Medical Marijuana

Minnesota cannabis policy update and call to action

Urge the governor to allow home delivery of cannabis.

Gov. Tim Walz (D) has taken important steps to preserve safe access to medical cannabis during this time of social distancing. Medical cannabis businesses have been allowed to remain open during the stay-at-home order. By executive order, the governor is permitting curbside pickup and telemedicine, and he has pushed back expiration dates on patient certifications and is allowing temporary caregivers.

While we commend the governor for these important measures, we are disappointed he has not allowed home delivery during the crisis. Please take a moment to thank the governor for what he’s already done, while urging him to allow delivery.

In the face of the pandemic, we are advised to stay at home and — when it’s necessary to go out — to maintain at least six feet of distance from others. During these difficult times, the safest way to obtain medical cannabis is contactless delivery. Medical cannabis patients shouldn’t have to put themselves in danger to access the medicine they depend on.

After you write the governor, you can go the extra mile by spreading the word to others, calling his office at 651-201-3400, or making an appeal on Twitter.

Legalization Appears Stalled Due to the Virus

When this year’s legislative session convened in February, there were high hopes that the House of Representatives would approve legalization this year. House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) was expected to introduce a comprehensive legalization proposal based on principles he outlined that reflected stakeholder input, including from his "Be Heard on Cannabis" tour over the fall and winter.

Since then, life changed dramatically. Efforts to prevent transmission of novel coronavirus stalled legislative action. The legislature convened briefly in late March for a coronavirus relief bill, but it has otherwise recessed until mid-April. It appears we’ll need to shift our focus to passing in 2021.

Unfortunately, leadership in the Senate is behind the times. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) has said the Republican caucus is strongly opposed. However, the entire legislature will be on the ballot in November, so there’s an opportunity to elect more lawmakers that recognize the folly of prohibition.

Stay tuned for a voter guide and opportunities to get engaged.

We wish you and your loved ones well.

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Tax and Regulate

Connecticut legalization update

Let your legislators know Connecticut cannot wait another year.

Just a few weeks ago, before life changed dramatically, S.B. 16 – An Act Concerning Adult Use of Cannabis – was primed for action.

In February, Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney (D) and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D) introduced the Governor’s Bill, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase up to one-and-a-half ounces of cannabis from licensed retailers. A summary of the bill can be found here.

On March 2, the Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on Gov. Ned Lamont’s bill to end prohibition and regulate marijuana for adult use in Connecticut. Prior to the hearing, the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana joined together with other stakeholders to voice support for action on the bill and stayed to testify at the public hearing. MPP's testimony can be found here.

Later in March, legislative leaders ordered the Capitol and Legislative Office Building closed until April 13. Legislative leaders and committee chairs continue to prioritize and analyze bills in anticipation of session resuming. The deadline for moving the bill out of committee is March 30, but that is expected to be extended in light of the pause in the legislative session.

The Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana and MPP will continue to encourage the legislature to pass legalization and regulation this year. The coronavirus makes it all the more apparent that incarcerating individuals for cannabis is wrong. Meanwhile, shifting marijuana to the legal market can create jobs, generate tax revenue, and help the state’s economic recovery.

To help keep this issue on lawmakers’ radar, please consider signing up to make calls to legislators by contacting me directly. You can also send a message to your legislators here.

We wish you and your loved ones well during these difficult times.

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Medical Marijuana

D.C.: Urge Mayor Bowser to allow medical cannabis delivery

Email the mayor today and urge her to further ensure patient access during COVID-19.

In response to COVID-19, Mayor Bowser has issued a stay-at-home order for D.C. residents and a temporary closure of non-essential businesses.

Fortunately, medical cannabis businesses have been deemed “essential” under the order and remain open to patients across the District.

Still, there are additional actions that could be taken to ensure patients can safely access their medicine in a way that is consistent with public health guidelines on preventing the spread of coronavirus:

  • Allowing and encouraging cannabis delivery, including allowing for it to be contactless. (This is particularly important for patients who are immunocompromised, elderly, or otherwise particularly at-risk.)
  • Allowing and encouraging online ordering and curbside pickup from dispensaries
  • Extending the expiration date of medical cannabis cards until after the crisis has abated

A number of states with medical cannabis programs have already implemented these measures in response to coronavirus.

Click here to email Mayor Bowser to thank her for declaring medical cannabis businesses essential and to urge her to pursue further steps to safeguard access while promoting social distancing.

You can also sign our petition for safe access in times of coronavirus here.

Thank you for your compassion. We wish you and your loved ones well.

