Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

New Jersey announces it’s doubling the number of medical marijuana businesses

July 16th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Good news! Today, the New Jersey Department of Health announced that it will begin accepting applications for six additional businesses that can grow, process, and sell medical cannabis in the state. The winning businesses are supposed to be announced on November 1. Unfortunately, there is no provision yet for equity applicants, although applicants may be awarded up to 50 (out of 1,000) points for diversity.

With the tiny number of existing businesses, patients have experienced supply shortages and high prices due to a lack of competition. Today’s expansion should help begin to address these problems, although more will need to be done. Separating the licenses for growing, processing, and selling cannabis will help make many more types of products available to patients, and the health department plans to consider additional applications for these licenses beginning in the fall.

In other news, while the June 30 budget deadline came and went without legislative action on any of the pending marijuana bills, Senate President Steve Sweeny has said he believes there could be a vote on legalizing and regulating this summer.

If you are a New Jersey resident, click here to ask for your lawmakers’ support.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Rhode Island legislative session ends…and the election season begins

July 5th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

The 2018 Rhode Island legislative session recently came to a disappointing close. By extending its unproductive marijuana study commission into next year and failing to expand the number of medical marijuana compassion centers, the General Assembly has once again ignored the overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders who support sensible marijuana policy reform.

If you are a Rhode Island resident…

The best way to make your voice heard now is to become active in local elections. When candidates hear from voters about an issue on the campaign trail, they’re far more likely to take action when elected.

If you see a campaign event happening in your district, attend and ask candidates if they will push for legislation to legalize marijuana. Make sure they know that your support for them depends, in part, on their support for ending the senseless policy of marijuana prohibition.

During the 2019 legislative session, MPP plans to launch a robust legalization effort in Rhode Island. Getting involved in local elections is the most effective way for you to help us lay the groundwork for victory next year.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

New Hampshire’s “drug czar” speaks against marijuana legalization

July 5th, 2018 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

The walls of marijuana prohibition have crumbled all around New Hampshire. It is now legal for adults in all three neighboring states to grow and possess cannabis, and retail sales will soon become a reality in Massachusetts, Maine, and Canada.

Sadly, Gov. Chris Sununu continues to oppose legalization, in part because he continues to rely on terrible advice from New Hampshire’s so-called “drug czar,” former Manchester police chief David Mara. Last week, during an appearance at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Mara went on camera and offered an incredibly weak argument in defense of the status quo.

In other news, Senate Democratic leader Jeff Woodburn has launched an online petition calling for Sununu to support legalization. Sen. Woodburn announced last month that he intends to sponsor a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis in 2019.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call Gov. Sununu’s office today — tell him it’s time to stop listening to Chief Mara and start listening to the people of New Hampshire, who overwhelmingly support ending marijuana prohibition!

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Legalization becomes reality in Vermont

July 1st, 2018 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

It’s a big day. July 1, 2018 will go down in Vermont’s history as the day the state officially stopped punishing adults for consuming marijuana.

Residents of Vermont are seeing the fruits of our movement’s tireless efforts to reform harmful and ill-conceived marijuana laws. Adults can now legally possess, consume, and grow limited amounts of marijuana. Read our summary of the law here.

MPP was a primary driving force behind this victory – and we’re currently on the front lines of legalizing marijuana in many other states, too.

Days like these are powerful reminders of what we can achieve together. Many of you have made one-time contributions in the past and others make monthly donations. Thank you. You are part of these victories, too. We are only able to do this work because thousands of allies across the country support our work.

MPP has big plans to continue changing marijuana laws around the country in the next two years. Through the dedicated work of our teams throughout the country, we could see up to eight more states legalize by mid-2020. But what we can achieve is limited by our funding. Our success depends on you.

Together, we are bringing the era of marijuana prohibition to an end. Let’s keep going.

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Tax and Regulate

Delaware House majority votes to legalize cannabis, but bill fails

June 28th, 2018 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

On the evening of June 27, the Delaware House of Representatives voted 21-15 (with five not voting) to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults. This was only the third time that the majority of a state legislative chamber voted to legalize and regulate marijuana!

Unfortunately, however, a majority was not enough. A three-fifths supermajority — 25 votes — is required for any Delaware bill that includes taxes and fees.

While we are disappointed that this will not be the year Delaware legalizes marijuana, together we’ve made tremendous progress. This is an election year, and we’ll be putting together a candidate questionnaire and voter guide, so stay tuned! Helping elect allies is an important way to make sure prohibition ends sooner rather than later in Delaware.

If you are a resident of Delaware …

Please take a moment to email your state representative to thank them if they voted “yes” or to politely express disappointment if they didn’t. (Many voters and lawmakers alike evolve on the issue, and it’s crucial that we don’t alienate lawmakers.) Once you type in your contact information, a draft email will appear based on how your representative voted.

You may also want to send a note of gratitude to the remarkable legislative champions, Rep. Helene Keeley and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, to thank them for their relentless work. They are both retiring from the legislature, and they championed both medical cannabis and decriminalization, too.

In other news, a bill to make it easier to expunge marijuana possession convictions passed the Senate in May and is on the House floor now. Please also call your representative to ask them to vote “yes” on SB 197 so that Delaware will stop derailing dreams for conduct that is decriminalized.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

N.J. lawmakers include marijuana tax revenue in their budget bills

June 21st, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

New Jersey lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy agree that the state needs revenue to fund important priorities, such as improving the transit system, but disagree on how to get it. One thing leaders do agree on, however, is taxing the sale of cannabis: The Assembly and Senate budgets contain $69 million from marijuana taxes. That figure is more than could realistically be earned from medical cannabis sales tax alone, but is a small amount compared to what the state will eventually earn from taxing and regulating marijuana. However, this conservative projection makes sense given the time it will take to get adult-use sales up and running after the bill is passed.

