Starting today, a new chapter begins. Massachusetts is now the seventh state where adults 21 and older can legally purchase marijuana products from regulated businesses.
All over the country, we’re seeing the benefits of treating marijuana similarly to alcohol. In states like Colorado and Washington, marijuana arrest rates have plummeted. New tax revenue is bolstering schools and local communities. Law enforcement agencies are solving serious crimes like assault and burglary more quickly. Massachusetts made the right decision in 2016, and it is only just beginning to reap the rewards.
As we celebrate this milestone in Massachusetts, let’s resolve to make 2019 another year that leads to historic reform. With record popular support, and newly elected governors and lawmakers who support legalization, we have the opportunity to pass laws in several states that lack the ballot initiative process. But, there’s a lot of work to do to turn that popular support into new laws. Your contribution ensures we can continue changing laws across the country.
Another election, and another historic night for marijuana reform.
Michigan has passed legalization! MPP played a central role in this campaign from start to finish. From coordinating the initiative drafting to overseeing the production of TV ads, MPP staffers worked alongside a excellent campaign team for two years to make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to adopt legalization. This is a huge win that will maintain our momentum in Washington, D.C. to pass a landmark federal reform bill through Congress in the near future.
Utah passed medical marijuana! MPP led the drafting process and played an important supporting role throughout the campaign. We are so proud of the Utah Patients Coalition team on this historic win that will end the heartless policy of criminalizing patients. If we can pass medical marijuana in Utah, then we can pass it in any state in the country…and we will.
In Missouri, voters approved medical marijuana, and they chose the best of the three possible initiatives. We congratulate our allies in the marijuana reform movement for this important win that will help patients access the medicine they need.
Sadly, North Dakota did not pass its legalization initiative. In such a conservative state, it was always an uphill battle. The proponents ran a strong campaign, but in a midterm year, the electorate was always going to be a challenge. North Dakota passed medical marijuana in 2016. It’s only a matter of time before the state adopts legalization, either via ballot initiative or legislative action.
As a movement, we won three out of four states. And for MPP, we’ve now played a leading role in seven of the 10 states that have legalized marijuana for adults (Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, and Michigan).
We couldn’t do this work without the support of voters, allies, activists, and donors. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who made these crucial victories last night possible.
In other great news, voters elected at least seven governors who support ending marijuana prohibition — Ned Lamont in Connecticut, JB Pritzker in Illinois, Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Tim Walz in Minnesota, Gavin Newsom in California, Jared Polis in Colorado, and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan. For more details, check out our elections page.
The state’s choice of governor will likely have a huge impact on state cannabis policy
Vote counting officially begins today, October 22, for the upcoming general election, which takes place on November 6. Many voters received ballots over the last several days by mail. The race for governor includes noted cannabis policy champion Congressman Jared Polis, whom MPP rates with an A+ grade.
Current Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is term-limited and must step down, and between the major party candidates, Jared Polis (D) has the clear advantage when it comes for support for good cannabis policy. He is the only candidate who supported the legalization initiative in 2012 and has been a strong advocate for improving federal law as Congressman for U.S. House District 2. Among other achievements in Congress, he started the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
By contrast, current State Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R) offers only limited support at best for cannabis policy reform. He voiced support for stricter regulations for medical marijuana during a recent public forum and referred to Polis’ stance as a “radical extreme plan.” MPP gives him a C.
The positions of two other candidates, Bill Hammons of the Unity Party of Colorado and Scott Helker of the Libertarian party, are unclear. Neither candidate has a prior voting record on cannabis legislation, nor public statements on cannabis policy.
For more information on Colorado’s Election Day, be sure to visit the state’s elections website here. And most of all, be sure to vote this general election in Colorado!
A new poll shows the Michigan marijuana legalization campaign ahead with 56% support. While we remain cautiously optimistic about success on Election Day, we are not out of the woods yet.
A well-funded opposition campaign could still emerge. If that happens, we would likely see misleading TV and online ads telling voters that legalization has failed in Colorado, California, and beyond.
The Michigan campaign needs resources in order to present voters with the facts on this issue: prohibition has proven to be an utter failure and legalization policies are working effectively in other states.
There are just 55 days until Election Day. I know you get many such requests, but will you make a $20 donation today to support legalization in Michigan?
Michigan is a very important campaign for these reasons:
– Michigan would be the first state in the Midwest to legalize, putting pressure on nearby states including Illinois and Ohio;
– Michigan would become the second most populous state in the country to fully legalize marijuana; and
– A victory in Michigan would further increase pressure on Congress to pass federal reform in 2019.
This November, let’s make Michigan the 10th state to legalize marijuana.
House Bill 1258 passed both houses of the Colorado General Assembly and is now heading to the governor’s desk. If signed, the bill would allow approved retail cannabis stores to open a tasting room where on-site cannabis consumption is allowed.
This is yet another big step forward in a state that has long been a leader in cannabis policy. If the bill becomes law, customers could purchase concentrates for vaping on site, along with edible marijuana products. Visitors to the shops would not be allowed to bring their own cannabis products, consume whole-plant cannabis, or smoke on site.
Although Colorado voters ended cannabis prohibition in 2012, restrictions on where cannabis can be consumed have been a burden, particularly for visitors to the state and people living in public housing. While purchases are allowed, there are few options for those who are unable to consume at a private residence. HB 1258 offers a solution by establishing regulated locations where adults can gather and consume without fear of breaking local or state law.
Many responsible marijuana consumers in Colorado believe they should be able to meet in a social setting, no different than those who enjoy a beer with friends at a public place.
If you are a Colorado resident, please ask Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign HB 1258 without delay.
Colorado just added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for the state's medical marijuana program.
