Tax and Regulate

Montgomery and Vengango County, PA listening tour stops added; Perry County rescheduled

Lt. governor's marijuana legalization listening tour will visit Oil City on Sunday and Collegeville on Tuesday.

Over the next week, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will be hearing constituents' views on marijuana legalization in McKean, Elk, Montgomery, and Vengango counties. He also rescheduled a Perry County stop that was postponed twice due to weather. If you live in any of those counties, try to stop by to make your voice heard.

Here are upcoming stops:

Kane (McKean County)
Saturday, March 9, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Kane Area Middle School auditorium
400 W. Hemlock Avenue

St. Marys (Elk County)
Saturday, March 9, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
St. Marys Area High School
977 S. Saint Marys Street

Oil City (Verango County)
Sunday, March 10, 2:00 to 3:30 p.m.
Oil City High School auditorium
10 Lynch Blvd.

Collegeville (Montgomery County)
Tuesday, March 12, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Perkiomen High School auditorium
509 Gravel Pike

New Bloomfield (Perry County)
Monday, March 25, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
New Bloomfield VFW
71 Soule Road
(rescheduled due to weather cancellation)

Consider arriving early: In some cases, crowds have been standing-room only.

When deciding what you'd like to say, feel free to draw from our document on the Top 10 reasons to end marijuana prohibition or other materials. You may want to consider making a pitch for an inclusive, diverse industry, for allowing home cultivation, and for expunging past convictions.

Even if you're not up for speaking in public, you can still make your voice heard. Fetterman has been asking for a show of hands for supporters and opponents, and the governor's office is soliciting feedback on the issue online.

This is a great opportunity to build momentum for commonsense, humane marijuana laws. Don't miss your chance to let your elected officials know it's time to stop branding Pennsylvanians criminals for a substance that's safer than alcohol. And please spread the word to help grow the chorus for reform.

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Prohibition

Maryland House Votes to Re-Criminalize Public Marijuana Consumption

Unfortunately, the Maryland House of Delegates just took a step backwards and passed HB 777, a regressive bill that would saddle people with a criminal record for low-level marijuana offenses. Although smoking marijuana in public is already punishable by a stiff civil fine of up to $500, this bill would make it a criminal offense.1280px-Flag_of_Maryland.svg A criminal record can make it hard to get jobs, employment, and an education, and it’s all the more alarming given racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement.

The good news is that the strong opposition from the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland helped get several amendments added to the bill that help mitigate its impact. And, although the vote in favor of the bill was a disappointing 102-35, several delegates deserve special mention for speaking out against it: Del. Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery County), Del. Marc Korman (D-Montgomery County), and Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Anne Arundel & Prince George’s Counties). In addition, Del. Dan Morhaim deserves thanks for amending the bill to help protect medical patients by excluding them from its criminal penalties if they are using a vaporizer.

Despite this setback, however, the fight isn’t over. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration, and the coalition will continue working to ensure that Maryland’s cannabis policies continue to move forward, not backward.

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Prohibition

Montgomery County Council Urges Maryland Assembly to Decriminalize Paraphernalia

On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council unanimously adopted a resolution de-prioritizing certain marijuana offenses and urging the state to decriminalize possession of marijuana paraphernalia. This is just the latest step towards humane and sensible marijuana policies in Maryland.

The county’s resolution comes on the heels of Gov. Martin O’Malley signing into law SB 364, which will impose civil fines — not criminal penalties — on possession of less than ten grams of marijuana. The law, which goes into effect October 1, did not include paraphernalia. Montgomery County’s resolution urges the state to fix that by making “adult paraphernalia possession a civil offense, no more serious than adult possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana.” It also states that simple possession of marijuana and paraphernalia should be the lowest law enforcement  priority in the county. Read the full text here.

While we support the effort to include paraphernalia in Maryland’s decriminalization law, the state should go beyond that reform and follow the leads of Colorado and Washington. Colorado opened its first legal adult use marijuana stores in January, and the first adult use stores in Washington State just went live today. It’s time for Maryland to end its costly and destructive criminalization of marijuana and replace it with sensible regulations and taxation.

If you are a Maryland resident, please let your legislators know that you support adopting a system of taxation and regulation of marijuana.

 

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