General

Virginia Lawmakers Send Reform Bills to Governor

March 3rd, 2017 6 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Last week, the Virginia General Assembly sent Gov. Terry McAuliffe a bill to stop suspending drivers’ licenses for first-offense possession of small amounts of marijuana! This bill reflects years of work by advocates and is a significant victory on the path towards reform in Virginia!

In addition, the Legislature approved a bill allowing in-state production of cannabis and distribution of low-THC/ high-CBD cannabis oil for patients suffering from intractable epilepsy. In order to take advantage of the program, patients must obtain a written certification from their neurologist or other epilepsy specialist. Another measure that would have included other medical conditions in the program was not passed by the Legislature.

Both bills — HB 2051 and SB 1027 — must be signed by Gov. McAuliffe by March 27, 2017, in order to go into effect. He is expected to meet this deadline.

While Virginia remains a long way off from joining the majority of states that have enacted more comprehensive reform — through decriminalization or the establishment of a medical marijuana program — these are two significant steps forward that advocates can celebrate.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in West Virginia

March 3rd, 2017 6 Comments Matt Simon

Compassionate legislators in the West Virginia House and Senate introduced bills that would create a medical marijuana program in the state. In the House, Delegate Mike Pushkin and 11 co-sponsors introduced HB 2677, a comprehensive medical marijuana bill titled the “Patient Freedom Act.” In the upper chamber, Senator Richard Ojeda and 11 co-sponsors introduced SB 386, which would make medical marijuana legal and create a Medical Cannabis Commission to administer the program.

Unfortunately, House Speaker Tim Armstead has made it clear that he opposes medical marijuana. Your delegates and senators need to hear from you that this issue is important so they will be motivated to help convince the speaker that a medical marijuana law would be good for West Virginia.

If you are a West Virginia residentplease contact your state legislators today and tell them it’s time to move forward with a compassionate medical marijuana program.

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Prohibition

MPP’s Rob Kampia Responds to White House Comments

March 1st, 2017 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia just published a new article at the Huffington Post in response to recent comments by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer sparked a flurry of media coverage last Thursday, February 23, when he uttered approximately 320 words about federal marijuana enforcement.

He did not articulate any new policy positions for the administration, which was good, because Donald Trump entered the White House with the best position on marijuana policy of any incoming president in modern history. Most notably, he has repeatedly said that states should be able to establish their own marijuana policies, without contradiction. He has also expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana, which Spicer mentioned.

Nevertheless, several media outlets leapt to the conclusion that the federal government is surely planning an all-out assault on state marijuana laws. I was also surprised to see that allies within the marijuana policy reform movement were also contriving a fight where none exists. According to a hyperbolic statement from one allied organization, “Spicer declared war on much of the cannabis community yesterday when he announced the Trump administration intends to engage in the ‘greater enforcement’ of federal anti-marijuana laws.”

But Spicer did not “declare” anything. He was not proactively announcing a prepared, written policy on behalf of the Trump administration. Quite the opposite, he was reactively offering an impromptu, oral opinion on behalf of himself. Those are important distinctions.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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Prohibition

Colorado GOP Senate Leader Downplays Federal Interference Fears

February 28th, 2017 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project
Colorado Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg

In response to statements made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer last week, Colorado Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg said that he does not think the federal government will crack down the legal marijuana market in states where it is legal for adult consumption.

Denver Post reports:

“I’m not sure I’d put too much thought or too much credit into what he was saying,” Sonnenberg told reporters Monday morning. “This president has been all about federalism and giving the states more authority, this just flies in the face of that. So I would anticipate not much coming from that.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper downplayed the suggestion a day earlier in a “Meet the Press” interview, affirming that he didn’t believe the federal government would target states like Colorado that legalized weed.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has suggested a change in federal policy toward states on marijuana is unlikely, but Sonnenberg’s comments are the most forceful Republican pushback against the White House on the issue since the announcement Thursday.

“Colorado has been the leader when it comes to marijuana and the regulation,” he said. “People look to us for leadership, and I don’t think our new president will turn his back on allowing states to do what they need to do, whether (marijuana) or anything else.”

MPP will continue to monitor the Dept. of Justice for more info on their intended policy going forward.

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Prohibition

White House Comments on Marijuana Policy; Poll Finds 71% of U.S. Voters Want Feds to Respect State Marijuana Laws

February 23rd, 2017 11 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Just hours after a national poll was released showing widespread support for marijuana policy reform and staunch opposition to federal interference in state marijuana laws, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer caused a stir  by making some comments about marijuana enforcement during a press briefing.

