Medical Marijuana

Wisc.: Election brings new hope, but challenges remain

Local voters approve 13 medical marijuana and seven legalization measures; ask legislators to listen.

Great news! On Election Day, around a million Wisconsin voters approved advisory questions on their ballots calling for more humane marijuana laws.

More than half of the state’s population saw cannabis-related measures on their ballots, and every single one of the measures passed. Medical cannabis questions received between 67% and 89% in the 11 counties and two cities where they appeared. Adult-use questions garnered between 60% and 76% of the vote.

As the Wisconsin State-Journal’s analysis shows, the measures easily passed in jurisdictions that voted for the Republican and the Democrat for the gubernatorial race.

Congratulations to all the advocates and voters who were involved!

In other encouraging news, voters elected a new governor — Tony Evers — who supports medical marijuana and would like to put the question of legalization to voters. (In Wisconsin, voters can’t place questions on the statewide ballot themselves; only state lawmakers can refer questions to them.)

Meanwhile, in neighboring Michigan, voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Despite all this encouraging news, however, challenges remain. Popular support for medical marijuana has been strong for many years, but thus far Wisconsin’s lawmakers have refused to act.

Let your state legislators know you want the legislature to finally listen to voters on medical cannabis when they convene for the 2019 legislative session. It’s past time Wisconsin roll back its cruel and wasteful war on marijuana.

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Tax and Regulate

Voter guide updated for Maryland’s November general election

The Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition just updated our voter guide for Maryland’s general election on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. All 188 of Maryland’s lawmakers are up for election this year, and we’ve graded the marijuana policy positions of those that responded to our candidate survey. We hope this guide is helpful as you prepare to vote!

Maryland’s 2018 gubernatorial election is also important for marijuana policy reform. Democratic candidate Ben Jealous has repeatedly declared his support for legalizing and regulating marijuana. The Maryland Green Party and Libertarian Party of Maryland, both members of the coalition, are also fielding candidates who support legalization, Sean Quinn and Ian Schlakman.

Unfortunately, Republican candidate (and current governor) Larry Hogan’s views on the topic are not entirely clear. Please help us get his position firmly on the record! Consider attending a campaign event (listed on his Facebook page or Eventbrite) and respectfully asking him to explain his views. Or, you can send him an email. If you get a response, or just hear him comment on marijuana policy reform, please let us know.

And of course, don’t forget to register to voteYou must register by October 16, 2018 to vote in this election.

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General

Former House Speaker John Boehner Reverses Position on Marijuana

Early this week, former Republican House Speaker John Boehner announced his support for descheduling marijuana at the federal level. At the same time, he revealed his plans to become advisor to a multi-state marijuana industry firm with dozens of locations. This is a stark departure from his previous stance on marijuana. While in Congress, Boehner voted in favor of legislation that prevented the District of Columbia from implementing its voter-approved medical marijuana program for more than a decade, and was a vocal opponent of legalization.

Marijuana Moment reports:

Boehner, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R), is joining the Board of Advisors of Acreage Holdings, which holds 35 licenses for cannabis businesses across the U.S.

“When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head,” Boehner said. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”

In a tweet, Boehner, who did not endorse marijuana law reform while serving as the House’s top official, said he now supports removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, a process known as descheduling.

In a 2011 letter to a constituent, the speaker wrote, “I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug. I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.”

But now, Boehner says that he and Weld will advise Acreage on navigating confusing and conflicting federal and state marijuana laws.

While Boehner should be commended for seeing reason and adding his voice to those calling for sensible marijuana policy reform, many advocates are concerned that he is set to profit from policies he opposed and is not doing enough to counteract the impact of his words and actions while in office.

MPP's Morgan Fox told The New York Times that Boehner "should be actively working to reform federal marijuana laws to allow states to determine their own policies, rather than just consulting with a business to navigate the conflicts between state and federal law. His positions on the issue while in House leadership most likely slowed progress for marijuana reform legislation, and he owes it to anyone whose life has been negatively impacted by a marijuana arrest to use his considerable influence to make up for that.”

 

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Tax and Regulate

Michigan Adult Use Campaign Submits Petition Signatures

On Monday, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will submitted petitions to put a ballot initiative on the 2018 ballot in Michigan that would make marijuana legal and regulate it for adults.

