Tax and Regulate

Legal cannabis sales begin in Illinois!

There’s a new law in the Land of Lincoln! Yesterday, while ringing in a new decade, Illinois also saw the official start of legal cannabis sales for adults 21 and older.
 
Illinois residents can now purchase and possess up to 30 grams of raw cannabis, cannabis-infused products containing no more than 500 mg of THC, and five grams of cannabis product in concentrated form. Visitors to the state can purchase half those amounts. More than 40 dispensaries throughout Illinois have been approved to sell cannabis to adults.
 
MPP lobbied to improve cannabis policies in the Illinois Legislature for over 15 years and worked closely with legislators and the governor’s office to craft and pass this new law, which contains the most far-reaching social equity provisions ever included in a legalization law. It includes reinvestment in communities disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition, broad expungement provisions, and measures to ensure the industry includes communities that have been targeted by cannabis enforcement. On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker granted over 11,000 pardons for low-level cannabis convictions, marking the first wave of expungements expected under the new law.
 
We’d like to give a big shout out to these four legislative champions who saw this effort to its fruition — Sen. Heather Steans, Sen. Toi Hutchinson, Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth. Sen. Hutchinson was appointed by Gov. Pritzker to oversee the state program in September. Thanks to their years of dedication, this law will truly change lives, which is why MPP does this work.
 
With state legislatures soon convening for their 2020 legislative sessions, MPP is working hard to make further progress reforming our nation’s cannabis laws. Although 11 states have now legalized, a majority of Americans still live in a jurisdiction where possessing cannabis is against the law.
 
Please donate to MPP so that we can continue to enact and implement legalization policies at the state level. Illinois is a powerful reminder of what our movement can achieve when we have the resources needed to succeed.

Read more

Tax and Regulate

How the SAFE Banking Act Means Equity

The emerging cannabis industry — with $17 billion in sales this year — is currently troubled by a lack of racial diversity within its ranks. It is impossible to ignore the fact that members of the African American community and other racial minorities have paid a particularly high price in the war on cannabis. When the business community that follows legalization leaves behind people of color, there is cause for concern. 

Recently, equity in the cannabis industry has moved to the forefront of many legalization discussions around the United States. It became the most significant issue in passage of Illinois’ recent legalization bill, and equity remains central in the discussions in New Jersey and New York. It can include many facets — from additional points on license applications for minority-owned businesses to incubator programs that help businesses get off the ground.

Yet, the single biggest advancement in equity in the near term will come from an unlikely and perhaps even unremarkable source — access to regulated financial services. 

African Americans have access to far less wealth than their white counterparts. As a result, it has been difficult for black entrepreneurs to enter into the cannabis industry, which has relied on private equity to seed business opportunity. Opening banking services to the cannabis industry helps not only existing companies, but also minorities seeking access to that industry. 

For example, many of the specific equity policies that states are putting in place require banking services to be meaningful. In Illinois, the state’s new landmark law to legalize and regulate cannabis establishes a fund to provide tens of millions of dollars in grants and loans to social equity applicants. Yet it remains to be seen if the financial institutions that serve the state will be willing to provide the banking services necessary to implement that portion of the law. The SAFE Banking Act would create a “safe harbor” for banks that provide small business loans, which could help level the playing field and increase opportunities for diverse representation within the cannabis industry.

Additionally, the SAFE Banking Act would establish important reporting requirements that do not exist today. It would mandate an annual report to Congress on access to financial services for minority- and women-owned cannabis businesses and recommendations to expand access for them. It would also require the Comptroller General to study barriers to marketplace entry for minority- and women-owned cannabis businesses and report to Congress on recommendations.

Members of Congress should allow banks to provide financial services to cannabis businesses. This creates access to resources for minority and women entrepreneurs and increases the chances for success in state equity initiatives. The SAFE Act is the best next step toward establishing a more equitable cannabis industry in the U.S.


Steven Hawkins, Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project

Read more

Tax and Regulate

Illinois becomes the 11th state to legalize marijuana for adults!

Make a donation today to fuel MPP's legalization efforts across the country.

Earlier today, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, ending marijuana prohibition in the country's sixth most populous state. This is a tremendous achievement and the first time marijuana sales have been legalized through a state's legislative process rather than a ballot initiative.

I'm proud to say that MPP's staff and lobbying team played a central role in this groundbreaking victory, and it's important to remember that we are only effective because people like you support our work. As we celebrate today, please make a contribution to help us legalize marijuana in more states and at the federal level.

