Massachusetts Lawmakers Reach Compromise on Marijuana Regulation


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After weeks of persistent advocacy from Massachusetts residents, the Senate and House have reached a compromise that largely respects the will of the people. The House’s flawed “repeal and replace” bill would have made disastrous changes to the law voters approved, and we are relieved that the Legislature has agreed to a more sensible plan for implementing legalization.

The compromise bill’s most significant changes relate to local control and taxes. The legislation adjusts the local control policy, allowing local government officials in towns that voted “no” on the 2016 ballot initiative to ban marijuana businesses until December 2019. For towns that voted “yes” in 2016, any bans must be placed on a local ballot for voters to approve. The maximum tax rate — which depends on whether towns adopt optional local taxes — will increase from 12% to 20%. Under the bill, the state tax will be 17%, and the local option will be 3%.

MPP and our allies successfully led the 2016 campaign to legalize and regulate marijuana in Massachusetts. After our historic victory in November, it was concerning to see some members of the House propose drastic changes to the initiative approved by the voters. But thanks to the work of thousands of dedicated supporters across the Commonwealth, the law approved by voters will remain largely intact.

The bill isn’t perfect, and we preferred the original language of the ballot initiative. However, given how problematic the House bill was, we are satisfied with the final compromise.

We generated over 1,000 calls to state legislators urging them to reject the House’s “repeal and replace” bill. To everyone who made a call, thank you!

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MPP’s South Carolina Voter Guide


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Medical marijuana patients in South Carolina remain criminals if they use a treatment option that is safer many prescriptions. Bipartisan lawmakers have proposed bringing a compassionate law to the Palmetto State, but the proposal was defeated in committee this year.Seal_of_South_Carolina.svg

If patients are to get the protections they deserve, they’ll need legislators who stand up for them. You can help make that happen.

If you are a South Carolina resident, find out where candidates in your state House and state Senate districts stand before you cast your votes on Tuesday, November 8.

1. If you’re not sure of what state legislative districts you live in, click here.

2. Then, check out our voter guide to see where the candidates in your state House and state Senate district stand on medical marijuana policy.
If we have no information on candidates in your district, that means they didn’t respond to our questionnaire. You may want to reach out to them directly to ask where they stand. Please let us know if you get a response.
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Time Running Out for Pennsylvania House to Act on Medical Marijuana


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Patients at the Pennsylvania Statehouse in a symbolic doctor’s office, still waiting for the House to act.

With very few session days remaining this year, Republican leadership in Pennsylvania still has not introduced medical marijuana legislation in the House. Early reports about the contents of the draft still raise serious concerns — including a 10% THC cap, an explicit prohibition on dried flowers and plants, and no immediate legal protections for patients.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please call your representative today! Let him or her know it is critical that these problems are addressed and the bill is brought to the floor for a vote immediately. You can click here to find your representative’s contact information along with talking points to guide your call.

It has been almost six months since the Senate passed sensible medical cannabis legislation. Seriously ill patients have been suffering while waiting for the House to take action. They should not have to wait one more day. It is time for the House to vote on comprehensive and compassionate medical marijuana legislation. Let them know that Pennsylvanians are tired of waiting. They need to do it right! Do it now! Let them know that compassionate use legislation should be focused on the needs of patients and not politics as usual.

Urge them to tell leadership our concerns and to demand safe and affordable access for Pennsylvania’s most fragile citizens.

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Maryland Senate President Supports Legal Marijuana


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Sen. Miller

Just days after the first legal marijuana sales took place in Colorado, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) announced that he would support legislation to make marijuana legal and regulated in his own state.

“I favor the legalization and taxation of marijuana, with restrictions,” Miller said, adding that he thinks his position will only grow in popularity in coming years. “I know where people are going to be a generation or two from now.”

MPP will continue to build support for bills like this in the Senate and House, where Del. Heather Mizeur and Del. Curtis Anderson are pushing for marijuana policy reform legislation in the coming session.

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New Hampshire House to Consider Bill to End Marijuana Prohibition


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The New Hampshire House will kick off its 2014 session Wednesday, January 8, by voting on a bill that would end the prohibition of marijuana in New Hampshire.NH-State-Flag_2 HB 492, modeled after Colorado’s Amendment 64, would allow adults to use, possess, and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana with no penalty. The bill would also set up a taxed and regulated market for marijuana production and sale. Legal sales to adult marijuana users began yesterday in Colorado, where marijuana possession and cultivation of up to six plants has been legal since January 2013. By adopting the similar policy proposed by HB 492, New Hampshire could save tens of millions of dollars in enforcement costs and generate up to $30 million in annual tax revenue. In October, the WMUR Granite State Poll found that 60% of New Hampshire voters support HB 492. If you live in New Hampshire, please urge your state representatives to vote YES on HB 492!

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Michigan House Approves Protections for Dispensaries and Extracts


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Mike Callton
Rep. Mike Callton

The Michigan House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed two important bills today. HB 4271, sponsored by Rep. Mike Callton, would allow local governments to license and regulate dispensaries. HB 5104, sponsored by Rep. Eileen Kowall, would extend the protections currently in place for smoked forms of marijuana to marijuana extracts, a key ingredient in topical emollients, edibles, and tinctures.

