Join MPP at the Second Annual Cannabis Law Institute September 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C.

This year, the National Cannabis Bar Association’s Second Annual Cannabis Law Institute will take place on September 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C. at the George Washington University Law School.

Featuring some of the nation’s leading attorneys, academics, and politicians, this event will convene the best minds and visionaries working in the cannabis industry and reform movement for two days of panels and discussion. Programming is focused on education for attorneys, and you can receive 11+ CLE credits for select jurisdictions. Evenings will feature networking events.

We’re excited to announce that MPP’s Deputy Director Matt Schweich will be moderating the panel discussion on Federalism & States’ Rights, which will also include MPP’s Director of Federal Policies, Don Murphy.

You’re invited to attend by registering here. Use the code “friendsofncba” to receive $200 off the full ticket price, and if you are a member of NCBA, you get an additional $100 off.

With over 60 speakers and panelists from organizations like the Brookings Institution, the National Cannabis Industry Association, Americans for Safe Access, and leading cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, the conference will address the most challenging areas of law as they relate to the cannabis industry, including banking, tax, finance, intellectual property, labor and employment, corporate governance, and more. Congressmen Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and David Joyce of Ohio will also be in attendance as part of the keynote conversation on Friday morning.

If you live in the D.C. metro area, you don’t want to miss this important event. We hope to see you there!

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Tax and Regulate

Nevada Marijuana Initiative Headed to the 2015 State Legislature

A petition aimed at allowing the adult use of marijuana in Nevada has met its signature requirements and will be submitted to the 2015 state legislature.

According to The Washington Post:

Supporters of the measure to make marijuana legal in Nevada turned in 138,453 valid signatures, according to the Secretary of State Ross Miller’s (D) office, far above the approximately 100,000 valid signatures necessary to qualify an initiative.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal provided a good rundown on where it will go from here:

The state legislature has 40 days to act on the measure. If lawmakers pass it and the governor signs it, the measure becomes law. If the legislature does nothing or the governor does not sign the measure, the initiatives will go on the ballot for voters to decide in 2016.

Furthermore, if lawmakers amend the measure, both the original version and the amended version would go on the ballot. If the initiative passes with more than 50 percent of the vote, the one with the larger number of “yes” votes become law.

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Prohibition

UN Official Criticizes U.S. for Breaking the Marijuana Laws That it’s Forced the World to Live By

Marijuana is now legal for adult use in Colorado and Washington and will be joined by Alaska and Oregon, in addition to Washington, D.C. — but it turns out that the four states and nation’s capital are all breaking international law.

[caption id="attachment_8312" align="alignright" width="158"] Yury Fedotov[/caption]

According to the executive director of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov:

“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing convention.”

Apparently, he has a point; by allowing legal marijuana sales within its borders, the U.S. is technically in violation of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The major UN convention, which was signed by the U.S., prohibits countries from creating regulated markets for the cultivation, sale, purchase, distribution, and possession of marijuana.

Historically, the U.S. has pressured other countries in the convention to adopt measures that enforced American-style prohibition, which has led some to criticize the federal government for being hypocritical by allowing implementation of state marijuana regulations to proceed.

According to Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“The United States has largely dictated international drug laws for decades, and now that it’s becoming clear that Americans will no longer stand with these failed drug policies, we see other countries moving ahead as well.”

“Fedotov’s statements may make it awkward for the federal government, but they won’t stop the momentum toward ending marijuana prohibition.”

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Research

Majority of Americans Continue to Support Making Marijuana Legal in the U.S.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, 51% of Americans favor making the use of marijuana legal — similar to the 50% who supported it in 2011 and 2012 — but down from 58% support last year.

The October 12-15 Gallup poll was conducted in the run-up to the midterm elections, in which various marijuana policy reform ballot measures were before voters in Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., and Florida, as well as in many cities in Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

Last year was the first time that Gallup found an overwhelming majority in favor of making marijuana legal, at a solid 58%. This year, however, support is shown to be at 51%, which is still a majority, though the percentage is closer to where it was in 2011 and 2012.

According to the communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert:

While most observers would agree there was solid majority support in 2013, many thought 58% was questionably high. Rarely, if ever, do you see public opinion on a controversial social issue jump as much as seven points in the course of one year. It will be interesting to see if the same opponents who declared such a large increase was impossible last year will have the same analysis of such a large decrease this year.  

