The Maine MLI Committee has been back to work over the last two months on the latest iteration of their omnibus bill to establish regulations for the adult-use marijuana market. Unfortunately, most of the changes have been politically oriented to garner support from House Republicans. Changes that concern us the most are the removal of social clubs from the bill and reducing the number of flowering marijuana plants an adult can grow, from six to three per adult.
We are still waiting on the final language of the bill, which may be a week or two. Once the final bill is released, we will be sure to send it to you.
Across the hall, in the Health and Human Services Committee, some structural reforms are being considered. For the first time, in a long time, stakeholders are working together with the committee to make the medical program better for patients and the industry. We will keep you abreast of these changes as they occur.
In the meantime, we are meeting with Republican, Democratic, and Independent candidates for governor. Not only do these meetings allow us to ask the candidates where they stand on marijuana policy, but also, they allow us to be a resource and answer questions they may have. We are frustrated and disappointed that adults in Maine will not have a legal way to purchase marijuana this year and hope the next governor will make implementation a top priority.
Tom Angela reports for Forbes:
The 64% of Americans who say cannabis should be legal in a new Gallup poll released on Wednesday represents the highest level of support in the organization's 48 years of polling on the topic.
The new survey also shows that a majority of Republicans -- 51% -- support legalization for the first time. Seventy-two percent of Democrats and 67% of independents are on board.
Gallup been asking the same question -- "Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not? -- since 1969. That year, only 12% of Americans backed legalization.
MPP's Morgan Fox released the following statement:
It makes sense that support for ending marijuana prohibition is increasing. Americans are tired of wasting resources arresting hundreds of thousands of individuals every year for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. In the five years since the first states made marijuana legal for adults, it has become increasingly clear that — unlike prohibition — regulation works. Adult-use marijuana laws create jobs, generate tax revenue, and protect consumers while taking the marijuana market out of the hands of criminals.
As public support for ending marijuana prohibition continues to grow, it is crucial that states continue to be given the freedom to serve as laboratories of democracy. We urge the Department of Justice in particular to continue its policy of not interfering in states with well-regulated adult-use and medical marijuana programs while lawmakers catch up to the will of the people.
Connecticut representatives proposed an amendment to another bill that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults’ use. This provided members a historic opportunity to debate the issue on the House floor, but the amendment did not actually receive a vote.
However, there is still a very real chance for ending marijuana prohibition in Connecticut this year.
Last month, Connecticut Democrats revealed a budget proposal that included the regulating and taxing of marijuana, demonstrating that legislative leaders in the majority party understand regulating marijuana like alcohol is a necessary part of a responsible budget solution.
A proposal to reduce penalties for marijuana possession in Texas received bipartisan approval from the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday and will soon be scheduled for a full vote in the House. The measure passed by a vote of 4-2, receiving support from two Democrats and two Republicans.
HB 81, authored by committee Chairman Joe Moody (D-El Paso) and Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) with 37 co-authors, would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
“This is a bipartisan proposal that represents a moderate shift in how Texas manages low-level marijuana offenses. The state’s current policy of arresting and jailing people for simple marijuana possession is completely unwarranted. Law enforcement officials’ time and limited resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes.
No one should be saddled with a lifelong criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” Fazio said. “Texans overwhelmingly agree that the punishment for simple marijuana possession should be reduced to a simple fine.”
Over the weekend, the Democratic National Committee's Platform Drafting Committee established a party platform calling for states' rights to decide their own marijuana laws, allowing for greater research on the medical properties of cannabis, and protecting the rights of legally established marijuana businesses:
“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”
An earlier proposed measure called for the total removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, but that measure did not make it to the draft that was unanimously approved by the drafting committee.
Click here for more information on the DNC's new marijuana plank.
On this Veterans Day, MPP would like to thank those who served for their sacrifice, and we are excited to note that a Senate vote yesterday brought them one step closer to being able to access medical marijuana.
U.S. News reports:
The Veterans Health Administration currently does not allow its physicians to discuss marijuana as a treatment option with patients in the nearly two dozen states with medical pot laws, forcing veterans to turn elsewhere for guidance and the paperwork necessary to acquire the drug.
The Senate legislation won’t change the federal illegality of using marijuana as medicine or open the door to greater legal research through changing its classification as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act – which deems it without medical value – but it’s nonetheless a big win for reform advocates.
The Senate measure was adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee in May by a vote of 18-12, with four Republicans joining Democrats in favor. The larger spending bill to which it was attached – funding veterans and military construction projects – passed the Senate without opposition Tuesday.
