Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

D.C. Bill Would Dramatically Expand Access to Dispensaries

October 4th, 2017 No Comments Kate Bell

In the District of Columbia, Councilmember David Grosso (I, at large) has introduced a bill, B22-0446, that would allow anyone 21 and over to access a dispensary if they provide a signed affidavit that they are using marijuana for medical purposes and are aware of state and federal marijuana laws. It is being co-sponsored by Robert White (D, at large), Brianne Nadeau (D, Ward 1), and Vincent Gray (D, Ward 7).

This bill would allow many more people to access the regulated dispensary system who are currently forced to shop in the grey market if they are unable to cultivate their own cannabis. It will increase public safety, because disputes in illicit markets are often solved with violence, and protect public health, because consumers will know what they are purchasing. The bill would also give patients a safe, lawful place to consume cannabis outside their home.

Additionally, this bill allows D.C. to move forward in expanding access to cannabis in an environment where Congress is blocking it from setting up adult-use retail stores. It gives people who cannot afford to see a doctor access to this medication and could also facilitate access for people who may be struggling with opioid addiction, for whom studies suggest marijuana can be an “exit drug.”

If you are a D.C. resident, please ask your councilmembers to support this bill.

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Prohibition

Maryland Expungement Bill Becomes Law

October 2nd, 2017 4 Comments Kate Bell

On Sunday, SB 949, which makes it easier for people who have been convicted of marijuana possession to clear their records in Maryland, went into effect. The bill became law in May without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature.

Prior to the bill’s passage, anyone convicted of cannabis possession was required to wait 10 years before applying for expungement, despite Maryland decriminalizing possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana in 2014. Now, the waiting period has been reduced from 10 years after conviction to four years.

While this reform is a step in the right direction, it is far short of the improvements Marylanders need. If you are a Maryland resident, please write to your state legislators, and ask them to support taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol.

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Research

Marijuana Arrests Increasing Nationally Despite State Reforms

September 26th, 2017 14 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released their annual Crime in the United States (CIUS) report, and the stats are concerning.

Tom Angell reported for Forbes:

Marijuana possession busts comprised 37.36% of all reported drug arrests in the U.S. in 2016, and cannabis sales and manufacturing arrests accounted for another 4.18% of the total.

Added together, marijuana arrests made up 41.54% of the 1,572,579 drug busts in the country last year.

That means, based on an extrapolation, that police arrested people for cannabis 653,249 times in the U.S. in 2016.

That averages out to about one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds.

According to the same calculation, there were 643,121 U.S. cannabis arrests in 2015.

So arrests for marijuana are on the rise, even as more states legalize it.

These figures are only estimates based on the available information provided by law enforcement agencies, but represent the best current method for determining arrest rates. In addition, the FBI has ceased publishing the information about the drug arrest percentages by type of drug, making analysis even more difficult.

MPP’s Morgan Fox released the following statement:

Arresting and citing more than 650,000 people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty. Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested. Regulating marijuana for adults creates jobs, generates tax revenue, protects consumers, and takes money away from criminals. It is time for the federal government and the rest of the states to stop ruining peoples’ lives and enact sensible marijuana policies.

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Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Hearing on Adding Qualifying Conditions to Take Place This Week

September 25th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program will be holding its second New Condition Review Panel Meeting on Tuesday, September 26. The panel will be reviewing five of the 10 petitioned conditions: liver disease, anxiety, obstructive sleep apnea, endocannabinoid deficiency, and dementia.

It’s important to expand Minnesota’s qualifying conditions so that more patients have access to medical marijuana. This meeting is open to the public. If you cannot make the meeting, written comments can be sent to: [email protected]

Here are the meeting details:

When: Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Where: State Office Building
100 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Room 200
St. Paul, MN 55155

In legalization news, we are glad to find out that most of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates for governor support taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. The Star Tribune reports that “St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, state Reps. Erin Murphy, Tina Liebling and Paul Thissen, and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz all support legalizing marijuana for recreational and not just medical use. Among the major DFL candidates, only State Auditor Rebecca Otto declined to do so.” Unfortunately, none of the Republican candidates support making marijuana legal.

Please talk to your local officials and explain that regulating marijuana is working in states like Colorado and can work in Minnesota too. With your help, we can continue to bring sensible marijuana policy reform to Minnesota.

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Medical Marijuana, Research

Another Utah Poll Shows Strong Support for Medical Marijuana

September 21st, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The 2018 medical cannabis campaign in Utah is fully underway. Right now, the Utah Patients Coalition is collecting signatures from across the state in order to qualify for next year’s ballot.

A new poll was released showing that 74 percent of Utahns support medical cannabis. Other recent polls have showed similar levels of support.

With legislative inaction, a group now puts forward a citizen petition which would set up a medical marijuana (non-smoking) system in Utah, where a limited number of registered growers would provide types of marijuana to be prescribed by a limited number of doctors for specific diseases and/or chronic pain.

