MPP co-founder, former executive director and recent director of strategic development Rob Kampia has departed MPP and its board. This decision was the result of a deliberative process that lasted several weeks. Kampia plans to launch a cannabis policy reform consulting firm in the near future.
Research, Tax and Regulate
By unanimous vote, the Cook County, Illinois, Board of Commissioners approved placing a question about legalizing marijuana on the countyâ€™s March 20, 2018 ballot. Voters who live in the county will see the following question on their primary ballot:
â€œShall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?
Like voters across the state, Cook County voters appear to strongly support this sensible change. A March poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University found that 66% of voters in Illinois support a regulatory approach to cannabis control.
Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey put forth the measure, noting the obvious revenue boost cannabis taxation would bring to the county. But he said his real intent in supporting legalization is to end the disproportionate effect prohibition has had on communities of color.
In recent weeks, legislative leaders and Gov. Phil Scott have reaffirmed that the legalization bill, H. 511, is expected to pass in early January. If that happens, marijuana possession and limited cultivation will become legal for adults 21 and older on July 1, 2018.
Despite these reassurances, we know that the vote will be close in the House of Representatives, so we are still fighting to earn every vote we can get. Please take a moment to call or email your representatives and urge them to support passage of H. 511.
Earlier this year, the Vermont became the first state to pass a legalization measure through its legislature. Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by Gov. Scott, who opted to create a study commission to examine the issue. If the current measure becomes law, it will be the only legalization bill not passed through a voter initiative.
Tax and Regulate
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has begun its public policy discussion for the retail marijuana regulations to implement Question 4. While we will address a few items during the upcoming public hearings, the first few days have generally shown encouraging results! The commission has looked at a variety of issues around marijuana business licensing and has made a few key determinations already:
- Businesses that derive more than 50% of revenue from marijuana may apply for a social consumption license, which would allow on-site consumption of marijuana. Other businesses that derive less than 50% of their revenue from cannabis sales may apply for a mixed-use license and may only sell marijuana in conjunction with another service, such as a restaurant, spa, movie theater, or yoga studio.
- The regulations will give priority review to business license applicants who have lived in areas disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and who hire employees that live in areas of disproportionate impact. This change will help the communities that have been most affected by the racial disparity in enforcement of marijuana prohibition.
- Applicants will receive priority for hiring people with prior drug convictions.
These decisions show the Cannabis Control Commissionâ€™s willingness to address the problems created by marijuana prohibition and the racial disparity in its enforcement, and we applaud their willingness to craft a fair and effective regulatory scheme. The commission will continue looking at draft regulations through next week, at which point the rules will be open for public comment. The final regulations are slated for March of next year.
Marijuana policy reform is on the move in Texas thanks to advocates throughout the state. Trained individuals sharing their experiences with lawmakers have brought about unprecedented progress at the Texas Capitol. Letâ€™s keep up the momentum!
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy and MPP are hosting a series of events throughout the state to empower individuals who want to effectively advocate for sensible marijuana policies in Texas. Weâ€™ll be visiting a city near you â€” register now to secure your seat.
These hands-on workshops will provide an opportunity to:
– review the political process and learn how you fit in;
– identify effective arguments for discussing marijuana law reform; and
– craft your personal message to lawmakers.
Once youâ€™ve registered, please share this email with others who are interested in advancing liberty by reforming Texasâ€™ unreasonable marijuana laws. You can also follow the workshop seriesâ€™ live updates on our event page.
Medical Marijuana, Prohibition
On Thursday, Congress reached a deal that would continue current government spending for another two weeks while they work toward reaching a final deal on next year’s spending budget. This means that the amendment to the current budget, which prevents the Department of Justice from interfering in state medical marijuana programs, will remain in place for now.
In September, the amendment that would continue these protections for patients and providers who are in compliance with state law were included in the Senate version of the budget, but the House Rules Committee prevented the House from voting on it. Now, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees must decide if they will include this language.
Marijuana policy advocates were increasingly concerned at the end of this week. If the amendment had not been included in the budget, or if this deal had not been reached and the government shut down, it would have allowed Jeff Sessions to direct the Department of Justice to begin targeting state-legal medical marijuana programs for the first time since 2014. Sessions has been trying to get rid of these protections for months, and he sent a letter to Congress in May urging them to strip the amendment from the spending bill.
The new deadline is now December 22. Please contact your members of Congress, and urge them to protect state medical marijuana programs.
Starting in July 2018, Minnesotans diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and autism spectrum disorders will qualify for medical marijuana. Congratulations to all the patients, families, and health care providers whose personal stories and expertise convinced regulators to expand the program.
Here’s the complete list of conditions that currently qualify for medical marijuana in Minnesota:
- Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of
- multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year
- Intractable pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
On Friday, Dallas â€” Texasâ€™ third largest city â€” implemented a policy that instructs police officers to issue citations and a summons to appear in court, rather than arresting those found in possession of marijuana. This new policy will spare people an initial trip to jail, which is a step in the right direction. However, individuals still face all the same criminal penalties, including up to six months in jail, up to $2,000 in fines, and a lasting criminal record.
In Texas, a criminal record carries the following collateral consequences:
-Hindered access to employment
-Diminished educational opportunities
-Impeded housing options
-Jeopardized parental rights
-Suspended drivers license (six months)
-Obstructed right to self defense/ license to carry (five years)
To see meaningful changes to marijuana laws in Texas, we must change the unreasonable statewide policies that allow for such harsh penalties.
If you are a Texas resident, please contact your legislators now in support of more reasonable penalties for marijuana possession.
Maryland dispensaries are finally beginning to sell medical cannabis today, and more plan to do so by the end of next week according to media reports. Marylandâ€™s rollout of the medical program has been one of the slowest in the country, so we are very glad to see it finally getting off the ground!
Unfortunately, prices are expected to be high, but hopefully they will decrease as more cannabis becomes available. Some dispensaries are using pre-registration or are limiting the amount patients can purchase to try and stretch the available supply. So far, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has licensed 14 out of 15 growers, 12 out of 15 processors, and 10 out of 104 dispensaries. The licensed dispensariesâ€™ locations are listed on the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commissionâ€™s website.
Disappointingly, local opposition has delayed some dispensaries. Despite concerns about crime increasing around dispensaries, a recent study showed that the opposite is true â€” crime increased when the dispensaries were forced to close.
MPP congratulates all of the advocates, patients, lawmakers, regulators, business owners, and individuals who helped make this moment possible, and we will keep fighting to ensure that Maryland patients have the access they need.