Tax and Regulate

Penn.: Election Day is almost here!

Do you know where your candidates stand on marijuana policy?

Pennsylvania’s General Election Day is set for Tuesday, November 6. If you are registered to vote, find your polling location here, and please be sure to go cast your ballot!

Here’s a look at where gubernatorial candidates stand on marijuana policy: Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who signed the state’s medical marijuana legislation, is supportive of statewide decriminalization. He has said Pennsylvania is not yet ready to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults’ use. Scott Wagner (R) is opposed to legalization and regulation and believes marijuana is a gateway to other drugs.

You can find more information on Pennsylvania’s current marijuana policies here.

Please forward this message to your network in Pennsylvania, and don’t forget to get out and vote!

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Uncategorized

Pennsylvania committee approves partial decrim bill

Although 59% of Pennsylvania voters think it should be legal for adults to use marijuana, state law lags far behind popular sentiment. Pennsylvanians found with cannabis can still be locked in a jail cell and branded criminals.

But that could change soon. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a decriminalization bill, H.B. 928. Unfortunately, however, it first amended the bill to exclude minors and people in vehicles from decriminalization.

If you live in Pennsylvania, ask your state representative to support and fix the decriminalization bill.

Currently, simple possession is a misdemeanor carrying up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500, plus a six-month or one-year driver’s license suspension.

Except in the case of minors, possession in cars, or possession on school property, H.B. 928 would downgrade first and second offense possession of under 30 grams to a summary offense carrying a fine of no more than $300. Subsequent convictions would be misdemeanors carrying up to a $1,000 fine, but with no jail time.

Please take a moment to ask your rep to support H.B. 928, but to work to amend the bill. Let them know: Minors should also not be incarcerated for cannabis, and criminalizing possession in cars will still senselessly ruin lives.

Then, spread the word to others, so that they, too, can raise their voices.

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Tax and Regulate

Penn. legalization and regulation bill has been introduced!

Ask your legislators to end marijuana prohibition in Pennsylvania!

The drum beat for sensible marijuana policy is picking up in Pennsylvania!

Last Monday, Rep. Jake Wheatley introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana for adults 21 or older. This bill would also expunge the records of people who have been convicted of certain cannabis offenses.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, email your state legislators today urging them to support HB 2600!

Ending marijuana prohibition would let adults make their own decisions about a substance that is safer than alcohol. Earlier this year, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a report estimating that legalization could generate more than $580 million in tax revenue for the state.

In other exciting news, on Tuesday Lancaster City Council decriminalized simple possession and use of marijuana! Possession of marijuana or related paraphernalia will be now be classified as a summary offense – carrying a fine or community service – rather than a misdemeanor.

Please spread the word so that together, we can end prohibition in the Keystone State.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Sales Begin in Pennsylvania

Today marks an historic day in the Keystone State. Less than two years after the governor signed Act 16 into law, six dispensaries have begun selling medical marijuana to patients and caregivers. Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the country, and those involved in implementation should be applauded for reaching this point ahead of schedule.

To date, 10 dispensaries and 10 grower/processors have been approved to operate. Over the next few months, we expect up to 81 dispensary locations to open across the state. More than 17,000 patients have registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, with nearly 4,000 certified by a physician. As of this week, 708 physicians have registered with the department and 376 have competed the training to become certified practitioners.

However, the implementation process is not yet complete. The Medical Marijuana Advisory Board is still working on its recommendations for changes to the program. This week, they met to discuss one of the most important issues — allowing patient access to medical cannabis flower. This is a vital expansion of the program that will improve patient access and lower costs. Only two states have attempted a medical program without flower, which led to disastrous results for patients. You can learn more about the importance of patient access to flower here.

If you want to learn more about becoming a registered patient, visit the DOH website.

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Prohibition

Erie City Council Votes Unanimously to Decriminalize Possession

Last week, the Erie, Pennsylvania, City Council voted unanimously to make the possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana into a summary offense with a $25 fine. Currently, the penalty is up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. The mayor is expected to sign the measure into law.

Once enacted, Erie will join Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, York, and State College — and 22 states and the District of Columbia — all of which have stopped jailing individuals for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Across the state, towns and cities are considering similar commonsense policies. Unfortunately, however, law enforcement can still enforce state law and impose criminal penalties and possible jail time.

Imprisoning individuals for possessing small amounts of a substance that is safer than alcohol wastes valuable resources and can lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses.