The Cannabist reports:
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday signed Senate Bill 17 into law. The bill opens the doors for Colorado residents to receive a doctor’s OK to use medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD symptoms.
It’s the first new qualifying condition added under the state’s medical marijuana law since it was implemented in 2001. The state’s eight other qualifying conditions are: cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, cachexia, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, and severe pain.
The inclusion of PTSD among Colorado’s medical marijuana qualifying conditions has been a hotly contested issue of recent years.
Coordinated bids led by veterans groups fell short as the Colorado Board of Health quashed requests for PTSD’s inclusion and legislative measures languished in the General Assembly. The Colorado Board of Health has not added any new qualifying conditions since the medical marijuana law’s inception, citing lack of “peer-reviewed published studies of randomized controlled trials or well-designed observational studies showing efficacy in humans,” officials have previously told The Cannabist.
Proponents have argued that it’s not cost-effective for PTSD patients and it’s a risk to military veterans’ benefits to purchase recreational marijuana as a potential treatment for their ailments. Additionally, they argue that there is limited availability of suitable marijuana products — heavy in the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — that have been claimed effective for symptoms such as anxiety, nightmares and pain.
Twenty-five of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs now allow patients with PTSD to qualify. Bills to add PTSD to state medical marijuana programs have been approved and are now awaiting governors’ signatures in New Hampshire and Vermont.
The Colorado Legislature took an important step toward improving the state’s medical marijuana program last week by passing SB17-017, which would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition. Twenty-four out of 29 states with medical marijuana programs allow patients with PTSD to qualify, but Colorado still does not.
Gov. John Hickenlooper has not yet indicated if he’s supportive. If you are a Colorado resident, please call him now at (303) 866-2471, and politely ask him to make this important treatment option available to patients! To make it easy, we have a sample script available here.
There are only two drugs that are FDA-approved to treat PTSD, and neither has been shown to be more effective than a placebo. Both of these drugs, and others commonly prescribed “off-label,” have dangerous side effects that cannabis does not. Many veterans suffer from PTSD, which has led to the tragically high suicide rate among returning veterans. Shouldn't those who have served our country have access to any treatment that might help ease their suffering?
In response to statements made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer last week, Colorado Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg said that he does not think the federal government will crack down the legal marijuana market in states where it is legal for adult consumption.
Denver Post reports:
“I’m not sure I’d put too much thought or too much credit into what he was saying,” Sonnenberg told reporters Monday morning. “This president has been all about federalism and giving the states more authority, this just flies in the face of that. So I would anticipate not much coming from that.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper downplayed the suggestion a day earlier in a “Meet the Press” interview, affirming that he didn’t believe the federal government would target states like Colorado that legalized weed.
Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has suggested a change in federal policy toward states on marijuana is unlikely, but Sonnenberg’s comments are the most forceful Republican pushback against the White House on the issue since the announcement Thursday.
“Colorado has been the leader when it comes to marijuana and the regulation,” he said. “People look to us for leadership, and I don’t think our new president will turn his back on allowing states to do what they need to do, whether (marijuana) or anything else.”
MPP will continue to monitor the Dept. of Justice for more info on their intended policy going forward.
The Colorado Department of Revenue’s announcement that $1.3 billion in regulated marijuana sales took place in calendar year 2016, generating nearly $200 million in state tax revenue. These figures do not include millions of dollars in revenue generated by local taxes on marijuana.
The Cannabist reports:
To put the state’s third year of regulated recreational marijuana sales in perspective, Year One totaled $699.2 million (combined with medical sales) and Year Two jumped up to $996.2 million. The trend should continue in Year Four, but beyond that? It’s a murkier proposition.
2016 was the year in which the $100-million-month became a baseline and heralded a record-breaking summer: The combined sales for July, August and September were $376.6 million.
Monthly sales topped $100 million in eight of the 12 months. In December, which is typically a strong month for cannabis transactions, pot shops’ sales were a little more than $114.7 million, a 13 percent increase from the $101.3 million recorded in December 2015.
MPP's Mason Tvert had this to say:
“Over one billion dollars in marijuana sales that once took place in the underground market were instead conducted in regulated businesses this year. The state received nearly $200 million in marijuana tax revenue, whereas just a decade ago it was receiving zero. Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for the 42 states that still choose to force marijuana sales into the criminal market and forego millions of dollars in tax revenue.
“Marijuana tax revenue is not going to cover the state’s budget, but it is going to cover important programs and services that would otherwise be left out of it. This money is just the tip of the iceberg. The state is also reaping the invaluable public health and safety benefits of replacing an underground market with a tightly regulated system. Marijuana is now being sold in licensed businesses, rather than out on the street. It is being properly tested, packaged, and labeled, and it is only being sold to adults who show proof of age. The system is working.”
Annual Colorado Government Report on Marijuana-related Health Concerns Highlights Several ‘Encouraging Trends’
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment highlighted several “encouraging trends” in its latest annual report on marijuana-related health concerns.
According to the report:
• “For adults and adolescents, past-month marijuana use has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users.”
• “Based on the most comprehensive data available, past-month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average.”
• “Daily or near-daily marijuana use among adults is much lower than daily or near-daily alcohol or tobacco use. Among adolescents, past month marijuana use is lower than past month alcohol use.”
• “Marijuana exposure calls to the poison center appear to be decreasing since 2015, including unintentional exposures in children ages 0-8 years.”
• “The overall rate of emergency department visits with marijuana-related billing codes dropped 27 percent from 2014 to 2015 (2016 data is not available yet).”
• The estimated percentage of women in Colorado who used marijuana during pregnancy is “not statistically different” from the national average.
Once again, Colorado continues to demonstrate that regulating marijuana works.