Tax and Regulate

Maine Regulation Bills Progressing

June 21st, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Since the formation of the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation in Maine, a few bills have been progressing steadily.

The first bill is LD 243, which would transfer the authority to oversee adult-use marijuana from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations within the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS). The Bureau would be responsible for licensing adult-use marijuana businesses, in addition to creating and enforcing regulations. LD 243 also allocates $200,000 to the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation and $1.4 million to DAFS to implement Question 1. The bill is now sitting on the Appropriations table. Once appropriated, it will go to the governor’s desk for his signature.

The second bill they have been working on is LR 2391, which would create a framework for retail marijuana testing facilities. By setting up testing facilities first, Maine would hopefully avoid regulatory bottlenecks experienced in other states. Mandated marijuana testing means that enough laboratories are needed to test all the marijuana that will be sold in Maine. LR 2391 is on track to be passed before the Legislature adjourns today.

The Joint Select Committee will continue to meet in the summer and fall, after the Legislature adjourns. We will be working closely with the committee to make sure Maine’s adult-use marijuana program is set up swiftly and responsibly.

To receive updates directly from the committee, please sign up here.

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Lawmakers Attempting to Repeal and Replace Legalization Law

June 14th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

In Massachusetts, the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy just approved a “repeal and replace” bill that bears very little resemblance to the legalization law passed by 1.8 million voters in November.

The bill would undermine efforts to replace the unregulated market with a system of licensed businesses. It would take away the right of voters to decide on local marijuana policy, and it could impose a tax rate on marijuana that exceeds 50%. It authorizes the sharing of information with the FBI on cannabis commerce, including employees and medical patients. It also makes the Cannabis Control Commission — the entity that will regulate marijuana businesses — less unaccountable.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, please call your state representative and tell them not to vote for this bill when it is presented for a vote in the House on Thursday. We must not allow politicians to repeal and replace the will of the people, especially when their proposed changes are so flawed and misguided.

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Tax and Regulate

Regulate Rhode Island Will Not Participate in Flawed Legalization Study Commission

June 14th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Later today, the Rhode Island House is scheduled to vote on a flawed piece of legislation that would establish a 22-person “study commission” on marijuana legalization. According to the bill, a handful of the designated members in the study commission would be representatives of organizations that are part of our Regulate Rhode Island coalition.

Today, the coalition announced that we would not participate as members of this flawed study commission if it is established.

We have talked with legislators throughout the session, and they are interested in practical questions about how to establish a well-regulated marijuana market. We do not believe the proposed study commission can offer recommendations for how to legalize and regulate marijuana if the commission does not acknowledge that marijuana should be legalized and regulated at the outset.

Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat released the following statement in a press release:

“The proposed study commission is not a good faith effort to analyze the issue, it is a flawed delay tactic. It would engage in the same legalization debate that has already taken place during the legislative process. It is not intended to find a solution to Rhode Island’s marijuana prohibition problem; it is intended to avoid one. The only people who benefit from delaying legalization — which is what this study commission would do — are the illegal dealers who are currently profiting from selling marijuana.

“Regulate Rhode Island’s members will not participate in the study commission because we are not interested in helping lawmakers once again avoid a vote on legalization. Sen. Miller and Rep. Slater have proposed a very reasonable compromise that deserves an up-or-down vote in the House and Senate this year. Rhode Islanders deserve to know where their elected officials stand on this issue. We call on House Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Ruggerio to stop stalling and allow our legislators to vote on legalization.”

We remain committed to our demand that the General Assembly hold a vote on a real legalization bill this year. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please call your legislators, and tell them to vote against the flawed study commission legislation and demand a vote on our simple and reasonable compromise proposal.

Our compromise would make up to an ounce of marijuana legal for adults ages 21 and older starting July 2018, when stores would open in Massachusetts. It would also create a small advisory board to study how Rhode Island could regulate and tax marijuana in the future.

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Tax and Regulate

Legalization Bill Gets a Hearing in Connecticut

June 9th, 2017 2 Comments Becky Dansky

Connecticut representatives proposed an amendment to another bill that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults’ use. This provided members a historic opportunity to debate the issue on the House floor, but the amendment did not actually receive a vote.

However, there is still a very real chance for ending marijuana prohibition in Connecticut this year.

Last month, Connecticut Democrats revealed a budget proposal that included the regulating and taxing of marijuana, demonstrating that legislative leaders in the majority party understand regulating marijuana like alcohol is a necessary part of a responsible budget solution.

If you are a Connecticut resident, please call or email your legislators and urge them to support ending marijuana prohibition.

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Tax and Regulate

Bill to Regulate Marijuana Introduced in New Jersey

May 22nd, 2017 1 Comment Kate Bell

Last week, Senator Nicholas Scutari (D) introduced his long-awaited bill that would end marijuana prohibition in New Jersey and replace it with a system that regulates and taxes cannabis similarly to alcohol. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support S3195.