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Tax and Regulate

Mass.: Gov. Baker leaves cannabis consumers behind — again

Contact Gov. Baker and tell him Massachusetts residents should have sensible and safe access to cannabis during the crisis.

Yesterday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker refused to reverse his earlier decision to halt adult cannabis sales. Once again, he said it was because he worries allowing sales will attract visitors from other states.

But a more rational solution exists: limit adult-use cannabis sales to Massachusetts residents only during the ongoing health crisis. If you support this idea, please take a moment to send an email message to Gov. Baker right now, letting him know that Massachusetts cannabis consumers need and deserve safe access to regulated products.

More than 30 Massachusetts cannabis companies published an open letter to state officials this week, expressing support for temporarily restricting adult sales to state residents and committing to taking the same steps as other “essential” businesses to protect public health. When asked about adopting such an approach, Gov. Baker questioned the legality of treating residents and non-residents differently. But as the Boston Globe reported, cannabis policy experts have circulated a memo explaining why the state would be on strong legal ground.

In these challenging times, residents of the Commonwealth deserve safe access to regulated cannabis. Click here to send a message to Gov. Baker, letting him know you support limiting sales to state residents.

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Medical Marijuana

South Carolina medical cannabis update

Just a few weeks ago, before life changed dramatically, the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act (H. 3660/S. 366) was primed for action.

In January and February, the House 3M subcommittee heard testimony on H. 3660. Another committee meeting on the bill was scheduled for March 25, and we were optimistic H. 3660 would advance. Meanwhile, the Senate Medical Affairs Committee scheduled a March 19 hearing on S. 366.

Unfortunately, both hearings were cancelled as the legislature began to furlough to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. It remains to be seen if any legislation other than COVID-related issues will be taken up this year or if we’ll have to refocus efforts to 2021.

Stay tuned for updates and opportunities to move the issue forward, including a voter guide on state legislative candidates.

We wish you and your loved ones well during these difficult times.

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Amid COVID-19 crisis, governments must free cannabis prisoners and stop arrests

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marijuana Policy Project is continuing to fight for safe access to cannabis and policies to roll back the devastating war on marijuana.

Today, MPP — along with the Last Prisoner Project, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Clergy for a New Drug Policy, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, National Cannabis Industry Association, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) — sent a letter urging law enforcement officials to dramatically curtail arrests for non-violent crimes, including ceasing arrests for cannabis offenses. In addition to curtailing arrests, we are also calling for officials to release or grant clemency to those incarcerated for cannabis offenses along with dramatically reducing the number of incarcerated non-violent prisoners, whether sentenced or un-sentenced.

Public health experts have warned that the coronavirus poses an extreme threat not only to inmates, but also to the staff that serve them, along with their families and communities. Conditions in prisons and jails are known to cause disease and infection to run rampant, and these institutions are already seeing a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases. As a result, several localities have already begun to release inmates incarcerated for nonviolent, drug-related offenses.

Likewise, since asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus, any law enforcement-civilian interaction includes a risk of transmitting coronavirus to either party. Thus, arrests for nonviolent offenses should be curtailed until the country is better able to prevent the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, last week, MPP and allied organizations sent letters urging governors and legislative leaders in states with medical cannabis and adult-use programs to take necessary actions to ensure continued safe access to cannabis in a way that is consistent with public health. We’re also tracking state-level measures being taken to preserve safe access as states rapidly respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Sign our petition urging governors to ensure safe access to cannabis during the pandemic.

MPP will continue fighting for safe and sensible criminal justice and cannabis-related policies, both during and after the critical COVID-19 situation. There is no justification for arresting and jailiing individuals for marijuana offenses during this crisis, and our primary priority must now be reducing opportunities for transmission of the virus in order to save lives.

Sending best wishes for your health and safety.

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Tax and Regulate

Mass.: Governor Baker orders closure of adult-use cannabis businesses

Contact Gov. Baker and your state legislators and tell them cannabis businesses must be designated as essential!

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has ordered that all nonessential businesses cease operations until April 7. Medical cannabis dispensaries and package beverage stores have been designated as essential services, but adult-use cannabis businesses have not.

Please join with us in asking Gov. Baker to ensure that cannabis businesses are allowed to continue operating during the crisis. Click here to send a message to the governor to ask him to reconsider.

Please also send a message to your state legislators and urge them to push for adult-use cannabis businesses to be designated as essential services.

Every other legalization state where regulated sales have begun — Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington — is allowing adult-use cannabis businesses to continue operating, even as other businesses are closed under stay-at-home orders.

