Medical Marijuana

Utah Patients Coalition Launches Public Hearings

July 31st, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

As required by state election law, Utah Patients Coalition (UPC) is holding eight hearings throughout the state of Utah to collect public comment on the proposed citizens’ initiative petition, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. On Wednesday, UPC held the first set of these public meetings in Salt Lake City, Lehi, and St. George.

Sharing powerful personal stories about how medical cannabis has significantly improved their quality of life, several patients made their case to a roomful of interested voters and took questions. Read more about the public forum that took place in Salt Lake City here. A complete list of these public hearings can be found here.

 

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Governor Signs Marijuana Compromise Bill

July 28th, 2017 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Friday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the compromise bill that makes changes to Question 4. While the tax rate has increased and local control has been amended slightly, the bill largely keeps the legalization law intact.

This marks the end of our legislative battle to defend Question 4. As you know, the Massachusetts House originally proposed a very problematic bill that would have repealed and replaced the law, thereby raising the tax rate far too high and eliminating entirely the right of voters to approve or reject local bans.

With your help, we sent a strong message to the Legislature to respect the will of the people and to only make minor changes. We generated over 1,000 calls to state representatives and state senators. To everyone who called, emailed, or otherwise contacted their elected officials: thank you! Your advocacy had a real impact.

The final outcome is a major improvement on the House proposal. The tax rate will only increase to 20%, and by January 2020, all local bans will require approval — until then, local governments in towns that voted “no” in 2016 can establish bans without voter approval.

It is now time for the state government to begin the work of implementing the law and establishing a regulatory system for marijuana in Massachusetts. That means providing proper funding and crafting specific regulations without delay.

We will continue to keep you updated, because we may need your help again to defend Massachusetts’ legalization law.

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Tax and Regulate

Alaska Gets Initial Approval for On-Site Consumption at Marijuana Retailers

July 27th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The regulatory body in charge of marijuana policy in Alaska has just taken steps to become the first state to allow on-site consumption at retail marijuana stores.

Alaska Dispatch News reports:

At the Alaska Marijuana Control Board’s meeting held Wednesday through Friday this week in Fairbanks, board members approved 3-2 a proposal to set up rules for on-site marijuana consumption at retail stores.

The proposal includes a draft of specific rules for everything from ventilation and location of these consumption areas to how much marijuana can be used there, and much more. Citizens will have 60 days to comment on the proposal before the draft rules come back to the board, likely at the November meeting.

In November 2015, the board voted to allow on-site consumption at marijuana stores. Alaska Dispatch News reported at the time that the amendment passed to allow such consumption would function “as a placeholder,” pending more specific rules. In February, Alaska Dispatch News reported the board abandoned a regulatory project that had been in the works since May 2016. But then, in March, the body decided it would take another stab at it.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Senate Appropriations Committee Votes to Renew Protections for Medical Marijuana

July 27th, 2017 12 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) approved an amendment in a voice vote that would continue to protect state medical marijuana programs from federal interference.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), would add a clause to the CJS budget for Fiscal Year 2018 that prevents the Dept. of Justice from using resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers that are in compliance with state law. A similar amendment was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

In 2014, Congress added a similar amendment to an omnibus spending bill that prevented the Dept. of Justice from spending any resources to target state-legal medical marijuana businesses. This amendment was subsequently renewed, but now stands to expire.

If the CJS budget is approved in the Senate, the amendment will go to a special conference committee to reach a compromise with the House. If no budget is approved by September 30, the previous amendment will be automatically renewed for another year.

MPP’s Don Murphy made the following statement:

“More than half the states have taken a stand and said they want their seriously ill residents to have safe and reliable access to medical marijuana, and today the Senate Appropriations Committee listened. What was expected to be a very successful vote passed on an overwhelming voice vote, while opposition to the Leahy amendment was literally a whimper. That sound we heard in the Senate was the sound of a waving white flag as the federal war on medical marijuana patients and providers winds down.”

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Launches Practitioner Registration

July 27th, 2017 1 Comment Becky Dansky

On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced important steps forward for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program — practitioners can now register online, and the department approved two options for physician training.

Under Act 16, a doctor can only issue a certification for medical marijuana after registering with the Department of Health. The law also requires the physician complete a four-hour training course. The department has approved the first two providers of training courses, The Answer Page Inc. and Extra Step Assurance LLC.

For medical marijuana programs to work, doctors need to participate. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, talk to your doctor, and take a copy of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Law: A Guide for Doctors and Patients with you for the conversation. Other materials are also available on MPP’s Pennsylvania page and our medical marijuana page.

It is unclear at this time when the department will begin accepting applications and issuing identification cards for patients and caregivers. Earlier in the summer, the department announced the first round of business permits, including 12 grower/processor permits and 27 dispensary permits, which may each have up to three locations. It will take some time for the businesses to open and begin dispensing cannabis, but registered patients may have access as soon as early 2018.

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Prohibition

Another Pennsylvania City Decriminalizes Possession

July 21st, 2017 2 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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Tax and Regulate

Uruguay Marijuana Sales Begin This Week

July 19th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

Legal adult marijuana sales began in Uruguay on Wednesday, making it the first country in the world to establish a regulated market for the product. This follows previous phases of legalization permitting growers’ clubs and home cultivation.

Official sales have been long awaited following a legalization proposal put forward by former President José Mujica in 2012. This was given final approval by Parliament in December 2013 — legally regulating the production, distribution, and sale of marijuana — but has taken longer than expected to implement following a presidential election in 2015 and delays in funding for the regulatory authority. Read the rest of this entry »

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Governor Signs Decriminalization Bill

July 19th, 2017 2 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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