The Marijuana Policy Project is looking for our next Executive Director to run the nation’s leading marijuana policy reform organization! We are taking advantage of our first-ever change in executive leadership to cast the widest net possible so we can find just the right person to lead us into the future at this critical juncture in marijuana policy.
We are looking for a leader with a personal commitment to marijuana policy reform and individual liberty who has the drive, skills, and experience to end marijuana prohibition. Marijuana reform is one of the country’s most popular and bipartisan issues, with public support more than doubling over the last 20 years. The opportunity has never been greater to make historic changes to the nation’s marijuana laws.
The Executive Director will lead the team responsible for over half of the current medical marijuana and adult use legalization laws in the country. The position develops and implements the organization’s political strategy and goals in conjunction with the staff and Board of Directors. Ensuring fiscal stability is a major part of the job, and the ideal candidate will have a track record of successful fundraising and a demonstrated ability to run a fast-paced, mission-driven organization of 20 or more employees with a primary focus on changing laws.
Find the full job description here.
Interested parties should contact email@example.com with a cover letter, resume, and a list of professional references.
Matthew Schweich, the current executive director, is committed to leading the organization until his successor has been named. He will then focus his attention on the Michigan and Utah ballot initiatives campaigns. Mr. Schweich joined MPP in early 2015 as the director of state campaigns, and he was the campaign director for the 2016 legalization ballot initiative campaigns in Maine and Massachusetts, and also worked on the 2016 Nevada campaign. He was named executive director of MPP in November 2017.
Now that most state legislative sessions are over for the year, MPP's Rob Kampia has published a list of the biggest victories in what is already the biggest year on record for marijuana policy reformers!
On July 29, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill removing the threat of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, capping a record year of legislative and administrative marijuana policy reforms throughout the country.
In addition to Illinois, a number of other states enacted laws to reduce marijuana possession penalties. Kansas lowered the maximum jail sentence for first-time possession and reduced second offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Louisiana and Maryland removed criminal penalties for possession of paraphernalia, with the Maryland Legislature overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. Oklahoma cut the penalties for second marijuana possession offenses in half, and Tennessee reduced a third possession offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, making the maximum penalty less than a year in jail. At the local level, New Orleans and a number of Florida counties passed ordinances that give police the option to issue summons or citations instead of arresting people for low-level possession.
The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee convened this evening to take testimony on H 5274, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello, would end Rhode Island’s marijuana prohibition, replacing it with a system in which marijuana is taxed, regulated, and sold in a manner similar to alcohol. This is now the third session in a row that the Marijuana Policy Project has teamed with legislative champions like House Judiciary Chair Edith Ajello, community advocates, and allied policy organizations to make the case that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol, a far more dangerous substance. And for the third year in a row, I was so honored to be in Providence to participate.
Study after study shows that marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, both for the consumer and the community. For instance, alcohol use is a major factor in many violent crimes and risk of injury to the user; the same is not true for marijuana use. It makes little sense to punish adults who choose to use the safer substance.
Where prohibition fails at prevention of use and abuse, it succeeds at enriching and empowering criminals and cartels. Whether we like it or not, marijuana is and, for decades has been, an in-demand commodity. By prohibiting marijuana, Rhode Island gift-wraps a lucrative, tax-free market to criminal enterprises and drug gangs, putting consumers at risk by exposing them to these harmful people. Since marijuana is illegal, the individuals and organizations that illegally profit are unable to rely on our judicial system to step in and resolve business disputes. This often leads to violence that affects not just the criminals, but our broader communities as well.
Residents of Rhode Island explained how prohibiting marijuana starves Rhode Island of potential tax revenue that could be used to fund vital projects. Marijuana prohibition fails spectacularly at preventing use, but it succeeds in making sure our state and local governments are prevented from collecting revenue off sales. Ending the prohibition will allow Rhode Island to collect sales tax on the purchase of marijuana by adults 21 and older. The particular bill in question also imposes an excise tax of $50 an ounce at the wholesale level. This is real money that Rhode Island can use for good and necessary programs. For instance, under the provisions of the bill, 40% of revenue raised from marijuana sales will go to fund programs for the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse.
