Prohibition

Virginia Election Could Have Big Impact on Marijuana Policy

November 6th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

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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Prohibition

St. Louis Alderwoman Introduces New Marijuana Ordinance

October 25th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Missouri Alderwoman Megan Green is introducing an ordinance in St. Louis to prevent the use of city resources to enforce laws prohibiting the use of marijuana. Specifically, the ordinance would:

  • Prohibit city police and other officials from using city resources to enforce marijuana prohibition against adults; and
  • Continue to enforce marijuana prohibition laws against minors and those who provide marijuana to minors.

Alderwoman Green said, “We’ve come to a point as a country, and as a city, where marijuana usage is not taboo in the way that it used to be.”

And people across Missouri are beginning to agree.

Earlier this year, voters in Kansas City approved a measure to reduce the penalties for simple possession of marijuana, amending local laws regarding possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana for adults age 21 and older from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine.

Also in Missouri, there is a citizen initiative to place a measure on the 2018 ballot that would implement a medical marijuana program. New Approach Missouri is leading the campaign. Please visit their website to get involved.

MPP worked closely with Alderwoman Green and others allies in St. Louis to provide guidance on the details of the proposed ordinance and we thank her for being a leader on this issue.

With all of this local government involvement and citizen-initiated activity, let’s not forget that Missouri’s legislature is at a standstill. If you are a Missouri resident, please tell your state representatives to move forward with improving the state’s marijuana policies.

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Prohibition

What Are the N.J. Gubernatorial Candidates’ Views on Marijuana Policy?

October 10th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

New Jersey will elect its next governor on November 7, 2017. Our friends at Marijuana Moment put together this useful guide on where the major party candidates for governor, Phil Murphy (D) and Kim Guadagno (R), stand on marijuana policy reform issues — please check it out!

In brief, Mr. Murphy supports legalizing marijuana, and Ms. Guadagno opposes legalization but supports decriminalization. Additionally, this article outlines the views of the five declared candidates from other parties if you’d like more information.

In order to vote, you must register by Tuesday, October 17. Even if you have a criminal record, you can vote as long as you are not currently incarcerated, on parole, or on probation, but you must re-register after you have served your sentence.

Can’t make it to the polls between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 7? Any New Jersey voter can vote by mail; click here for more information. If you are a New Jersey resident, please make your voice heard, and register to vote in the Garden State today!

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Prohibition

Atlanta City Council Approves Decriminalizing Marijuana

October 5th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

In Georgia this week, he Atlanta City Council took a historic step when it voted unanimously to stop jailing people for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana! Following the vote, Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed tweeted that he will sign the ordinance into law.

Once the measure is in effect, a person caught with one ounce or less of marijuana in the city would face a maximum fine of just $75 and no jail time under city law. Unfortunately, state law would not change, so it is possible that local law enforcement could still arrest under the harsher state penalties. This is also the case on college and university campuses, which may or may not change policy.

In other words, advocates should remain vigilant to ensure the spirit of the law is respected.

For the measure’s sponsor, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, the change is about fairness in Atlanta’s criminal justice system. Shockingly, 92 percent of those arrested for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in the city of Atlanta are African-American, even though they make up just over half the resident population in the city. This change to the law is a welcome one.

You can read the text of the measure adopted by the city council here.

If you are a Georgia resident, please let your state lawmakers know that you want them to follow Atlanta’s lead and stop arresting marijuana consumers.

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Prohibition

Maryland Expungement Bill Becomes Law

October 2nd, 2017 4 Comments Kate Bell

On Sunday, SB 949, which makes it easier for people who have been convicted of marijuana possession to clear their records in Maryland, went into effect. The bill became law in May without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature.

Prior to the bill’s passage, anyone convicted of cannabis possession was required to wait 10 years before applying for expungement, despite Maryland decriminalizing possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana in 2014. Now, the waiting period has been reduced from 10 years after conviction to four years.

While this reform is a step in the right direction, it is far short of the improvements Marylanders need. If you are a Maryland resident, please write to your state legislators, and ask them to support taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol.

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Decriminalization Law Takes Effect

September 16th, 2017 13 Comments Matt Simon

New Hampshire will finally take a critical step toward living up to its motto today as HB 640 takes effect, and the “Live Free or Die” state becomes the 22nd state — and the final New England state — to decriminalize marijuana possession. You can read a summary of the new law here.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call Gov. Sununu’s office today to thank him for signing the decriminalization bill and to encourage him to support ending marijuana prohibition.

MPP has been working with our allies in Concord since 2008 to achieve this victory. We greatly appreciate all of the support you have provided over the years!

Unfortunately, we know that our work in New Hampshire is far from complete. A commission has been formed to study marijuana legalization, and most of the commission’s members are skeptical if not downright hostile to our position.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Alaska Publishes Proposed Rules for Cannabis Cafés

August 28th, 2017 3 Comments Chris Lindsey

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board published proposed rules for cannabis cafés. Please take a look and consider submitting written comments in support.

It’s important for the board to hear that the public wants adults to be allowed to consume cannabis at regulated establishments.

Comments are due by October 27 at 4:30 p.m., and they may be submitted by email to [email protected], or by regular mail. For more information on making submissions, please see the state’s public notice, available online here. While comments are not due until late October, we strongly encourage you to submit them early so that board members have time to review and consider submissions.

Under the current proposal, the state would allow cannabis flowers to be purchased and consumed on-site by vaporization or smoking, one gram at a time. Concentrates would not be available. Cannabis edibles and food that does not contain cannabis could also be available. A newly proposed addition to the rules would ensure cannabis café workers are not exposed to marijuana smoke while on duty.

