Gov. Mike Dunleavy shocked many last month when he sacked Marijuana Control Board Chairman Brandon Emmett and appointed Vivan Stiver to the board post. Ms. Stiver is a well-known opponent of the adult-use program in Alaska, and many see the move as an ominous attempt to undermine the voter-approved law.
Voters approved the state's adult-use law in 2014 by historic margins. Since then, the state has launched a program that generates jobs, revenue, and avoids much of the harm created by marijuana prohibition. The transition from prohibition to regulation has been a success.
But despite clear advances, there have been detractors, and few are as well-known as Vivian Stiver. From her failed attempt to ban businesses in Fairbanks in 2017, to opposing individual licenses, few opponents have been as notorious as Vivian Stiver. If there is a bright spot in her record, it's that she has been ineffective at imposing prohibition policies so far. That may soon change.
Alaska needs board members who support the regulatory path voters have taken, rather than oppose it. Please send a message to your lawmakers and voice your opposition to this ill-considered and harmful appointment.
Monday is a crucial deadline for marijuana policy reform bills in Maryland. HB 1264, which would let Marylanders vote on regulating marijuana for adults, needs to move out of the House Judiciary Committee by then to stay alive this year. HB 602, a bill that would protect the rights of Maryland’s medical cannabis patients, must be voted on by the Senate in order to “cross over” to the House of Delegates and move forward during this session.
If approved by 60% of both chambers of the Maryland Legislature, HB 1264 would place a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot that would make possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis legal for adults 21 years of age and older and require the state to establish regulations and taxation for a legal cannabis market, as well as to ensure diversity in the cannabis industry.
HB 602 would ensure that patients don't lose their Second Amendment rights under state law simply because medical cannabis helps them with their serious illness. Regardless of what you think about Maryland’s gun laws, no patient should have to lose any of their legal rights because of their status as a patient. This is of particular concern to veterans, who may be dissuaded from trying medical cannabis — a much safer alternative to the opioids they are frequently prescribed for pain or PTSD — because they don’t want to lose these rights.
The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee is attempting to abuse its power by recommending that the House kill the marijuana legalization bill. If the House agrees to the committee’s motion of “interim study” when HB 656 reaches the floor next week, the bill will be dead for the year.
As a reminder, the New Hampshire House has already voted 207-139 to pass HB 656. Instead of legalizing retail sales — which is something a study commission is considering — the bill as amended would simply allow adults to cultivate six plants, three of which could be mature. It would also legalize possession of three-quarters of an ounce or less, and marijuana in excess of that amount would be legal as long as it is stored along with the plants that produced it. You can read a summary of the bill here.
HB 656 should have gone directly to the Senate after it passed the House, but instead it was sent to the Ways and Means Committee, which only deals with issues related to revenue. Some legislators are trying to make this issue complicated, but HB 656 is actually very simple and there is no good reason not to move the bill forward.
If you are a New Hampshire resident, please email your representatives right now and urge them to oppose this outrageous action by the committee.
After weeks of persistent advocacy from Massachusetts residents, the Senate and House have reached a compromise that largely respects the will of the people. The House’s flawed “repeal and replace” bill would have made disastrous changes to the law voters approved, and we are relieved that the Legislature has agreed to a more sensible plan for implementing legalization.
The compromise bill’s most significant changes relate to local control and taxes. The legislation adjusts the local control policy, allowing local government officials in towns that voted “no” on the 2016 ballot initiative to ban marijuana businesses until December 2019. For towns that voted “yes” in 2016, any bans must be placed on a local ballot for voters to approve. The maximum tax rate — which depends on whether towns adopt optional local taxes — will increase from 12% to 20%. Under the bill, the state tax will be 17%, and the local option will be 3%.
MPP and our allies successfully led the 2016 campaign to legalize and regulate marijuana in Massachusetts. After our historic victory in November, it was concerning to see some members of the House propose drastic changes to the initiative approved by the voters. But thanks to the work of thousands of dedicated supporters across the Commonwealth, the law approved by voters will remain largely intact.
The bill isn't perfect, and we preferred the original language of the ballot initiative. However, given how problematic the House bill was, we are satisfied with the final compromise.