Associated Press reports:

Organizers of a ballot drive to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in Michigan submitted 365,000 signatures to the state Monday, which appears to be more than enough to qualify the initiative for a statewide vote in 2018.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said the prohibition against recreational marijuana is “a massive failure.”

Michigan has allowed medical marijuana use for nearly a decade. If the new proposal were to make the ballot and win voter approval, it would make Michigan the ninth state to legalize the drug for recreational use.

If passed, people 21 and older could possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent tax on marijuana would be assessed on top of the 6 percent state sales tax.

Josh Hovey, a spokesman for the coalition, said fully legalizing the drug for adults would generate hundreds of millions in new tax revenue. He estimated that 20,000 people in the state are arrested annually for marijuana possession and cultivation.

“Oftentimes it’s just adults using a plant that is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco,” he said at a news conference a couple of blocks from the state Bureau of Elections. “It’s breaking up families. It’s destroying communities. ... We can impose some regulations, create a new industry in the state. You’re going to see not only the tax benefits of that, but jobs, less crime and letting law enforcement go after things that are more important.”

State officials will take about two months to review the voter signatures. If they determine that about 252,000 are valid, the bill would go to the Republican-controlled Legislature. Lawmakers would have 40 days to adopt the measure or it would be placed on the November 2018 statewide ballot. Legislators could propose an alternative marijuana bill to put before voters alongside the initiative.

The campaign is proud to have the support from both national and local advocacy organizations including the Marijuana Policy Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML and MI Legalize.

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Prohibition

Virginia Election Could Have Big Impact on Marijuana Policy

Virginia will elect its next governor tomorrow, November 7. Please take a minute to examine each candidate's position on marijuana policy before you head to the polls. While every candidate favors some form of reduced penalty for simple possession, they have significant differences in opinion regarding marijuana penalties in the commonwealth.

  • Democrat Ralph Northam supports decriminalization of marijuana and legalizing the medical use of marijuana.
  • Republican Ed Gillespie opposes decriminalizing marijuana but favors a three-strikes approach for simple possession. The first two violations would not carry criminal charges, but a third would. He is open to "appropriate, limited, tightly regulated use of marijuana for medicinal purposes."
  • Libertarian Cliff Hyra supports decriminalization, the establishment of a medical marijuana program, and allowing responsible adults ages 21 and older to consume marijuana.

This election is important, as the governor holds considerable sway over the direction of Virginia's policies. Please visit your local polling station between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. tomorrow, November 7, if you are a Virginia resident. If you don't know where your polling station is, click here to find out. Check your voter registration here, and be sure to bring a photo ID with you when you head to the polling station. Make your voice heard tomorrow!

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Medical Marijuana||Research

Another Utah Poll Shows Strong Support for Medical Marijuana

The 2018 medical cannabis campaign in Utah is fully underway. Right now, the Utah Patients Coalition is collecting signatures from across the state in order to qualify for next year’s ballot.

A new poll was released showing that 74 percent of Utahns support medical cannabis. Other recent polls have showed similar levels of support.

With legislative inaction, a group now puts forward a citizen petition which would set up a medical marijuana (non-smoking) system in Utah, where a limited number of registered growers would provide types of marijuana to be prescribed by a limited number of doctors for specific diseases and/or chronic pain.

Here are some of the interesting numbers found by Jones in his latest survey:

-- Utah Republicans favor passage of the citizen initiative on MM, 61-35 percent.

-- Democrats really like the idea, 93-7 percent.

-- Political independents, who don’t belong to any political party, favor MM, 87-13 percent.

-- Even those who self-described themselves as politically “very conservative” favor medical marijuana legalization, 51-42 percent.

-- The “somewhat conservatives,” favor it, 71-25; the “moderates” like the petition, 84-14 percent; “somewhat liberals,” 92-8 percent; and the “very liberals,” 97-2 percent.

Those who said they are “somewhat active” in the LDS Church like MM, 80-15 percent; former Mormons who have left the faith like it, 87-5 percent; Catholics favor MM, 80-20 percent; Protestants (which includes born-again Christians), 61-26 percent; and those with no religion like it, 96-4 percent.

