Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Canada legalizes marijuana!

June 20th, 2018 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

Marijuana prohibition is history in Canada. Last night, after months of negotiations, Parliament approved a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults. After one formality — Royal Assent — Canada will become the second nation to end marijuana prohibition and the first G7 country to do so.

Regulations vary by province, but most set age limits at 18 or 19 to match the legal age for alcohol and tobacco in Canada. Once the law takes effect, adults can possess up to 30 grams and grow up to four plants in their homes. Read more about this historic legislation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is expected to move quickly to implement the new policy, and retail marijuana stores will soon be opening just north of our border.

And that is all the more reason for our Congress to enact the STATES Act, which would allow American states to decide their own marijuana laws without federal interference.

This is an important day to acknowledge. After decades of harm caused by marijuana prohibition laws, nations around the world are beginning to come to their senses. Canadians should be proud that their country is leading the way among major governments.

Let’s not fall too far behind — call your members of Congress today. And please consider donating to MPP to support our efforts.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

NY Health Dept. will expand medical program; looks favorably toward adult use

June 20th, 2018 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

The Health Commissioner of New York, Howard Zucker, recently announced that a long-awaited study by the Cuomo administration will recommend the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adult use. The study is believed to be at least partly in response to gubernatorial primary candidate Cynthia Nixon’s strong support of marijuana legalization.

Mr. Zucker also announced that the Health Department will issue regulations to allow patients who have been prescribed opioids to qualify for the state’s medical marijuana program. Not all patients can qualify under the existing chronic pain provision, since opioids may also be prescribed for severe but short-term pain, such as after surgery. The New York Senate also passed a bill to do the same, as well as to allow patients with opioid use disorder to qualify.

While the state’s legislative session is ending soon, New York is moving closer to ending marijuana prohibition!

In other news, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio, under increasing pressure to address the racial disparity in low-level marijuana arrests, announced a new policy designed to reduce arrests and give more tickets instead. Unfortunately, the policy, which will take effect September 1, has so many exceptions its impact may be limited.

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Medical Marijuana

California: Donated medical cannabis shouldn’t be taxed

June 20th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

A bill that could restore the ability to provide free, untaxed cannabis to low- or no-income patients is now being considered in the California State Assembly. SB 829 would allow taxes to be waived for medical cannabis that is donated, free of charge, for medical cannabis patients. This is a welcome improvement for patients with limited means.

It is no surprise that seriously ill patients can be faced with little or no income. Combine that with the fact that medical insurance providers don’t cover medical cannabis, and it can create a serious financial burden on medical marijuana patients. Today in California, even cannabis that is donated free of charge must be taxed an excise tax. This is unfair to those in need. SB 829 aims to provide relief. For a look at the latest bill text, click here.

Under the bill, both cultivators and retail dispensaries would be excused from the tax burden on cannabis that is donated to those who qualify. It’s a simple change but an important one.

If you are a California resident and agree patients need additional relief, please take a moment to ask your Assemblymembers to vote yes on SB 829 when it is before them for a vote. It’s a common-sense step for some of California’s most vulnerable residents.

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Medical Marijuana

Help Oklahoma become the next state to legalize medical marijuana

June 18th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Later in June, Oklahomans will head to the polls and decide whether patients with serious health conditions should be allowed to safely access medical marijuana. If you know anyone living in Oklahoma who supports sensible marijuana policies, make sure they go vote on June 26.

The grassroots group backing the initiative, Yes on 788, is doing an excellent job with a limited budget, and polls look encouraging. Roughly 60% of Oklahomans say they favor the initiative. But opponents are misleading voters about what the initiative would do, and this could be a close one.

If you’re able to make a contribution to help Oklahoma patients access medical marijuana, please do so.

Tens of thousands of patients in Oklahoma would see their lives and well-being improve if voters pass State Question 788. No family should have to watch a loved one suffer from a debilitating medical condition while a safe and effective treatment is available.

There’s a lot at stake. Let’s cheer on Oklahoma and support their effort to provide compassion and relief to patients who need it.

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Prohibition

Call your members of Congress about the STATES Act

June 13th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

In case you missed it, last week Sens. Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren introduced bipartisan legislation to end the federal war on marijuana and protect states that establish their own marijuana laws. There’s huge momentum behind this important bill.

Give your senators and representative in Congress a call right now and urge them to back the STATES Act.

Leaving marijuana policy to the states is a popular position among both Republicans and Democrats. But we have to put pressure on Congress to act.

Share this with other supporters of sensible marijuana policy and ask them to call their members of Congress, too.

Passage of the STATES Act would be a game changer. Let’s light up those phone lines.

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Medical Marijuana

South Carolina: 82% of Dems vote to support medical marijuana patients

June 13th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Voters using the Democratic ballot for yesterday’s South Carolina’s primary voted in support of medical marijuana by a whopping vote of 82-18%. This is an incredibly strong showing, and clearly voters are ready for this change. No doubt lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are taking notice.