Many adults in Massachusetts rely on cannabis for their well being. Some are patients who are not registered for the medical cannabis program, and others depend on cannabis as an alternative to alcohol or other more dangerous substances. Shutting down adult-use cannabis businesses will also be crippling for businesses, especially economic empowerment applicants, and it will deprive state and local governments of tax revenue that could be used to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis.

After you send a message to Gov. Baker and email your state legislators, please share this message with your family and friends.

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Medical Marijuana

Protecting medical cannabis patients in Alaska as COVID-19 emerges

Encourage Gov. Dunleavy to maintain and extend good cannabis policies.

As governments today respond to COVID-19, it’s critical that medical patients maintain access to cannabis for medical use. This is particularly true in Alaska, and we are asking for your help.

Please join with us in asking Gov. Mike Dunleavy to ensure that cannabis businesses, which serve patients along with adult consumers, are included as essential businesses. Click here to send a message to the governor to thank him for keeping businesses open so far and to ask for his support on behalf of patients all around the state.

As of today, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, California, Illinois, Michigan, Maine, Maryland, and Nevada, along with a long list of medical-only states, have declared that retail cannabis establishments are “essential services.” That designation helps ensure access even if there is a stay-at-home order. Alaska’s governor has not yet extended that protection to cannabis businesses, leaving patients and consumers vulnerable. Without a home delivery option, patients and consumers would simply be cut off if retail shops closed. That should not be acceptable, and the governor should hear that message. Help us get word to his office.

The flip side is for all of us in the cannabis movement to remember that in many ways, we are also stewards of health. Businesses should consider measures to help ensure the well-being of their patients and customers through social distancing and good business practices.

Some resources:

  • Our own letter to the governor is available here.
  • The Alaska Marijuana Industry Association’s great letter and recommendations for businesses is here.
  • A chart we put together that compares different state approaches in response to COVID-19 is here.
  • The link to get word to the Alaska governor’s office on this issue is here.

Please stay safe, and mind your health and the health of this community.

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Medical Marijuana

Safe access to cannabis in times of coronavirus

Urge governors of medical cannabis states to ensure access in times of social distancing.

In the past week or two, our lives have changed dramatically.

As we strive to “flatten the curve,” schools have shuttered their doors. Those workplaces that can switch to remote work, including MPP, have done so. Hundreds of thousands of workers are newly unemployed. Tens of thousands of Americans have been diagnosed with the virus, and healthcare professionals are making heroic sacrifices.

Our hearts go out to each of you for all you are going through as we come together to reduce the death toll.

As some states roll out “Safer at Home” policies, they are recognizing people still need access to essentials, including medicine. MPP and allied organizations are working to make sure they do not lose sight of the fact that millions of Americans depend on cannabis as part of their treatment regimens.

We are urging governors and legislative leaders in states with medical cannabis and legalization laws to ensure access in a way that keeps everyone as safe as possible.

You can sign our petition here to add your voice to the plea for safe access. 

Among the recommendations — which are similar to ones put out by our friends at Americans for Safe Access — are declaring cannabis businesses an essential service (keeping them open in case of a stay-at-home order), allowing delivery, allowing telemedicine, and relaxing bureaucratic requirements that could interfere with access.

We’ve also compiled a list of what measures states currently have in place for safe access in these uncertain times.

We wish you and your loved ones well. We’re all in this together.

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Lobbying in the Time of Coronavirus

From Politico:

With Washington consumed by figuring out how to respond to the coronavirus, few lawmakers or their aides have time for anything else.

Cannabis lobbyists on Capitol Hill are changing strategies as lawmakers leave town and staffers work from home. Politico's Natalie Fertig reached out to a few lobbyists to hear what they expect as Washington enters an unprecedented new way of working for the foreseeable future. Here are the main takeaways:

Cannabis is not a priority. At all. Every lobbyist said one thing in common: Now is not the time to be talking about cannabis, at least until the federal coronavirus and economic rescue packages are sorted out.
"Does any elected official want to hear from a lobbyist who is not there to talk about the coronavirus?" said Don Murphy of the Marijuana Policy Project. "Prior to this, I actually believed that having half a million people arrested needlessly for cannabis use warranted being a top issue. But right now, all four burners are occupied by coronavirus.”

One thing will stay the same: Murphy says he still plans to sit on the front steps of the Capitol any day that lawmakers may be heading to votes.
"I don't believe I'm going to have access to getting into committee hearings the way I used to, [and] these fundraisers are being canceled right and left," Murphy said. "So where will lobbyists go to see members? I guess I might have some company at the Capitol steps."
To read the full story, click here

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