Specifically, he reiterated President Trump’s support for legal access to medical marijuana, noting that the current budget prohibits the Department of Justice from interfering in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. He said that recreational marijuana use is a different issue and suggested there would be “greater enforcement” of federal marijuana laws in states that have more broadly legalized marijuana. It was unclear what he meant the federal government would be interfering in such laws or simply stepping up enforcement against individuals who are violating them. President Trump said during his campaign that marijuana law should be left to the states.

MPP issued the following statement in response to Spicer’s comments:

“The vast majority of Americans agree that the federal government has no business interfering in state marijuana laws. This administration is claiming that it values states’ rights, so we hope they will respect the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want marijuana to be produced and sold by cartels and criminals rather than tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses. Mr. Spicer says there is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, but the benefits of and need for regulation apply equally to both.

“Mr. Spicer acknowledged that the Justice Department is currently prohibited from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. It is critical that Congress once again includes that provision in the next budget, and we are hopeful that they will also adopt a provision that extends that principle to all state marijuana laws.”

According to the Quinnipiac University Poll released earlier in the day, the vast majority of U.S. voters support making marijuana legal and think the federal government should respect state marijuana laws. The nationwide survey of 1,323 voters found that five out of seven voters (71%) — including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and every age group polled — oppose the government enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal for medical or adult use.

The Quinnipiac poll also found that 93% of voters support allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes and 59% support making it legal for all purposes. The results appear to be in line with national polls released by Gallup and the Pew Research Center in October, which found support for ending marijuana prohibition at 60% and 57%, respectively.

 

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Prohibition

Congressmen Form Bipartisan Cannabis Caucus

February 22nd, 2017 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

They represent constituents in four of the eight states that have enacted laws regulating cannabis for medical and adult use. Twenty additional states have enacted comprehensive medical cannabis laws, and 16 additional states have enacted limited or unworkable medical cannabis laws. In total, 44 states have adopted laws rolling back cannabis prohibition at the state level, representing 95% of the U.S. House of Representatives and 88% of the Senate.

The Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Americans for Safe Access, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, and Clergy for a New Drug Policy released a joint statement in support of the formation of this group:

“We commend Representatives Blumenauer, Rohrabacher, Polis, and Young for their leadership on the issue of cannabis policy. The establishment of a Cannabis Caucus will allow members from both parties, who represent diverse constituencies from around the country, to join together for the purpose of advancing sensible cannabis policy reform. It will also facilitate efforts to ease the tension between federal prohibition laws and state laws that regulate cannabis for medical and adult use.

The formation of this caucus is a testament to how far our country has come on the issue of cannabis policy. There is a growing consensus that cannabis prohibition has failed, and it is time for a more sensible approach. A strong majority of Americans support making cannabis legal for medical and adult use, and an even stronger majority believes states should be able to establish their own cannabis policies without interference from the federal government. We look forward to working with caucus members to translate this growing public sentiment into sound public policy.”

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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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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Kansas

February 16th, 2017 1 Comment Kate Bell

A proposal to make Kansas the 29th medical marijuana state has been introduced by Senator David Haley (D-Kansas City), and it’s supported by local advocacy group Bleeding Kansas. SB 155, the Kansas Safe Access Act, would allow seriously ill Kansas residents with certain qualifying conditions to access medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.

Sixty-eight percent of Kansans believe that marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. There are a multitude of studies that show that medical marijuana can help patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other devastating conditions. These patients should not have to wait any longer or risk jail time to access treatments that may help them.

If you are a Kansas resident, please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support this sensible legislation.

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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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Uncategorized

Vermont Police Major Claims Governor Opposed to Non-Commercial Legalization

February 16th, 2017 No Comments Morgan Fox

A Vermont state police major claimed to be speaking on behalf of Governor Phil Scott’s administration while testifying in opposition to H. 170, a bill that would eliminate penalties for adults’ possession of two ounces or less of marijuana and two mature plants. An administration official later backed the major’s statement. This would appear to contradict Governor Scott’s own comment from just last week: “I didn’t say, ‘Never.’ I said, ‘Not now’… We’ll take a look at whatever they pass.”

There has never been a more important time to make a phone call on behalf of marijuana legalization. Please call Governor Scott’s office right now and urge him to support H. 170!

The House Judiciary Committee appears likely to pass H. 170 regardless of the administration’s position. However, we urgently need to generate as many calls as possible to the governor’s office. Please email our grassroots coordinator, Matthew Tolley, to find out how you can help.

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