Several candidates who support medical marijuana also did well. Congressional GOP candidate Katie Arrington, who supported this year’s medical cannabis bill as a House member, won her party’s primary with 51% of the vote, defeating incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford. Meanwhile, Democrat James Smith, a strong advocate for patients while serving in the House, won the primary contest for Democratic gubernatorial candidate with 62% of the vote.

In the state House races, supportive Republican lawmaker Rep. Jonathan Hill prevailed over his challenger. And challenger and supporter William Bailey won his contest against incumbent Rep. Greg Duckworth. On the Democrat side of the aisle, incumbent Reps. Leon Howard, Jerry Govan, Jr., and Cezar McKnight each prevailed against challengers.

Medical cannabis did well yesterday, as did many candidates who are supportive of change. For comprehensive election results, click here.

If you are a South Carolina resident, be sure to ask your lawmakers in the House and Senate to support medical cannabis in South Carolina!

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Delaware marijuana bills on the move

June 13th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

In the past 24 hours, there have been two significant advances toward modernizing Delaware’s marijuana laws. Yesterday, Rep. Helene Keeley put forth amendments to her marijuana legalization and regulation bill, HB 110, which address concerns and reduce the number of votes needed for passage. Then, this morning, the Senate unanimously approved a limited but important marijuana expungement bill!

Let them know it’s past time to end Delaware’s failed experiment with marijuana prohibition. Our software makes the process quick and easy. Just type in your contact info and your lawmakers’ names and phone numbers will appear — one at a time — along with some suggested talking points.

If you are a Delaware resident, call your lawmakers today, and urge them to support HB 110.

With the legislative session ending on June 30, there’s no time to waste. So, make a couple of calls to help make history! Then, spread the word on social media or by email, to ask other thoughtful Delawareans to speak out for sensible marijuana policies.

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Medical Marijuana

Arkansas Supreme Court hears arguments over the rollout of state medical marijuana program

June 8th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

In March, an unsuccessful applicant sued the state, claiming that the Medical Marijuana Commission’s scoring process was flawed and that two of the commission’s members had conflicts of interest. The judge sided with the unsuccessful applicant, and the state’s rollout of the medical marijuana program was put on pause.

Yesterday, the Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a dispute over Arkansas’ medical marijuana program. The program has been stalled since lawsuits were filed over how licenses were awarded. We learned that one commissioner was even offered a bribe from a company seeking a cultivation license.

No matter who wins this case, it’s Arkansas patients who are losing out. We hope that these legal matters will be concluded in a timely matter so that patients may have access to the medicine they need.

In other disappointing news, the Little Rock Board of Directors voted down a proposal last Tuesday to make marijuana possession the lowest enforcement priority for law enforcement.

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Tax and Regulate

Canada’s Parliament Votes to End Marijuana Prohibition

June 7th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Canada moved another step closer to ending its prohibition of marijuana on Thursday when the Senate approved legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Bill C-45 will now head back to the House of Commons, which has already approved a previous version.

Once approved in the House, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is expected to move quickly to implement the legislation, with legal adult sales beginning as soon as August. Canada will be just the second country — and the first G7 nation — to legalize marijuana for adults at the national level. The first was Uruguay, where legislation was signed into law in December 2013 and a limited number of pharmacies began selling marijuana to adults in July 2017.

“Canada is demonstrating extraordinary leadership on marijuana policy,” said Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It is setting an example not only for the U.S., where reform is already progressing at the federal level, but for countries around the world where there has been little to no debate on the subject.”

The Canadian legislation creates an overarching national regulatory framework and enables each province to establish its own system of licensing and regulating marijuana businesses. Adults will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, and all products will be sold in plain packaging with clearly marked labels. Home cultivation is allowed at the federal level, but it can be banned at the provincial level.

“This legislation will allow adults in Canada to start purchasing marijuana safely and legally from licensed businesses rather than tracking it down through illegal and potentially dangerous channels,” Tvert said. “Products will be tested, packaged, and labeled to ensure they are not contaminated and that consumers know what they’re getting. This newly regulated market will also create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue.”

Nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, and eight of those laws include systems for regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana.

“Marijuana prohibition is a failed U.S. policy experiment that was replicated by countries around the world,” Tvert said. “It has caused far more problems than it has solved, and governments would be wise to follow Canada’s example by revisiting their marijuana policies and exploring alternatives.”

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Prohibition

Senators introduce bipartisan bill to protect state marijuana laws

June 7th, 2018 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Earlier today, Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced bipartisan legislation to end the federal government’s war on marijuana and protect states’ rights to enact their own marijuana policies.

Call your members of Congress RIGHT NOW and urge them to support this landmark bill.

The STATES Act is the most significant piece of marijuana-related legislation ever introduced in Congress. With its bipartisan backing in the Senate, it symbolically signals the eventual end of marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

This legislation reflects the position the president took on marijuana policy during his campaign, and it comes shortly on the heels of the positive comments he made to Sen. Gardner. The president has a unique opportunity to get behind historic legislation that enjoys solid support on both sides of the political spectrum. Read more about the bill.

Members of both parties agree it’s time for the federal government to let states set their own policies for marijuana. Please ask your lawmakers to back this important legislation.

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