marijuana legal for adults and revealed their serious misunderstandings of the relative harms of marijuana compared to alcohol and other drugs.

Here is the portion of the debate concerning marijuana policy:

Vice‘s coverage included some great comments from MPP’s Dan Riffle:

Riffle added that he was disappointed that “scientifically incorrect” information mentioned during the debate was not challenged, particularly Christie’s assertion that marijuana is a gateway drug.

“It’s troubling to have presidential candidates to be so misinformed on marijuana,” said Riffle. “The Institute of Medicine, the nation’s foremost authority on science, medicine, and health, has said there’s absolutely nothing about the physiological properties of marijuana that leads people to use other drugs.”

Riffle noted that he agrees with former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina’s comment during the debate that young people are being misled “when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer,” but not for the reasons she implied.

“It’s not like having a beer,” he said. “It’s safer. And there’s an abundance of medical and scientific research that has shown this.”

Click here to see MPP’s guide to the 2016 presidential candidates.

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Uncategorized

Legalization Bill Introduced in Michigan

September 18th, 2015 No Comments Chris Lindsey
Jeff_Irwin_front
Rep. Jeff Irwin

Yesterday, Rep. Jeff Irwin introduced HB 4877, a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in Michigan and treat cannabis similarly to alcohol.

This historic bill would provide protections for Michiganders and state visitors aged 21 and over, license and regulate businesses, establish testing requirements for cannabis, and many other sensible provisions. Six representatives joined with Rep. Irwin in support, including Reps. Singh, Robinson, Hovey-Wright, Chang, Hoadley, and Roberts.

In addition to Rep. Irwin’s bill, two efforts are currently underway in Michigan to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults through the voter initiative process. Michigan now has several options to end the failed policy of prohibition, and 2016 could be the year Michigan joins those that have chosen a better path.

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Uncategorized

Forbes Debunks Report on Sky Falling in Colorado

September 18th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

On Tuesday, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,RockyMountainLogo a federal law enforcement organization that has continuously opposed making marijuana legal, released a report claiming that regulating marijuana like alcohol in Colorado is having severe negative consequences and losing support among residents. Supporters of marijuana policy reform quickly and correctly criticized the report as biased and unscientific. MPP’s Mason Tvert said, “Yeah, it’s joke[.] It would receive an F in any high school class, let alone any college class.”

The most complete refutation of this report comes from Jacob Sullum in Forbes:

In 2012 Coloradans approved Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use, by a vote of 55 percent to 45 percent. Last February a Quinnipiac University poll found that 58 percent of Colorado voters supported that decision, while 38 percent opposed it and the rest weren’t sure.

For prohibitionists determined to portray marijuana legalization in Colorado as a disaster, those poll results are inconvenient, since they indicate that public support for Amendment 64 was higher after more than a year of legal recreational sales and more than two years of legal possession and home cultivation than it was in 2012. Honest drug warriors would acknowledge the Quinnipiac numbers and perhaps try to balance them with other poll results. Dishonest drug warriors would do what the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) does in its new report on marijuana legalization: change the numbers.

The RMHIDTA, a federally supported task force dedicated to suppressing marijuana and other illegal drugs, claims only 50 percent of Colorado voters supported legalization in that Quinnipiac survey—eight points lower than the actual result. It also understates the 2012 vote for Amendment 64 by a point, but the comparison still supports the story that the task force wants to tell: The consequences of legalization in Colorado have been so bad that public support for the policy already has fallen.

Even assuming that the RMHIDTA’s misrepresentation of the Quinnipiac survey was a mistake, the direction of the error is not random. You can be sure that if the report had overstated support for legalization by eight points, someone would have caught it before the text was finalized. Which underlines a point that should be obvious by now: Despite its pose as a dispassionate collector of facts, the RMHIDTA, which issued similar reports in 2013 and 2014, is committed to the position that legalization was a huge mistake, and every piece of information it presents is aimed at supporting that predetermined conclusion. So even when the task force does not simply make stuff up, it filters and slants the evidence to play up the purported costs of legalization while ignoring the benefits. Here are some examples of what I mean.

Read the complete story here.

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