Tax and Regulate

Maine Legislature Overrides Marijuana Regulation Bill Veto

Today, the Maine House and Senate overrode Gov. LePage’s veto of the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee’s bill that establishes a regulatory framework for marijuana sales.

LD 1719 creates the rules for licensing and regulating marijuana producers, processors, and retail establishments and sets the tax rates for adult-use marijuana. The bill does not implement the portion of the voter-approved initiative that calls for social consumption lounges.

While the bill was by no means perfect, we are glad that the state is moving forward with implementation, and soon there will be a legal way for adults to purchase marijuana.

Here is the link to LD 1719 if you are interested in reading the full text of the bill.

We are disappointed that social clubs were removed from the law and that adults may now only cultivate three plants at home instead of six. We will be working with the next legislature and governor to improve upon the work the legislature has accomplished. To that end, we have sent a survey to the candidates running for governor, asking if they will make implementation a priority once elected. Stay tuned for the results of the survey before the June primary election.

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Tax and Regulate

N.H. House Passes Bill To Legalize, Tax, and Regulate Marijuana!

The New Hampshire House of Representatives took a major step forward today, voting 170-162 to approve a bill that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for use by adults in the “Live Free or Die” state.

Unfortunately, Gov. Maggie Hassan has already promised she will veto the bill if it reaches her desk. “I just think it's the wrong message to send to young people,” she explained.

Based on Colorado’s Amendment 64, HB 492 would end New Hampshire’s failed prohibition of marijuana and replace it with a system of sensible regulation. This is the first time any state legislative chamber has approved such a bill, so it’s great to see that New Hampshire legislators have been willing to evolve along with the shift in public opinion!

Next the bill will be referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. A second vote by the House will be held in February or March, and if HB 492 passes a second time, it will head to the Senate.

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Medical Marijuana

Illinois Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana!

Illinois_Medical_Facebook

After "only" 10 years of lobbying in Springfield, MPP has finally succeeded at persuading the Illinois Legislature to legalize medical marijuana. The Senate approved the measure 35-21 Friday, and it received approval from the House of Representatives by a vote of 61-57 on April 17.

If Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signs the bill, Illinois will become the 19th or 20th state to legalize medical marijuana. (New Hampshire is also on the verge of passing MPP's medical marijuana legislation, so it's a race to see which state will be first!)

The Associated Press reports:

“We are hopeful that Gov. Quinn will join legislators and the vast majority of Illinois voters in supporting this proposal,” [MPP's Dan] Riffle said. “Marijuana has proven medical benefits, regulating it works, and there is broad public and legislative support for doing it. This is a no-brainer.”

If the Illinois bill becomes law, as many as 60 retail establishments will be licensed to sell medical marijuana to patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses.

Gov. Quinn has made some positive comments about our bill, but we still don't know whether he'll sign it. Over the next few months, we must focus on ensuring that the governor sides with the forces of compassion and fiscal prudence, rather than the forces of fear and fiscal waste.

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Prohibition

Vermont Legislature Passes Decriminalization Bill!

State lawmakers g941311_10151374980931816_1029946626_nave final approval Monday to a measure that will decriminalize possession of limited amounts of marijuana in Vermont. The bill will now be transmitted to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is expected to sign it into law in coming weeks, at which time Vermont will become the 17th state in the nation to decriminalize or legalize marijuana.

H. 200, introduced by Rep. Christopher Pearson (P-Burlington) with a tripartisan group of 38 co-sponsors, will remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 would be required to undergo substance abuse screening. Under current state law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for a subsequent offense.

The Vermont victory marks another big step toward ending marijuana prohibition in our country, but there's still a lot more work to be done. Marijuana policy reform bills have been introduced in 30 state legislatures this year, and even more are expected next year.

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Tax and Regulate

Colorado Legislature Makes Marijuana History

As you have probably heard, there was big news in Denver yesterday. The Colorado Legislature approved legislation to tax and regulate the distribution and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older! The measures now go to Gov. John Hickenlooper so that he can sign them into law. This marks the first time in history that a state legislative body has passed legislation to regulate marijuana for sale to all adults.

The legislation, in fact, was introduced and passed because voters directed their lawmakers to regulate the production and sale of marijuana in ColoradoColorado Seal when they voted “yes” on Amendment 64 this past November. Since passage of that ballot measure, MPP has been carefully monitoring the implementation process and has worked with a team of lobbyists and advocates to make sure the legislature got it right. When it comes to most of the major issues, such as allowing adults from out-of-state to purchase marijuana legally, we are happy to report that they did.

