Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Federal Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Marijuana Policy Legislation

March 30th, 2017 28 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Legislation was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday that would end marijuana prohibition at the federal level and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

Bills filed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, leaving states to determine their own marijuana policies, and impose federal regulations on marijuana businesses in states that choose to regulate marijuana for adult use. Wyden’s bill would also enact a federal excise tax on marijuana products. In the House, the tax is being proposed in a separate bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

Wyden and Blumenauer also filed marijuana policy “gap” bills that would eliminate many of the collateral consequences associated with federal marijuana convictions without removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

An additional bill filed by Wyden with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Michael Bennett (D-CO) would reform section 280E of the U.S. Tax Code to allow state-legal marijuana businesses to deduct ordinary and necessary business expenses from their federal taxes. A companion bill was filed in the House by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Blumenauer.

MPP Director of Federal Policies Robert Capecchi issued the following statement in a press release:

“This is commonsense legislation that will eliminate the growing tension between federal and state marijuana laws. Voters and legislatures are rolling back antiquated state marijuana prohibition policies, and it’s time for Congress to step up at the federal level. States are adopting laws designed to improve public safety by replacing the illegal marijuana market with a tightly regulated system of production and sales. The federal government should be working to facilitate that transition, not hinder it. It’s time for Congress to come to grips with the fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol, and most Americans think it should be treated that way.

“We commend Sen. Wyden and Reps. Polis and Blumenauer for proposing a sensible path forward. We hope their colleagues will take an objective look at the benefits of replacing prohibition with a system of regulation. There will surely be some members on the fence about this legislation, but consider it unthinkable that we would return to alcohol prohibition. They need to ask themselves why they are still clinging to the prohibition of a less harmful substance.”

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Tax and Regulate

Bill to Regulate Marijuana Introduced in Delaware

March 30th, 2017 1 Comment Maggie Ellinger-Locke

After years of advocacy on the part of MPP and our local partners, Delaware Rep. Helene Keeley and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry introduced HB 110, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act. The bill seeks to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults 21 years of age or older. The marijuana tax revenue would be used to fund education, public health campaigns, and to support re-entry campaigns for ex-offenders, among other programs.

An October 2016 poll by the University of Delaware found that 61% of state residents favor this important policy change. Now it is up to voters to let their lawmakers know they want to see them vote in favor of this bill!

In a press briefing to announce the bill’s introduction, sponsors of the bill — which enjoys bipartisan support — spoke about why they see this topic as a social justice issue, and how the failed “reefer madness” policy views of the past should come to an end.

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Tax and Regulate

Illinois Lawmakers Introduce Proposal to Regulate Marijuana for Adult Use

March 23rd, 2017 7 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans introduced bills Wednesday that would finally end cannabis prohibition in Illinois. Identical bills, one introduced in the House and one in the Senate, would allow adults to use, possess, and cultivate limited amounts of cannabis with no penalty, and would set up a taxed and regulated market for cannabis production and sale.

MPP issued the following statement in a press release:

“People are fed up with laws that punish adults for using a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol,” said Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The time is right for the Illinois General Assembly to re-examine marijuana prohibition and consider the potential benefits of a thoughtfully crafted regulatory system. The sky has not fallen in the eight states that have made marijuana legal for adults. It’s time for Illinois to move past prohibition and stop missing out on the jobs and revenue other states are already getting.”

If you are an Illinois resident, please urge your state legislators to support HB 2353 and SB 316.

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Tax and Regulate

Nevada Considers Social Consumption Bill

March 23rd, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

Nevada Sen. Tick Segerblom has introduced a bill that would allow social use of marijuana in certain venues, such as lounges, bars, and coffee shops, as well as at special events. SB 236 would allow local governments to issue permits to businesses and licenses for special events allowing marijuana consumption in designated places.

Social use would be monitored locally and would only allow adults aged 21 and over to publically consume marijuana. SB 236 outlines clear regulatory instructions that social use venues cannot exist within 1000 feet of a school, public park or playground, church, or anywhere that is otherwise viewable from a public place. If passed, SB 236 would become the first state law to address public consumption of marijuana. With legal sales expected to begin soon, SB 236 is increasingly important to ensure consumption can take place in a safe and legal environment.

Fifty-five percent of Nevada voters approved Question 2, legalizing adult use and possession of small quantities of marijuana, and state regulators are demonstrating their commitment to immediately begin complying with the wishes of Nevada citizens by creating rules to establish retail sales by July 1, 2017.

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Tax and Regulate

Push to Regulate Marijuana for Adult Use Picks Up Steam in Connecticut

March 13th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The newly formed Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana (CCRM) held a press conference March 7 to rally support for legislation that would regulate and tax marijuana for adult use in Connecticut.

The event was held just prior to a committee hearing on H.B. 5314, sponsored by Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-East Haddam), which directs the Department of Consumer Protection to establish a regulated system of marijuana cultivation and sales for adults 21 years of age and older. It also directs the Department of Revenue Services to create a tax structure that would generate revenue for the state and certain municipalities.

“I feel that the legalization of marijuana is inevitable and, as such, Connecticut should be at the forefront of the movement in order to set the standard for effective policy,” Ziobron said in a CCRM news release.

Ziobron and the sponsors of three similar proposals — Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven) and Reps. Juan Candelaria (D-New Haven) and Toni Walker (D-New Haven) — have agreed to work together to end marijuana prohibition in Connecticut and ensure whichever bill moves forward will create the best system possible for regulating and taxing marijuana.

“The vast majority of voters in Connecticut think it is time to end marijuana prohibition and start regulating it similarly to alcohol,” CCRM Director Sam Tracy said in a statement to the media. “Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society. It should be produced and sold by tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses, not by criminals in the underground market.”

Nearly two-thirds of Connecticut voters (63%) support making possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll conducted in March 2015.

If you live in Connecticut, contact your elected officials today and ask them to support the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adult use.

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Tax and Regulate

Colorado Department of Revenue Reports $1.3 Billion in Regulated Marijuana Sales in 2016

February 22nd, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The Colorado Department of Revenue’s announcement that $1.3 billion in regulated marijuana sales took place in calendar year 2016, generating nearly $200 million in state tax revenue. These figures do not include millions of dollars in revenue generated by local taxes on marijuana.

The Cannabist reports:

To put the state’s third year of regulated recreational marijuana sales in perspective, Year One totaled $699.2 million (combined with medical sales) and Year Two jumped up to $996.2 million. The trend should continue in Year Four, but beyond that? It’s a murkier proposition.

2016 was the year in which the $100-million-month became a baseline and heralded a record-breaking summer: The combined sales for July, August and September were $376.6 million.

Monthly sales topped $100 million in eight of the 12 months. In December, which is typically a strong month for cannabis transactions, pot shops’ sales were a little more than $114.7 million, a 13 percent increase from the $101.3 million recorded in December 2015.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Tax and Regulate

Minnesota Lawmaker Introduces Marijuana Regulation Bill

February 16th, 2017 2 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Minnesota House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Jon Applebaum (DFL-Minnetonka) has filed a bill to end cannabis prohibition and regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults ages 21 and up.

If passed, bill HF927 would go into effect on January 1, 2018. It would allow adults to possess and purchase up to an ounce of marijuana, and to grow six plants. Rep. Applebaum hopes that all revenues generated by such a program would go towards Minnesota’s public schools. His bill would not permit driving under the influence of cannabis or consumption in public. If you are a Minnesota resident, please let your legislators know you’d like to see Minnesota enact this sensible proposal.

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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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