Tax and Regulate

Arizona Initiative Cleared for Ballot After Language Challenges

September 7th, 2016 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

After a court ruling rejected a challenge from prohibitionists to13925181_550967435082980_8533437240301629316_n keep the initiative to legalize marijuana in Arizona off the ballot, opponents of the measure made a last-ditch effort to deprive voters of their right to choose by alleging that the ballot language summary was misleading and the initiative should be invalidated.

On August 31, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the initiative summary was accurate and comprehensive enough to comply with state law, allowing it to proceed.

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Prohibition

MPP and Institute for Justice Fight for Free Speech in Alabama

September 6th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Recently when attempting to lobby for marijuana policy reform in Alabama, MPP legislative counsel Maggie Ellinger-Locke discovered that she would have to travel to the Yellowhammer State and take an ethics class before she could speak with any lawmakers on the subject. This is a clear violation of free speech, and Institute for Justice is helping us fight back.IJ logo

Alabama Today reports:

Virginia-based public interest law firm Institute for Justice filed a new federal lawsuit on behalf of Maggie Ellinger-Locke and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

At issue is an Alabama law requiring all registered lobbyists to attend an ethics class offered only four times a year and in only one place – Montgomery.

Part of Ellinger-Locke’s job, says IJ Senior Attorney Paul Sherman in a recent op-ed, is to talk with legislators and government officials in nearly a dozen states on ways to make marijuana policy “more just, sensible and humane.”

“Unfortunately for her,” Sherman writes, “all lobbyists in Alabama are required to take an in-person ethics class.” The problem is, Ellinger-Locke lives in Arlington, Virginia and works at the MPP headquarters in Washington DC.

Sherman also points out that mayors, city and county council members, as well as members of local boards of education, are each required to take similar training – a program that could easily be offered online.

Nevertheless, Sherman adds that such a requirement is not only bad public policy but also unconstitutional. That is why IJ filed a First Amendment challenge in federal court.

“If a person wants to talk to an elected official about a matter of public policy,” Sherman concludes, “they shouldn’t have to take a government-mandated class. Instead, the only thing they should need is an opinion.”

We will post updates as they happen.

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Medical Marijuana

Majority of Montana Medical Marijuana Patients to Lose Access

August 31st, 2016 1 Comment Chris Lindsey
The state of Montana’s nearly 12-year history with medical marijuana takes a turn for the worse on September 1, when most medical marijuana patients are expected lose legal access. After years of court challenges which delayed implementation, most of the state’s 2011 law will be in effect, severely limiting the number of people available to provide medical marijuana to patients.2000px-Montana-StateSeal.svg
Under the newly-enforced law, providers may only serve three patients — a change that state agency officials estimate could leave as many as 10,000 seriously ill patients without access. The only alternative is for patients to grow at home, which most are too ill or unable to do. It is not yet clear how many patients will be able to make the switch.
But hope is on the horizon. Voters on November 8 will have a chance to support I-182, a voter initiative that would restore access for patients and even improve the law in big ways. Among other improvements, businesses would receive state licenses to operate and critical legal protections, and medical marijuana could be tested for safety and potency. Polls indicate voters support these types of changes.
This measure comes at a critical time for patients across the state, and we applaud everyone at Montana Citizens for I-182 and those who support them for giving thousands of patients a chance.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Draft Business Rules Released

August 31st, 2016 No Comments Becky Dansky
Since Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (Act 16) went into effect on May 17, 2016, the Department of Health has been working to implement the new law. Thus far, it has created regulations regarding — and accepted applications for — the safe harbor letter program, which provides legal protections for those caring for minor patients when they administer medical marijuana. The department recently announced that 53 caregivers have received a letter.PA Seal
On August 18, the department released draft temporary regulations regarding growers and processors and asked for comments. The draft created a strong foundation for the final version of the rules, though it is unclear when the department will publicize the final version. MPP submitted our recommendations for strengthening the draft on August 23. It is expected that they will soon release the draft temporary regulations for dispensaries as well.
The department also announced a public survey for patients and caregivers, which allows individuals to provide input on the application process and the financial hardship program.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Laws Associated with Decrease in Reported Sick Days

August 30th, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

A new study published in Health Economics revealed an unexpected association between states that have medical marijuana laws and the number of sick days reported in those states.

Washington Post reports:

Darin F. Ullman, an economist who recently received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, wanted to know what effect, if any, the enactment of medical marijuana laws has had on employee absentee rates.

A fair amount of research has been done on the aggregate impact of illicit marijuana use on workplace productivity. Generally speaking, the most recent research — gathered and summarized in this 2014 paper — indicates that most marijuana use has little effect on workplace productivity, although chronic or heavy pot use can be a problem.

But there hasn’t been a lot of research into the impact of licit marijuana use — particularly medical marijuana use — on the workplace. So Ullman decided to look into what happened to employee sick-day use in states that legalized medical marijuana, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey (CPS).

So Ullman examined before-and-after sick-day data from 24 states that had medical marijuana laws at the time of his study. On average, he found that “respondents were 8% less likely to report being absent from work due to health issues after medical marijuana laws” were passed. The CPS numbers also suggest that states with fewer restrictions on the use of medical marijuana, such as on the number of conditions it could be recommended for, had more of a decrease in sick-day use than states with stricter regulations.