Things are moving in one direction when it comes to the tangible products of public opinion. I would take passage of laws in two states and our nation’s capital over some jumpy poll results any day. If Gallup finds 49% support in 2016 after five more states vote to end marijuana prohibition, I could live with that. 

The bottom line is that public support for making the use of marijuana legal has clearly increased and continues to increase as more Americans recognize that it makes no sense to punish responsible adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. Four states, the nation’s capital, and two East Coast cities now legally allow the use of marijuana. It is clear that momentum is growing across the nation for marijuana policy reform.

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Prohibition

The Marijuana Policy Project is Already Gearing Up for 2016

Marijuana advocates made history with three huge Election Day victories in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. and are optimistic for what the future holds.

“The stage is now set for 2016, when measures to regulate marijuana like alcohol are expected to appear on ballots in at least five states,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which was instrumental in passing legalization in Colorado and bankrolled the successful campaign in Alaska.

The five states where MPP has already established committees to push ballot measures in 2016 are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. The measures will likely be similar to the Colorado model, just as the measures in Oregon and Alaska were.

MPP also plans to work to help make marijuana legal through state legislatures, rather than ballot measures. The states that we are focusing on include Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Hawaii, and Maryland.

Most importantly, the upcoming push to make marijuana legal in those states will undoubtedly draw on the lessons learned from the successful marijuana policy reform campaigns so far — which, according to Tvert, fall into two categories. The advocates in Alaska and Colorado focused more on diminishing the fears concerned with the potential harms of marijuana by comparing the substance to alcohol, while advocates in Oregon and Washington argued that making marijuana legal is the safer alternative to marijuana prohibition.

“Our goal from the beginning was to get this message across that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol so that when that last month comes around, and the opponents are trying to scare people away from marijuana by saying it’s so dangerous, their reaction will be to say ‘yeah, but it’s less harmful than alcohol,’” Tvert stated.

Ultimately, by the looks of Tuesday’s election results, marijuana prohibition is on its way out. Moreover, momentum for sensible marijuana policy reform is growing across the country.

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Medical Marijuana||Prohibition||Tax and Regulate

Marijuana is Now Legal in Alaska, Oregon, South Portland, Maine, and the Nation’s Capital

Voters in two states, the fourth largest city in Maine, and the nation’s capital approved ballot measures to end marijuana prohibition and implement more sensible marijuana policies, capping off a historic election year for marijuana policy reform.

Alaska and Oregon are now the third and fourth states to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol, following Colorado and Washington. As of early this morning, Oregon’s Measure 91 led 54-46 with 75% of the votes counted. Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2 led 52-48 with 97% of the state’s precincts reporting.

Voters in South Portland, Maine approved Question 2 52-48 as well, making it the second East Coast city to make marijuana legal for adult use at the local level. A similar ballot measure in Lewiston, Maine came in close; it received 45% of the vote and did not pass.

In Washington, D.C., voters approved Initiative 71 by an overwhelming margin of 65-28, removing all penalties for the possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana by adults.

Moreover, an overwhelming majority of Florida voters — 58% — approved Amendment 2, which would have allowed patients with serious and debilitating conditions access to medical marijuana upon a physician’s recommendation. Unfortunately, the measure failed to pass because Florida state law requires 60% support for approval.

Nonetheless, yesterday’s historic election was largely successful and demonstrated that American citizens are ready to end marijuana prohibition in the country for good.

We will update the details of election results if new data becomes available.

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Medical Marijuana||Prohibition||Tax and Regulate

Today is Election Day!

Today, states, cities, and the nation’s capital will be voting on marijuana policy ballot measures.

Alaska and Oregon are considering statewide ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. If Ballot Measure 2 in Alaska and Measure 91 in Oregon are approved, Alaska and Oregon would be the third and fourth states in the U.S. to end marijuana prohibition.

In Washington D.C., voters are considering Initiative 71, which would make possession of up to two ounces of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, as well as allow adults to cultivate up to six plants in their homes. Two of Maine’s largest cities — Lewiston and South Portland — are also considering citywide ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults.

In addition, Florida could become the 24th state to allow people with debilitating illnesses and conditions to access marijuana upon a physician’s recommendation, if voters pass Amendment 2.

Smaller local marijuana policy initiatives and ballot questions are also being considered in many cities across the country.

Needless to say, today is a very important! Please go out and vote to help end marijuana prohibition and implement sensible marijuana policies around the nation. Encourage neighbors, friends, and relatives to do the same! For more Election Day information, please visit headcount.org.

