Prohibition, Research

MPP’s Virginia Primary Election Guide

May 22nd, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Virginia’s gubernatorial primary is less than one month away, and MPP has put together a guide on where the candidates stand on marijuana policy issues. Please check out our voter guide so you can be informed on this critical topic before heading to the polls.

We put together a candidate survey and asked each campaign for governor to give us their thoughts on three issues:

1) marijuana decriminalization;
2) medical marijuana; and
3) taxing and regulating cannabis for adults age 21 and over.

Based on their responses to our survey, along with any public statements they have made, we assigned each candidate a letter grade, which you can check out here.

In addition to the governor’s race, each of Virginia’s 100 seats in the House of Delegates will be on the ballot this year. Please consider asking the candidates from your district where they stand on these issues before casting your vote. Let us know if you get any responses.

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Prohibition

Vermont Legalization Bill Heads to the Governor’s Desk

May 19th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

On Thursday, Vermont’s marijuana legalization bill was delivered to the desk of Governor Phil Scott. He will now have five days to decide whether to sign S. 22 into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

In its final version, S. 22 would eliminate penalties for adults’ possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, two or fewer mature plants, and four or fewer immature plants, effective on July 1, 2018. The bill would also create a study commission to craft legislation on how to best regulate and tax marijuana in Vermont. The commission’s recommendations would have to be drafted by November so they can be considered by the Legislature in 2018.

A summary of S. 22 is available here.

If you are a Vermont resident, please call Governor Scott’s office today, and encourage him to sign this sensible reform into law. If you’ve already called the office, please follow up with an email message.

The governor says he has not yet made up his mind, and it’s crucial that he hear from as many supporters of sensible marijuana policy as possible!

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Prohibition

Vermont Legislature Votes to Legalize Marijuana

May 10th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

Today, the Vermont Legislature became the first state legislature in the nation to approve a marijuana legalization bill and send it to a governor’s desk! The House voted 79-66 to concur with the Senate’s amendment to S. 22, which means the next step will be the governor’s office! Governor Phil Scott will have three options when the bill arrives on his desk: sign it into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

The amended S. 22 represents a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate. As amended, the bill would eliminate penalties for adults’ possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, two or fewer mature plants, and four or fewer immature plants, effective on July 1, 2018. S. 22 would also create a study commission to craft legislation on how to best regulate and tax marijuana in Vermont. The commission’s bill would have to be drafted in time for the beginning of next year’s legislative session.

If you are a Vermont resident, please call Governor Scott right now, and urge him to sign S. 22 when it reaches his desk.

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Prohibition

Vermont House Approves Bill to Legalize Possession, Home Cultivation

May 4th, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Late Tuesday, the Vermont House of Representatives made history by voting to legalize marijuana. H. 170, which would eliminate penalties for adults’ possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and limited home cultivation passed the House in a 74-68 vote. If the bipartisan measure is approved at a third reading, which is expected this week, it will advance to the Senate.

H. 170, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chair Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), Vice Chair Charles Conquest (D-Wells River), and ranking Republican Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland), would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, and it would eliminate penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. Penalties for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana would also be reduced.

The Senate has already agreed with the House that personal possession and cultivation should be legal for adults. On April 21, the Senate voted 21-9 to amend a House-passed bill (H. 167) to include language of a comprehensive legalization and regulation bill. That bill, which passed the Senate, mirrors the personal possession and cultivation provisions of H.170. The original House version would not take effect until January 2019, whereas the Senate-amended bill would take effect on July 1, 2017.

MPP released the following statement in a press release:

“We applaud the House for approving this commonsense legislation and hope their colleagues in the Senate will agree that it’s time to move forward with this important reform,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Vermonters support this bill, in part because they know that marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and it’s time to start treating it that way.”

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Prohibition

New Hampshire One Step Closer to Decriminalizing Possession

May 2nd, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

For the first time in its history, the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to approve a marijuana decriminalization bill. HB 640 was amended and passed by the committee in a 3-2 vote today. A vote by the full Senate is expected on Thursday, May 11. For a summary of the bill, as amended, click here.

The House overwhelmingly approved HB 640 in February in a 318-36 vote, and it has approved similar bills eight times since 2008. The Senate Judiciary Committee vote marks the first time such a bill has been approved by a Senate committee. Gov. Chris Sununu has consistently said he supports decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and is expected to sign the bill if it is approved by the full Senate.

MPP released the following statement from New England Policy Director Matt Simon in a press release:

“This is a big step toward a more sensible marijuana policy in New Hampshire,” said Matt Simon, the Manchester-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It will allow police and the courts to spend their time addressing serious crimes instead of wasting it on pointless arrests and criminal prosecutions for marijuana possession.”

“The current penalties for marijuana possession in New Hampshire are causing more harm to consumers and the community than marijuana itself,” Simon said. “Every other state in New England has already stopped criminalizing people for simple marijuana possession. Granite Staters are ready to do the same.”  