To get involved locally, contact the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. You can find some background materials on decriminalization here. And please let your lawmakers know it is time for statewide decriminalization.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Launches Practitioner Registration

On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced important steps forward for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program — practitioners can now register online, and the department approved two options for physician training.

Under Act 16, a doctor can only issue a certification for medical marijuana after registering with the Department of Health. The law also requires the physician complete a four-hour training course. The department has approved the first two providers of training courses, The Answer Page Inc. and Extra Step Assurance LLC.

For medical marijuana programs to work, doctors need to participate. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, talk to your doctor, and take a copy of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Law: A Guide for Doctors and Patients with you for the conversation. Other materials are also available on MPP’s Pennsylvania page and our medical marijuana page.

It is unclear at this time when the department will begin accepting applications and issuing identification cards for patients and caregivers. Earlier in the summer, the department announced the first round of business permits, including 12 grower/processor permits and 27 dispensary permits, which may each have up to three locations. It will take some time for the businesses to open and begin dispensing cannabis, but registered patients may have access as soon as early 2018.

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Prohibition

Another Pennsylvania City Decriminalizes Possession

Early this week in Pennsylvania, the York City Council voted to make the possession of small amounts of marijuana a summary offense with a maximum fine of $100 and no jail time. Previously, it was a criminal misdemeanor that carried up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

Imprisoning individuals for possessing small amounts of a substance that is safer than alcohol wastes valuable resources and can lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses.

York joins Pennsylvania’s three largest cities — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg — and twenty-two states and the District of Columbia, which have stopped jailing individuals for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Across the state, towns and cities are considering similar commonsense policies. The time has come for statewide decriminalization.

To get involved locally, contact the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. You can find some background materials on decriminalization here.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Dept. Of Health Asking for Patient Input on Medical Marijuana Regulations

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has asked patients and caregivers to complete a brief survey to help gauge public interest in the medical marijuana program. The responses will be considered as part of the process of drafting medical marijuana regulations relating to patients and doctors.
The patient survey takes less than five minutes to complete and asks just 12 questions, including where you live in Pennsylvania,255px-flag_of_pennsylvania-svg what condition you seek to treat, and the types of treatments in which you are interested. You can also submit comments about the implementation process.
The Department of Health is also seeking public input from individuals interested in applying for a grower/ processor and/or dispensary permit — that survey is available here. The department is seeking to engage the community to determine both the level of interest in seeking these permits and where potential applicants intend to open these types of facilities.
Your answers to these surveys will be considered in the drafting of regulations related to doctors and patients.
MPP will continue to advocate for the strongest possible medical marijuana program for patients, but we need your help. Make sure Pennsylvania’s program includes you and your loved ones by completing the patient survey by December 14.

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Research

MPP's Pennsylvania Voter Guide

Pennsylvania is one of the 26 states that lack a ballot initiative process, meaning the only way to improve statewide marijuana policies is to convince the state legislature to do so. With Election Day just weeks away, now is the time to help shape the makeup of the next General Assembly.2000px-seal_of_pennsylvania-svg
If you are a Pennsylvania resident, find out where candidates in your state House and state Senate districts stand on marijuana policy reform before you cast your votes on Tuesday, November 8:

1. If you’re not sure what state legislative districts you live in, click here.

2. Then, check out our voter guide to see where the candidates in your district stand.
We complied all incumbent candidates’ votes on medical marijuana, and sent all candidates a three-question survey on replacing jail time for marijuana possession with a civil fine; regulating marijuana like alcohol for adults’ use; and making it legal for adults to grow a limited amount of marijuana.
If candidates in your state legislative district didn’t answer our survey questions, you may want to reach out to them directly to ask where they stand. Please let us know if you get a response.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Draft Business Rules Released

Since Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (Act 16) went into effect on May 17, 2016, the Department of Health has been working to implement the new law. Thus far, it has created regulations regarding — and accepted applications for — the safe harbor letter program, which provides legal protections for those caring for minor patients when they administer medical marijuana. The department recently announced that 53 caregivers have received a letter.PA Seal
On August 18, the department released draft temporary regulations regarding growers and processors and asked for comments. The draft created a strong foundation for the final version of the rules, though it is unclear when the department will publicize the final version. MPP submitted our recommendations for strengthening the draft on August 23. It is expected that they will soon release the draft temporary regulations for dispensaries as well.
The department also announced a public survey for patients and caregivers, which allows individuals to provide input on the application process and the financial hardship program.

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