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Research

Making Marijuana Legal in Washington, D.C. is the Better Choice

Supporting Washington, D.C.’s ballot initiative 71, which would make marijuana legal in the nation’s capital, makes sense in terms of economics, safety, and fairness, according to Economics21.

If the initiative passes on November 4, it would eliminate the criminal and civil penalties associated with personal possession, private use, and cultivation of marijuana — within limits (two ounces for possession, no use in public places, and six plants).

In terms of safety, the infamous argument that marijuana is a gateway drug and leads individuals to resort to harder drugs has repeatedly been called into question. Moreover, a Rand Corporation research report concluded:

“The harms of marijuana use can no longer be viewed as necessarily including an expansion of hard-drug use and its associated harms.”

In terms of legal marijuana’s economic viability, there are many benefits found in easing the burden on legal and corrections systems, money which can be used to fund various beneficial measures associated with public health and safety and allow law enforcement to focus on serious crime

Lastly, marijuana possession makes up nearly half of all drug arrests. The arrests of those who have been labeled as criminals for committing low-level crimes make it significantly harder to find employment.

In an interview in 2013, former Secretary of State George Schultz said, “According to the World Health Organization, the use of drugs is higher in the United States than most comparable countries. So you have to say that the war on drugs has simply not worked... We have wound up with a large number of young people in jail, mostly blacks, a huge cost, and a debilitating one to our society. And big foreign policy costs.”

In the end, it is quite clear that voting yes on Initiative 71 is the safer, fairer, and smarter choice. Please vote November 4 and lead the nation’s capital towards establishing a more sensible approach to marijuana policy. Encourage family, friends, and neighbors to do the same!

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Tax and Regulate

Arizona Marijuana Advocates Advance 2016 Initiative

Advocates of an effort to make marijuana legal for adults and regulated similarly to alcohol in Arizona in 2016 have filed paperwork with state elections officials, granting them permission to raise money to campaign for the citizen’s initiative, according to azcentral.com.

The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona initiative will be fashioned after the voter-approved taxed and regulated recreational marijuana program in Colorado.

Andrew Myers, who is affiliated with the initiative, said Monday the group will bring together a “diverse coalition” to help draft the initiative’s language, adding that marijuana advocates are closely watching Colorado’s program to determine what should be replicated in Arizona—and what should be avoided.

Representatives of the Washington, D.C. based Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates to make marijuana legal and regulated, said it will pursue making marijuana completely legal in Arizona in 2016 because such efforts are more successful during presidential elections, which draw more voters to the polls.

About 50,000 Arizonians already legally use medical marijuana. Patients must first receive recommendations from a physician and then are able to obtain a card from state health officials under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which was approved by voters in 2010.

Any effort towards making marijuana legal for adults in Arizona is expected to be countered with stiff opposition from law enforcement officials.

However, Colorado’s Amendment 64, which voters passed in 2012 with 55 percent of the vote, attracted young and new voters while tapping into the electorate’s libertarian streak. There are hopes that Arizona will tap into the same demographic and successfully follow the example of Colorado.

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Prohibition

Poll Shows a Record 65 Percent of Washington, D.C. Voters Support Ballot Initiative 71

The Huffington Post reported that voters seem ready to make marijuana legal in the nation’s capital, according to a new poll that puts support for Initiative 71 at 65 percent.

On November 4, Washington, D.C. voters will make their decision on Initiative 71, which would legalize adult marijuana use, possession of up to two ounces, and home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for personal use. The sale of marijuana, however, would still remain illegal under D.C. law.

The NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll’s finding that district voters support legalization by almost a 2-1 margin “is the highest support ever for a marijuana legalization ballot initiative,” Adam Eidinger, chair of D.C. Cannabis Campaign, the group backing the legalization measure, said in a statement. “It vindicates the work of this campaign so far, but we still have more work to do turning out the vote come Election Day.”

Even so, the new poll suggests that D.C. will be a leader in combating the racial disparity in marijuana enforcement by making the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana legal for adult residents.

[caption id="attachment_8086" align="alignright" width="190"] Dr. Malik Burnett[/caption]

“Voters are relating to the message that legalization will end D.C.’s rampant discrimination when it comes to marijuana enforcement,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.

The D.C. City Council is considering a separate bill that would allow the regulation and taxation of marijuana. If and when that bill passes, the Marijuana Policy Project will be working with the D.C. Council and local advocates to develop a system of well-regulated retail sales.

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