Last week, Legalize ND submitted petition language to put an initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana before the voters next November. Once the measure is approved for circulation by the secretary of state, activists must gather 13,452 voter signatures before July 6, 2020 to qualify for the ballot.
In 2018, North Dakotans rejected a proposal to legalize marijuana for adults 59% to 41%. This time around, however, Legalize ND worked closely with the North Dakota Legislative Council and argues the proposal is better written and addresses previous concerns. The 2020 measure would create a system to license marijuana businesses, establish a 10% tax on marijuana sales, and prohibit home cultivation. The initiative would also allow individuals to remove low-level marijuana convictions from their criminal records.
2020 is shaping up to be another big year for marijuana policy reform. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Check out the campaign’s website to get involved and support the effort to end marijuana prohibition in North Dakota!
Next year, Arkansas could make history and become the first southern state to end marijuana prohibition and wipe the slate clean for people with criminal records for marijuana convictions.
The Marijuana Policy Project has endorsed two constitutional ballot initiatives being spearheaded by Arkansans for Cannabis Reform. The first would establish a system to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older. The second would create a pathway for individuals to remove previous marijuana offenses from their criminal records, making it easier for them to get jobs and access social benefits.
Each petition requires just over 89,000 voter signatures, and the campaign has established signing locations all over the state. Now is a critical time, and they are looking for supporters to get involved and expand their effort.
A victory in Arkansas would send a shockwave through the country. A clear majority of voters stand with us in our mission to end marijuana prohibition. But it takes hard-working teams like Arkansans for Cannabis Reform to give voters an opportunity to enact the change they want.
On Monday, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney announced the Senate lacked the votes needed to legalize marijuana. Instead, twin resolutions have been introduced in the Assembly and Senate that would allow voters to decide the question themselves in November 2020. Some senators who are wary of legalization support kicking the decision to voters.
To place the measure on the ballot, the Senate and Assembly must either pass the resolution in both 2019 and 2020 with a simple majority, or they must pass it a single time with a three-fifths supermajority. While we strongly preferred the 147-page bill, which included important provisions for equity and would have taken effect sooner, a voter referral now appears to be the only path to legalize cannabis in New Jersey. We can’t let this opportunity to end the devastating war on cannabis slip away. But it is also crucial that social equity provisions don’t fall by the wayside.
On Monday, Assemblyman Jamel Holley and advocates launched a “94 No More” campaign, highlighting the outrageous fact that 94 people — disproportionately African American and Latino — are arrested in New Jersey every day for marijuana. Urge your legislators to stop possession arrests and to wipe clean the scarlet letters that destroy opportunities for people with marijuana convictions. Then, spread the word to other New Jerseyans who support humane marijuana policies.
Just moments ago, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed the most far-reaching cannabis legalization bill that has ever received a committee vote in Congress. The bill will now be sent to the full House of Representatives. This is a historic moment in our decades-long campaign to end cannabis prohibition at the federal level.
Sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act is a comprehensive approach to fixing our nation’s broken cannabis laws. In addition to federally decriminalizing and descheduling cannabis (thus allowing states to set their own policies), the MORE Act contains strong social equity provisions with an emphasis on restorative justice for communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition. Here are a few things the legislation would do:
- remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act;
- require federal courts to expunge prior cannabis-related convictions and provide for resentencing;
- provide grants and funding to communities most harmed by the war on cannabis — including by assessing a five percent federal tax on cannabis sales, with revenue used to fund programs such as job training, legal aid for those affected by prohibition, and small business loans for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals;
- lift barriers to licensing and employment in the cannabis industry;
- block federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances due to cannabis use;
- protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis; and
- allow VA physicians to recommend medical cannabis to veterans.
We have two requests:
- Contact your representative in support of the MORE Act — help build support for this legislation.
- Donate to MPP — provide us with the resources to maintain pressure on Congress to enact landmark federal cannabis reform.
Let’s put an end to cannabis prohibition — with justice for all.
Earlier this month, the Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation to create a simple process for people to expunge marijuana convictions from their records. A package of bills that includes marijuana expungement is expected to receive a vote in the Senate during the first week of December.
Please send a message to your state senator urging them to vote in favor of allowing expungement for past marijuana convictions.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has expressed strong support for the idea and will likely sign the proposal into law if it reaches her desk.
The legislation could impact an estimated 235,000 residents in Michigan who have been convicted of an offense that is now legal under the state’s voter-approved marijuana legalization law. These convictions unfairly hold people back and make it much more difficult to secure a job.
Last year, the voters of Michigan decided adults shouldn’t be treated as lawbreakers for using marijuana. But those who were harmed by the war on marijuana are still being punished. Please ask your state senator to support expungement and end this injustice.