The status quo is unworkable for the state’s tourists, and adult residents should not be relegated to private homes when alcohol consumers can choose from a variety of bars and restaurants. It is also important to ensure renters — whose leases may prohibit cannabis consumption — are not shut out of the freedoms Alaskan homeowners enjoy.

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Prohibition

UPDATE: Virginia Marijuana Decriminalization Forum Rescheduled

August 21st, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Virginia State Crime Commission has rescheduled its meeting to present its findings on marijuana decriminalization. It’s important that advocates attend this meeting and show that Virginians support sensible marijuana policies.

What: Virginia State Crime Commission public meeting to present its findings on marijuana decriminalization

When: Monday, October 30, at 1 p.m.

Where: House Committee Room, Ground Floor, Room W011, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Maine Street, Richmond, VA

Don’t forget that the Commission is still accepting written comment on marijuana decriminalization. The specific issues it’s examining are available here. Make sure to submit your comments by Friday, August 23, at 5 p.m. You can email them to [email protected] or mail them to:

1111 East Broad Street, Ste. B036
Richmond, VA 23219

Be sure to check out our decriminalization webpage for assistance crafting your comments. Here are some of the best key points to hit:

  • Punishing marijuana possession with a fine will save the state money, help eliminate enforcement disparities, and allow police to pursue actual violent criminals.
  • Marijuana is safer than alcohol, and marijuana consumers shouldn’t be criminalized for choosing a safer substance.
  • Nearly eight in 10 Virginians support replacing marijuana criminal convictions with a fine (decriminalization), and 62% favor ending marijuana prohibition altogether.

Please spread the word to other Virginians who support humane marijuana policies.

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Prohibition

National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana

August 7th, 2017 5 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution Monday urging that the Controlled Substances Act should be amended to remove marijuana from scheduling in order to give federally approved banks the ability to work with marijuana businesses. This would also allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without the threat of federal interference. For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75% of the states represented at the conference’s general business meeting.

Due to the Schedule I status of marijuana under federal law, federally insured banks risk penalties if they offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses. For that reason, many of these businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, making them a target for criminals. While limited guidance has been issued, which intended to encourage financial institutions to serve marijuana businesses, access to banking remains a problem.

The full resolution can be found here.

MPP’s Karen O’Keefe said the following statement in a press release:

“State legislators and the vast majority of voters agree that marijuana policy should be left to the states,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which tracks marijuana policy in all 50 states and lobbies in state legislatures throughout the country.

“Legitimate, taxpaying marijuana businesses should not have to face the difficulties of operating on a cash-only basis. Allowing banks to offer them financial services will be good for the industry and benefit public safety,” O’Keefe continues. “Even more so, states should not have to worry about the federal government interfering with their marijuana policy choices.”

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Prohibition

Burning Man and Marijuana Laws

August 7th, 2017 No Comments Kate Bell

Heading to Burning Man? Here’s what you need to know about Black Rock City’s and Nevada’s marijuana laws.

If you are heading to Burning Man this year, you may be thinking about bringing cannabis to the playa, now that Nevada finally legalized marijuana. Not so fast! Before you head out, there are some important things you need to know:

  • Burning man is held on FEDERAL land, and the Bureau of Land Management will enforce federal law, which unfortunately considers all marijuana possession a criminal offense — even if you have a medial card! BLM may also ticket you for violations of various rules in the “closure order,” though these, thankfully, are civil rather than criminal.
  • “Gifting” marijuana to others is drug trafficking under federal law, even though no money is being exchanged. And if you are caught selling marijuana, or are found in possession of more than 1 oz., you will likely be prosecuted under Nevada law by the local Pershing County Sheriffs, who also patrol Burning Man.
  • Especially important: GATE ROAD is also federal property, and in the past, a lot of the law enforcement activity has occurred while people are driving into the event. Keep in mind that you have fewer rights while driving than you do in your home (or in this case, your tent or RV), and can be stopped for a broken taillight or any other minor infraction by law enforcement, who may ask you for consent to search your vehicle (you have the right to refuse). Any marijuana consumption while on the Gate Road could result in a ticket or charges for DUI or marijuana possession.
  • Before or after Burning Man, when you are not on federal land: Adults ages 21 and older may legally purchase marijuana from retail establishments in Nevada! MPP supported the initiative that made Nevada the fifth of eight states to end prohibition.
  • Public consumption could result in a misdemeanor charge, with a fine of up to $600. And because the casinos’ regulators directed them to follow federal law, you cannot consume in hotel-casinos. MPP and our allies hope to establish safe, legal consumption spaces for tourists, but that won’t happen before Burning Man 2017. But you can consume in private homes, which may include private homes for rent.
  • You should also know that Nevada has very strict laws on driving under the influence of marijuana. There is a “per se” threshold of 2 ng/mL of THC in your blood, meaning that you can be convicted based on a positive test result whether you were impaired or not. If you are a regular marijuana consumer, please note that you can have this amount in your system even if you haven’t consumed in a couple of days.
  • If you do have an encounter with law enforcement, it’s always a good idea to know your rights. In addition, Burning Man would like to know about your experience, and if you get into trouble, you can reach out to the volunteer group Lawyers for Burners for help after you return home.

This legal information is provided as a courtesy and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, which is an interpretation of the applicable law to your specific circumstances, we encourage you to consult an attorney. MPP is offering this information as a public service and is in no way affiliated with the Burning Man Project.

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