Medical Marijuana

Wisc.: Election brings new hope, but challenges remain

Local voters approve 13 medical marijuana and seven legalization measures; ask legislators to listen.

Great news! On Election Day, around a million Wisconsin voters approved advisory questions on their ballots calling for more humane marijuana laws.

More than half of the state’s population saw cannabis-related measures on their ballots, and every single one of the measures passed. Medical cannabis questions received between 67% and 89% in the 11 counties and two cities where they appeared. Adult-use questions garnered between 60% and 76% of the vote.

As the Wisconsin State-Journal’s analysis shows, the measures easily passed in jurisdictions that voted for the Republican and the Democrat for the gubernatorial race.

Congratulations to all the advocates and voters who were involved!

In other encouraging news, voters elected a new governor — Tony Evers — who supports medical marijuana and would like to put the question of legalization to voters. (In Wisconsin, voters can’t place questions on the statewide ballot themselves; only state lawmakers can refer questions to them.)

Meanwhile, in neighboring Michigan, voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Despite all this encouraging news, however, challenges remain. Popular support for medical marijuana has been strong for many years, but thus far Wisconsin’s lawmakers have refused to act.

Let your state legislators know you want the legislature to finally listen to voters on medical cannabis when they convene for the 2019 legislative session. It’s past time Wisconsin roll back its cruel and wasteful war on marijuana.

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Tax and Regulate

Connecticut: Voters put legalization on the agenda for 2019

Governor-elect Ned Lamont strongly supports ending marijuana prohibition; lawmakers will begin considering new bills in January

Last week, Connecticut voters made it possible that marijuana prohibition will be brought to an end during the next legislative session. For the first time in history, Connecticut has voted elect a governor, Ned Lamont, who supports the legalization, regulation, and taxation of cannabis for use by adults.

“It’s an idea whose time has come, and I’m going to push it in the first year,” Lamont said while campaigning.

Of course, a governor doesn’t have the power to end marijuana prohibition by himself. In order to put a legalization bill on Gov. Lamont’s desk in 2019, our coalition members will all need to step up and help convince representatives and senators to vote in favor.

The Marijuana Policy Project and the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana are committed to making the Nutmeg State one of the next states to legalize and regulate cannabis. Please help us get our 2019 campaign off to a great start by contributing to our efforts today!

Please share this message with your family and friends, and encourage them to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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Tax and Regulate

Illinois: Cannabis reform candidates J.B. Pritzker, Kwame Raoul, Bob Morgan cruise to victory

Yesterday’s blue wave in Illinois poised to become a green wave next session

Gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, who has been a vocal supporter of legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis for adults’ use, appears to have handily won yesterday’s gubernatorial election. While official election results are still pending, both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times reported a margin of victory of around 55% of the vote.

In the race for state attorney general, cannabis reform supporter Sen. Kwame Raoul also notched a win with around 54% of the vote. Both J.B. Pritzker and Kwame Raoul were rated A+ candidates by MPP leading up to the election for their strong positions in support of sensible marijuana policy.

And a hearty congratulations go out to friend-of-the-movement Bob Morgan, who won the 58th District seat in the Illinois House of Representatives! Morgan headed up the successful launch of the state’s medical cannabis program, and as a private attorney, Bob has continued to be engaged in cannabis reform. He is a welcome addition to the General Assembly.

Yesterday’s results come as Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy prepare to introduce a revised bill for the session starting in January that would legalize cannabis for adults in Illinois. This moment is a huge step toward the bill’s passage and an exciting moment for those who seek an end to cannabis prohibition in Illinois.

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General

Early voting underway in Nevada; find out where candidates stand on cannabis policy

Voters have important choices for governor and U.S. Senate that will affect cannabis policy

Early voting has already begun in Nevada, and current Gov. Brian Sandoval is term-limited and will step down in early 2019. Nevadans now have a choice between two major party candidates who have experience with the state’s regulatory cannabis program.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, helped implement regulations for cannabis businesses in the state’s most populous county and for the McCarran International Airport. He is particularly concernedwith finding a solution to banking-related challenges. His consistent support for sensible rules and interest in seeking solutions earns Steve Sisolak an A grade from MPP.

