General

It’s Election Day – vote like our marijuana policies depend on it!

If you haven’t voted yet, look up your polling place and check out our Election 2018 page and voter guides.

Over the years, our movement has made significant progress through the ballot box. This year will be no different. Be part of the wave of change today and go vote!

Voters are weighing in on adult-use legalization initiatives in Michigan and North Dakota and medical marijuana measures in Utah and Missouri. Some residents of Ohio and Wisconsin, too, have a chance to voice their support for local measures ending punitive marijuana policies. Go here for information about this year’s ballot questions.

Voters in states without marijuana-related ballot initiatives can play a huge role in changing marijuana laws, too.Visit MPP’s website to find out where candidates stand on marijuana policy in every gubernatorial race, along with in-depth state legislative voter guides for nine states. Roughly half the country lacks a ballot initiative process. The only way we can change marijuana laws in those states is to support thoughtful elected officials and oppose those who aren’t.

If you haven’t voted yet, make a plan right now. Look up your polling location and set a time to go. Spread the word on social media and urge your friends to vote, too!

There’s too much at stake to sit it out.

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Tax and Regulate

New poll on the Michigan legalization campaign

A new poll shows the Michigan marijuana legalization campaign ahead with 56% support. While we remain cautiously optimistic about success on Election Day, we are not out of the woods yet.

A well-funded opposition campaign could still emerge. If that happens, we would likely see misleading TV and online ads telling voters that legalization has failed in Colorado, California, and beyond.

The Michigan campaign needs resources in order to present voters with the facts on this issue: prohibition has proven to be an utter failure and legalization policies are working effectively in other states.

There are just 55 days until Election Day. I know you get many such requests, but will you make a $20 donation today to support legalization in Michigan?

Michigan is a very important campaign for these reasons:

– Michigan would be the first state in the Midwest to legalize, putting pressure on nearby states including Illinois and Ohio;
– Michigan would become the second most populous state in the country to fully legalize marijuana; and
– A victory in Michigan would further increase pressure on Congress to pass federal reform in 2019.

This November, let’s make Michigan the 10th state to legalize marijuana.

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Medical Marijuana

West Virginia Becomes the 29th Medical Marijuana State

Today, West Virginia officially became the 29th state to pass medical marijuana legislation!

Gov. Jim Justice signed the law today after the bipartisan bill passed both the Senate and House earlier this month.

While the law isn’t perfect, it’s a great start toward providing safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients. A summary is available here.

This achievement didn’t happen overnight. In fact, MPP, along with many other advocates, has been working tirelessly to get a medical marijuana bill passed for years.

MPP released the following in a press release:

“This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state.”

Six states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws in the past 12 months. Three of those laws, including West Virginia’s, passed through Republican-controlled legislatures. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Ohio approved them last April and June, respectively. The other three were approved by voters in November in states won by Donald Trump — Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.

“Intensifying public support and a growing body of evidence are driving the rapid growth in the number of states adopting medical marijuana laws,” Simon said. “Lawmakers are also learning about marijuana’s medical benefits from friends, family members, and constituents who have experienced them firsthand in other states. More than nine out of 10 American voters think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. In light of this near universal support, it is shocking that some legislatures still have not adopted effective medical marijuana laws.”

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Medical Marijuana

Proposed Ohio Medical Marijuana Regulations Released

Dec 16, 2016 Chris Lindsey

dispensaries, Level II, OH, Ohio, physicians, regulations

flag_of_ohio-svgProposed rules were published yesterday governing both dispensaries and physicians operating in the emerging medical marijuana program in Ohio. Both sets of proposed rules are available online. Members of the public are invited to review and comment on them before January 13, 2017.
Most of the proposed rules are sensible, but there is room for improvement. One area of concern is the state’s initial proposal to limit the total number of dispensaries to 40. Given the state’s population and the likely size of the program, such a low number could create significant access problems for patients.
In addition to the newly proposed rules, the state also published a revision to its cultivation rules, available here. While still short of ideal, the state made several major improvements, including doubling the number of smaller, Level II licenses, increasing the square footage limits for all cultivators, and lowering the financial burden.
If the dispensary or physician rules could affect you, please take a moment to review and comment. The rules and instructions for commenting are available here. A more detailed analysis of the rules and how the program could be impacted will be published on our website in the coming weeks.

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Prohibition

Ohio Localities Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

Voters in four Ohio towns adopted sensible measures on Election Day by removing all penalties for the possession of 200 grams or less of marijuana under local ordinance. Bellaire, Logan, Newark, and Roseville each adopted similar ballot measures. Voters in Byesville did not adopt their proposal.OH seal
The results are welcome news and a step forward in the four communities. Unfortunately, law enforcement officers have the option of charging a person under either local or state law, meaning that individuals are not fully protected even when local laws change. Law enforcement should follow the will of the voters in those communities that have adopted these improvements.

MPP applauds the hard work that went into giving local residents the chance to have a say, and congratulates Bellaire, Logan, Newark, and Roseville for moving marijuana policy forward. Great work!

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Research

National Poll Shows Increasing Majority Support for Legal Marijuana

A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that a majority of Americans think that marijuana should be legal, and support is increasing.

[caption id="attachment_10109" align="alignright" width="225"]screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-11-41-48-am (Pew Research Center)[/caption]

Today, 57% of U.S. adults say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 37% say it should be illegal. A decade ago, opinion on legalizing marijuana was nearly the reverse – just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed.

