Tax and Regulate

MPP Announces Oct. 5 Money Bomb to End Marijuana Prohibition in Five States This Election Day

September 30th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project
This week, we are announcing our “5 on 5” money bomb campaign to see all five recreational marijuana initiatives pass this Election Day.
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On one side of the scale: Marijuana prohibition contributes to a racist criminal justice system, creates massive profits for drug cartels, and prevents police from investigating real crimes.

On the other side of the scale: Ending marijuana prohibition will create millions in tax revenues for local communities, thousands of new jobs, and greater access for veterans and other medical marijuana patients.
This election, we have a chance to DOUBLE the states that tax and regulate recreational marijuana.
Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all have ballot initiatives that, if passed, will create a tidal wave of change.
Your pledge to donate “5 on 5” to your campaign of choice will give us the push we need to make legalization a reality across the country.

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Prohibition

Next New Hampshire Governor Will Support Decriminalization

September 30th, 2016 1 Comment Matt Simon
MPP’s endorsed candidates for New Hampshire governor did not win their primaries this week, but overall, the results bode well for the future of marijuana policy reform.Seal_of_New_Hampshire.svg
For the first time in the state’s history, both major parties’ nominees for governor, Executive Councilors Colin Van Ostern (D) and Chris Sununu (R), are clearly on record in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession. It now appears virtually certain that MPP and its allies will finally be able to pass a decriminalization bill in 2017.
That wasn’t the only bit of good news. The two worst prohibitionists running for governor, Ted Gatsas and Jeanie Forrester (who both opposed decriminalization and voted against medical cannabis), came in third and fourth in the GOP primary. The pro-decriminalization Republicans, MPP-endorsed Frank Edeblut and Sununu, finished in a near-tie for first with a combined more than 60% of the vote, laying to rest any lingering belief that Republican voters might support continuing the state’s war on marijuana users. Edelblut conceded to Sununu yesterday after reportedly falling short by only 804 votes.
In the Democratic primary, MPP-endorsed Steve Marchand helped spark a serious conversation about marijuana legalization across the state. Despite entering the race very late and being out-spent by a large margin, he ran a strong grassroots campaign, earned several key editorial endorsements down the stretch, and finished a respectable second.

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General

MPP Endorses Maryland Delegate David Moon for State Senate

September 28th, 2016 No Comments Kate Bell
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Del. David Moon

The Marijuana Policy Project announced Wednesday that it is endorsing Del. David Moon for the Maryland Senate in District 20. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee is expected to appoint a successor to Sen. Jamie Raskin, who is running for Congress.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Delegates, David Moon has been an impassioned leader and a continuous advocate for marijuana policy reform, including acting as an important sponsor of legislation to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. While some Democratic members of the House were joining their Republican counterparts in co-sponsoring bills to recriminalize smoking in public, which would have continued the racially disparate enforcement of the criminal law against people of color, Del. Moon was trying to move Maryland’s policy forward.

For example, he introduced a bill to help victims of prohibition expunge past convictions for marijuana possession. This is especially important because African Americans in Maryland have historically been 2.9 times more likely to be arrested for possession despite very similar usage rates. Thus, Black Marylanders are more likely to be burdened with a criminal record that can derail their ability to get a job and cause other collateral consequences — an issue that was not addressed in the decriminalization bill.

Delegate Moon is as impassioned about bridge-building as he is about policy solutions. He regularly crosses the aisle to discuss key civil liberties and decriminalization issues with conservative colleagues from across the state.

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Prohibition

National Crime Data Shows Marijuana Arrests Dropping, Still Happen More Than Once a Minute

September 28th, 2016 2 Comments Morgan Fox

The FBI just released its annual Crime in the United States report, detailing national crime data for 2015. According to the report, marijuana arrests are at a two decade low. This is definitely a good sign, but even one marijuana arrest is too many, and more than one marijuana arrest occurs every minute.fbi

Huffington Post reports:

…authorities in the U.S. made 643,000 arrests for marijuana-related charges in 2015 ― or about one every 49 seconds. Charges related to the drug accounted for 5.9 percent of all arrests, and about 43.2 percent of all drug arrests. 

The number of marijuana arrests has been generally decreasing since peaking in 2007. That year, police made 872,720 total arrests related to the drug, including 775,137 for possession. Just about 574,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2015 involved possession, and arrests for the sale and manufacture of the drug reached a nearly 25-year low. Read the rest of this entry »

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Prohibition

Big Pharma Opiate Profiteer Throws Big Money Against Arizona Campaign to Regulate Marijuana

September 27th, 2016 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

While there is a long history of opposition to sensible marijuana policy reform from some big pharmaceutical companies, September saw the biggest financial donation from such a company against a legalization ballot initiative to date, and their motives couldn’t be more blatant.

According to campaign finance reports, the committee formed to oppose Prop. 205, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, received a $500,000 contribution on August 31 from Insys Therapeutics, Inc. According to a CNBC investigative piece about the Chandler-based company — titled “The pain killer: A drug company putting profits above patients” — Insys Therapeutic’s revenue is “almost entirely derived from the highly addictive opiate fentanyl,” which experts call “the most potent and dangerous opioid on the market.” Insys’s aggressive marketing and other shady business practices have triggered multiple state and federal investigations, including one conducted by the Arizona Attorney General.