It’s great that more and more lawmakers recognize that marijuana prohibition has failed, and that the state can benefit from taxing and regulating it. However, we want to urge lawmakers to ensure that the harms of prohibition are addressed in the legalization bill.

Asw. Annette Quijano, Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, recently held a hearing (at which MPP testified) on her bill to help do just that, by ensuring that people with a marijuana offense on their record will have meaningful access to expungement if New Jersey legalizes cannabis. Unfortunately, the current legalization bills do not go far enough.

If you are a New Jersey resident, please ask your lawmakers to support legalization and to ensure that New Jersey gives people an opportunity to benefit from legalization instead of continuing to be burdened with the collateral consequences of a criminal record.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Canada legalizes marijuana!

June 20th, 2018 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Marijuana prohibition is history in Canada. Last night, after months of negotiations, Parliament approved a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults. After one formality — Royal Assent — Canada will become the second nation to end marijuana prohibition and the first G7 country to do so.

Regulations vary by province, but most set age limits at 18 or 19 to match the legal age for alcohol and tobacco in Canada. Once the law takes effect, adults can possess up to 30 grams and grow up to four plants in their homes. Read more about this historic legislation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is expected to move quickly to implement the new policy, and retail marijuana stores will soon be opening just north of our border.

And that is all the more reason for our Congress to enact the STATES Act, which would allow American states to decide their own marijuana laws without federal interference.

This is an important day to acknowledge. After decades of harm caused by marijuana prohibition laws, nations around the world are beginning to come to their senses. Canadians should be proud that their country is leading the way among major governments.

Let’s not fall too far behind — call your members of Congress today. And please consider donating to MPP to support our efforts.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

NY Health Dept. will expand medical program; looks favorably toward adult use

June 20th, 2018 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki

The Health Commissioner of New York, Howard Zucker, recently announced that a long-awaited study by the Cuomo administration will recommend the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adult use. The study is believed to be at least partly in response to gubernatorial primary candidate Cynthia Nixon’s strong support of marijuana legalization.

Mr. Zucker also announced that the Health Department will issue regulations to allow patients who have been prescribed opioids to qualify for the state’s medical marijuana program. Not all patients can qualify under the existing chronic pain provision, since opioids may also be prescribed for severe but short-term pain, such as after surgery. The New York Senate also passed a bill to do the same, as well as to allow patients with opioid use disorder to qualify.

While the state’s legislative session is ending soon, New York is moving closer to ending marijuana prohibition!

In other news, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio, under increasing pressure to address the racial disparity in low-level marijuana arrests, announced a new policy designed to reduce arrests and give more tickets instead. Unfortunately, the policy, which will take effect September 1, has so many exceptions its impact may be limited.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Delaware marijuana bills on the move

June 13th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

In the past 24 hours, there have been two significant advances toward modernizing Delaware’s marijuana laws. Yesterday, Rep. Helene Keeley put forth amendments to her marijuana legalization and regulation bill, HB 110, which address concerns and reduce the number of votes needed for passage. Then, this morning, the Senate unanimously approved a limited but important marijuana expungement bill!

Let them know it’s past time to end Delaware’s failed experiment with marijuana prohibition. Our software makes the process quick and easy. Just type in your contact info and your lawmakers’ names and phone numbers will appear — one at a time — along with some suggested talking points.

If you are a Delaware resident, call your lawmakers today, and urge them to support HB 110.

With the legislative session ending on June 30, there’s no time to waste. So, make a couple of calls to help make history! Then, spread the word on social media or by email, to ask other thoughtful Delawareans to speak out for sensible marijuana policies.

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Tax and Regulate

Canada’s Parliament Votes to End Marijuana Prohibition

June 7th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Canada moved another step closer to ending its prohibition of marijuana on Thursday when the Senate approved legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Bill C-45 will now head back to the House of Commons, which has already approved a previous version.

Once approved in the House, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is expected to move quickly to implement the legislation, with legal adult sales beginning as soon as August. Canada will be just the second country — and the first G7 nation — to legalize marijuana for adults at the national level. The first was Uruguay, where legislation was signed into law in December 2013 and a limited number of pharmacies began selling marijuana to adults in July 2017.

“Canada is demonstrating extraordinary leadership on marijuana policy,” said Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It is setting an example not only for the U.S., where reform is already progressing at the federal level, but for countries around the world where there has been little to no debate on the subject.”

The Canadian legislation creates an overarching national regulatory framework and enables each province to establish its own system of licensing and regulating marijuana businesses. Adults will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, and all products will be sold in plain packaging with clearly marked labels. Home cultivation is allowed at the federal level, but it can be banned at the provincial level.

“This legislation will allow adults in Canada to start purchasing marijuana safely and legally from licensed businesses rather than tracking it down through illegal and potentially dangerous channels,” Tvert said. “Products will be tested, packaged, and labeled to ensure they are not contaminated and that consumers know what they’re getting. This newly regulated market will also create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue.”

Nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, and eight of those laws include systems for regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana.

“Marijuana prohibition is a failed U.S. policy experiment that was replicated by countries around the world,” Tvert said. “It has caused far more problems than it has solved, and governments would be wise to follow Canada’s example by revisiting their marijuana policies and exploring alternatives.”

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