Prohibition

Another Pennsylvania City Decriminalizes Possession

July 21st, 2017 No Comments Becky Dansky

Early this week in Pennsylvania, the York City Council voted to make the possession of small amounts of marijuana a summary offense with a maximum fine of $100 and no jail time. Previously, it was a criminal misdemeanor that carried up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

Imprisoning individuals for possessing small amounts of a substance that is safer than alcohol wastes valuable resources and can lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses.

York joins Pennsylvania’s three largest cities — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg — and twenty-two states and the District of Columbia, which have stopped jailing individuals for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Across the state, towns and cities are considering similar commonsense policies. The time has come for statewide decriminalization.

To get involved locally, contact the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. You can find some background materials on decriminalization here.

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Governor Signs Decriminalization Bill

July 19th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

Yesterday afternoon, with a stroke of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s pen, the “Live Free or Die” state took a big step toward living up to its motto on marijuana policy. HB 640 is now officially on the books and will take effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state, and the final New England state, to decriminalize marijuana possession. You can read a summary of the new law here.

Unfortunately, Gov. Sununu also decided to sign HB 215, which will create a study commission that we fear will be one-sided. However, we understand the governor’s reluctance to veto a study commission, so we are not going to be too critical of his decision.

The decriminalization victory would not have been possible without the hard work of our many dedicated allies. In particular, we’d like to thank attorney Paul Twomey, the ACLU-NH, the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, and HB 640 sponsor Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) for their tireless efforts in support of sensible marijuana policy reforms.

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Medical Marijuana

Texas Special Legislative Session Begins, Med. Marijuana Bill Introduced

July 18th, 2017 2 Comments Heather Fazio

Texas legislators are back in Austin for another round of policy considerations, and Rep. Eddie Lucio III has introduced HB 85, a medical cannabis improvement bill. This proposal would allow some patients to access whole plant cannabis, including those with terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis, autism, or Parkinson’s Disease.

This bill is more restrictive than the bill introduced during the regular session, but it would still be a major step forward for many seriously ill patients. Currently, the Compassionate Use Program only allows those with intractable epilepsy access to low-THC cannabis. Texas cannabis businesses are expected to be operational by the end of the year.

This will be a very politically charged special session, established to address a specific list of issues that Gov. Greg Abbott and other Texas conservatives consider priorities.

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Lawmakers Reach Compromise on Marijuana Regulation

July 18th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

After weeks of persistent advocacy from Massachusetts residents, the Senate and House have reached a compromise that largely respects the will of the people. The House’s flawed “repeal and replace” bill would have made disastrous changes to the law voters approved, and we are relieved that the Legislature has agreed to a more sensible plan for implementing legalization.

The compromise bill’s most significant changes relate to local control and taxes. The legislation adjusts the local control policy, allowing local government officials in towns that voted “no” on the 2016 ballot initiative to ban marijuana businesses until December 2019. For towns that voted “yes” in 2016, any bans must be placed on a local ballot for voters to approve. The maximum tax rate — which depends on whether towns adopt optional local taxes — will increase from 12% to 20%. Under the bill, the state tax will be 17%, and the local option will be 3%.

MPP and our allies successfully led the 2016 campaign to legalize and regulate marijuana in Massachusetts. After our historic victory in November, it was concerning to see some members of the House propose drastic changes to the initiative approved by the voters. But thanks to the work of thousands of dedicated supporters across the Commonwealth, the law approved by voters will remain largely intact.

The bill isn’t perfect, and we preferred the original language of the ballot initiative. However, given how problematic the House bill was, we are satisfied with the final compromise.

We generated over 1,000 calls to state legislators urging them to reject the House’s “repeal and replace” bill. To everyone who made a call, thank you!

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Medical Marijuana

Delaware Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Improvement Bill

July 13th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

On Wednesday, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed SB 24 into law. Now, patients in the First State suffering from PTSD will no longer need to visit a psychiatrist in order to obtain a certification for medical cannabis. They can instead get their certifications signed by any physician. The change to the program takes effect immediately.

The bill — known as the Bravery Bill — was sponsored by Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, who is also sponsoring Delaware’s adult use cannabis bill, HB 110. An earlier version of SB 24 would have also added anxiety disorders to the program, but that language was removed from the final bill.