While Gov. Chris Christie has made no secret of the fact that he would veto such a bill, he is leaving office in January 2018. It’s important to get New Jersey’s lawmakers to discuss this important policy and show their support of ending prohibition now, so that change can happen quickly once a new governor is in office. While Sen. Scutari’s bill doesn’t include every provision in MPP’s model bill — notably not allowing for home cultivation — it would be a dramatic improvement over the status quo. One noteworthy provision would allow people with marijuana possession convictions to expunge their records immediately.

Despite someone being arrested for marijuana possession every 22 minutes in New Jersey, prohibition hasn’t stopped cannabis use, and it has disproportionately impacted African-Americans. If you are a New Jersey resident, please ask your legislators for their support in ending this failed policy.

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Michigan Initiative Approved to Start Collecting Signatures

May 22nd, 2017 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Michigan State Board of Canvassers officially approved the ballot language put forth by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

The campaign committee will have 180 days to gather the 252,523 valid signatures needed to place the issue on the November 2018 ballot. An official signature collection kick-off event will be held before the end of May.

If ultimately passed by Michigan voters in November 2018, the initiative would legalize personal possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis for adults 21 and older; legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp; license marijuana businesses that cultivate, process, test, transport, and sell marijuana; and tax marijuana at retail levels with proceeds to support K-12 public schools, roads, and local governments.

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Tax and Regulate

Del. House Committee Passes Marijuana Regulation Bill

May 11th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The Delaware House Committee on Revenue and Finance voted 9-2 in favor of HB 110, a bill to tax and regulate cannabis like alcohol. The bill now heads to the full House where it needs a three-fifths majority to advance to the Senate.

HB 110 would allow adults age 21 and over to purchase up to one ounce of cannabis at state-licensed dispensaries. A new Division of Marijuana Control and Enforcement would oversee the program and ensure compliance. You can read MPP’s complete summary of the bill here.

MPP’s Maggie Ellinger-Locke released the following statement in a press release:

“There is strong public support for ending marijuana prohibition in Delaware, and that was reflected in the committee vote,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Americans now recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and they think it is time for it to be treated that way. We hope the full House will follow the committee’s lead and approve HB 110.”

If you are a Delaware resident, please email your representative and tell him or her you want to see Delaware pass HB 110.

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Nevada Approves Early Start Program for Retail Marijuana Sales

May 9th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

Today, the Nevada Tax Commission adopted temporary regulations proposed by the Department of Taxation allowing the state to issue recreational marijuana licenses by July 1, 2017. The ballot measure requires the state to initiate sales by January 1, 2018, but this “early start” program will allow businesses to open six months sooner.

Only medical marijuana establishments that are already in operation can apply to function as recreational retailers during the early start period. The establishments must be in good standing and must pay a one-time, nonrefundable application fee as well as a specific licensing fee. The establishment must also provide written confirmation of compliance with their municipality’s zoning and location requirements.

The tax department plans to accept applications from May 15 to May 31 of this year, and a second application period is anticipated later in the year. The incentive for the early start program stems from Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget request, which includes $70 million from recreational marijuana taxes over two years to support education.

Now, the focus shifts to local governments given that marijuana companies need both a state and local license to operate.

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Ballot Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Filed in Michigan

May 8th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has filed a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Michigan.

The signature drive is expected to begin shortly after the State Board of Canvassers meets to review and approve the petition language. After that, the campaign must collect enough signatures to place the marijuana legalization initiative on Michigan’s November 2018 statewide ballot.

Like Michigan’s medical marijuana law, the initiative would create five categories of licensed marijuana businesses that would be regulated by the state and subject to local control. This would include cultivators, processors, testing facilities, secure transporters, and retailers.

The initiative would allow adults age 21 and older to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to 12 marijuana plants in their residences. The law would also legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp.

If the initiative is approved by voters in November 2018, Michigan would join Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for adults.

For more information about the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, please visit RegulateMI.org.

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Research, Tax and Regulate

Vermont Senate Passes Another Marijuana Bill

May 5th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

On Friday, for the second time this year, the Vermont Senate voted to legalize marijuana for adults’ use! The Senate voted 20-9 to attach the legalization language from H. 170 to an unrelated bill, S. 22, and added a study commission to consider regulation and taxation. It will now be up to the House whether or not to concur with the Senate’s offer of amendment.

This move represents an attempt by the Senate to compromise with the House, which voted for the first time in its history to legalize marijuana earlier this week. H. 170, which would eliminate penalties for adults’ possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, two or fewer mature plants, and four or fewer immature plants, passed the House in a 75-71 vote. The Senate prefers a regulated market approach, but today’s vote shows that senators are willing to accept H. 170 as long as it includes a pathway to sensible regulation.

Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Projectreleased the following statement in a press release:

“You have to give the Senate credit for standing up for Vermont voters, who strongly support making marijuana legal for adults. We hope the House will do the same and concur with S. 22 as amended by the Senate. This is not just a reasonable compromise, but an important step forward for supporters of both home cultivation and regulation. The bill would eliminate penalties for adult possession and cultivation, as the House sought to do with H. 170, and create a commission to explore regulating and taxing marijuana, which the Senate clearly supports. This bill proposes a very thoughtful and deliberate approach to replacing prohibition with a more sensible marijuana policy.”

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