Beginning January 1, 2020, individuals 21 and older in Illinois will be able to legally possess and consume cannabis. Retail marijuana sales are expected to begin at that time. Illinois' new legalization law is also significant because it contains some of the strongest language of any state around equity and social justice, including far-reaching expungement provisions and programs to help communities that have been most impacted by the war on drugs.

Today is another sign of our remarkable progress in recent years. But a majority of Americans still live in a jurisdiction where possessing marijuana is against the law. When you donate to MPP, you become part of a powerful movement that is not only changing laws, but changing lives.

Please don't sit on the sidelines. Join us in our mission of achieving a world with more humane and just marijuana policies.

Read more

Tax and Regulate

Help New York become the next state to legalize marijuana!

With the New York Legislature in the final weeks of its 2019 legislative session, we need you to take action NOW to help get the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act across the finish line.

Just last week, the Illinois Legislature passed a landmark cannabis regulation bill, and New York can do the same — if we can get lawmakers to act!

In fact, New York's Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act closely mirrors the Illinois legislation — with far-reaching expungement provisions for prior convictions, funding for communities harmed by the war on drugs, social equity measures, and funding to ensure people from impacted communities are able to enter the cannabis industry.

This week, Assembly Majority Leader and bill sponsor Crystal Peoples-Stokes said she believes the Assembly support is there to pass the bill, and Gov. Cuomo signaled his continued support for legalization. But New York lawmakers MUST make passage a legislative priority, as the bill has to advance before the session ends on Wednesday, June 19.

The New York bill would not just ensure marijuana is legalized, but legalized the right way — rooted in racial, economic, and social justice.

Please take action to keep the pressure on Gov. Cuomo and New York lawmakers to pass marijuana legalization into law this year.

A big thanks goes to the Drug Policy Alliance for leading legalization efforts in New York. And thanks in advance for your help!

Read more


Illinois Legislature legalizes marijuana for adults!

As we celebrate this history-making progress, make a contribution to MPP to help us support smooth implementation of the law.

Big news! Lawmakers in Springfield just approved legislation to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has championed legalization.

With the governor's signature, Illinois will become the 11th state to legalize marijuana for adults and the first to approve legal sales through the state legislature rather than a ballot measure. Legal marijuana sales are scheduled to begin on January 1, 2020.

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) will legalize the possession and purchase of up to 30 grams of marijuana for adults and establish an inclusive, regulated market for cultivators, processors, retail stores, and testing labs.

Crafting a bill that could get past the finish line involved a long and difficult negotiation process. Although we weren't able to get everything we hoped to see (such as home cultivation and delivery for adults), the bill is an enormous step forward. It will help hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans and set a new standard for addressing the harms caused by decades of marijuana prohibition.

The CRTA includes far-reaching expungement provisions, funding for communities hard hit by the drug war, and assistance to business applicants operated by those harmed by prohibition or from areas of disproportionate impact. It also legalizes home cultivation for patients. Read a complete summary of the legislation here.

This victory is the result of a collective effort, and there are so many to thank for their support: MPP donors who made our years-long advocacy effort possible; legislative champions Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Sen. Heather Steans, Sen. Toi Hutchinson, and Rep. Jehan Gordon; Gov. Pritzker; our dedicated lobbyists Pete Baroni and Kareem Kenyatta; Sen. Steans' cannabis policy staffer Rose Ashby; Clergy for a New Drug Policy; and all the individuals and organizations who worked to move the legislation forward.

We wouldn't be able to do this work without the support of those who contribute. Please consider making a donation today to help us ensure Illinois' legalization law is implemented quickly and smoothly, and to help us roll back prohibition in other states.

Read more

Tax and Regulate

Illinois Senate votes to legalize — on to the House!​

If you live in Illinois, ask your state rep to vote yes to end cannabis prohibition in the Land of Lincoln.

The Illinois Senate just voted (38-17) to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use! Now the bill moves to the House, which could vote at any time. There's no time to waste: the legislature adjourns on Friday.

Make sure your state rep is on the right side of history. Send an email or make a phone call today!

State lawmakers really do listen to voters, and just a handful of calls and emails per district can make all the difference. The vote is expected to be close.

In New Jersey, hopes of legalizing marijuana in 2018 or 2019 were dashed when the vote count came up a few votes shy. Efforts also stalled in New York and Connecticut.

Don't let this chance to end prohibition in Illinois slip away: Write your state rep today. You could also look them up on social media and politely ask them to stand up for justice there. And don't forget to rally your friends to do the same: Share this on social media or by email.

Read more

Tax and Regulate

Illinois: Make sure your legislators vote “yes” on legalization

If you live in Illinois, ask your lawmakers to end prohibition in the Land of Lincoln.

