Tax and Regulate

Adult Use Bills Introduced in Maryland Senate

February 9th, 2017 3 Comments » Kate Bell

This week, two companion bills that would legalize and regulate personal use amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and up were introduced in the Maryland Senate.

SB 928 would allow adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and to grow up to six plants, and would set up regulated businesses that would cultivate, process, and sell cannabis, including a “craft cultivator” category for small businesses. SB 927 sets a $30 per ounce excise tax and 9% sales tax (the same as alcohol). Half of the proceeds would go to high-poverty schools.

Much of the cannabis discussion in the General Assembly is about Maryland’s continuing failure to properly implement its medical program. The Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition strongly supports making medical cannabis available as soon as possible, but this bill would not impact the medical program — it would set up a parallel system for adults. Every year as the General Assembly waits to pass these reforms, thousands more people are searched, fined, and often arrested for using a substance safer than alcohol.

If you are a Maryland resident, please let your lawmakers know the time has come to allow adults to use cannabis.

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Tax and Regulate

Rhode Island Poll Shows Rising Support for Making Marijuana Legal for Adults

February 7th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

A new poll provides further evidence that an overwhelming majority of Rhode Island voters stand with us in supporting regulating marijuana like alcohol. The survey found that 3 out of 5 Rhode Islanders favor making marijuana legal for adults.

It’s encouraging that support continues to steadily rise (in 2015, support was at 57%), but it’s critical that we keep pushing. The Legislature won’t act unless their constituents contact them. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please tell your lawmakers to support ending marijuana prohibition.

You can see the full poll results here.

Rhode Island Sen. Joshua Miller and Rep. Scott Slater recently introduced the Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space. It would establish the Office of Cannabis Coordination within the executive branch, which would be charged with coordinating among state agencies to establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, processing facilities, and testing facilities. The legislation would also create a 23% excise tax on retail marijuana sales in addition to the standard 7% sales tax.

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Tax and Regulate

New York Legalization Bills Introduced

February 7th, 2017 4 Comments » Kate Bell

Bills to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults have been introduced in both the New York Senate and the Assembly. The bills — S3040 and A3506 — would allow adults 18 and over to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants. They also set up a regulatory system for businesses to cultivate, process, and sell cannabis to adults 21 and up.

Other bills have been introduced to fix New York’s flawed decriminalization law, under which thousands of people — mostly young people of color — have been forced by police to empty their pockets and have then been arrested for having marijuana in public view. While these would be positive steps, a more comprehensive reform would do more to end arrests for low-level marijuana offenses. It would also improve public safety by taking marijuana out of the criminal market.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently acknowledged that “Individuals can miss work, be fired, [and] establish a record that prevents them from finding work in the future,” because of a marijuana arrest. If you are a New York resident, please tell your legislators that New Yorkers shouldn’t have their futures hamstrung because they choose to use a substance safer than alcohol.

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Legalization Takes Effect

January 31st, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

A voter-approved initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine officially took effect Monday, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana.

Under Question 1, which voters approved in November and Gov. Paul LePage certified on December 31, adults 21 years of age and older can legally possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana, grow up to six flowering marijuana plants and 12 non-flowering plants, and possess the marijuana harvested from those plants inside their residence. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public and to drive while impaired by marijuana. The law will not affect employers’ drug-testing policies or their rights to prohibit marijuana use by employees.

The legislature is in the process of establishing a regulated system of marijuana cultivation and sales, which is currently scheduled to be up and running by February 1, 2018.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Update: Kentucky Bills Introduced

January 24th, 2017 1 Comment » Matt Simon

Sen. Perry Clark has introduced two bills that would overhaul marijuana policies in Kentucky. SB 57 would make medical marijuana legal for seriously ill Kentuckians, and SB 72 would legalize marijuana for adult use and create a regulated and taxed system.

SB 57 would protect qualifying patients from arrest and allow them to cultivate marijuana plants. It would also allow them to obtain medical marijuana from dispensaries, which would be regulated by the state.

SB 72 would take Kentucky in the direction of the eight states that have voted to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. This would divert millions of dollars away from the illicit drug market and into the hands of Kentucky businesses that would be regulated and taxed by the state. Unfortunately, legislators are not likely to take this bill as seriously in 2017, so we believe it may be best to focus email advocacy in support of the medical marijuana bill until the political landscape changes.

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Tax and Regulate

Legalization Under Attack in Massachusetts

January 23rd, 2017 3 Comments » Marijuana Policy Project

On Friday, we received a clear indication of what to expect from the Massachusetts Legislature in the next few months. Politicians introduced a number of bills that would adversely impact the implementation of Question 4 and restrict the new law’s home cultivation and personal possession limits.

Legislators have filed bills that would push back sales of edibles by two years, reduce home grow and personal possession limits, give local officials the power to block marijuana establishments, unnecessarily restructure the Cannabis Control Commission, and increase the legal age limit to 25.

These are clear attempts to reverse the will of the 1.8 million voters who approved Question 4.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them that you oppose any attempts to significantly alter Question 4, including those listed above.

