Tax and Regulate

Maryland 2019 Legalization Lobby Day less than one week away

We are now less than one week away from our lobby day event! The time is now to pressure the General Assembly to pass legislation to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older. If you haven't already, be sure to register today, and join us in Annapolis.

What: Maryland 2019 Cannabis Legalization Lobby Day
When: Tuesday, February 5 (7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
Where: House Building Room 170, Annapolis, Maryland
Register here.

Prior to meeting with your elected officials, we will provide you with an information package including appointment times and locations and suggested talking points.

It is important your lawmakers hear from as many constituents as possible. Help us send a strong message to the General Assembly to end prohibition by joining us in solidarity. Also be sure to share this message — or the Facebook event — with your friends and family in Maryland.

See you in Annapolis next week! Together, we can end prohibition.

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Prohibition

Baltimore City State's Attorney will no longer prosecute marijuana possession!

If you live in Maryland, contact your legislators today and encourage them to pass a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana in 2019!

Today, Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that her office would no longer prosecute marijuana possession, regardless of the amount. In Baltimore City, arrests for marijuana possession — almost entirely and disproportionately African American Baltimoreans — have continued even post-decriminalization in 2014.

It is time for the rest of the state of Maryland to follow the lead of State's Attorney Mosby and consider a safer and more just approach to marijuana.

Ask your lawmakers to support ending marijuana prohibition for adults in 2019 and ensure that those harmed by prohibition in the past are able to clear their records.

The time is now for Marylanders to pressure the General Assembly to end marijuana prohibition in the state of Maryland for adults 21 and older, with provisions to expunge records.

Please contact your lawmakers today, and join us in Annapolis February 5 for our Maryland 2019 Cannabis Legalization Lobby Day. Then, forward this message to your networks in Maryland. Together, we can end prohibition!

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Tax and Regulate

Announcing Maryland 2019 Cannabis Legalization Lobby Day

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, February 5 and register today!

Maryland's 2019 legislative session is underway and discussion of legalizing adult-use cannabis has already begun. Please join the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition's lobby day event to demonstrate that Marylanders want the General Assembly to pass legislation to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older this year.

What: Maryland 2019 Cannabis Legalization Lobby Day
When: Tuesday, February 5, 2019 (7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
Where: House Building, Room 170, Annapolis, Maryland
Register here.

Prior to meeting your elected officials, we will provide you with an information package including appointment times and locations and suggested talking points.

It is important your lawmakers hear from as many constituents as possible. Help us send a strong message to the General Assembly to end prohibition in 2019 by joining us in solidarity, and sharing this message — or the Facebook event — with your family and friends in Maryland.

We look forward to seeing you February 5. Together, we can end prohibition in 2019.

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Medical Marijuana

Maryland’s Medical Marijuana Commission Proposes $125,000 in Grower Fees

Managing a medical marijuana operation could potentially cost each grower more than $125,000 a year in fees, a sum so exorbitant some officials believe it may affect small and newly developing marijuana businesses.

According to The Baltimore Sun, Maryland’s medical marijuana commission has proposed for such a fee to be imposed on each of the 15 potential growers envisaged for the state’s new program. The commission has also proposed a yearly $40,000 charge for dispensaries. These steep license fees, on top of the estimated $6,000 in application fees, would finance the state’s incipient medical marijuana program.

[caption id="attachment_8108" align="alignright" width="214"] Eric E. Sterling[/caption]

“The volume of these fees, for probably many of us, takes our breath away,” commissioner Eric E. Sterling said at a meeting in Annapolis Tuesday. “It is simply a reflection that the General Assembly has put the operation of this on the growers and the dispensaries, and ultimately upon the patients,” he said. “There is no taxpayer money, according to the General Assembly, that is going to finance this.”

The commission plans to meet again October 16, when it is anticipated to take its final vote on the proposed regulations. The decision will be passed on to state health secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein for review and then later go to a panel of state lawmakers for final approval.

Following Tuesday’s meeting to push the fees among draft proposals, citizens expressed concern.

“The number of licenses they’re issuing seems to be incongruent with their perceived demand,” stated Attorney John A. Pica, who represents a coalition that wants to open a growing and dispensing operation in Baltimore. “With high overhead costs and low demand, growers might be forced to increase medical marijuana prices to make ends meet, which would drive patients to the black market. You have to be careful that the price isn’t too high, or you invite the same scenario you had in prohibition,” he said.