With only three days left until the legislature adjourns, the Illinois House and Senate could vote on legalizing marijuana any day. This would be the first time ever that a state legislature (as opposed to voters) legalized adult-use marijuana sales.

Make sure your legislators are on the right side of history. Write them today!

State lawmakers really do listen to voters, and just a handful of calls and emails per district can make all the difference. The vote is expected to be close.

Not only would Senate Bill 7 legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older, it would create the best legalization law so far in terms of addressing the harms inflicted by cannabis prohibition. Senate Bill 7:

  • Includes robust expungement provisions to stop derailing dreams of those with past cannabis convictions;
  • Directs a significant amount of the tax revenue to communities that have been hard-hit by the drug war; and
  • Includes groundbreaking measures to ensure an inclusive, equitable industry. Equity applicants — those directly harmed by cannabis prohibition or from communities most harmed by it — will pay lower fees, be eligible for low-interest loans, and will get points on their applications.

Although the votes weren’t there to allow home cultivation for all adults, the bill also includes home cultivation for medical cannabis patients. Patients would also be exempt from all adult-use taxes.

In New Jersey, hopes of legalizing marijuana in 2018 or 2019 were dashed when the vote count came up a few votes shy. Don’t let this chance to end prohibition in Illinois slip away: Write your lawmakers today. Then, rally your friends to do the same: Share this on social media or by email.

Read more

Tax and Regulate

25 days to legalize marijuana in Illinois!

If you live in Illinois, contact your state legislators today to tell them it’s time for smart, equitable cannabis policies in Illinois!

After years of committee hearings, town halls, and stakeholder meetings, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy have crafted a thoughtful proposal to end cannabis prohibition in Illinois! SB 7 would set the gold standard for smart, equitable cannabis policy. It includes secure home cultivation, robust expungement, community reinvestment, and ensures the benefits of the new industry go to those who suffered from the war on cannabis.

Now, we need all hands on deck to get the bill past the finish line before the legislature adjourns on May 31.

Email your state legislators TODAY to make sure they know their constituents want them to vote “yes” to legalize marijuana for adults' use. Our free, automated system makes it quick and easy to make your voice heard.

Then, spread the news on social media to rally other thoughtful Illinoisans to action.

Legalizing and regulating marijuana is a priority of Gov. J.B. Pritzker. But we know passage can’t be taken for granted. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Write your state legislators today, and spread the word.

Read more

Medical Marijuana

Wisconsin Gov. Evers proposing decrim, medical cannabis as part of his budget

If you live in Wisconsin, let your state lawmakers know it's time for humane marijuana policies.

Wisconsin is rapidly becoming an island of backwards marijuana laws.

Minnesota and Illinois have both decriminalized marijuana and legalized medical cannabis. Meanwhile, in November, Michigan voters made their state the first in the Midwest to legalize marijuana for adults.

Gov. Tony Evers (D) has a bold vision to improve Wisconsin's marijuana laws. His budget, which will be released in late February, will propose decriminalization and expungement, along with a comprehensive medical cannabis program.

But Gov. Evers can't fix Wisconsin's outdated marijuana laws on his own. His proposal would have to pass the legislature, where Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) is opposed. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) has said he is "open to medical marijuana when it is prescribed by a doctor," but that Evers' proposal goes too far.

That's where you come in: Write your assemblymember and senator to ask them to support Evers' proposal and to push for it to get a vote.

Then, share this message with friends and family so that they, too, can speak up for commonsense cannabis policies.

Read more

Medical Marijuana

Wisconsin Legislature convenes: Put medical cannabis on the agenda

If you live in Wisconsin, let your lawmakers know Wisconsin patients deserve a compassionate medical cannabis program.

Yesterday, newly elected and returning lawmakers convened for the first day of Wisconsin's new legislative session. Since the legislature adjourned last year, voters in Utah, Oklahoma, and Missouri enacted medical cannabis laws, bringing the number of medical cannabis states to 32.

And, on Election Day, more than a million Wisconsinites cast non-binding votes in support of medical marijuana or adult-use programs. In all 11 counties and two cities — both red and blue — where it was on the ballot, medical cannabis measures passed overwhelmingly. Support ranged from 67% to 89%.

Despite that massive show of support, Wisconsin patients either needlessly suffer or risk arrest to find relief from cannabis. Let your lawmakers know you want them to change that this year.

Wisconsin's new governor, Tony Evers (D), supports medical cannabis, but he can only sign a bill if one makes it to his desk. Wisconsin doesn't have a binding, statewide ballot initiative process. As was the case in Illinois and Minnesota, the only way to enact a medical cannabis law in the state is through the legislature.

So please, send a quick note to your elected officials, and share this message with other compassionate Wisconsinites.

 

Read more