General

N.Y.: Gov. Cuomo signs decrim expansion bill!

Ask your lawmakers to support legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adult use.

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.

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General

North Dakota becomes 25th state to eliminate jail time for marijuana possession!

Good news! With Gov. Doug Burgum’s signature on House Bill 1050, we’ve reached a milestone: half the states in the country have eliminated jail time penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana!

It is encouraging to see lawmakers in a conservative state like North Dakota acknowledge and rectify the injustice of jailing people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Politicians can no longer ignore public support for marijuana policy reform, which is growing quickly in every part of the country.

North Dakota’s new law goes into effect on August 1 of this year. It reclassifies possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana as an infraction punishable by no jail time and a maximum fine of $1,000 for adults 21 and older. Previously, it was a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail in addition to a fine. The bill also reclassifies penalties for possession offenses involving amounts greater than a half ounce, and it calls on the Legislative Assembly to study adult-use legalization. A more detailed summary of HB 1050 is available here.

The compromise bill sent to Gov. Burgum by the legislature is far from ideal, but it is a substantial step in the right direction. We must keep pushing forward. Support our efforts to enact sensible marijuana laws around the country by becoming a contributor today!

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Prohibition

Texas House of Representatives approves decriminalization!

If you live in Texas, contact your state senator in support of marijuana decriminalization.

Yesterday, the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 63, a bill that would stop arresting and jailing individuals who possess up to an ounce of cannabis. The bill now heads to the Texas Senate for a vote. Already, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick tweeted that HB 63 is “dead” in the Texas Senate.

Let your senator know that marijuana decriminalization is not dead in Texas today!

While the bill removes the threat of jail time, we are disappointed that the fine was raised to $500 on the House floor yesterday. Such a steep fine will disproportionately effect Texans with lesser means. The Senate should lower the fine or allow community service in lieu of a fine.

Please contact your senator today, and let’s send the bill to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk!

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General

Texas House to vote on marijuana decriminalization THIS Thursday

If you live in Texas, contact your lawmakers today in support of HB 63.

After passing in a 5-2 vote in the House Jurisprudence Committee, HB 63 is scheduled for a vote in the Texas House of Representatives this Thursday. Please contact your lawmakers in support of marijuana decriminalization right now.

If HB 63 passes, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana would be punishable by a $250 fine for the first two offenses, and it would be considered a class C misdemeanor for subsequent offenses. Currently, possessing any amount of marijuana is punishable by jail time in Texas.

Given that the Texas Republican Party endorsed marijuana decriminalization and Gov. Gregg Abbott has expressed willingness to sign a bill that reduces penalties for possession, the environment has never been better for change in Texas.

So please, contact your lawmakers today and then forward this email to friends and family and ask they do the same. Together, we can reform marijuana laws in Texas.

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General

Alabama Senate committee passes marijuana decriminalization

If you live in Alabams, contact your lawmakers now in support of decriminalization!

Today, the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved SB 98, which would reduce the penalty for possessing up to an ounce of cannabis to a fine. The bill now heads to the Senate floor. Don’t let this chance to stop jailing cannabis consumers pass the state by.

Contact your lawmakers in Montgomery and ask them to support this commonsense policy reform.

Currently, anyone found possessing marijuana in Alabama faces up to a year in jail. Under SB 98, people caught with one ounce or less would be punished by a fine of up to $250 for the first two offenses and up to a $500 fine on all future offenses. Twenty-four states, including neighboring Mississippi, have stopped jailing adults for possession of small amounts of marijuana. It’s time for Alabama to reform outdated laws that do nothing to make the state safer. A recent report from the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center showed that marijuana prohibition is a costly and ineffective law that harms thousands of people. Enforcing prohibition costs the state roughly $22 million a year when you add up the costs incurred by the police, courts, and corrections.

Please contact your lawmakers today, and then get the word out by forwarding this email to friends and family. Together we can stop arresting Alabamans for possessing a substance safer than alcohol.

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Prohibition

Missouri Decriminalization Law Finally Takes Effect

Jan 04, 2017 Maggie Ellinger-Locke

decriminalization, fine, Missouri, MO, possession, SB 491

Back in 2014, Missouri lawmakers enacted SB 491 — a bill to reduce penalties for possessing up to 10 grams of marijuana. That law finally took effect on January 1, 2017. Congratulations to Missouri for joining the 20 other states that have ended cannabis prohibition or replaced jail time with a fine! The new law institutes a fine of $250-$1,000, replacing the prior penalty of up to a year of incarceration and a fine.

While this is far better than current law, the hefty fine is still very harsh for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Worse yet, possession of over 35 grams remains a felony, subjecting marijuana consumers to a prison sentence of up to seven years and a $5,000 fine.

While lawmakers should be applauded for enacting marijuana reduction penalties, we hope you will let them know that the time to end prohibition is now. If you are a Missouri resident, please send an email to your state representative and senator and tell them you want to tax and regulate a substance that is safer than alcohol.

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Research

Over Two-Thirds of Delaware Voters Support Marijuana Policy Reform

Recent polling released by the Marijuana Policy Project found more than two-thirds of Delawareans support replacing criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a $100 civil fine. The poll also found a majority of voters (51%)Delaware flag support making marijuana legal for adults, and regulating and taxing it like alcohol.