The cost to operate a cultivating or dispensing business in Maryland is one of the last major issues the medical marijuana commission must decide on, following the state’s 2013 law that made medical marijuana legal. The Marijuana Policy Project plans to host a “Maryland Canna-Business Seminar” in Bethesda October 8 for entrepreneurs to learn about how to launch a marijuana business. In addition to educating would-be marijuana entrepreneurs, MPP will be urging the commission to reduce fees and otherwise improve draft regulations.

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Medical Marijuana||Prohibition

Maryland Becomes 21st Medical Marijuana State, and 18th to Decriminalize

Yesterday morning, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law both the medical marijuana bill and the decriminalization bill, making Maryland the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana program, and the 18th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The medical marijuana bill expands a program that, while established last year, was unable to get off the ground. The previous law relied on the participation of teaching hospitals, which understandably did not want to be involved with a substance that is still federally illegal. The law signed today will allow registered cultivators to grow medical marijuana and up to 15 licensed cultivators to provide the medicine to patients and dispensaries. This new law will finally provide real access to seriously ill Marylanders.

The decriminalization law removes the criminal penalties for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, and replaces them with a civil fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program. The measure will officially go into effect on October 1.

This is incredible progress, but our work is not done yet. A September 2013 poll found that 53% of Marylanders support legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and up, and taxing and regulating it like alcohol.

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Prohibition

Maryland House Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana in Surprise Turnaround

On Saturday, the Maryland House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved an amended version of the decriminalization bill. In a 78-55 vote, the House approved imposing civil fines — not criminal penalties and possible jail time — on those possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence, before heading to Gov. Martin O’Malley. Gov. O’Malley has previously said he’s “not much in favor” of decriminalization.

[caption id="attachment_7503" align="alignright" width="146"]keiffer.mitchell Del. Keiffer Mitchell[/caption]

Saturday's vote was the product of lots of hard work from MPP and our allies, both in the legislature and outside of it. Just a few days ago, the House Judiciary Committee gutted the decriminalization bill and replaced it with a task force that wouldn’t report back for two years. Thanks to the leadership from the Legislative Black Caucus and Del. Keiffer Mitchell, we were able to turn the tide. Many thanks to all of our supporters who emailed and called their delegates.

But our work on this long overdue reform is not done. Don’t forget to make sure you’re plugged in to our efforts by liking the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland on Facebook and following the coalition on Twitter.

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Prohibition

Maryland Police Chief Cites Fake News Report in Senate Hearing

At a Maryland State Senate hearing to discuss decriminalizing marijuana Tuesday, a high-ranking law enforcement official betrayed his total ignorance about marijuana when he claimed that decriminalization would cause a slew of overdoses throughout the state.

From the Capital Gazette:

"The first day of legalization, that's when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana," [Annapolis Police Chief Michael] Pristoop said in testimony at Tuesday's Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. "I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths."

That information is straight from the Daily Currant, a well-known satirical news site, which claimed that Colorado hospitals were overwhelmed with emergency cases caused by marijuana use.

[caption id="attachment_7384" align="alignright" width="203"]chief2onbikeww Chief Michael Pristoop[/caption]

Apparently Chief Pristoop didn't know that marijuana was already being used widely in Colorado, just like in every other state, and that it is impossible to die from a marijuana overdose.

Maybe Pristoop was truly ignorant of these facts, in which case he probably shouldn't be testifying in support of continuing Maryland's failed marijuana prohibition. Or maybe, like law enforcement bosses in Minnesota and around the country, he's just worried about his budget.

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Tax and Regulate

Marylanders Ready to Tax and Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

new poll jointly commissioned by MPP and the ACLU of Maryland shows that a majority of Marylanders support legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol! If you live in Maryland, please let your legislators know that you are among the 53% of voters who believe adults should be allowed to use a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol.

In 2014, representatives in AnnapolisMaryland flag will be considering several bills that propose a more sensible approach to marijuana policies. Voters are fully behind all of these reforms. In addition to showing majority support for making marijuana legal, our poll also found that 68% of Marylanders support a civil penalty for the simple possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. This is up 11 percentage points since our poll just two years ago!

Replacing jail time with a fine — or no penalty — would free up police, prosecutor, and court resources to focus on serious crimes. In 2011, there were 24,298 arrests in Maryland for marijuana, 90% of which were for mere possession! Legislators need to know what their constituents know – that is time to stop arresting adults for the possession of a substance that about half of all Americans have used.

 

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