Medical Marijuana

Major compromise reached in Utah

On October 4 in Salt Lake City, medical marijuana supporters and opponents announced that they have reached an agreement on a compromise medical marijuana law that will be enacted during a November special session after the 2018 election.

Regardless of the outcome of Prop 2 — the medical marijuana ballot initiative that MPP helped to draft — the legislature will enact the compromise bill. Utah Governor Gary Herbert has committed to calling the special session.

MPP strongly supports the agreement because it will ensure that a workable medical marijuana law is enacted and implemented. In Utah, a statutory ballot initiative can be amended or even repealed by a simple majority in the legislature. If Prop 2 passed without any agreement on next steps, patients may have been left waiting years to access legal medical cannabis. This compromise eliminates that uncertainty and ensures legislative leaders are committed to making the law work.

This agreement has the support of the Utah Patients Coalition (the Prop 2 campaign committee), Utah Governor Gary Herbert, the Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, the Utah Senate President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Utah Medical Association.

The compromise bill, while not ideal and cumbersome in certain respects, is workable and provides a path for Utah patients to legally access medical cannabis, including whole-plant products. MPP staff were consulted during the negotiations and provided critical input on the final agreement.

MPP has been assisting the campaign since its inception in early 2017. We helped draft the initiative, and we made significant financial contributions to fund the successful signature drive (and its subsequent legal defense). While we still wish to see Prop 2 pass, both sides have agreed to de-escalate their campaign activities.

MPP would like to thank the many individual donors who supported the Utah Patients Coalition over the last 18 months. Your generosity enabled a successful signature drive. If Prop 2 had not qualified for the ballot, yesterday’s agreement would not have been possible.

Very soon, one of the most conservative states in the country will enact a medical marijuana law. That demonstrates that any state in the country can have a medical marijuana law. MPP will continue to work across the country to achieve that goal.

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Lawmakers Reach Compromise on Marijuana Regulation

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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