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Rep. Eileen Kowall

The dispensary bill received a landslide vote of 94-14, while the vote for the extracts bill was an even more lopsided 100-9 in favor. We wish to thank both Rep. Callton and Rep. Kowall for sponsoring these important pieces of legislation, and thanks to the many groups, lobbyists, and patients who supported this effort. Great work!

The bills will now be transmitted to the Senate. Stay tuned for more alerts as progress on these bills continues.

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New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Bill Earns Final House and Senate Approval


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Yesterday, the House and Senate granted final approval to the compromise version of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana bill. HB 573 will soon be printed and transmitted to the governor’s desk, and Gov. Maggie Hassan has already promised to sign it into law. The Senate approved the bill in a voice vote, with no discussion, and the House voted 284-66 in favor, also with no discussion.

Many of us have mixed feelings about the details of HB 573 (summary is available here), but we should all agree that its passage represents a major step forward for marijuana policy reform in New Hampshire. It’s unfortunate that patients will have to wait up to a year until ID cards are issued before they can receive legal protection, and it’s unfortunate that patients will not have legal access to medical marijuana until alternative treatment centers are open. However, we will strongly encourage the state health department to begin issuing ID cards and registering alternative treatment centers as soon as possible.

With Gov. Hassan’s signature, New Hampshire will become either the 19th or 20th state to pass an effective medical marijuana law. (A similar bill is awaiting the governor’s signature in Illinois.) MPP will continue working on this policy until New Hampshire patients have safe, legal access to medical marijuana!

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Maine Bill to Tax and Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Receives Near Majority Support in State House Vote


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A proposal to let Maine voters decide if marijuana should be regulated like alcohol received near majority support Friday in a vote of the Maine House of Representatives.

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Rep. Diane Russell

The proposed amendment to LD 1229, a bill introduced by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) with a bipartisan group of 35 co-sponsors, was defeated 71-67. It would have placed a measure on the ballot calling on the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages, and Lottery Operations to develop rules and legislation for a legal marijuana market for adults 21 years of age or older. The proposal will now be considered in the Senate where it must receive a simple majority to be sent back to the House for reconsideration. A two-thirds majority will then be required to refer the measure to the ballot.

This is some of the highest level of support seen for such a bill in a state legislature. Recently, the Colorado legislature approved bills to establish regulations for the legal marijuana market. HB 1318 received votes of 37-27 in the House and 25-10 in the Senate. HB 1317 got 35-29 votes in the House and 32-3 in the Senate, and SB 283 was 62-3 in the House and 32-2 in the Senate.

As more and more states consider reforming their marijuana laws, we can hopefully expect the level of support to rise as more of their constituents come to see the failure of marijuana prohibition.

 

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New Hampshire Senate Approves Flawed But Fixable Medical Marijuana Bill


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The New Hampshire Senate voted 18-6 last week to pass HB 573 and send it back to the House. Unfortunately, after hearing a number of objections from Gov. Maggie Hassan, the Senate had little choice but to amend the bill in ways that will be bad for patients. The Senate removed home cultivation from the bill, gutted the affirmative defense provisions that would have immediately given patients a defense they could raise in court, and adopted other changes that are detailed here (some of which would actually render the bill unworkable if not corrected).

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Gov. Hassan

The bill will now return to the House, which we expect will disapprove of the Senate’s amendments. This means a “committee of conference” will be formed, in which a special committee of representatives and senators will work to agree on a final version of the bill that will move forward to the governor’s desk.

Gov. Hassan has been quoted saying she is still open to listening and learning more, so if you are a New Hampshire resident, please call Gov. Hassan’s office and politely urge her to reconsider her insistence on these provisions that will harm patients!

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Illinois Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana!


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After “only” 10 years of lobbying in Springfield, MPP has finally succeeded at persuading the Illinois Legislature to legalize medical marijuana. The Senate approved the measure 35-21 Friday, and it received approval from the House of Representatives by a vote of 61-57 on April 17.

If Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signs the bill, Illinois will become the 19th or 20th state to legalize medical marijuana. (New Hampshire is also on the verge of passing MPP’s medical marijuana legislation, so it’s a race to see which state will be first!)

The Associated Press reports:

“We are hopeful that Gov. Quinn will join legislators and the vast majority of Illinois voters in supporting this proposal,” [MPP’s Dan] Riffle said. “Marijuana has proven medical benefits, regulating it works, and there is broad public and legislative support for doing it. This is a no-brainer.”

If the Illinois bill becomes law, as many as 60 retail establishments will be licensed to sell medical marijuana to patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses.

Gov. Quinn has made some positive comments about our bill, but we still don’t know whether he’ll sign it. Over the next few months, we must focus on ensuring that the governor sides with the forces of compassion and fiscal prudence, rather than the forces of fear and fiscal waste.

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