Prohibition

New Hampshire House Committee Approves Decriminalization Bill

February 9th, 2017 1 Comment Matt Simon

The New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee overwhelmingly voted to pass HB 640, a bill that would decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. The vote, 14-2, was overwhelming, and it appears very likely that the House will pass HB 640 with a huge margin of support.

The Committee also voted to “retain” HB 656, a bill that would make marijuana legal for adult use. This is a good thing because it means the Committee will be able to study the issue more thoroughly this summer and fall before they vote on the bill in early 2018.

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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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Prohibition

Jeff Sessions Confirmed as Attorney General

February 9th, 2017 32 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Wednesday, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions was narrowly confirmed as the new Attorney General in a 51-47 vote, split largely along party lines.

MPP released the following statement from its federal policies director, Robert Capecchi:

“MPP remains cautiously optimistic that the Trump administration will refrain from interfering in state marijuana laws. When asked about his plans for marijuana enforcement, Attorney General Sessions said he ‘echo[es]’ the position taken by Loretta Lynch during her confirmation hearings. He repeatedly acknowledged the scarcity of enforcement resources, and he said he would ensure they are used as effectively as possible to stop illicit drugs from being trafficked into the country.

“President Trump has consistently said that states should be able to determine their own marijuana laws, and his spokesperson made it clear that the attorney general will be implementing the Trump agenda. We are hopeful that Mr. Sessions will follow the president’s lead and respect states’ rights on marijuana policy.

“A strong and growing majority of Americans think marijuana should be made legal, and an even stronger majority think the federal government should respect state marijuana laws. Eight states have adopted laws that regulate and tax marijuana for adult use, and 28 states now have laws that regulate marijuana for medical use. It would be shocking if the Trump administration attempted to steamroll the citizens and governments in these states to enforce an increasingly unpopular federal policy.”

Sessions was asked about marijuana policy on multiple occasions during the confirmation process. During his oral testimony, he conspicuously refrained from committing to enforce federal marijuana prohibition laws in states that are regulating marijuana for medical and adult use, noting the scarcity of resources available. In his written testimony, he said he “echo[es]” the comments made by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, when she was asked about marijuana enforcement during her confirmation hearing.

President Donald Trump has consistently said that he supports legal access to medical marijuana and believes states should be able to determine their own marijuana policies. During a January appearance on Fox News Channel, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer signaled that Sessions would adhere to Trump’s position that states should be able to establish their own marijuana policies. “When you come into a Trump administration, it’s the Trump agenda you’re implementing and not your own,” he said. “I think Senator Sessions is well aware of that.”

 

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Prohibition

GOP Congressman Introduces ‘Respect State Marijuana Laws Act’

February 8th, 2017 24 Comments Marijuana Policy Project
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday that would resolve the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws and allow states to determine their own marijuana policies.

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act exempts individuals and entities from certain provisions of the Controlled Substances Act if they are acting in compliance with state marijuana laws. This is the third time Rohrabacher has introduced the bill. Twenty of his colleagues in the House, including seven Republicans, co-sponsored the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015, which was introduced in the 114th Congress.

“The call for federal marijuana policy reform is growing louder and louder,” said Don Murphy, MPP director of conservative outreach. “Congress needs to listen to their constituents and to state lawmakers, most of whom agree marijuana policy is an issue best left to the states. This is a bipartisan solution that ought to find support on both sides of the aisle.”

 

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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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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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