His opponent is Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), whose office had the duty to defend the legalization program from those who sought to delay implementation, and he objected to the federal government’s withdrawal of guidance on federal policy toward regulatory standards. However, he opposed Measure 2 from the outset and also opposed allowing out-of-state patients from getting access to medical cannabis while in Nevada. His mixed support earns Adam Laxalt a C from MPP.

Turning to the U.S. Senate race, as a Congressman, Dean Heller (R) voted against prohibiting federal intervention in medical marijuana laws back in 2007. But more recently, he cosponsored a banking and a medical cannabis-related bill, the CARERS Act. Sen. Heller gets a B. In contrast, challenger Jacky Rosen (D) cosponsors numerous favorable bills, including the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, earning Rep. Rosen an A.

Information on the election, including sample ballots, is available here. To verify you are registered to vote and to find your polling place, click here. Early voting locations are here.

This is an important election for Nevadans so please make sure you get out and vote! Early voting lasts until Friday, November 2 and Election Day is Tuesday, November 6.

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Uncategorized

Illinois Governor Announces Opposition to Sensible Marijuana Policy

In an interview with WSIL-TV in Marion yesterday, Gov. Bruce Rauner officially announced his opposition to ending the harmful policy of cannabis prohibition in Illinois. The governor wrongly claimed we don’t yet know the effects of legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults’ use, despite significant data available from states like Washington and Colorado, which both ended prohibition five years ago.

By announcing his stance, the governor is saying no to new jobs and to hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) in much-needed revenue for the state, and saying yes to allowing criminal enterprises to continue their control of a thriving and unregulated market. An estimated 750,000 Illinoisans consume marijuana monthly despite its prohibition — consumers who will likely continue to make illicit purchases whether it’s regulated or not. That money should go to our state and not into the pockets of drug cartels.

Chicago is one of the U.S. cities most closely associated with the failure of prohibition policies, and today, violence and harm continue on its streets. Instead of perpetuating a system that contributes to crime, revenue from taxing marijuana could be used to help prevent it.

Please make sure everyone in your network knows about Gov. Rauner’s misguided position. If you are an Illinois resident, please send a message to your lawmakers in support of legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adults.

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General

Virginia Governor-Elect Supports Decriminalization

On Tuesday, Virginia was faced with a  choice between three candidates for governor, all of whom supported some kind of sensible marijuana policy reform. At the end of the day, they decided to back Ralph Northam, who was clearly the best candidate on this issue.

Marijuana Moment reports:

Northam, a Democrat, made marijuana decriminalization a centerpiece of his gubernatorial campaign, often describing the issue in racial justice terms. He also spoke about the medical benefits of cannabis.

Here’s a look at his statements and pledges on marijuana:

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana,” he wrote in a blog post early this year. “African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia. The Commonwealth spends more than $67 million on marijuana enforcement — money that could be better spent on rehabilitation.”

As a physician, Northam is “increasingly convinced by the data showing potential health benefits of marijuana, such as pain relief, drug-resistant epilepsy, and treatment for PTSD,” his campaign website says. “By decriminalizing it, our researchers can better study the plant so doctors can more effectively prescribe drugs made from it.”

The lieutenant governor also sent a letter to the Virginia State Crime Commission, which is conducting a review of the effects of potential marijuana decriminalization. “Virginia spends $67 million on marijuana enforcement – enough to open up another 13,000 pre-K spots for children,” Northam wrote. “African Americans are nearly 3 times as likely to get arrested for simple possession of marijuana and sentencing guidelines that include jail time can all too often begin a dangerous cycle of recidivism.”

During a debate, Notham mentioned that his father is a judge while making a point about the cost of enforcing marijuana laws.

MPP is looking forward to working with Governor-elect Northam and the legislature to pass beneficial marijuana legislation in the upcoming session.

