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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Prohibition

Vermont House Judiciary Hearings on Marijuana Bill to Begin This Week

February 6th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

The Vermont House Judiciary Committee will begin holding hearings this week on H. 170, a bill that would legalize possession and limited home cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and older. This bill is sponsored by the committee’s chairman, vice-chair, and ranking Republican, and its prospects appear to be bright: Vermont Public Radio reported on Friday that the House “appears more receptive” to legalization in 2017, and Governor Phil Scott is “willing to consider the House plan.”

Although this bill would not legalize and regulate marijuana sales in Vermont, it still represents a very significant development.

Last week, Maine became the second New England state — following Massachusetts — where adults are no longer punished for possessing small amounts of marijuana or a limited number of plants. Now that marijuana is legal in two other New England states, there is no reason whatsoever for Vermont to continue punishing adults for choosing to use a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.

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

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Research

Annual Colorado Government Report on Marijuana-related Health Concerns Highlights Several ‘Encouraging Trends’

February 6th, 2017 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment highlighted several “encouraging trends” in its latest annual report on marijuana-related health concerns.

According to the report:

•    “For adults and adolescents, past-month marijuana use has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users.”

•    “Based on the most comprehensive data available, past-month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average.”

•    “Daily or near-daily marijuana use among adults is much lower than daily or near-daily alcohol or tobacco use. Among adolescents, past month marijuana use is lower than past month alcohol use.”

•    “Marijuana exposure calls to the poison center appear to be decreasing since 2015, including unintentional exposures in children ages 0-8 years.”

•    “The overall rate of emergency department visits with marijuana-related billing codes dropped 27 percent from 2014 to 2015 (2016 data is not available yet).”

•    The estimated percentage of women in Colorado who used marijuana during pregnancy is “not statistically different” from the national average.  

Once again, Colorado continues to demonstrate that regulating marijuana works.

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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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General

New Hampshire Hearings on Marijuana Bills Wednesday

January 31st, 2017 1 Comment Matt Simon
Two of New Hampshire’s most anticipated marijuana policy reform bills of the year have been scheduled for hearings on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 1. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will consider public testimony on the decriminalization bill, HB 640, beginning at 1 p.m. in the House chamber. The public hearing on HB 656, which would make marijuana legal for adult use and create a regulated market system, will follow.

Advocates are welcome to attend and show support for these bills. If you are interested in testifying, please let me know at [email protected] so we can coordinate. If you are a New Hampshire resident, please also send your representatives and senators a message in support of reforming marijuana laws.

WHAT: Public hearings on the decriminalization bill (HB 640) and a bill that would legalize and regulate marijuana (HB 656). (More details are listed on the Facebook event page.)

WHERE: House chamber, New Hampshire State House, 25 Capitol St., Concord

WHEN: Beginning at 1 p.m.

WHO: Marijuana policy reform advocates and members of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Marijuana Bills Moving Through the Virginia Legislature

January 27th, 2017 2 Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

The Virginia General Assembly is in full swing, and lawmakers have already considered several marijuana policy reform bills. Sen. Adam Ebbin’s SB 1091 — which would end the automatic six-month driver’s license suspension for first offense possession of marijuana — was approved by the Senate on Friday.

Last year, the General Assembly approved a bill to allow in-state production of cannabidiol oil for patients with intractable epilepsy. However, to become law, that bill — Sen. Dave Marsden’s SB 1027 — needs to pass again this year. It passed the Senate on Jan. 26.

Companion legislation for both bills are now being considered in the House.

Unfortunately, the committee defeated two other bills, which would have decriminalized possession of marijuana — replacing possible jail time with a civil penalty.

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Prohibition

Decriminalization Bill Introduced in Wyoming

January 24th, 2017 No Comments Kate Bell

A new bill, HB 157, has been introduced in Wyoming by Rep. Mark Baker (R-Sweetwater) and a bipartisan group of legislators that would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. This would avoid branding someone with a lifelong criminal record for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.

HB 157 would apply to up to three ounces of cannabis or marijuana products (such as edibles) containing 500 milligrams or less of THC. Under current Wyoming law, possession of even a tiny amount of marijuana carries a penalty of up to one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000. Rep. Baker’s bill would reduce the penalty to a civil fine of up to $200.

If you are a Wyoming resident, please ask your legislators to stop arresting people for cannabis so law enforcement can focus on violent crime.

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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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