Here are some of the interesting numbers found by Jones in his latest survey:

— Utah Republicans favor passage of the citizen initiative on MM, 61-35 percent.

— Democrats really like the idea, 93-7 percent.

— Political independents, who don’t belong to any political party, favor MM, 87-13 percent.

— Even those who self-described themselves as politically “very conservative” favor medical marijuana legalization, 51-42 percent.

— The “somewhat conservatives,” favor it, 71-25; the “moderates” like the petition, 84-14 percent; “somewhat liberals,” 92-8 percent; and the “very liberals,” 97-2 percent.

Those who said they are “somewhat active” in the LDS Church like MM, 80-15 percent; former Mormons who have left the faith like it, 87-5 percent; Catholics favor MM, 80-20 percent; Protestants (which includes born-again Christians), 61-26 percent; and those with no religion like it, 96-4 percent.

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Medical Marijuana

Florida Accepting Medical Marijuana Business Applications

September 21st, 2017 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Florida Department of Health has proposed regulations to establish the procedure to apply for Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) licenses and to outline the evaluation process for applicants. The application is posted on the Office of Compassionate Use website, and applicants may begin completing applications for submission.

In order to become a licensed MMTC, each applicant is required to submit financial statements and to pass a background check. The law regulating Amendment 2 provides for 10 new licenses to be granted to growers in the state in addition to the seven that already exist and would require another four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients added to the state’s medical marijuana registry.

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Medical Marijuana

Delaware Adds PTSD to Medical Marijuana Qualifying Conditions

September 18th, 2017 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

On Monday, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed the Bravery Bill into law, which allows PTSD patients to receive a medical marijuana recommendation from any properly licensed physician. Previously, patients suffering from PTSD could only get a medical marijuana recommendation from a licensed psychiatrist.

While this is a step in the right direction, there are many other patients in Delaware who do not have access to medical marijuana. Whether they have a condition that the state hasn’t approved or they simply cannot afford the cost of a recommendation, many would benefit from expanded access. The best way to expand access for suffering patients is by taxing and regulating marijuana for all adults.

As you may know, the Adult Use Cannabis Task Force had its first meeting this month. They are discussing how Delaware could make marijuana legal. The next meeting will cover consumer safety and local authority and control. Here are details:

When: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Wednesday, October 4
Where: House Chamber, 411 Legislative Avenue, Dover, DE 19901

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Decriminalization Law Takes Effect

September 16th, 2017 13 Comments Matt Simon

New Hampshire will finally take a critical step toward living up to its motto today as HB 640 takes effect, and the “Live Free or Die” state becomes the 22nd state — and the final New England state — to decriminalize marijuana possession. You can read a summary of the new law here.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call Gov. Sununu’s office today to thank him for signing the decriminalization bill and to encourage him to support ending marijuana prohibition.

MPP has been working with our allies in Concord since 2008 to achieve this victory. We greatly appreciate all of the support you have provided over the years!

Unfortunately, we know that our work in New Hampshire is far from complete. A commission has been formed to study marijuana legalization, and most of the commission’s members are skeptical if not downright hostile to our position.

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Medical Marijuana

UPDATE: Congressional Budget Deal Extends Medical Marijuana Protections

September 8th, 2017 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

A budget deal approved in Congress on Friday extended federal protections for state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers until Dec. 8, potentially creating another opportunity to ensure they are inluded in the FY 2018 budget.

Earlier this week, the House Rules Committee blocked an amendment introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) from being heard by the House during the rest of the budget negotiations. This made it very likely that the amendment, which prevents the Department of Justice  from targeting state medical marijuana programs, would not be included in the final budget for next year. Without inclusion, these protections would have expired Sep. 30.

This budget deal gives us a little more time to put pressure on Congress to do the right thing. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support medical marijuana.

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Research

National Survey Shows Teen Use Dropping, Possible Substitution for Alcohol in Adults

September 7th, 2017 5 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that teen marijuana use rates decreased nationally in 2016. Past-month use rates among adults increased slightly, but alcohol use rates among all age groups decreased, indicating the possibility that adults are substituting marijuana for alcohol.

Past-month use rates for the 12-17 age group decreased by 0.5% from 2015 to 6.5% nationally in 2016. This is the lowest level of marijuana use in this age group since 2002. The data also shows a steady decrease since 2014, when the first states to make marijuana legal for adults began allowing regulated retail sales. The full report is available here.

“Critics of legalization worry about the message being sent to youth by marijuana policy reform efforts, but the real message is that marijuana should only be used by responsible adults, and it seems to be sinking in. Regulating marijuana for adults reinforces that message and creates effective mechanisms for making it more difficult for teens to obtain marijuana,” said Morgan Fox, senior communications manager for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and regulation gives adults the legal option to choose the safer substance.”

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