Proposal 1, the Michigan legalization ballot initiative, is up in the polls, but it’s still too close for comfort. The opposition campaign is just a couple of big checks away from being able to launch a large misinformation campaign.
We’re in the final weeks of the election, and we need to make sure the Yes on 1 campaign has the resources it needs to educate voters about the benefits of legalizing marijuana. Next week, I hope you’ll join me in Ann Arbor for a special evening to support this important campaign.
RSVP via phone (517-974-2265) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you can’t attend, please consider making a contribution directly to the campaign here. And please share the word with other supporters. Let’s win this!
We're pleased to announce that Steve Hawkins has been named the new executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. Steve brings three decades of experience fighting for criminal justice reform, having previously served in leadership roles at the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, and the Coalition for Public Safety.
The entire MPP staff is thrilled to welcome Steve to our organization.
Steve began his career as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund challenging racial disparities in the criminal justice system. He later served as executive vice president of the NAACP, spearheading its efforts to end the police practice of “stop and frisk” in New York City and successfully encouraging the NAACP board of directors to adopt a policy in support of marijuana decriminalization. Steve also previously served as executive director of Amnesty International USA, as a program executive for the Atlantic Philanthropies, and as a senior program manager at the JEHT Foundation. You can read a more detailed biography here.
The marijuana reform movement has made incredible gains in the past several years but there’s still a great deal of work ahead. With Steve leading our experienced and talented team of reformers, and with your support, MPP will continue to enact medical marijuana and marijuana legalization laws that serve the interests of the American people.
According to 9news.com, marijuana product manufacturers in Colorado are making an effort to accommodate inexperienced adult marijuana consumers.
Several companies have begun offering edible products with very small dosages of THC in order to allow people who have low tolerance or little experience with the substance to be able to use it without the potential for becoming overly impaired. This move comes following the launch of MPP’s “Consume Responsibly” campaign, which urges caution when consuming marijuana edibles and other products in order to avoid an unpleasant experience.
The paradigm shift in the marijuana industry is comparable to the alcohol industry’s selling of beer and wine alongside higher content alcoholic options like spirits or liqueurs.
The new low potency edible options include a low-dose marijuana-infused soda — Dixie One — that is 15 times weaker than the Dixie Elixirs company’s best-known soda. There are also light-dose “Rookie Cookies” for people who are not experienced in eating medical-grade marijuana.
“For a long time, the medical market was a race to the strongest edibles. Now it’s a new market, and people want something that won’t get them so inebriated they’re not functional,” said Holden Sproul of the Growing Kitchen, which makes the “Rookie Cookie” and is phasing out some if its stronger offerings.
According to WSHU.org, New York’s health department is asking permission from the federal government to import out-of-state medical marijuana until its own program is able complete the regulatory process.
The program requires the health department to establish rules and license marijuana production companies. The health department, however, says that it will take until 2016 to get the program started.
Until then, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has requested the Department of Justice to permit importation of medical marijuana from states with existing functional programs.
Although the federal government could potentially grant such a waiver, or simply exercise prosecutorial discretion, patients in the Empire State should not hold their breath.
MPP’s Rachelle Yeung says the federal government has been slow to recognize the medical benefits of marijuana, and that Gov. Cuomo has been equally slow to implement medical marijuana.
“I don’t want to speculate as to his motivations, but as governor of the state of New York, there are ways to expedite the process without asking for special permission from the federal government.”
Furthermore, Yeung relays that it typically takes years for the federal government to allow researchers access to medical marijuana. To avoid this delay, she and other marijuana advocacy groups are urging Cuomo’s administration to accelerate the regulatory and production processes within the state.
It appears as though the NFL is finally progressing towards changing its controversial drug policy. According to a NBC Sports story, the NFLPA plans to vote tonight on proposed changes to the NFL’s existing drug policy. The changes, if ratified, may include an increased threshold for which players are allowed to test positive for marijuana. However, the NFLPA first needs to get a proposal from the league itself. According to the NBC Sports posting, that has not happened yet.
“The players are prepared to vote on a proposal from NFL tonight but they will need something to review well in advance of that vote,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told PFT by phone. “As of right now, there’s nothing yet. Players have been informed of the status of the league’s proposal on an ongoing basis. [On Monday], [NFLPA president] Eric Winston and [NFLPA executive committee member] Brian Waters reiterated the importance of a fair due process for hGH testing, a line in the sand with respect to player discipline before a fair due process on DUIs, and also other issues that were important to them.”
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="266"] Josh Gordon[/caption]
The “other issues” include the manner in which players are processed through the substance abuse policy, amid much criticism and media attention regarding the use of marijuana and the Cleveland Browns wide receiver, Josh Gordon’s, suspension.
According to Nate Jackson, a New York Times op-ed contributor and former tight end that medicated with marijuana for most of his career, “Gordon has marijuana in his system. He broke the rules. I understand that. But this is a rule that absurdly equates marijuana with opiates, opioids, and PCP. The NFL’s threshold for disciplinary action for marijuana is 10 times higher than the one used by the International Olympic Committee.”
The NFL rethinking their approach to marijuana is long overdue. Their current policy reflects outdated stances onmarijuana and pain management, penalizes players who seek an alternative to painkillers, keeps them in a perpetual state of injury and injury management, and risks creating new addicts.
In the end, as stated by MPP’s Morgan Fox, “The NFL’s harsh marijuana penalties do nothing to promote the health and safety of the players.” [MPP emphasis added]
For Father’s Day, the Marijuana Policy Project created a video called “Dear Dad” in which a young man talks to his father about his preferences after a long day’s work. He explains how they're a lot alike -- they both work hard and have good jobs -- but at the end of a long day he prefers to use marijuana instead of having a drink.
It is these types of conversations that are going to build the support needed to end marijuana prohibition. This video is an opportunity to show your dad, granddad, or any loved one that enjoying marijuana can be a relaxing activity much like having a glass of alcohol. It is a way to bridge the gap between generations and their understanding of marijuana and its objectively safer effects.
You can also find MPP’s "Dear Mom" video that addresses the same issue between a daughter and her mother. Send these videos to those you love to let them know you’re ready to talk about the choices you want to make.
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.
On his wonderfully fair and balanced show on Thursday, Bill O’Reilly was nice enough to highlight our Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users list. He then started on a long rant, joined by his co-hosts, about the evils and deadly health risks associated with using marijuana. Apparently, these folks didn’t quite get the message.
O’Reilly seems to think that MPP just wants everyone to use marijuana, and that the organization “devotes its life to trying to convince you to get stoned and inebriated.” What he fails to understand, and what many supporters of prohibition refuse to believe, is that marijuana reform is not about getting high. It is about changing our obviously failed policies that put non-violent adults in jail while making it easier for young people to obtain. It is about changing the focus of law enforcement away from people who are already using marijuana and allowing police to focus on more serious crimes.
Papa Bear and friends also didn’t understand the message behind the list, which is that these influential marijuana users likely would not be where they are today had they been arrested for marijuana. How much human potential are we squandering when we arrest three quarters of a million people for marijuana possession every year, saddling them with a criminal record that limits their educational options and job opportunities?
After totally missing the point, the three pundits then proceeded to rattle off a long series of completely inaccurate and unsubstantiated talking points about how marijuana is deadly and will turn you into a zombie. They covered all the bases, too, from the debunked gateway theory to the “lazy stoner” myth.
It is really pretty sad, considering a brief look at MPP’s website would have clarified our mission for O’Reilly and provided all of them with actual scientific research on the effects of marijuana.
And we’re the lazy ones?
Here’s the video. Try not to throw anything through your screen.
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!