Prohibition

Bills to Improve Maryland Decriminalization Law Stuck in Committee With Deadline Approaching

Maryland has decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. But 10 grams is a lower threshold than the vast majority of states that have eliminated jail time for cannabis possession, many of which use one ounce as the cutoff. As a result, in 2016 at least 4,300 people were criminally prosecuted for cannabis possession in Maryland. SB 127 would raise the threshold to one ounce.

SB 128 would address the problem that people in possession of less than 10 grams are still being criminalized in some jurisdictions by being charged with “possession with intent to distribute” — a felony — based on very limited evidence (like having their cannabis in more than one baggie). In order to address this overcharging, SB 128 would create a legal presumption that people who have less than the amount decriminalized should not be charged with possession with intent to distribute.

Both of these bills are sitting in the House Judiciary Committee, and with the legislative session ending Monday night, lawmakers need to hear from you to ensure the bills get a vote.

If you are a Maryland resident, please ask your delegates to make sure SB 127 and SB 128 pass this year.

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Medical Marijuana

Support Growing for Medical Marijuana in Kentucky

There has been a tremendous groundswell of support for medical cannabis in Kentucky this year, and the legislature is finally beginning to listen. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee began considering testimony in support of HB 166, a bill that would make Kentucky the 30th state to pass an effective medical cannabis law. A similar bill, SB 118, has already generated quite a bit of discussion in the Senate.

Patients who are struggling with serious medical conditions in Kentucky have already waited far too long for legal protections and safe, legal access to cannabis. The current legislative session is scheduled to end in mid-April, so it’s time for representatives and senators to demonstrate strong leadership on the issue.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please email your representatives and senators right now and urge them to support medical cannabis legislation in 2018.

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Tax and Regulate

Supporters of Rhode Island Legalization Urge Legislators to Act on Bill

On Tuesday, Regulate Rhode Island and allies made a strong case to the House Judiciary Committee to vote on H 5555, the legislation to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. Click below to watch testimony from:

If you are a Rhode Island resident, please call your representative in the General Assembly, and tell them to ask House leadership to allow a vote on legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana this year.

The Speaker of the House, Nick Mattiello, has the ultimate say on whether the bill will move forward in the House this year. He needs to hear from his members in the House that this is a priority for them.

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Prohibition

Key Committee Approves Marijuana Possession Bill in Vermont

The Vermont House Judiciary Committee voted 8-3 to approve H. 170, a bill that would eliminate penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana and a small number of plants. Additionally, an independent poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project and conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 57% of Vermonters support H. 170.

As amended by the committee, H. 170 would eliminate penalties for adults 21 and older who possess one ounce or less of marijuana, two mature plants, and four immature plants — as well as the marijuana produced by those plants, if stored properly in accordance with the law. Possession of between one and two ounces would become a civil violation punishable by a fine.

“Today’s vote shows just how far this issue has advanced in just this past year,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a press release. “Most Vermonters agree it makes no sense to continue punishing adults for consuming a less harmful substance than alcohol — especially now that it is legal for adults in Massachusetts and Maine. Vermonters are ready to close the book on marijuana prohibition.”

If you are a Vermont resident, it is critically important that you call or email your representatives today and urge them to vote YES on H. 170.

 

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Prohibition

Vermont House Vote Expected on Bill Legalizing Possession and Cultivation

The Vermont House of Representatives is expected to vote soon on H. 170, a bill that would eliminate penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana and a small number of plants. The bill is expected to pass the House Judiciary Committee next week, and then it will likely advance to the House floor, where the vote is expected to be close.

Please call or email your representatives today, and urge them to vote YES on H. 170.

As amended by the committee, H. 170 would eliminate penalties for adults 21 and older who possess one ounce or less of marijuana, two mature plants, and four immature plants — as well as the marijuana produced by those plants, if stored properly in accordance with the law. Possession of between one and two ounces would become a civil violation punishable by a fine.

This is a modest reform, but it would be an important step for the state to stop treating adults’ marijuana possession as a problem for the criminal justice system.

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Medical Marijuana

Michigan Official Rejects Autism as Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana Program

On Thursday, a Michigan official denied an application to add autism to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in the state.

Detroit Free Press reports:

The decision followed three years of efforts by parents of autistic children, their lawyers and supporters to have Michigan become the first state to specify that marijuana could be used to treat autism.

Mike Zimmer, appointed in December as director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs — LARAlara — said he was concerned that an approval would apply not just to serious cases of autism but to all cases. And he said that parents applying to use medical pot would need the approval of two medical doctors, yet there was no requirement that either doctor be experienced in treating autism.

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No state specifically allows medical cannabis for autism, although California and Washington, D.C., allow using the drug for any condition that a medical doctor believes it may help, said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit group that favors legalizing marijuana.