The shift in public opinion on the legalization of marijuana has occurred during a time when many U.S. states are relaxing their restrictions on the drug or legalizing it altogether. In June, Ohio became the 25th state (plus Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico) to legalize marijuana in some form after Gov. John Kasich signed a medical marijuana program into law. This November, Americans in nine states will vote on measures to establish or expand legal marijuana use.

The same report released last year showed 53% support for legalization nationally.

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Medical Marijuana Law Takes Effect

September 8 marks the first day Ohio’s medical marijuana law will be in effect, bringing new protections for qualified medical marijuana patients. Under the law’s “affirmative defense,” patients will no longer be subject to criminal conviction for possessing marijuana if they meet certain requirements. However, protections are limited, and they fall short of providing access to medical cannabis in Ohio, not expected for at least a year.MPP_OMM_horizontal green
The affirmative defense provides limited, temporary protections for patients while the formal program rolls out. Among other things, it requires a signed letter from a licensed physician, including information about the patient and the medical condition treated. Importantly, the protections do not apply to cultivation or sale of marijuana. It also does not prevent patients from being cited, it only prevents a conviction. For a closer look at what an affirmative defense is and how patients can get the protections it offers, click here.
September 8 also marks the official start date for agencies to begin writing and adopting rules for medical cannabis businesses. We are watching the process carefully to ensure the system is as workable as possible for patients.

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Prohibition

Top Legislative Victories of 2016

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!Rating_Badge_JO

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.

Two states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, enacted effective medical marijuana laws via their legislatures, making them the 24th and 25th states to do so, respectively. As a result, more than half of the U.S. population now lives in states that have opted to legalize medical marijuana.

...

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.

You can read the full article in the Huffington Post.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Becomes 25th Medical Marijuana State

On Wednesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed HB 523 into law, bringing the promise of relief to thousands of seriously ill patients in the Buckeye State. His action also marks an important milestone in the medical marijuana movement: Ohio’s new law means that now half the states in the U.S. have workable medical marijuana laws for their citizens. MPP_OMM_horizontal green

While this is an important step, more work lies ahead. Several agencies will administer the program, including the Department of Commerce, the State Board of Pharmacy, and the State Medical Board of Ohio. These agencies are expected to start developing rules in the coming months as Ohio begins the process of creating a workable system. Please join us in our efforts to ensure the system is fair and delivers on the promises lawmakers made to create a compassionate program.

We are very grateful to everyone who worked so hard to bring protections to seriously ill patients. Were it not for the donors, volunteers, and signature gatherers who gave so much to the Ohioans for Medical Marijuana amendment, this day would not have come.  As the process moves forward, we will use that amendment as a road map as we work to implement and improve this law.

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Medical Marijuana

Ohio Campaign Suspends Signature Gathering After Legislature Passes Workable Medical Bill

Jun 02, 2016 Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Buckeye State, HB 523, Ohio, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, OMM

On May 25, 2016, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 523, a limited but workable medical marijuana bill that would allow seriously ill patients to use and purchase cannabis. This bill is now heading to the desk of Gov. John Kasich, who could sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. If you are an Ohio resident, please urge him to sign this compassionate bill into law.

This legislation was a direct response to an initiative MPP funded and sought to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. OH sealThe medical marijuana program established by the bill does not provide for smoking, nor does it allow home cultivation. However, the bill as passed was greatly improved upon from its original version. Unlike some legislatively-approved bills, it includes chronic and severe pain as a qualifying condition.

Due to the legislature passing a workable bill, MPP has suspended its signature collection campaign. We are optimistic that seriously ill patients in Ohio will soon have access to this important treatment option upon their doctors’ recommendations. In conjunction with Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, we plan to continue advocacy efforts to ensure that the State of Ohio lives up to the promises contained in HB 523, while also working to better the program using the ballot initiative proposal as a roadmap for these improvements.

From the OMM press release:

Late Friday evening, after considerable discussion, the decision was made to suspend our drive to place an issue on the November 2016 Ohio ballot.

We make this decision with a heavy heart as we will surely disappoint our many volunteers, supporters and patient-advocates who invested considerable time and effort in our movement.

It had become increasingly clear following the state legislature’s passage of a medical marijuana law on Wednesday that our ballot issue campaign had arrived at a critical juncture.

With several hundred thousand signatures collected thus far, one option for our movement would have been to continue to pour our resources into obtaining the additional signatures needed to put the issue before voters.

But the reality is that raising funds for medical marijuana policy changes is incredibly difficult, especially given the improvements made to the proposed program by the Ohio General Assembly and the fact that the Governor is expected to sign the bill.

As we said following Wednesday’s vote, the legislature’s action on medical marijuana was a step forward, and thanks to the intense advocacy efforts of patients and their families, activists and our team the bill was vastly improved before passage. Removed from the bill was much of the red tape and onerous regulations that would have severely limited patient access, and added was a very important provision granting an affirmative defense to qualifying patients beginning this fall. Also stripped from the bill were troubling provisions raising the threshold for pain.

To be sure, there are shortcomings to the legislature’s measure. There are a number of qualifying conditions which should have been included, and we firmly believe that patients should have the right to smoke and grow their own medical marijuana.

But, all in all, it is a moderately good piece of legislation passed by lawmakers who were pushed hard by the patient community.

We plan on continuing forward as an advocacy effort to ensure that the State of Ohio lives up to the promises contained in HB 523, but also working to better the program utilizing our amendment as a roadmap for those improvements.

But the reality is for us, this campaign to put our issue on the 2016 ballot ends today. To everyone who joined us on this effort, especially those patients and their families who will benefit from Ohio’s new medical marijuana program, we owe you a debt of gratitude.

 

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