Prohibition

Top Legislative Victories of 2016

August 23rd, 2016 No 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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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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Prohibition

MPP’s Rob Kampia Weighs in on DEA Scheduling

August 23rd, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

In response to the recent decision by the DEA not to move marijuana out of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, MPP’s Rob Kampia offered the following analysis of the situation, and what the best course of action would be:

In the wake of the DEA’s decision against rescheduling marijuana, the super-majority of the American people who support legalizing medical marijuana might properly wonder, “How bad is this news?”

As the leader of the largest marijuana-policy-reform organization in the nation, my answer might surprise you: It barely mattered which way the DEA ruled.

Back in 1970, Congress and President Nixon placed marijuana in Schedule I, along with LSD and heroin, defining these drugs as having no therapeutic value and a high potential for abuse. Simultaneously, drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine were placed in Schedule II, which are defined as having therapeutic value.

This “Flat Earth Society” view of marijuana has been challenged numerous times since 1970, but the DEA and federal courts have rejected all such attempts, including the Washington and Rhode Island governors’ 2011 petition that the DEA just rejected.

To be sure, moving marijuana to Schedule II would have had symbolic value, showing that prohibitionists were wrong to stubbornly claim for decades that sick people were merely imagining or lying about the medicinal benefits they experienced. However, there are federal criminal penalties for marijuana possession that are imposed regardless of its schedule. Even if the DEA had moved marijuana to Schedule II, growing 100 marijuana seedlings would still land you in federal prison for a minimum of five years…

You can read the entire article at Huffington Post.

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Prohibition

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

July 29th, 2016 5 Comments Chris Lindsey

Illinois Gov. Rauner just signed SB 2228, which removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana everywhere in Land of Lincoln. The change in the law is effective immediately.

Illinoisans or visitors found in possession of marijuana are no longer subject to arrest or jail time.IL_decrim The change also removes the possibility of a harmful criminal record for cannabis possession, which can last a lifetime. Instead, those found in possession would face a simple fine of between $100 and $200.

Previously in Illinois, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana was a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500; possession of 2.5-10 grams was a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. More than 100 Illinois communities had already removed local criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession.

This change comes from MPP’s multi-year effort to help bring fairness to the state’s possession law. Even though many cities and towns had already lowered penalties, but individuals could still be arrested and charged for possession under state law. This change moves the state away from its former patchwork system.

Illinois is now the 21st state in the nation, in addition to the District of Columbia, to remove the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession.

We wish to thank bill sponsors Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy for their strong advocacy for a better system. Their tireless effort on behalf of fairness made this law a reality.

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General, Prohibition, Research

Marijuana Rescheduling No-Decision Met With Challenge From Congress

July 1st, 2016 7 Comments Rory McPeak

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Earlier this year, the DEA had announced that they hope to have a decision regarding the rescheduling of marijuana within the first half of 2016. That time has now come and gone with the DEA failing to deliver.

A bipartisan coalition of Senators and Representatives has signed a letter to head of the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg, urging the federal agency to remove marijuana and THC from Schedule I, its current status under the Controlled Substances Act.  Schedule I is the most restrictive drug classification that, according to the DEA, is reserved for substances that have a high potential for abuse and no known medical benefits.

“We ask that you clarify this policy immediately, and issue a public statement informing the research community that the DEA, in compliance with international obligations, will accept new applications to bulk manufacture cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, to be approved on merit-based criteria,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter, drafted by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), also calls for the DEA to loosen restrictions surrounding medical marijuana research and to grant more licenses for the production of research-grade marijuana.  Currently, the only federally approved source of marijuana is the University of Mississippi, whose supply is notoriously difficult for researchers to obtain and frequently alleged to be of sub-research grade quality.

The letter was signed by Sen. Gillibrand as well as Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR); and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

Read here for more information.

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General, Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

DNC Calls for Reform of Marijuana Laws

June 27th, 2016 6 Comments Rory McPeak

Over the weekend, the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Drafting Committee established a party platform calling for states’ rights to decide their ownjzH0I1Ka marijuana laws, allowing for greater research on the medical properties of cannabis, and protecting the rights of legally established marijuana businesses:

“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”

An earlier proposed measure called for the total removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, but that measure did not make it to the draft that was unanimously approved by the drafting committee.

Click here for more information on the DNC’s new marijuana plank.

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Prohibition

Canadian PM Promotes Legalization at Economic Conference

June 20th, 2016 1 Comment Morgan Fox
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has publicly supported ending prohibition in that country, is becoming something of a trailblazer when it comes to world leaders’ positions on marijuana policy.

Washington Post reports:

Speaking Wednesday at an economic conference, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made one of the more buttoned-down, straight-edged arguments for marijuana legalization I’ve heard in recent years. It’s worth quoting at length so I’ve done that below:

Look, our approach on legalizing marijuana is not about creating a boutique industry or bringing in tax revenue, it’s based on two very simple principles:

The first one is, young people have easier access to cannabis now, in Canada, than they do in just about any other countries in the world. [Of] 29 different countries studied by the U.N., Canada was number one in terms of underage access to marijuana. And whatever you might think or studies seen about cannabis being less harmful than alcohol or even cigarettes, the fact is it is bad for the developing brain and we need to make sure that it’s harder for underage Canadians to access marijuana. And that will happen under a controlled and regulated regime.