Under current Delaware law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana, and he or she can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and fined up to $1,150. Additionally, a conviction or even an arrest record can make it difficult to find a job, obtain educational opportunities, or even find adequate housing. 

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have removed the threat of jail for possession of marijuana, including Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is now legal for adults 21 and older. Twelve other states are currently considering legislation to reduce penalties to a fine. Measures similar to those adopted in Colorado and Washington, which regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol, have been or will be introduced this year in 18 state legislatures plus the District of Columbia Council. In addition, one has been placed on the August ballot in Alaska.

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Prohibition

MPP Unveils Billboard Urging Nevada Athletic Commission to Stop Driving Athletes to Drink

On Tuesday, MPP unveiled its billboard in support of boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., who was fined $900,000 and handed a nine-month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) for testing positive for marijuana.

Located at 2001 Western Ave., Las Vegas, Nevada, the graphic proclaims, “A majority of Nevadans support Julio’s SAFER choice,” referencing a new poll conducted by Public Policy Polling. “Stop driving athletes to DRINK!”

Chavez billboard photo

“Marijuana is far less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to contribute to violent and aggressive behavior than alcohol,” stated MPP’s director of communications, Mason Tvert. “The NSAC should change its marijuana policy and stop driving athletes to drink.”

The billboard and the NSAC’s illogical policy have garnered much attention. After waking up Tuesday morning to find his name splashed across MPP’s billboard, Chavez’s attorney Donald Campbell released a statement on his client’s behalf:

“In response to the many press inquiries regarding the Marijuana Policy Project’s billboard, we wish to reiterate that our client, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., does not encourage the illicit use of marijuana. That having been said, he is, nevertheless, most grateful for the very visible and vocal support of [MPP] as well as that of the many news and sports commentators nationwide who have condemned the unconstitutional, and indeed, draconian fine of $900,000 leveled against him by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for having smoked a marijuana cigarette nine days before the Martinez fight.”

MPP is calling on the NSAC to drop the excessive penalties against Chavez and change its policy so that it no longer steers athletes toward using alcohol by threatening to punish them if they choose to use the less harmful substance – marijuana. The request will be delivered to the NSAC in the form of a Change.org petition.

Stand with Julio and add your name.

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Prohibition

MPP's Rob Kampia to Testify at Texas Marijuana Bill Hearing

Tomorrow, the Texas State House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will hold a hearing on legislation that would remove the possibility of jail time for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. MPP's executive director Rob Kampia will be testifying at the hearing.

[caption id="attachment_6036" align="alignright" width="192"]Harold Dutton TX Rep. Harold V. Dutton Jr.[/caption]

H.B. 184, which was introduced by Rep. Harold V. Dutton Jr. (D-Houston), would remove the threat of jail and set the maximum penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana at $500.

If you are a Texas resident, you can help influence the fate of this sensible legislation by contacting your representative now!

No one deserves to go to jail for marijuana, but under current Texas law, possession of two ounces or less can get you up to 180 days in jail and up to $2000 in fines.

 

 

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Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Medical Marijuana Faces Further Delays

After a long delay in New Jersey, many medical marijuana patients are still waiting for their medicine. Then-Gov. John Corzine first signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act in January 2010, but since then, implementation of the measure has been slow. Although the state originally planned to have the necessary alternative treatment centers open in July 2011, the state’s first licensee, Greenleaf Compassion Center, is not scheduled to open until September of this year. A total of only five other planned facilities have been approved, four of which still have no approved location. Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) has even called for a hearing into the cause of the delays, protesting that there is “no adequate explanation” for the current situation. Difficulties with organization, vetting the necessary officials, and objections by local authorities have all been cited by the Star-Ledger as causes.

Dr. Walter Husar, a neurologist from Rockaway, complains that along with disorganized lists of participating physicians, strict regulations are another barrier to safe access to the drug. Under the current system, patients must have an existing “bona fide” relationship with one of the limited number of participating physicians, as defined here.  The physicians must then submit an official statement recommending the patient. The doctor must then transfer a unique reference code to the patient, who can then use it to register him- or herself. The registration of a patient is only valid for 90 days, after which the doctor and the patient must repeat the process. According to Chris Goldstein with the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey, this is the only state where only the doctors on an official list can prescribe marijuana. Sixteen other states, plus the District of Columbia, have medicinal marijuana programs. Access to marijuana in New Jersey is also limited to patients with one of a set list of serious medical conditions such as cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, with use for some conditions only permitted when other treatments have failed or particular complications are present.

Husar and other doctors report themselves flooded with calls from potential patients. However, in a stark demonstration of the difficulty of joining the program, more physicians than patients have been registered. Approximately 50 patients have been recognized as eligible for medical marijuana, while only around 150 physicians are participating, out of over 30,000 in the state.

Husar agrees that marijuana can be helpful for multiple sclerosis sufferers in particular, citing his 25 years of experience with such patients, some of whom obtained the drug illegally. He is, however, concerned that since there is still no legal source of medical marijuana, even the patients who are already registered with the program may be subject to legal penalties if they are caught with their medicine. Under New Jersey’s current laws, this is a serious risk. Possession of even the smallest amount is punishable by up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine, while those caught growing even a single plant could be subject to a felony conviction, a fine of up to $25,000, and a prison sentence of up to five years.

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