Once Gov. Hickenlooper signs off on the legislation, the Department of Revenue will have until July 1 to promulgate rules and regulations that Colorado’s new retail marijuana businesses must follow. We will once again be monitoring this process and will work with our allies to help craft rules that provide adults safe and reliable access to marijuana, while preventing diversion to young people and the underground market.

As MPP's Mason Tvert told Huffington Post:

"The adoption of these bills is a truly historic milestone and brings Colorado one step closer to establishing the world's first legal, regulated, and taxed marijuana market for adults," Mason Tvert, co-director of the Yes on Amendment 64 campaign and director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Huffington Post. "Facilitating the shift from failed policy of prohibition to a more sensible system of regulation has been a huge undertaking and we applaud the many task force members, legislators, and others who have helped effect this change. We are confident that this legislation will allow state and local officials to implement a comprehensive, robust, and sufficiently funded regulatory system that will effectively control marijuana in Colorado."

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Prohibition||Tax and Regulate

Rhode Island House Judiciary concludes testimony on taxing and regulating marijuana

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.

[caption id="attachment_5969" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Members of the Coalition for Marijuana Regulation testify in support of H 5274 Members of the Coalition for Marijuana Regulation testify in support of H 5274[/caption]

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!

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced Again in West Virginia

Manypenny

Last week, Delegate Mike Manypanny (D-Taylor) introduced a medical marijuana bill for the third time in the West Virginia Legislature, and this time it looks like people are taking a lot more notice.

It is certainly positive to see the media covering both sides of the issue, including MPP communications director Mason Tvert being quoted in the Charleston Gazette:

"There is no reason this should not be discussed. It is an issue taken up in dozens of states. It is time for it to be discussed in West Virginia.

"This is part of a nationwide increase in momentum. We've seen medical marijuana bills introduced throughout the country, including states many people might think would not be supportive," Tvert said during a telephone interview.

A majority of West Virginia voters believe the state should enact a law allowing seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana, according to a January 2013 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.

Stay tuned for updates and coverage from the Mountain State!

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Prohibition

Marijuana Reform Featured on Cover of State Legislatures Magazine

Feb 05, 2013 Morgan Fox

February, lawmakers, legislature, NCSL, reform

NCSL Feb 2013 CoverIn what is surely a sign that serious change is on the horizon for marijuana policy across the nation, the magazine for the National Conference of State Legislatures featured a long cover story about reform efforts in their latest issue.

Given that lawmakers have traditionally lagged far behind public opinion on this topic, this is a pretty big step toward educating them about the need or alternatives to marijuana prohibition.

So far this year, more than 20 states have introduced marijuana reform legislation of some sort, and we will likely see more in the coming weeks.

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Medical Marijuana

Vermont to Consider Adding PTSD to Medical Marijuana Qualifying Conditions

Vermont was the ninth state to allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana to treat certain illnesses, and now it may become the third to make post-traumatic stress disorder one of those qualifying illnesses. A new bill, introduced by Rep. Jim Masland, would allow patients afflicted with the serious psychological condition from war or other trauma to use medical marijuana without fear of arrest.

There are many people suffering from PTSD who have tried treating their symptoms with marijuana and have found it to be far more effective than the prescription pharmaceuticals they had been directed to use. Unfortunately, there is little scientific research to support their claims, and the federal government recently denied permission to study the potential benefits of marijuana for returning veterans.

If the law passes, Vermont will join New Mexico and Delaware as the only states to allow medical marijuana to be recommended for PTSD out of the 16 states (and the District of Columbia) that permit marijuana treatment for other conditions.

In June 2011, Vermont passed a bill that would regulate the establishment of four non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state.

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Medical Marijuana

Maryland Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Defense Bill!

Great news! Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has signed SB 308! As of June 1, patients in Maryland charged with possession of up to one ounce of marijuana who can show they’ve been diagnosed with a debilitating condition that is resistant to other treatments will be found “not guilty” if they demonstrate they’re likely to benefit from medical marijuana.

Congratulations to everyone who helped make this day possible. Del. Dan MorhaimSen. Jamie Raskin, and Sen. David Brinkley worked tirelessly to secure their colleagues’ support. Allied drug policy organizations were also instrumental in helping achieve this victory. Finally, and most importantly, brave patients and their loved ones came from all over the state to courageously share their stories with legislators and members of the media. We simply would not be here without their efforts.

This is a proud day for MPP. We’ve been leading the lobbying effort in Maryland for a decade, securing passage of the original Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act, and now today’s improvement legislation. And we’ll be back next year to help pass a comprehensive law that includes legal access for patients and protection from arrest.

Thank you for all your support!

[caption id="attachment_4048" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Dan Riffle, Former Del. Don Murphy, and Karen O'Keefe"][/caption]

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