HB 640, which was originally introduced in the House by Rep. Renny Cushing and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors, would remove the threat of arrest and jail time for simple marijuana possession. As amended by the Senate, the penalty for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana would be reduced from a criminal misdemeanor, which is currently punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000, to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine for a first or second offense and a $300 fine for a third offense within three years of the first offense. A fourth offense within three years of the first offense could be charged as a class B misdemeanor without arrest or the possibility of jail time.

In other great news, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously to approve HB 160, which would make post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a qualifying condition for the medical cannabis program and make other positive changes to the law.

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Prohibition

MPP Responds to Reports of New Drug Czar Nominee Tom Marino

April 17th, 2017 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project
Rep. Tom Marino

The Marijuana Policy Project has issued the statement below in response to reports that Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) will be named the next director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), also known as the “drug czar.”

As a member of Congress, Marino has consistently voted against marijuana policy reform legislation.

MPP’s Robert Capecchi released the following statement in a press release:

“We are disappointed but not at all surprised to hear a marijuana prohibitionist is being selected as the next drug czar. After all, whoever fills the position is required by law to oppose any attempts to legalize the use of marijuana for any purpose.

“Despite a steady stream of anti-marijuana drug czars over the past several decades, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical use and eight states have enacted laws regulating it for adult use. We expect that trend to continue regardless of who the next drug czar is.

“President Trump repeatedly said he believes states should be able to determine their own marijuana policies, and the vast majority of Americans agree. We remain hopeful that the administration will respect state marijuana laws. It is also critical that Congress take action to ease the tension that exists between state and federal marijuana laws.”

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

N.H. Senate Committees Approve PTSD and Chronic Pain Bills

April 17th, 2017 No Comments Matt Simon

Slowly but surely, the New Hampshire Senate appears to be evolving in support of marijuana policy reforms. After hearing compelling testimony from patients and medical providers, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted to pass two important bills that would improve the therapeutic cannabis program: HB 157, which would allow patients to qualify if they suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain, passed 4-1, and HB 160, which would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition, passed 5-0.

Unfortunately, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police persuaded Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley to offer a terrible amendment to the Senate Judiciary Committee on HB 640, the decriminalization bill. You can read more about that here.

Committees also heard testimony on HB 472, which would allow qualifying patients and caregivers to cultivate a limited supply of cannabis, and HB 215, which would create a study commission to consider legalization for adult use, though no action was taken on those bills.

Please call or email your senator today, and urge him or her to support these sensible and compassionate reforms.

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Prohibition

Kansas City Voters Approve Initiative to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

April 5th, 2017 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Voters in Kansas City — the largest city in Missouri and the sixth largest city in the Midwest — overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure on Tuesday to reduce the city’s penalties for marijuana possession.

The Kansas City Star reports:

The measure lowers the maximum fine for marijuana possession in city court to $25 from $500 and eliminates jail time as a penalty. Under the old ordinance, a sentence of 180 days was possible.

The change applies only to cases in Kansas City Municipal Court in which defendants possessed 35 grams or less of marijuana — about 1 1/4 ounces.

The issue landed on the ballot through a petition drive led by the Kansas City chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Jamie Kacz, executive director of NORML KC, said residents who signed the petitions sent a message that they don’t want people jailed or fined heavily for marijuana offenses.

 

The ballot measure also eliminates city charges for possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia, which carried penalties of 15 days to six months in jail and fines from $100 to $500.

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Prohibition

Texas Marijuana Penalty Reduction Bill Advances

April 4th, 2017 5 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

A proposal to reduce penalties for marijuana possession in Texas received bipartisan approval from the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday and will soon be scheduled for a full vote in the House. The measure passed by a vote of 4-2, receiving support from two Democrats and two Republicans.

HB 81, authored by committee Chairman Joe Moody (D-El Paso) and Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) with 37 co-authors, would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“This is a bipartisan proposal that represents a moderate shift in how Texas manages low-level marijuana offenses,” said Heather Fazio, a spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy in a press release. “The state’s current policy of arresting and jailing people for simple marijuana possession is completely unwarranted. Law enforcement officials’ time and limited resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes.”

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Prohibition

Texas Committee Approves Bill to Reduce Marijuana Penalties

April 3rd, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

A proposal to reduce penalties for marijuana possession in Texas received bipartisan approval from the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday and will soon be scheduled for a full vote in the House. The measure passed by a vote of 4-2, receiving support from two Democrats and two Republicans.

HB 81, authored by committee Chairman Joe Moody (D-El Paso) and Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) with 37 co-authors, would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Heather Fazio, spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, released the following statement:

“This is a bipartisan proposal that represents a moderate shift in how Texas manages low-level marijuana offenses. The state’s current policy of arresting and jailing people for simple marijuana possession is completely unwarranted. Law enforcement officials’ time and limited resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes.

No one should be saddled with a lifelong criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” Fazio said. “Texans overwhelmingly agree that the punishment for simple marijuana possession should be reduced to a simple fine.”

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