We generated over 1,000 calls to state legislators urging them to reject the House’s “repeal and replace” bill. To everyone who made a call, thank you!
Bills to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults have been introduced in both the New York Senate and the Assembly. The bills — S3040 and A3506 — would allow adults 18 and over to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants. They also set up a regulatory system for businesses to cultivate, process, and sell cannabis to adults 21 and up.
Other bills have been introduced to fix New York’s flawed decriminalization law, under which thousands of people — mostly young people of color — have been forced by police to empty their pockets and have then been arrested for having marijuana in public view. While these would be positive steps, a more comprehensive reform would do more to end arrests for low-level marijuana offenses. It would also improve public safety by taking marijuana out of the criminal market.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently acknowledged that “Individuals can miss work, be fired, [and] establish a record that prevents them from finding work in the future,” because of a marijuana arrest. If you are a New York resident, please tell your legislators that New Yorkers shouldn’t have their futures hamstrung because they choose to use a substance safer than alcohol.
Advocates are welcome to attend and show support for these bills. If you are interested in testifying, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can coordinate. If you are a New Hampshire resident, please also send your representatives and senators a message in support of reforming marijuana laws.
WHAT: Public hearings on the decriminalization bill (HB 640) and a bill that would legalize and regulate marijuana (HB 656). (More details are listed on the Facebook event page.)
WHERE: House chamber, New Hampshire State House, 25 Capitol St., Concord
WHEN: Beginning at 1 p.m.
WHO: Marijuana policy reform advocates and members of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee
In addition, cultivators would also be required to comply with federal laws related to interstate transport, despite the fact that all medical marijuana is federally illegal.
State bureaucrats should not be allowed to deny access to medical marijuana to patients they are supposed to help. If you are a Texas resident, please contact your lawmakers and other public officials and tell them not to support this outrageous fee.
As several coalitions are busy crafting language for a ballot initiative to make marijuana legal for adults in California, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been studying the issue, and today released a report that he hopes will help inform the debate:
In a report released Wednesday, the group lays out 58 recommendations and goals for implementing general legalization -- an issue expected to go before voters next year.
The document offers broad principles --“protecting California’s youth” -- as well as nitty-gritty suggestions for collecting data and limiting advertising.
Newsom said in an interview that he hopes the report offers guidance to proponents of a legalization initiative aimed at the November 2016 ballot, as well as to help lawmakers and officials who would have to implement it if it passed.
The report does not explicity endorse or oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, although Newsom, who is running for governor in 2018, has been outspoken in support of legalization and is the highest-ranking California official to take that position.
MPP is currently working with a broad coalition of advocate groups to draft an initiative that would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol, which should be completed in the near future.
During yesterday’s debate, our opponents continued to insist that voters did not know what they were voting for in November — despite the fact that they received overwhelming testimony to the contrary during committee hearings. Over the weekend, hundreds of supporters called and emailed their elected officials, and their voices were heard loud and clear.
Without licensed and regulated businesses producing marijuana extracts and edibles, the criminal market would continue to thrive. Without tested and clearly packaged concentrates, patients would suffer. Senators finally got the message. Your respectful and articulate comments changed minds.
But we still have a lot of work ahead of us. SB 30 now heads to the Alaska House of Representatives, where it will undergo another series of committee hearings. Stay tuned for further updates, and we’ll let you know when your voice is needed.
Thursday marked the end of SB 1262 in California, as the Assembly Appropriations Committee failed to take a vote on the measure before deadline. Unfortunately, this means that another legislative session has passed without the enactment of sensible statewide regulations and clearer legal protections for medical marijuana providers. However, while SB 1262 was ostensibly written to address this widely agreed upon issue, the most recent version had a number of flaws that ultimately led to MPP opposing passage.
Perhaps the most glaring flaw of the legislation was ceding regulatory power to the Department of Consumer Protection, an agency that never expressed any interest in being entrusted with this important task. In fact, the department failed to take part in a single stakeholder meeting. While we are certainly disappointed that the legislature failed to pass a regulatory bill, we are relieved that they did not pass one that would have caused more harm than good.