The other piece of it is there are billions upon billions of dollars flowing into the pockets of organized crime, street gangs and gun-runners, because of the illicit marijuana trade, and if we can get that out of the criminal elements and into a more regulated fashion we will reduce the amount of criminal activity that’s profiting from those, and that has offshoots into so many other criminal activities. So those are my focuses on that.

I have no doubt that Canadians and entrepreneurs will be tremendously innovative in finding ways to create positive economic benefits from the legalization and control of marijuana, but our focus is on protecting kids and protecting our streets.

Trudeau made these remarks in response to a conference participant who said that “Canada could be to cannabis as France is to wine.” These enthusiastic predictions about the burgeoning marijuana industry — billions of dollars in revenue and taxes, thousands of jobs created — should be familiar to anyone who’s followed efforts to legalize pot here in the United States.

But Trudeau’s argument for legalization is concerned less with creating benefits, and more with reducing harms. He starts from the same place that many legalization opponents start from — concern for the safety of children.

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Prohibition

MPP Endorses Gary Johnson for President

June 15th, 2016 10 Comments Michael Wilcox

Johnson-162x300-1MPP has formally endorsed Libertarian Party nominee and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in the race for president. Johnson is one of two candidates who received an “A+” grade in MPP’s presidential candidate report card.

Below is a statement from our Executive Director, Rob Kampia, that contextualizes MPP’s endorsement.

“MPP is a single-issue organization, and our mission is simple: ‘Regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol in the United States.’ We don’t take a position — and we therefore don’t take into account a candidate’s position — on other issues, such as abortion, guns, gay rights, Iraq, taxes, or Social Security. We also don’t work in Canada or Portugal.

“Of the three presidential candidates who will appear on the ballot in all 50 states and D.C., Gary Johnson clearly has the best position on marijuana policy. When he first advocated for legalization in 1999, he was the highest-ranking public official in the U.S. to do so — as the sitting Republican governor of New Mexico, no less.

“Shortly after he left office, Johnson and I drove around New England lobbying the governors of VT and RI, the speaker of the NH House, and staffers in the NY governor’s office. Johnson is a forceful advocate for legalization and is still one of MPP’s strongest allies.

“Legalization has been Johnson’s number-one issue for 17 years. MPP’s endorsement of Johnson was an easy call; the more difficult question is whether MPP should support a candidate who’s good on medical marijuana but bad on legalization, when the candidate is facing an opponent who’s bad on everything.

“It’s fine if voters prefer to consider a candidate’s marijuana position in the context of a dozen other positions, but that’s not MPP’s mission. We’re narrowly focused on marijuana policy and are happy to work alongside anyone who shares our mission, whether they’re Socialists, Republicans, or otherwise.”

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Senate Punts Decriminalization Bill to Hostile Conference Committee

May 20th, 2016 1 Comment Matt Simon

On Thursday, the New Hampshire Senate had a golden opportunity to reduce marijuana possession penalties, but they failed to seize it.2000px-Seal_of_New_Hampshire.svg Rather than passing SB 498, which had been amended by the House to decriminalize possession of one-quarter ounce or less of marijuana for first offenses, the Senate voted to send the bill to a conference committee. This committee will be comprised of three senators and four representatives, who will meet to discuss a possible compromise between the two chambers.

Sadly, the three senators Senate President Chuck Morse named to the committee have all opposed reducing marijuana possession penalties to a violation: Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), Sen. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry), and Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia). Since a conference committee must unanimously agree on a final bill or else it simply dies, there is little reason for optimism. However, it is still very important for senators to hear from supporters.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please take a few minutes to find out how your senator voted on the previous decriminalization bill — then call your senator to say thanks or to express your displeasure. 

It’s also important for people to understand that if Gov. Maggie Hassan had supported this bill in any way, the outcome would likely have been very different in the Senate. Fortunately, New Hampshire will be electing a new governor and several new state senators in November — stay tuned for updates as election season approaches!

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Prohibition

MPP’s Voter Guide for D.C. Council Primary June 14

May 11th, 2016 No Comments Kate Bell

MPP has just released our first-ever voter guide for D.C. Council elections. We hope that D.C.’s Democratic voters will find this guide useful as they prepare to vote in D.C.’s Democratic primary elections on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. There are big differences between the candidates, whose grades range from A+ to F based on their responses to our survey (and, for sitting council members, key votes on marijuana policy reform).Flag_Map_of_Washington_DC

D.C. Council elections are important because the nation’s capital can serve as an important model of sensible marijuana policy. In addition, each member of the council has a lot of influence since there are only 13 council members, while most state legislatures have over 100 members.

Some of these races are expected to be very close. For example, the last time that current Ward 8 Council member LaRuby May and challenger Trayon White faced each other (in a special election), the race was decided by only 78 votes. 

We have also included information about how to register to vote, update your registration information, and find your polling place.

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