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Medical Marijuana

West Virginia Medical Marijuana Bill Takes Effect, but No Access for Most Patients Until 2019

July 7th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

The West Virginia medical cannabis bill officially took effect on Wednesday. Unfortunately, however, most or all patients will not be able to benefit from the law until July 1, 2019, unless something changes.

The law would allow the regulatory agency to make agreements with other states to allow terminally ill cancer patients to buy medical cannabis in another state, but it is not clear yet if that will happen.

For details on how the law will work, including who can qualify for the program, check out our summary.

On a positive note, the members of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board were announced last week, and the first meetings are expected to be scheduled soon. The Advisory Board is important because it will provide an opportunity to discuss improvements to the policy.

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Accepting Petitions to Add Qualifying Conditions

July 7th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Minnesota medical cannabis program is now accepting petitions to add qualifying conditions. Once again, MPP is teaming up with local advocate group Sensible Minnesota to petition to expand the program.

Post-traumatic stress disorder — which was added as a result of last year’s petition process — qualifies starting on Aug. 1, and the year before we were successful in efforts to add intractable pain. This year we are looking at adding several new conditions. They are: nausea, autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease, and chronic pain.

If you suffer from one of these conditions, are the guardian of someone who does, or if you are a health care professional who treats one of these conditions, we want to hear from you! Please fill out this form to let us know who you are, what condition is relevant to you, and to share your story. Sensible Minnesota or MPP Foundation will be submitting letters of support along with the petitions.

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Medical Marijuana

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Applications Now Open for Patients and Caregivers

July 7th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Patients and caregivers can begin enrolling in Arkansas’ medical marijuana program now, although cards will not be available for some time.

If you are a qualifying patient, you can go to the Arkansas Department of Health website and enroll online, or you can mail in your application. Patients must submit a written certification form filled out by a physician, a photocopy of their Arkansas state-issued ID, and a nonrefundable $50 application fee. Caregivers must also undergo a $34 criminal history check. Note that due to an amendment to the program by the Legislature, members of the Arkansas National Guard and the U.S. military are not permitted to enroll in the program as either patients or caregivers.

While patients can apply for program enrollment now, their ID cards will not be issued until 30 days before medical cannabis actually becomes available from dispensaries for purchase. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission estimates that dispensaries should be open by the end of the year or early 2018. You can learn more about the dispensary application process here.

For more information on the state’s program, please check out MPP’s full summary of the law. You can also access the Department of Health’s super-helpful FAQ here.

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Research

Delaware Legislature Enacts Cannabis Regulation Task Force

July 7th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Early Saturday morning, as the 2017 Legislative session came to a close, the Delaware General Assembly passed a resolution establishing a task force to discuss how to tax and regulate cannabis in the First State. While we’d hoped to end marijuana prohibition outright this year in Delaware, this is an important step forward.

The task force will be composed of agency heads, lawmakers, advocates, and other stakeholders. Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and Rep. Helene Keeley, sponsors of the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, will co-chair the committee.

This task force is good news for Delawareans who have worked tirelessly for years on this issue, and success is closer than ever. This fall, policymakers will take a serious look at what a post-prohibition Delaware will look like. The task force will issue a report to the Legislature in January 2018. This leaves plenty of time for lawmakers to vote on replacing marijuana prohibition with sensible regulation.

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Tax and Regulate

Legal Adults Sales Begin in Nevada

July 2nd, 2017 5 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Legal adult marijuana sales began in Nevada on Saturday, making it the fifth state in the nation to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. PT, adults 21 and older with a valid ID will be able to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana-infused edibles or concentrates from licensed marijuana retail outlets. Retail marijuana sales will be subject to a 10 percent sales tax, which state officials estimate will generate more than $60 million in the first two years.

Question 2 required the state to initiate adult sales by January 1, 2018, but the Nevada Tax Commission adopted temporary regulations allowing sales to begin six months earlier through existing licensed medical marijuana outlets. Marijuana possession has been legal for adults 21 and older since Question 2 took effect on January 1, 2017.

MPP’s Mason Tvert made the following statement in a press release:

“Legal marijuana sales in Nevada are going to accelerate growth in public support for ending marijuana prohibition,” Tvert said. “Tens of millions of visitors per year from all over the U.S. and around the world will see firsthand that regulating marijuana works. What happens in Vegas will stay in Vegas, but what is learned about marijuana in Vegas will be shared with everyone back home.”

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