This fall, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler is leading "Be Heard on Cannabis" community conversations across Minnesota to explore how to replace cannabis prohibition with sensible regulation. At the end of the process, Rep. Winkler plans to introduce a bill to legalize and regulate cannabis in Minnesota and shepherd it through the House.
Mark your calendars for these upcoming dates, to take part and add your voice to the conversation on how to move forward.
St. Paul "Be Heard on Cannabis" Community Conversation
When: Thursday, October 10, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, 270 Kent Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102
St. Cloud "Be Heard on Cannabis" Community Conversation
When: Saturday, October 12, 1:30 p.m.
Where: St. Cloud Public Library Mississippi Community Room, 1300 W. St. Germain Street, St. Cloud, MN 56301
Eden Prairie "Be Heard on Cannabis" Community Conversation
When: Monday, November 18, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Eden Prairie Community Center, Cambria Room, 16700 Valley View Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55346
Eagan "Be Heard on Cannabis" Community Conversation
When: Tuesday, November 19, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Eagan Community Center, South Oaks Meeting Room, 1501 Central Parkway, Eagan, MN 55121
For a list of the hosts and panelists who will lead each community conversation, along with other cities "Be Heard on Cannabis" will visit, check out Rep. Winkler's Be Heard on Cannabis webpage.
Don't miss your chance to let your elected officials know it's time to stop punishing Minnesotans for a substance that's safer than alcohol. You may want to consider making a pitch for an inclusive, diverse industry, for allowing home cultivation, and for expunging past convictions.
Even if you're not able to make it, you can still make your voice heard. Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman has an online survey you can complete here. Finally, please spread the word by email or social media to help grow the chorus for reform.
On July 31, Gov. John Carney signed a bill into law that expands decriminalization for cannabis possession of one ounce or less to those under 21. The law became effective upon the governor's signature.
This important legislation will save young adults from life-altering criminal convictions, which can close the door on opportunities including jobs, housing, and higher education. For more information on Delaware's decriminalization law, check out our summary here.
In other news, the adult-use legalization bill, HB 110, will pick up where it left off in the House Appropriations Committee in 2020. You can read our summary of HB 110 here.
Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed A08420 into law, which will fix the state's decriminalization law and provide for automatic expungement for those with certain misdemeanor cannabis convictions. The law will take effect in 30 days.
This reform will save thousands of New Yorkers from arrest and allow those with previous cannabis convictions to move on with their lives. It also reduces the penalty for possessing about an ounce of cannabis from a $100 fine to a $50 fine. For more details, read our full summary of the bill here.
While this improved decriminalization law is an important step forward, there is still work to be done to improve New York's marijuana laws. Unfortunately, the legislature failed to pass a legalization measure before the session adjourned.
The majority of New Yorkers support legalization. Let your lawmakers know you want them to pass legislation to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adult use in 2020.
For decades, marijuana prohibition destroyed lives and harmed communities in Michigan. Fortunately, voters said enough is enough and passed Prop 1 last year. As the state now moves forward with implementing a legal marijuana market, we must take steps to undo past injustices and support those who have been most impacted by punitive marijuana laws.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has publicly called for prior low-level marijuana offenses to be erased from individuals' criminal records. And now, state Sen. Jeff Irwin is sponsoring legislation, SB 263, to automatically expunge prior marijuana use and possession convictions, which could affect nearly 250,000 residents in the state.
In a related update, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency recently released rules to implement Prop 1's social equity provisions. Residents of the 19 cities in which marijuana arrests rates were disproportionately higher than the rest of the state will be eligible for technical assistance, fee reductions, and educational resources to help them get a leg up in obtaining a marijuana business license. You can find a list of the cities and more details about the new regulations here.
As Michigan finds itself in an exciting new era of legalization, we cannot leave behind those who have suffered as a result of prohibition. It is encouraging to see policymakers taking steps to address these issues, and we will continue monitoring the state's progress.
Yesterday, Gov. David Ige let a modest decriminalization bill — HB 1383 — become law without his signature. Effective January 11, 2020, possession of three grams or less of marijuana will be punishable by a $130 civil fine. The bill also provides for the expungement of criminal records for convictions of possession of three grams or less of marijuana.
Hawaii is now the 26th state to stop jailing residents for possessing modest amounts of marijuana. However, three grams is the smallest possession limit of any decriminalization or legalization state. Unfortunately, with such a low possession limit, needless marijuana arrests will continue. A more sensible approach would be to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol.
In other news, Gov. Ige has unfortunately vetoed a bill that would allow limited transport of medical cannabis between the islands. The bill — HB 290 — was approved by the legislature in May.
While the decriminalization law is an extremely timid step forward, there is still work to be done to improve Hawaii's marijuana laws. Contact your lawmakers today, then forward this message to your family and friends in Hawaii.