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A bill that would broaden Michigan’s medical marijuana act to allow other forms of medical pot — House Bill 4210, sponsored by state Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto — has been in the House Judiciary Committee since February, after a similar bill failed to pass last year.

While this is disappointing, it does provide a road map of sorts for a successful application next time. Hopefully, autism sufferers will soon be able to access medical marijuana in Michigan.

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Prohibition

Wyoming House Judiciary Committee Approves Decriminalization Bill

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee of the Wyoming Legislature approved a bill – HB 29 ­– that would replace the current criminal penalty for marijuana possession with a more sensible civil fine. By a vote of 7-2, the committee supported the proposal that will end the threat of arrest for first and second possession charges.

[caption id="attachment_8477" align="alignright" width="199"]Rep Jim Byrd Rep. Jim Byrd[/caption]

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Byrd, the bill originally sought to impose a civil fine of $50 for the first or second possession of up to a half an ounce of marijuana and a $100 fine for possession of up to an ounce. The committee amended this language and set the fines at $250 for possession of up to half an ounce and $500 for possession of up to an ounce. If you are a Wyoming resident, please encourage your representative to support this bill, and ask her or him to lower the fine as well.

No one should be saddled with a criminal record for the simple act of possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. If HB 29 is made law, Wyomingites will no longer face that overly harsh penalty. Email your representatives in support of HB 29 and encourage your friends and family in Wyoming to do so too!

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Prohibition

Maryland Senate Approves Decriminalization Bill

[caption id="attachment_7447" align="alignright" width="144"]zirkin Sen. Bobby Zirkin[/caption]

For the second year in a row, the Maryland Senate has approved Sen. Bobby Zirkin’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Today’s vote had an even wider margin than last year’s. Seven Republicans joined 29 Democrats for a 36-8 bipartisan vote. SB 364 now heads to the House Judiciary Committee for its consideration.

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee heard nearly eight hours of testimony on proposals to decriminalize and legalize marijuana from MPP and other members of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland

SB 364 would replace criminal penalties for the possession of 10 grams of marijuana with a civil fine of up to $100. This is a much-needed measure in Maryland, which has the fourth-highest arrest rate per capita for marijuana possession. Arrest records have a devastating effect on a young person’s life, and can become an obstacle to obtaining an education, employment, and even housing. SB 364 is a strong step towards ending the ineffective and destructive prohibition of marijuana. This bill would also free up law enforcement to focus on addressing serious crimes instead of arresting adults for using a substance objectively safer than alcohol.

More than two-thirds of Maryland voters (68 percent) support changing state laws to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100, according to a survey conducted in September by Public Policy Polling. The full results are available at https://www.mpp.org/MDpoll.

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Medical Marijuana

Bad Medical Bill Progresses in Michigan

[caption id="attachment_7417" align="alignright" width="166"]06142011JonesPC Sen. Rick Jones[/caption]

In Michigan on Tuesday, Sen. Rick Jones’s SB 783 passed the Senate with a vote of 31 to 7. This bill — which is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee — would allow landlords to prohibit medical marijuana cultivation and smoking in the privacy of one’s residence.  Meanwhile, more sensible bills including HB 4271 and HB 5104, which protect patient access, currently languish in committee.

This bill would allow landlords to prohibit marijuana cultivation as well as smoking — but not vaporizing — when a lease specifically limits these activities. Those who violate a lease would be subject to sanctions, taking patient rights backwards to the days before the current law was passed in 2008. This bill would limit these rights without addressing fundamental problem in Michigan’s law — the lack of safe and regular access through state-legal provisioning centers and protections for non-smoked forms of the medicine.

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Tax and Regulate

Rhode Island Legislators Announce Intent to End Marijuana Prohibition

[caption id="attachment_7347" align="alignright" width="199"]miller 1 Sen. Josh Miller[/caption]

Rhode Island Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Josh Miller and House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Edith Ajello held a press conference today to announce that they will introduce a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. The founder of Brown University’s Alcohol & Addiction Studies Center, a former Providence police officer, and other opinion leaders joined them to call for this more sensible approach. 

The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act is similar to the laws in Colorado and Washington. The proposal would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It also directs the Department of Revenue to license and regulate marijuana producers and 10 retail marijuana stores. This sensible approach to marijuana would create new industries with new jobs and raise needed revenue for the state. It would also allow law enforcement focus on more serious crimes.

MPP and Regulate Rhode Island are working hard to ensure that this is the year Rhode Island ends its marijuana prohibition, but we need your help. If you are a Rhode Island resident, email your lawmakers and ask them to support this important legislation and then ask your friends and family in the Ocean State to do the same.

Finally, if you have experienced first-hand how problematic marijuana prohibition is, take a few moments to tell us your story.

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