Prohibition

Another Pennsylvania City Decriminalizes Possession

July 21st, 2017 No Comments Becky Dansky

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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Prohibition

New Hampshire Governor Signs Decriminalization Bill

July 19th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

Yesterday afternoon, with a stroke of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s pen, the “Live Free or Die” state took a big step toward living up to its motto on marijuana policy. HB 640 is now officially on the books and will take effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state, and the final New England state, to decriminalize marijuana possession. You can read a summary of the new law here.

Unfortunately, Gov. Sununu also decided to sign HB 215, which will create a study commission that we fear will be one-sided. However, we understand the governor’s reluctance to veto a study commission, so we are not going to be too critical of his decision.

The decriminalization victory would not have been possible without the hard work of our many dedicated allies. In particular, we’d like to thank attorney Paul Twomey, the ACLU-NH, the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, and HB 640 sponsor Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) for their tireless efforts in support of sensible marijuana policy reforms.

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Prohibition

Vermont House Votes to Delay Legalization Bill

June 22nd, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

Yesterday, the Vermont Senate amended and passed H. 511, a bill that would make marijuana legal in Vermont. Unfortunately, the House rejected an effort to bring the bill up for consideration, and the veto session ended without further action. H. 511 will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes — either later this year or in January — before it can pass the House and advance to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott.

A group of representatives led by Rep. Don Turner (R-Milton) delayed passage of H. 511 by opposing a vote to suspend rules and consider the bill. The vote to suspend rules — which required three-quarters of members to vote in favor — was 78-63, considerably short of the 107 votes that would have been needed to consider the bill.

If you are a Vermont resident, you can see how your representatives voted and send them a follow-up message.

The House voted to pass a similar bill earlier this year, so there is little question that H. 511 will pass when it is brought to a vote. Unfortunately, this may not be possible until the Legislature reconvenes in January. It’s also possible that the Legislature will hold a special session later this year, and the bill could be considered then.

On the bright side, H, 511 was not scheduled to take effect until July 1, 2018, so this delay may have no impact on the effective date of legalization.

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Prohibition

PNC Bank Closing MPP’s Accounts

June 21st, 2017 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

PNC Bank notified MPP that it would be closing our accounts on July 7. The bank cited federal prohibition and the fact that some of our donors are involved in legal, regulated marijuana businesses as the reason for closing the accounts.

CNN Money reports:

The organization does not deal directly with the sale or distribution of marijuana, Tvert said. But the 22-year-old lobby group does receive money from state-legal marijuana businesses that pay taxes.

Marijuana remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government, though medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational pot is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. Banks are supposed to adhere to federal law, so many of them shun state-legal marijuana businesses, forcing some of those businesses to deal in cash.

[MPP’s Mason] Tvert said he wonders why a bank would have a problem dealing with an organization that receives money from marijuana businesses when those businesses pay taxes.

“We receive contributions from state regulated marijuana businesses … that are paying taxes,” he said. “Yet we don’t see anyone shutting down the federal government’s bank account or state or local governments’ bank accounts. We have moved so far toward legitimizing this industry yet we are still seeing these kinds of ridiculous situations that need to be addressed.”

MPP has secured alternative banking options and will be moving forward with our efforts to end marijuana prohibition.

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Prohibition

Nevada Governor Signs Marijuana Bills as Adult-Use Sales Cleared for Early Start

June 16th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Nevada is moving toward well-regulated and accessible medical and recreation marijuana programs – Governor Sandoval signed marijuana-related bills into law and the state has approved early-start recreational sales!

Of the bills, the first, SB344, requires marijuana edibles be in unattractive, childproof packaging; the second, AB422, lowers medical marijuana patient fees; and the third, SB487, imposes a 10% tax on recreational marijuana sales – adding the revenue to the state’s rainy day fund and regulating limited access of the fund until 2019.

Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed AB259, a bill that would have expunged criminal records of those convicted of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana or violating any provision of law involving marijuana that is now legal.