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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Medical and Legalization Bills Pre-Filed in Kentucky

January 10th, 2017 3 Comments » Matt Simon

The Kentucky Legislature reconvened last week for the 2017-18 session, and Sen. Perry Clark has already prefiled two bills that would reform marijuana laws in the Commonwealth. One bill would end Kentucky’s criminalization of adult marijuana consumers, instead taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol. Another bill would permit seriously ill Kentuckians — both adults and minors — to access medical marijuana.

Effective medical marijuana programs have been created in 28 states, and Kentucky patients should have the same access. Meanwhile, legalizing marijuana for adult use would allow the state to generate tax revenue from adult marijuana sales while providing the tools needed to adequately regulate the production and sale of marijuana.

Under current laws, possession of less than eight ounces of marijuana is punishable by 45 days in jail and a $250 fine. There is a narrow medical exception for patients with intractable seizures, but the marijuana must be provided by a physician, which would be a violation of federal law.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please contact your lawmakers today and urge them to support compassionate medical and adult-use marijuana policy reforms.

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Tax and Regulate

Legalization on the Legislative Agenda for Connecticut

January 10th, 2017 No Comments Becky Dansky

The Connecticut Legislature, which convened on January 4, is expected to consider legislation that would end marijuana prohibition for adult use and replace it with a system that would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Voters in nearby Massachusetts and Maine have voted to legalize marijuana and regulate it like alcohol. While polling shows 63% of Connecticut voters support this policy change, Connecticut lacks a ballot initiative process, so it’s crucial voters reach out to their elected officials. If you are a Connecticut resident, please tell your lawmakers to support sensible marijuana policy reform.

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Governor Signs Question 1, Making Marijuana Legal for Adults on January 30

January 4th, 2017 1 Comment » Marijuana Policy Project

After recounting 30% of the votes for Question 1 in Maine last month, opponents of marijuana policy reform dropped their challenge, allowing the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol move to the Governor’s desk. On New Year’s Eve, Gov. LePage signed Question 1 into law.

Portland Press Herald reports:

LePage confirmed the proclamation Tuesday on a talk show on WVOM radio in Bangor. But he also called on the Legislature to place a moratorium on the sale of marijuana until lawmakers could work out all the details, including providing funding to set up a regulatory framework for legal marijuana.

Under the new law, adults over age 21 will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or grow up to six plants. The law goes into effect on Jan. 30, which is 30 days after LePage issued the proclamation on Saturday.

Commercial sale of the drug would be regulated by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Ballot question opponents had requested a recount of the measure, which was approved by a 4,000-vote margin but the recount by the Secretary of State’s Office was ended in December after it appeared there would be no significant change in the results.

LePage said Tuesday he needs the Legislature to provide funding to the agriculture department in order for him to move forward with establishing an agency to regulate the sale of marijuana in Maine.

Advocates are urging the legislature to begin implementation immediately and not consider a moratorium until after they have had a chance to establish regulations.

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Lawmakers Delay Regulation of Marijuana

December 29th, 2016 5 Comments » Mason Tvert

massachusetts-flagMassachusetts lawmakers passed a measure Wednesday that would delay the full implementation of Question 4, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, which voters approved in November.

The Boston Globe reports:

It took less than an hour, and only about a half-dozen state legislators, to approve a bill that would overturn significant parts of a marijuana legalization law that 1.8 million voters approved just last month.

With no public hearings and no formal public notice, the few lawmakers on Beacon Hill passed a measure on Wednesday to delay the likely opening date for recreational marijuana stores in Massachusetts by half a year — from January to July 2018.

The move was met with criticism from Question 4 supporters, who pointed out that Colorado lawmakers were able to effectively implement a similar initiative in a timeframe that is similar to the one stipulated in Question 4.

The Yes on 4 campaign issued the following statement:

We are very disappointed that the Legislature has decided to alter Question 4 in an informal session with little notice regarding proposed changes. We are willing to consider technical changes to Question 4 so that the new law is implemented in a timely and responsible manner. However, our position remains that the measure was written with careful consideration regarding process and timelines and that no major Legislative revisions are necessary. Further, the voters of Massachusetts approved Question 4 by a significant margin, and any alteration of the law deserves a transparent, deliberative legislative process.

As MPP’s Mason Tvert pointed out, the reasoning behind the delay is not particularly sound.

“The Legislature has a responsibility to implement the will of the voters while also protecting public health and public safety,” [Senate President Stanley] Rosenberg said. “This short delay will allow the necessary time for the Legislature to work with stakeholders on improving the new law.”

But Mason Tvert, a national advocate for legalization at the Marijuana Policy Project, scoffed at the premise of the Senate president’s statement.

“The will of the voters was to protect public health and public safety by regulating marijuana,” Tvert said. “By delaying the regulation of marijuana, lawmakers are delaying the protection of public health and public safety.”

Question 4 officially took effect earlier this month, at which time it became legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana.

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