The medical marijuana language still must survive a negotiated spending deal between leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The lower chamber narrowly rejected the proposal in April when it passed its own version of the bill.
The latest round of Battleground polls by George Washington University found respondents (nationally) would be 40% “much more likely” to visit the voting booth if marijuana’s legalization status was on the ballot. Thirty percent of respondents would be “somewhat” more likely as well. This brings the numbers up to a total of about 70% of voters who would be more likely to vote this fall if marijuana was in question.
Considering midterm elections have historically had low voter turnout, politicians are keeping a watchful eye on those states that have marijuana policy initiatives in the upcoming election. The results are promising for Democrats, because they tend to have a rougher time than Republicans in getting voters out in non-presidential election years.
The study goes on to show that 76 percent of liberals said they would be more likely to vote if marijuana was on the ballot, compared to a 64 percent for conservatives and 61 percent for moderates.
For instance, in Florida, Republican Governor Rick Scott’s reelection campaign says the “spillover effect” from high voter turnout because of the medical marijuana ballot question threatens to weigh the scales against him. In fact, the state’s Republicans feel so threatened that they have filed a legal challenge to keep the referendum off the ballot.
“It’s an issue that the Democrats can use to pump up the youth vote,” said Alex Patton, a Republican political consultant and pollster based in Gainesville, Florida. “The politics of it are dangerous for the GOP.”
California Democrats approved adding a position in support of taxing and regulating marijuana to the party’s platform Sunday, despite opposition from Gov. Jerry Brown (D). This is a major shift in the Democratic Party stance on legal marijuana use in the Golden State, and was spearheaded by long-time activist Lanny Swerdlow and the Brownie Mary Democratic Club.
California was the pioneering state for medical marijuana, which was made legal in 1996, but since then has stalled on creating a regulatory structure for cultivation or sales, and the legislature has been unwilling to seriously consider making marijuana legal for adults.
Leading up to the party shift this weekend, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, formerly the mayor of San Francisco, made the case for marijuana, swaying moderate Democrats by reassuring them, “You can be pro-regulation without being an advocate for drug use.”
Newsom’s advocacy was contrary to Gov. Brown’s interview on “Meet the Press” the last week, in which he voiced peculiar concerns over marijuana’s effect on alertness. “The world's pretty dangerous, very competitive," Brown said. "I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together."
The platform language specifically calls on Democrats to "support the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana, in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol." The tipping point in this shift may stem from Colorado’s preliminary tax revenue generation of $2 million dollars for the month of January. However, revenue clearly is not the only factor; a recent Field Poll found a 55% majority of voters support legalization.
A new poll by Quinnipiac University reveals that 82% of Florida voters support medical marijuana. Florida advocates are currently pushing for legislation that would allow seriously ill residents to use marijuana with a recommendation from their doctors.
Support for the proposed constitutional amendment is high among voters of every political stripe, age and income level, with independents lending the most support: 88 percent, the poll shows.
The overall 82-16 percent support for medical marijuana is the biggest to date. The previous high-point for Florida approval was about 70 percent in a poll taken earlier this year by the medical marijuana advocacy group, People United for Medical Marijuana.
Nearly half of Florida voters favor [legalization] -- 48 percent -- while 46 percent oppose pot legalization for personal use. That's within the margin of error, but it's a leading indicator of a shift in public opinion. Support for legalization is again strongest among independents (57-37 percent), and then Democrats (55-39 percent).
But Republicans are opposed 30-64 percent. Contrast that with GOP voter support for medical marijuana is solid: 70-26 percent.
Medical marijuana is a contentious subject in Florida, where seniors and patients have been working diligently to educate voters and gather support. The political establishment has noticed, and the placement of medical marijuana on the November 2014 ballot could influence the gubernatorial race.
A new Gallup poll shows that a record 58% of Americans think that marijuana should be made legal.
The poll shows a 10-point increase from just last year and reflects the growing political support nationwide. According to the poll, 62% of Independents, 65% of Democrats, and 35% of Republicans support legal marijuana, with growing Independent support largely responsible for the 10-point jump.
According to Business Insider, support for legal marijuana is higher than almost any other political movement. More people favor legal marijuana than think highly of the Republican or Democratic parties, and legal marijuana has more than five times the support that Congress has.
While causes with more support than Congress aren’t hard to come by, this poll marks a momentous event in the fight against marijuana prohibition. For the first time, a majority of Americans think that marijuana use should be legal. Hopefully, they won’t have to wait long.