Committee members also heard from concerned parents and grandparents about the need to start treating marijuana use for what it is: a matter of public health, not public safety. Rhode Islanders don’t want their children to use marijuana, and we agree with them. But Rhode Islanders also know that marijuana prohibition creates an environment that puts their children at a greater risk than marijuana as a substance ever could. It’s true that we can’t prevent all instances of youth use in Rhode Island, but we can and should address the harms associated with use under prohibition. Prohibition ensures that individuals who have no qualms about breaking the law monopolize the market. Naturally, some of these individuals will have other more harmful drugs available. Regulations ensure that marijuana, and only marijuana, is sold by accountable businesses who card before sales.
We’ve tried prohibition, and it’s failed. No matter how much marijuana law enforcement confiscates, no matter how many individuals they lock up for selling marijuana, and no matter how many users they cite for possession, supply and demand remain. There are many, many reasons to support ending marijuana prohibition, but really no good reason to keep it around. Despite the logic, it will still take time and patience before we can replace prohibition with a system that allows responsible adults to choose to use marijuana in private. Many, many, thanks are in order for Rebecca McGoldrick, Michelle McKenzie, Hillary Davis, Jared Moffat, Beth Comery, and everyone else from the Coalition for Marijuana Regulation who showed up in support. Special thanks to our legislative champion, Chair Ajello, as well as to Minority Leader Newberry and all of their supportive colleagues in the House. What a day!
As you might have read or heard, a state representative in North Carolina killed a medical marijuana bill yesterday because he felt he and his colleagues were being “harassed” based on the volume of emails and calls they were receiving in support of the legislation.
This is unacceptable. Our democratic process depends on citizens reaching out to their elected representatives to let them know where their constituents stand on the issues. Not only is this type of civic engagement appropriate, it should be encouraged. If anything, such a high volume of calls and emails in support of the medical marijuana bill should be considered a sign that this is an issue worthy of public debate.
Please send a message to Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam asking him to apologize for equating calls and emails from constituents to being “harassed,” and requesting that he call for a hearing regarding medical marijuana.
Things are looking good for a medical marijuana bill introduced in the New Hampshire legislature.
The Concord Monitor reports:
In advance of a hearing this week on a bill to legalize medical marijuana, a UNH-WMUR poll shows that 79 percent of New Hampshire adults support allowing doctors to recommend marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses. [emphasis added]
This year's bill, H.B. 573, is similar to a medical marijuana measure that passed last year with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, it was vetoed by then-governor John Lynch. The recent election of Gov. Maggie Hassan, however, bodes well for the future of the latest bill. According to a report from the Associated Press earlier this month:
Four years ago when she was a state senator, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan voted to override one of the vetoes, which legalized the use of marijuana with a doctor’s prescription. She still supports tightly controlled, medicinal use of marijuana, spokesman Marc Goldberg said.
A bill will reach Hassan, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff of Concord believes.
Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) is seeking to make Maine the third state in the country to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana. The measure would allow anyone 21 or older to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana from a licensed retailer. Sen. Russell discussed the bill and its advantages on MPBN’s Maine Watch:
State lawmakers will debate the bill this spring. If the measure makes it through the legislature, it’ll be sent to referendum. MPP's Maine Political Director, David Boyer, has worked closely with Sen. Russell on her push to put the decision of marijuana reform into voters’ hands:
Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach, a long-time supporter of marijuana reform and previous sponsor of several medical marijuana bills, announced Monday that he will introduce a bill that would make adult possession of up to an ounce of marijuana legal and would tax and regulate the substance. According to The Times Herald, the latter policy is what may eventually swing lawmakers in his state:
But money, more than moral appeals or anything else, might talk the loudest in the drive to decriminalize marijuana in Pennsylvania, particularly in the current era of budget shortfalls and lingering economic uncertainty. And with financial concerns helping to fuel the passage of historic pot legalization laws in Colorado and Washington State in November — as well as the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday that would legalize and levy an excise tax on the sale of the drug — perhaps now is a better time than ever to convince skeptical state lawmakers of the cash benefits of getting into the marijuana business.
