Prohibition

New Orleans Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

March 24th, 2016 1 Comment » Maggie Ellinger-Locke
mitch-landrieu
Mayor Mitch Landrieu

On Wednesday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed into law an ordinance decriminalizing marijuana possession in the City of New Orleans! Last week the City Council unanimously passed Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s measure, ordinance 31,148. Thanks to everyone who spoke out or turned out in support and to CommonSense NOLA for leading the charge.

Ordinance 31,148 allows law enforcement to issue a ticket — rather than arrest — for marijuana possession, and reduces penalties from possible jail time to a civil fine of $40 to $100 if the officer cites under local law instead of arresting under state law. The ordinance will go into effect on June 21 of this year. For more details, click here.

Also reminder that the Louisiana legislative session is now open and medical marijuana is on the agenda. If you are a Louisiana resident, please to let your representative and senator know that you wish to see a workable medical marijuana program in your state.

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Prohibition

Maryland House Votes to Re-Criminalize Public Marijuana Consumption

March 23rd, 2016 No Comments Kate Bell

Unfortunately, the Maryland House of Delegates just took a step backwards and passed HB 777, a regressive bill that would saddle people with a criminal record for low-level marijuana offenses. Although smoking marijuana in public is already punishable by a stiff civil fine of up to $500, this bill would make it a criminal offense.1280px-Flag_of_Maryland.svg A criminal record can make it hard to get jobs, employment, and an education, and it’s all the more alarming given racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement.

The good news is that the strong opposition from the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland helped get several amendments added to the bill that help mitigate its impact. And, although the vote in favor of the bill was a disappointing 102-35, several delegates deserve special mention for speaking out against it: Del. Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery County), Del. Marc Korman (D-Montgomery County), and Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Anne Arundel & Prince George’s Counties). In addition, Del. Dan Morhaim deserves thanks for amending the bill to help protect medical patients by excluding them from its criminal penalties if they are using a vaporizer.

Despite this setback, however, the fight isn’t over. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration, and the coalition will continue working to ensure that Maryland’s cannabis policies continue to move forward, not backward.

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Prohibition, Research

Postal Marijuana Seizures Decrease as Retail Stores Open

March 17th, 2016 1 Comment » Marijuana Policy Project

New information from the Postal ServiceUnited_States_Postal_Service_(emblem) reveals that inspectors are finding less marijuana moving through the system as retail marijuana stores are opening in states that have made it legal.

U.S. News reports:

Statistics provided to U.S. News by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service show that marijuana package intercepts declined again in fiscal year 2015, the first annual period that wholly encompasses state-regulated recreational marijuana sales in Colorado and Washington state.

Inspectors seized 7,783 marijuana-containing parcels during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a 2.6 percent drop. The collective weight of the contraband was 34,305 pounds, down 12.7 percent from the previous year.

It’s a second year in a row of such declines. In fiscal year 2014, which featured nine months of Colorado sales and three months of Washington retail operations, intercepted packages fell by 12.2 percent and their collective weight dropped by 12.7 percent.

Marijuana is the most common illegal drug seized by postal inspectors, often after reports of a suspicious odor. Though the Obama administration tolerates state-regulated medical and recreational marijuana markets, possession of the drug for any reason outside limited research remains a federal crime, as does shipping it through the mail system, even within state-legal jurisdictions.

As the numbers trend downward, pro-legalization policy advocates sense validation for their claims that black-market illegality can be crushed and drug cartels put out of business by treating the drug like alcohol.

“It’s clear the system is working as intended,” says Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert, a leader of Colorado’s 2012 legalization campaign. “What we’re seeing is adults are purchasing marijuana, but there haven’t been significant efforts to get it to other states through the mail, as some feared. People want to follow the law.”

 

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Man Dies While In Jail for Marijuana Possession

March 15th, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

Just days after the New Hampshire House approved a bill that would remove the threat of arrest for low-level marijuana possession, a man in jail on a possession charge died of unknown causes in his cell.

NHPR reports:

A homeless man jailed for marijuana possession and unable to come up with the $100 cash bail was found dead in his cell at the Valley Street Jail in Manchester Sunday.

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Jeffrey Pendleton (Photo: NH-ACLU)

Jeffrey Pendleton, 26, was found unconscious in his cell during a routine head count. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

In a press release Monday, jail officials say there were no apparent signs of distress.

An investigation into the cause of death is ongoing.

Pendleton had been in jail since Wednesday, a day after Nashua police arrested him on a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession.

While the cause of death is currently unknown, this young man might still be alive if he hadn’t been jailed for possessing a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol.

We need to make sure this never happens again in the Granite State. If you are a New Hampshire resident, please contact your senators and urge them to support decriminalizing marijuana possession.

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Prohibition

New Hampshire House Approves Decriminalization Bill

March 11th, 2016 No Comments Matt Simon

Yesterday evening, despite a negative recommendation from the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, the New Hampshire House of Representatives kept its streak of passing marijuana decriminalization bills alive when it overturned the committee and approved HB 1631 in a voice vote. 2000px-Seal_of_New_Hampshire.svgSponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), this sensible bill would reduce the penalty for possessing up to one-half ounce of marijuana to a violation punishable only by a fine. The House has now passed decriminalization bills seven times dating back to 2008.