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Medical Marijuana

Indiana Republican Introducing Medical Marijuana Legislation Next Session

Sep 05, 2017 Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Hoosier State, IN, Indiana, Jim Lucas, Republican, WTHR/Howey Politics

In August, Republican Representative Jim Lucas announced that he is planning to introduce medical marijuana legislation in the upcoming legislative session in Indiana. This is great news for the Hoosier State! Last fall, a poll commissioned by WTHR/Howey Politics found that 73% of voters in Indiana support medical marijuana legislation.

Will you ask your lawmakers to stand with voters and protect Indiana patients? If you are an Indiana resident, please urge your lawmakers to support Rep. Lucas’ medical marijuana bill.

We are so excited that a Republican has stepped up to help champion medical marijuana legislation. It’s not always easy to stand up for what you believe in, so please take a second and send a “thank you” to Rep. Jim Lucas.

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Medical Marijuana

Republican Congressman Urges Conservatives to Support Medical Marijuana Ahead of Crucial Budget Rules Vote

On Tuesday after Congress returned from recess, Rep. Dana Rohrbacher published a column in the Washington Post asking his conservative colleagues to support his budget amendment that would protect state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers from federal interference.

Not long ago, a supporter of mine, visiting from California, dropped by my Capitol office. A retired military officer and staunch conservative, he and I spent much of our conversation discussing the Republican agenda.

Finally, I drew a breath and asked him about an issue I feared might divide us: the liberalization of our marijuana laws, specifically medical marijuana reform, on which for years I had been leading the charge. What did he think about that controversial position?

“Dana,” he replied, “there are some things about me you don’t know.” He told me about his three sons, all of whom enlisted after 9/11.

Two of his sons returned from the battlefield whole and healthy. The third, however, came home suffering multiple seizures each day. His prospects were bleak.

His medical care fell under the total guidance of the Department of Veterans Affairs, whose doctors came under federal restraints regarding the treatments they could prescribe. (Among the treatments allowed were opioids.) Nothing worked.

Finally, a sympathetic doctor advised our young hero to see him in his private office, where he could prescribe medication derived from cannabis. The prescription worked. The seizures, for the most part, ceased.

“Dana,” said my friend, “I could hug you right now for what you’ve been doing, unknowingly, for my son.”

What had I been doing? With my Democrat friend Sam Farr, the now-retired California congressman, I wrote an amendment to spending bills that prohibits the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana cases in states where voters have legalized such treatment. The amendment passed two consecutive years, the second time with a wider margin than the first, and has been extended through continuing resolutions and an omnibus spending bill.

Unfortunately, my longtime friend Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, has urged Congress to drop the amendment, now co-sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). This, despite President Trump’s belief, made clear in his campaign and as president, that states alone should decide medical marijuana policies.

I should not need to remind our chief law enforcement officer nor my fellow Republicans that our system of federalism, also known as states’ rights, was designed to resolve just such a fractious issue. Our party still bears a blemish for wielding the “states’ rights” cudgel against civil rights. If we bury state autonomy in order to deny patients an alternative to opioids, and ominously federalize our police, our hypocrisy will deserve the American people’s contempt.

You can read the whole article here.

The amendment must be approved by the House Rules Committee in order to get a vote, where it will likely be approved for the FY 2018 federal budget. If it is not, a conference committee will need to choose the Senate version of the budget later this month. If one of these two options doesn't happen, medical marijuana patients and providers will be open to federal prosecution once again.

We can't let these protections expire. Please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support medical marijuana, and to ask their colleagues on the House Rules Committee to rule the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment "in order."

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Prohibition

New Jersey Primary Elections a Victory for Marijuana Policy Reform

This week's New Jersey gubernatorial primary elections were great news for supporters of marijuana policy reform. On the Democratic side, Phil Murphy said during his victory speech that:

“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana … And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”

On the Republican side, the victor was Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. While she opposes legalization, she has said she supports decriminalizing marijuana and easing patient access to the medical marijuana program, unlike current Gov. Chris Christie.

The general election will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. You must be registered to vote by October 17; click here for more information or to check your registration status. If you have been convicted of a crime, you can still vote as soon as your sentence (including probation) is completed, but you must re-register. If you’re unable to vote in person on Nov. 7, this website has lots of helpful information on voting by mail.

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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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