Sen. Leach truly believes in this issue, and he wants people to start talking about it more. He tells Raw Story:
“This is inevitable. This will pass. It may take two, it may take four years,” Leach added. “A majority of people don’t support marijuana legalization simply because they haven’t really had cause to revisit the issue in their minds. Once you sit down with people and explain the harm it does in a wide variety of ways, and the be[ne]fits(sic) we can accrue through legalization, I think that people will very quickly change their minds.
… So there’s many who won’t put their name out front on an issue until it gets [mainstream] in their minds. If there was a secret ballot, I predict legalization would pass.”
If you want to help start this conversation with your members of Congress, it has never been easier.
At a press conference Wednesday, Rhode Island State Rep. Edith Ajello (pictured at right) and State Sen. Donna Nesselbush announced the introduction of a bill to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. So far the bill has 19 sponsors, including Republican House Minority Leader Brian Newberry.
Under the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, criminal penalties for the private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and for the home growing of up to three mature marijuana plants would be removed; a tightly regulated system of marijuana retail stores, cultivation and research facilities would be established; and the Department of Business Regulation would establish rules regulating security, labeling, health and safety requirements.
A story about the event in the Pawtucket Times conveyed Sen. Nesselbush's strong case for the bill:
"Marijuana, like alcohol, has long been with us and is widely used,” Nesselbush told reporters at an afternoon news conference. “The question is: how are we going to deal with it?
"Will the state determine the time, place and manner or will we leave it up to criminals to sell it anywhere at any time to anyone? Will the state act boldly to create a legitimate industry that creates jobs and generates legitimate tax revenue or will we continue to unwittingly support gangs and cartels? Are we going to spend the hard-earned tax dollars from hard-working taxpayers to punish and incarcerate individuals for consuming a substance that appears to be less harmful than alcohol?”
The Rhode Island bill was rolled out just one day after members of Congress introduced historic legislation to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol at the federal level. If you have yet to do so, please contact your represenative totday and encourage them to support an end to federal marijuana prohibition.
(Photo courtesy of Rebecca McGoldrick, Coalition for Marijuana Regulation)
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013. If passed, the bill would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and institute a system similar to the alcohol regulatory structure that federally regulates marijuana. It would also transfer jurisdiction over marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to a newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms, and Explosives.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Marijuana Tax Equity Act, which calls for an excise tax of marijuana at the federal level. It also requires the IRS to develop a steady understanding of the industry. After the first two years, and every five years following, the IRS would produce a study of the trade, offering recommendations to Congress so as to improve upon the administration of the tax. Who ever thought that the words “IRS” and “taxes” would be cause for celebration?
The introduction of these bills was largely inspired by the passage of legalization initiatives last November in Colorado – where MPP provided most of the funding for the campaign – and in Washington state.
Today, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed legislation (PDF) into law that will reform how Rhode Island penalizes the simple possession of up to an ounce of marijuana (PDF). Currently, simple possession can be penalized with a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $200-$500 criminal fine. Under the provisions of the new law – which will take effect on April 1, 2013 – most violations of possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will be penalized with a simple civil fine of $150!
Rhode Island is the 15th state to remove the threat of jail time for the simple possession of marijuana. Other states are considering enacting similar laws or improving their existing ‘decriminalization’ laws. Where one stands on marijuana policy has become a deciding issue at the polls lately, and support for reform is winning out. Colorado and Washington will vote on measures to tax and regulate the marijuana market like alcohol come November. It’s becoming more and more clear that supporting sensible marijuana policy reform is mainstream politics.
While MPP is definitely pleased by the progress made in Rhode Island, we are not finished with our work in the state. In addition to leading the lobbying effort to pass medical marijuana, compassion centers, compassion center amendments, and the decriminalization law, MPP is spearheading an effort to tax and regulate marijuana distribution in Rhode Island in a manner similar to alcohol. We have wonderful bill sponsors and support from the voters of the Ocean State (PDF), and we’re determined to end marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island and beyond!