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Tax and Regulate

New Jersey Poised for Big Changes After Election

Gov. Chris Christie has said that he is the “only impediment” to taxing and regulating marijuana in New Jersey — and he is leaving office in January 2018. Phil Murphy (D), who has repeatedly touted his support for legalization, beat Kim Guadagno (R) by about 10 percentage points and will be the next governor!

Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-22), sponsor of the bill to end marijuana prohibition in New Jersey, won easily, and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), another vocal supporter of legalization, was also victorious.

New Jersey is now well-placed to be the first state to end marijuana prohibition through the legislative process (as opposed to a citizens’ ballot initiative) — but a bill still won’t pass without hard work. And the details of the bill — things like ensuring people who have been criminalized for marijuana possession can expunge their records once marijuana possession is legalized — will require close attention to guarantee New Jersey implements the best possible public policy.

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Prohibition

Virginia Election Could Have Big Impact on Marijuana Policy

Virginia will elect its next governor tomorrow, November 7. Please take a minute to examine each candidate's position on marijuana policy before you head to the polls. While every candidate favors some form of reduced penalty for simple possession, they have significant differences in opinion regarding marijuana penalties in the commonwealth.

  • Democrat Ralph Northam supports decriminalization of marijuana and legalizing the medical use of marijuana.
  • Republican Ed Gillespie opposes decriminalizing marijuana but favors a three-strikes approach for simple possession. The first two violations would not carry criminal charges, but a third would. He is open to "appropriate, limited, tightly regulated use of marijuana for medicinal purposes."
  • Libertarian Cliff Hyra supports decriminalization, the establishment of a medical marijuana program, and allowing responsible adults ages 21 and older to consume marijuana.

This election is important, as the governor holds considerable sway over the direction of Virginia's policies. Please visit your local polling station between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. tomorrow, November 7, if you are a Virginia resident. If you don't know where your polling station is, click here to find out. Check your voter registration here, and be sure to bring a photo ID with you when you head to the polling station. Make your voice heard tomorrow!

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Prohibition||Research

MPP's Virginia Primary Election Guide

May 22, 2017 Maggie Ellinger-Locke

governor, House of Delegates, VA, Virginia, voter guide

Virginia’s gubernatorial primary is less than one month away, and MPP has put together a guide on where the candidates stand on marijuana policy issues. Please check out our voter guide so you can be informed on this critical topic before heading to the polls.

We put together a candidate survey and asked each campaign for governor to give us their thoughts on three issues:

1) marijuana decriminalization;
2) medical marijuana; and
3) taxing and regulating cannabis for adults age 21 and over.

Based on their responses to our survey, along with any public statements they have made, we assigned each candidate a letter grade, which you can check out here.

In addition to the governor’s race, each of Virginia’s 100 seats in the House of Delegates will be on the ballot this year. Please consider asking the candidates from your district where they stand on these issues before casting your vote. Let us know if you get any responses.

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Governor Signs Question 1, Making Marijuana Legal for Adults on January 30

After recounting 30% of the votes for Question 1 in Maine last month, opponents of marijuana policy reform dropped their challenge, allowing the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol move to the Governor's desk. On New Year's Eve, Gov. LePage signed Question 1 into law.

Portland Press Herald reports:

LePage confirmed the proclamation Tuesday on a talk show on WVOM radio in Bangor. But he also called on the Legislature to place a moratorium on the sale of marijuana until lawmakers could work out all the details, including providing funding to set up a regulatory framework for legal marijuana.

Under the new law, adults over age 21 will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or grow up to six plants. The law goes into effect on Jan. 30, which is 30 days after LePage issued the proclamation on Saturday.

Commercial sale of the drug would be regulated by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Ballot question opponents had requested a recount of the measure, which was approved by a 4,000-vote margin but the recount by the Secretary of State’s Office was ended in December after it appeared there would be no significant change in the results.

LePage said Tuesday he needs the Legislature to provide funding to the agriculture department in order for him to move forward with establishing an agency to regulate the sale of marijuana in Maine.

Advocates are urging the legislature to begin implementation immediately and not consider a moratorium until after they have had a chance to establish regulations.

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