New Hampshire House Committee Approves Decriminalization Bill


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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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Vermont House Judiciary Hearings on Marijuana Bill to Begin This Week


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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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New Hampshire Hearings on Marijuana Bills Wednesday


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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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Decriminalization Bill Introduced in Wyoming


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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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Texas Legislative Sessions Begins With Efforts to Fix Medical Marijuana Law and Decriminalize Possession


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The Texas Legislature convened for the 2017 session today. Rep. Joe Moody reintroduced legislation that would replace Texas’ harsh criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a simple citation. His proposal would eliminate the threat of arrest, jail time, and — most importantly — the lifelong consequences of a criminal conviction.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jose Menendez is leading the charge to fix Texas’ inadequate medical marijuana law. Effective medical marijuana programs have been created in 28 states, but Texas instead has an unreasonably restrictive law that leaves most patients behind and includes a fatal flaw.

If you are a Texas resident, please let your lawmakers know you want the state to fix the broken Compassionate Use Act Gov. Abbott signed into law in 2015, and to reduce the penalties for possession.

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Missouri Decriminalization Law Finally Takes Effect


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Back in 2014, Missouri lawmakers enacted SB 491 — a bill to reduce penalties for possessing up to 10 grams of marijuana. That law finally took effect on January 1, 2017. Congratulations to Missouri for joining the 20 other states that have ended cannabis prohibition or replaced jail time with a fine! The new law institutes a fine of $250-$1,000, replacing the prior penalty of up to a year of incarceration and a fine.

While this is far better than current law, the hefty fine is still very harsh for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Worse yet, possession of over 35 grams remains a felony, subjecting marijuana consumers to a prison sentence of up to seven years and a $5,000 fine.

While lawmakers should be applauded for enacting marijuana reduction penalties, we hope you will let them know that the time to end prohibition is now. If you are a Missouri resident, please send an email to your state representative and senator and tell them you want to tax and regulate a substance that is safer than alcohol.

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Bills to Reduce Marijuana Penalties Introduced in Texas


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Nov. 14 was the first day bills could be filed in Texas for the 2017 legislative session, and Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) didn’t waste any time. He introduced HB 81, which would replace possible arrests and jail time with a civil fine for low-level possession of marijuana. As a former prosecutor and the current Vice Chairman of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Rep. Moody is a champion of sensible marijuana policy because he has seen how current laws are failing our communities.
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Rep. Joe Moody
Sen. Jose Rodríguez, also of El Paso, introduced a Senate companion bill, SB 170.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), would make possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine of $250. Under current law, possession of two ounces or less is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail.
In addition to preventing arrests and traumatic incarceration, reducing possession to a civil penalty would stop marking marijuana consumers for life with a devastating criminal record that can derail dreams. Collateral consequences from a conviction include limiting access to higher education, employability, and occupational licensing — plus, it results in the automatic suspension of a person’s drivers license. These penalties are harsh and unreasonable.
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Ohio Localities Decriminalize Marijuana Possession


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Voters in four Ohio towns adopted sensible measures on Election Day by removing all penalties for the possession of 200 grams or less of marijuana under local ordinance. Bellaire, Logan, Newark, and Roseville each adopted similar ballot measures. Voters in Byesville did not adopt their proposal.OH seal
The results are welcome news and a step forward in the four communities. Unfortunately, law enforcement officers have the option of charging a person under either local or state law, meaning that individuals are not fully protected even when local laws change. Law enforcement should follow the will of the voters in those communities that have adopted these improvements.

MPP applauds the hard work that went into giving local residents the chance to have a say, and congratulates Bellaire, Logan, Newark, and Roseville for moving marijuana policy forward. Great work!

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Illinois Governor Signs Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession


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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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DNC Calls for Reform of Marijuana Laws


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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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