It is important to note that this study does not prove a definitive link between medical marijuana laws and absenteeism, but it goes a long way to dispelling the idea that marijuana causes decreased productivity. As with most issues surrounding marijuana, more research is needed.

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Tax and Regulate

Nevada’s ‘Yes On 2’ Campaign Steps Up Ad Campaign

August 30th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The campaign in support of Question 2 has recently stepped up its advertising efforts in support of the measure.

The campaign has launched a series of online video ads, as well as a a “Schools vs. Cartels” billboard that recently received some attention in the media.

The latest video ads focus on the benefits of taxing marijuana sales, which would generate significant new revenue for schools. Previous ads have highlighted support from local and state officials, capitalized on recent political events, and detailed the success of a similar ballot initiative that was adopted in Colorado in 2012.

You can watch all of the ads here on the campaign’s website.

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Prohibition

Top Legislative Victories of 2016

August 23rd, 2016 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Now that most state legislative sessions are over for the year, MPP’s Rob Kampia has published a list of the biggest victories in what is already the biggest year on record for marijuana policy reformers!Rating_Badge_JO

On July 29, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill removing the threat of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, capping a record year of legislative and administrative marijuana policy reforms throughout the country.

Two states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, enacted effective medical marijuana laws via their legislatures, making them the 24th and 25th states to do so, respectively. As a result, more than half of the U.S. population now lives in states that have opted to legalize medical marijuana.

In addition to Illinois, a number of other states enacted laws to reduce marijuana possession penalties. Kansas lowered the maximum jail sentence for first-time possession and reduced second offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Louisiana and Maryland removed criminal penalties for possession of paraphernalia, with the Maryland Legislature overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. Oklahoma cut the penalties for second marijuana possession offenses in half, and Tennessee reduced a third possession offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, making the maximum penalty less than a year in jail. At the local level, New Orleans and a number of Florida counties passed ordinances that give police the option to issue summons or citations instead of arresting people for low-level possession.

You can read the full article in the Huffington Post.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Federal Court Ruling Gives Hope to Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers

August 23rd, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

In a decision released on August 16, a federal court ruled that the Department of Justice cannot spend funds to prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers who are in compliance with state law.2000px-US-CourtOfAppeals-9thCircuit-Seal.svg

Time Magazine reports:

The ruling comes after a 2014 Congressional law that prohibited the DOJ from interfering in state implementation of marijuana laws. That law led people being prosecuted by the federal government to seek the dismissal of their charges, arguing they were in compliance with state law. On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, sending their cases back to lower courts to determine if they were in compliance with state laws. Some of the defendants ran Los Angeles based marijuana stores and faced charges for distributing 100 marijuana plants.

Tuesday’s decision by a three-judge panel was unanimous. But in its opinion, the court warned Congress could change its mind and again allow federal funding for prosecution of state-sanctioned marijuana use. “DOJ is currently prohibited from spending funds from specific appropriations acts for prosecutions of those who complied with state law,” the Court wrote. “But Congress could appropriate funds for such prosecutions tomorrow.”

John Hudak at the Brookings Institute agrees that this ruling is a positive development, but warns against celebrating too much. You can read his detailed analysis here.

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Uncategorized

DEA Fails to Reschedule Marijuana, but Opens Path for More Research

August 23rd, 2016 No Comments Rory McPeak

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has decided that marijuana will remain classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. The decision to keep marijuana in the category reserved for drugs with no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse was, according to the DEA, based on consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services. According to DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg, “If the scientific understanding about marijuana changes — and it could change — then the decision could change…. But we will remain tethered to science, as we must, and as the statute demands. It certainly would be odd to rely on science when it suits us and ignore it otherwise.”2000px-US-DrugEnforcementAdministration-Seal.svg

The fact that the DEA has maintained its position that marijuana has no accepted medical value may come as a surprise to many, especially given the thousands, if not millions, of seriously ill patients who currently use marijuana to treat a number of symptoms and conditions.

In a more positive development, it was also announced that the federal government will be removing major obstacles to marijuana research. The only source of federally approved research-grade marijuana has been the University of Mississippi, and it has been so difficult for researchers to obtain that it has effectively created a research monopoly held by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Now, universities may apply for federal approval to grown their own supply of marijuana, creating fewer roadblocks for researchers in the future.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona Qualifies for November Ballot as Prop. 205

August 23rd, 2016 No Comments Michael Wilcox

On Thursday, state officials informed the supporters of The Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona that the initiative has qualified for this November’s ballot as Proposition 205. In less than three months, the people of Arizona will determine whether to end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.13925181_550967435082980_8533437240301629316_n

Eighty-three years ago, Arizona voters approved a ballot measure to repeal the failed policy of alcohol prohibition,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Yes on 205 campaign. “This November, we will have the opportunity to end the equally disastrous policy of marijuana prohibition. Prop 205 would establish a more sensible system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

Prop 205 would allow adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of marijuana; establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol; and enact a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, from which a majority of the revenue would be directed to Arizona schools and education programs. The Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimated the initiative would generate more than $123 million in annual tax revenue and license fees by 2020, including more than $55 million per year for K-12 education and full-day kindergarten programs.

For more information, visit http://RegulateMarijuanaAZ.org.

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