The front page of Insys’s website also touts its development of “pharmaceutical cannabinoids,” which are synthetic versions of natural chemical compounds found in marijuana.

A number of major media outlets reported on the clear intent to protect profits at the expense of public health and individual freedom, but neither Insys, nor the campaign dedicated to arresting adults for using something that is safer than alcohol, have shown any sign of remorse.

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Medical Marijuana

Michigan Lawmakers Adopt Regulatory System for Medical Marijuana, Allow Extracts

September 27th, 2016 1 Comment Chris Lindsey
The Michigan Legislature passed a series of bills this month that overhaul the state’s medical marijuana program. This is the culmination of a multi-year debate on how, and whether, the state should allow and regulate medical marijuana businesses. It is a major — and controversial — milestone for patients and those who serve them. The bills now head to the governor, who is expected to sign them.
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For many years, federal and state law enforcement authorities obtained warrants, raided locations, arrested compassionate business owners, took property, and jailed individuals they said violated state law. It has been clear that Michigan’s patchwork system, in which some local communities embrace businesses that state law considers illegal, needed revision. News stories involving aggressive law enforcement tactics, particularly in rural communities in Michigan, have been far too common.
Based on similar laws in other medical marijuana states, the bills passed today represent an opportunity for businesses to get much-needed legal protections. While few business owners like the idea of being subject to more regulation and greater costs, the updates to Michigan’s program were important and to some extent inevitable.

 

In addition to providing for state-legal dispensaries, the bills will finally allow Michigan patients to use extracts and products like oils and edibles that are made from them.

MPP thanks the National Patients Rights Association and those who support it for working so hard to help guide these changes in the best direction possible

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Medical Marijuana

Chris Christie Approves PTSD As Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana

September 16th, 2016 1 Comment Kate Bell
On September 14, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed A 457, which adds post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program. Christie, who has frequently said he opposes medical marijuana, cited the large number of PTSD sufferers among military veterans as his reason for supporting the bill.cc
Thank you to all of you who contacted your legislators and Gov. Christie — and to DPA’s Compassionate Use Campaign — for making this victory possible. We at MPP are thrilled that patients with PTSD, a devastating mental health condition, will be able to seek relief from medical marijuana where conventional treatments have failed. In addition, the New Jersey Department of Health is currently considering petitions to add additional qualifying conditions to the state’s program.

This law takes effect immediately, and you can find instructions on how to register as a patient here.

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Tax and Regulate

Alaska Issues First Marijuana Business License

September 12th, 2016 No Comments Chris Lindsey
The Alaska Marijuana Control Board issued the state’s first retail business license on September 9, reaching yet another milestone in the rollout of the voter-approved program. Frozen Budz, which plans to make cannabis-infused products in Fairbanks, received Alaska’s first retail license.ak-seal
Many other applications remain under consideration, and the review process for other retail businesses continues, if slower than many expected.
In addition, despite the board’s assurances earlier this year, it has not adopted rules or considered applications for cannabis cafés. With establishments that allow on-site consumption of alcohol commonly available, adults 21 and over who choose to consume a safer product should be able to partake at a regulated establishment, whether a resident or not.
The board previously issued a limited but sensible rule enabling some retail establishments to allow on-site consumption. It is troubling that the board’s decision to clearly authorize and regulate these important businesses could be stalling. With the recently issued opinion by Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth that bring-your-own cannabis clubs are unlawful, the board should proceed with the licensed alternative — retail cafés — without further delay.

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Prohibition

Rhode Island Primary Voter Guide

September 9th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Next week on Tuesday, September 13, Rhode Island will hold its primary election across the state. You can see your sample ballot and look up your polling location by visiting the Secretary of State’s website

Regulate Rhode Islandrri recently partnered with Motif Magazine to conduct a marijuana policy survey of candidates running for a seat in the General Assembly. The candidates were then assigned a letter grade based on their responses and — in the case of incumbents — their record on marijuana policy bills.  

You can look up your district and see the results for your local candidates who responded here. The results are also included in the most recent print edition of Motif Magazine. 

It is crucial that supporters of sensible marijuana policy reform remain engaged in local politics. That is why it is important to not only vote, but also to contact your elected officials and educate them on the many reasons to support regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use. 

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Medical Marijuana Law Takes Effect

September 9th, 2016 1 Comment Chris Lindsey
September 8 marks the first day Ohio’s medical marijuana law will be in effect, bringing new protections for qualified medical marijuana patients. Under the law’s “affirmative defense,” patients will no longer be subject to criminal conviction for possessing marijuana if they meet certain requirements. However, protections are limited, and they fall short of providing access to medical cannabis in Ohio, not expected for at least a year.MPP_OMM_horizontal green
The affirmative defense provides limited, temporary protections for patients while the formal program rolls out. Among other things, it requires a signed letter from a licensed physician, including information about the patient and the medical condition treated. Importantly, the protections do not apply to cultivation or sale of marijuana. It also does not prevent patients from being cited, it only prevents a conviction. For a closer look at what an affirmative defense is and how patients can get the protections it offers, click here.
September 8 also marks the official start date for agencies to begin writing and adopting rules for medical cannabis businesses. We are watching the process carefully to ensure the system is as workable as possible for patients.

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