Every other New England state has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Unfortunately, the Senate has failed to pass any of the six decriminalization proposals that have been approved by the House. Last year, the Senate nearly reached a compromise on a bill similar to HB 1631, but it was tabled on the last day of session.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please send your senator an email in support of this bill.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

UPDATE: Maine Campaign Files Lawsuit Challenging Initiative Disqualification

March 10th, 2016 2 Comments » Morgan Fox
me
Scott Anderson and David Boyer

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine filed a lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court on Thursday challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the measure from the November ballot. According to the suit, which is now available online at http://bit.ly/1pzNhVO, state officials improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on the measure.

Campaign leader David Boyer and attorney Scott Anderson announced the details of the suit at a news conference in the office of Portland law firm Verrill Dana. Anderson is representing a group of Maine voters who signed the petition in support of the initiative, including Boyer, State Sen. Eric Brakey, and State Rep. Diane Russell, among others. Read the rest of this entry »

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Two Good Bills Passed the Oklahoma House This Week

March 10th, 2016 No Comments Kate Bell

Two moderate marijuana policy improvement bills passed the Oklahoma House this week, and will now move on to the Senate. One, HB 2479, would reduce Oklahoma’s draconian penalties for marijuana possession.Seal_of_Oklahoma.svg It would cut, from two years to one year, the mandatory minimum sentence for a second or subsequent marijuana possession conviction within 10 years of the first. It would also reduce the maximum sentence for such a conviction from 10 years to five years.

The second bill, HB 2835, which has been improved by amendment, would add people with numerous additional medical conditions to the list of patients given limited protections for possession of CBD cannabis oil. Although the bill still limits such oil to 0.3% THC and fails to provide in-state access, it is an acknowledgement by the legislature that cannabis can help patients with many different conditions, including chronic pain.

While both of these bills are limited in scope, this is a rare opportunity to see the Oklahoma Legislature reform the state’s marijuana policy.

If you are an Oklahoma resident, please urge your senator to support both of these common sense reforms.

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Prohibition

New Hampshire House to Consider Marijuana Bill This Week

March 8th, 2016 No Comments Matt Simon

It’s been a tough year for marijuana policy reform efforts in New Hampshire. The House has already killed several bills seeking to improve the state’s marijuana laws, including two bills that would have made marijuana legal for adult use.

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Rep. Adam Schroadter

Fortunately, there is one important bill that still has a reasonable chance of passing into law. Sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), HB 1631 would reduce the penalty for possessing up to one-half ounce of marijuana to a violation punishable only by a fine.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please send your representatives an email in support of this bill today!

Every other New England state has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, and the Vermont Senate recently passed a bill that would make marijuana legal for adults. New Hampshire residents overwhelmingly support legalization, as evidenced by a recent poll that found 62% support and only 30% opposed. However, it should be stressed that HB 1631 does not legalize marijuana — it would merely reduce penalties for possession, putting New Hampshire’s marijuana laws more nearly into line with those found in neighboring states.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Pledge 4 Growth Campaign Can Help Marijuana Businesses Support Reform

March 2nd, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Marijuana sales in states such as Colorado are almost measuring in the billions. Unfortunately, little of that money is going towards promoting further marijuana policy reforms that create new business opportunities and, more importantly, will stop marijuana consumers from getting arrested.

MedMen.Pledge4Growth.LogoFinalwo420-01 copy.pngThe Marijuana Policy Project has been working to revamp state-level marijuana laws for the past 21 years. We’ve had some amazing success in the past five years, but there’s still so much more to do. We need to continue our push to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with sensible regulations — regulations that will allow legitimate businesses to thrive.

If marijuana businesses donate just 0.420% of their gross revenue to MPP, they can support the organization’s lobbying and coalition-building work, its tax-deductible public education projects (MPP Foundation), and its political action committee (MPP PAC).

The Marijuana Policy Project also supports ballot initiatives via separate campaign committees in several targeted states.

If you work in this burgeoning industry, please make the Pledge 4 Growth and help us end marijuana prohibition.

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Prohibition

Urge Republican Presidential Candidates to Address Marijuana Policy at Nevada Caucus

February 22nd, 2016 1 Comment » Robert Capecchi

On Tuesday, individuals across the Silver State will gather together to caucus with their friends and neighbors during the Republican presidential caucus. MPP encourages all of our supporters in Nevada to use this opportunity to caucus for sensible marijuana policy reform!

You can start by reviewing the responses of some of the Republican candidates to the following question:

“If elected, how would your administration address the current tension between state and federal marijuana laws?”

This question, which to date has not been specifically addressed by Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) or businessman Donald Trump, was asked as a direct result of our partnership with Change Politics. Please visit our page on their site and continue to “up-vote” all of our questions to be sure all the candidates’ views on marijuana policy reform are thoroughly addressed.

If you’d like more in-depth information, please see MPP’s presidential report card, which has information about both the Republican and Democratic candidates. Of those still in the race, Donald Trump leads the Republican pack having earned a C+; Sen. Ted Cruz is close behind with a C.

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