The approved bills will join four bills signed into law this session providing a framework for Nevada’s new recreational marijuana industry, while preserving the state’s medical marijuana program.

Additionally, Nevada’s adult-use marijuana industry could begin adult-use sales by July 1. The Department of Taxation approved temporary regulations and applications have already been accepted. However, adult-use sales could be delayed by a legal challenge from alcohol distributors. MPP is monitoring closely and will be working to avoid any delay.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Federal Medical Marijuana Protection Bill Introduced in Senate

June 15th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

U.S. Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) reintroduced a bill Thursday that would end the federal prohibition of medical marijuana. Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also signed on to the legislation as original co-sponsors.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (or CARERS) Act of 2017 would allow individuals and entities to possess, produce, and distribute medical marijuana if they are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. It would also open up avenues to medical marijuana research and allow physicians employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states where it is legal. The bill also proposes excluding cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, from the federal government’s definition of “marijuana.”

This is the second time the CARERS Act has been introduced. It was first introduced on March 10, 2015, during the 114th Congress.

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Prohibition

New Jersey Primary Elections a Victory for Marijuana Policy Reform

June 7th, 2017 No Comments Kate Bell

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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Prohibition

Vermont Governor Vetoes Legalization, but Offers ‘Path Forward’

May 24th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Wednesday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a bill that would have made marijuana legal for adults in Vermont, but offered “a path forward” for passing it later this year. He specified a handful of changes that would need to be made for him to support the measure and said he believes the legislature has time to incorporate them and enact a revised version during the summer veto session.

MPP’s Matt Simon responded in a press release:

We are disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor’s offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session. Most Vermonters want to end marijuana prohibition, and it is critical that the legislature respond by passing a revised legalization bill this summer. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and there is no good reason to continue treating responsible adult consumers like criminals.

Despite the veto, this is a huge leap forward. The passage of S. 22 demonstrates most members of both legislative chambers are ready to move forward with making marijuana legal for adults. Lawmakers have an opportunity to address the governor’s concerns and pass a revised bill this summer, and we are excited about its prospects.

MPP and the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana will continue to work with the legislature and governor to ensure that a compromise can be reached before the end of the veto session in July.

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Prohibition, Research

MPP’s Virginia Primary Election Guide

May 22nd, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Virginia’s gubernatorial primary is less than one month away, and MPP has put together a guide on where the candidates stand on marijuana policy issues. Please check out our voter guide so you can be informed on this critical topic before heading to the polls.

We put together a candidate survey and asked each campaign for governor to give us their thoughts on three issues:

1) marijuana decriminalization;
2) medical marijuana; and
3) taxing and regulating cannabis for adults age 21 and over.

Based on their responses to our survey, along with any public statements they have made, we assigned each candidate a letter grade, which you can check out here.

In addition to the governor’s race, each of Virginia’s 100 seats in the House of Delegates will be on the ballot this year. Please consider asking the candidates from your district where they stand on these issues before casting your vote. Let us know if you get any responses.

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Prohibition

Vermont Legalization Bill Heads to the Governor’s Desk

May 19th, 2017 1 Comment Matt Simon

On Thursday, Vermont’s marijuana legalization bill was delivered to the desk of Governor Phil Scott. He will now have five days to decide whether to sign S. 22 into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

In its final version, S. 22 would eliminate penalties for adults’ possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, two or fewer mature plants, and four or fewer immature plants, effective on July 1, 2018. The bill would also create a study commission to craft legislation on how to best regulate and tax marijuana in Vermont. The commission’s recommendations would have to be drafted by November so they can be considered by the Legislature in 2018.

A summary of S. 22 is available here.

If you are a Vermont resident, please call Governor Scott’s office today, and encourage him to sign this sensible reform into law. If you’ve already called the office, please follow up with an email message.

The governor says he has not yet made up his mind, and it’s crucial that he hear from as many supporters of sensible marijuana policy as possible!

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