National Crime Data Shows Marijuana Arrests Dropping, Still Happen More Than Once a Minute


The FBI just released its annual Crime in the United States report, detailing national crime data for 2015. According to the report, marijuana arrests are at a two decade low. This is definitely a good sign, but even one marijuana arrest is too many, and more than one marijuana arrest occurs every minute.fbi

Huffington Post reports:

…authorities in the U.S. made 643,000 arrests for marijuana-related charges in 2015 ― or about one every 49 seconds. Charges related to the drug accounted for 5.9 percent of all arrests, and about 43.2 percent of all drug arrests. 

The number of marijuana arrests has been generally decreasing since peaking in 2007. That year, police made 872,720 total arrests related to the drug, including 775,137 for possession. Just about 574,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2015 involved possession, and arrests for the sale and manufacture of the drug reached a nearly 25-year low. Read the rest of this entry »

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Top Legislative Victories of 2016


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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MPP’s Rob Kampia Weighs in on DEA Scheduling


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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Marijuana Policy Predictions for 2016


MPP executive director Rob Kampia’s “Marijuana Policy Predictions for 2016” has been published by The Huffington Post.

predictions 2I don’t often use superlatives, but it’s easy to say that 2016 will be the most significant year yet in the battle to repeal marijuana prohibition in the United States.

Up until now, the two biggest years were 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, and 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older.

2016 will likely comprise a cornucopia of cannabis policy advances, which I’ll enumerate in the form of predictions.

Click here to read the entire column.

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Clinton Explains Position On Marijuana Policy


Over the weekend, Hilary Clinton expanded on her position regarding marijuana policy reform. Specifically, she stated that she would like to see marijuana rescheduled.

Huffington Post reports:

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton wants to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous substance in order to allow more research into the drug’s medicinal properties, the Democratic presidential candidate said Saturday in South Carolina.

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, the most dangerous of five substance categories listed in the Controlled Substances Act. According to the federal classification, Schedule I drugs have “no currently accepted medical use.” Other Schedule I substances include heroin, ecstasy and LSD. 

Under Clinton’s proposal, marijuana would become a Schedule II substance, which are considered to have “less abuse potential.” Cocaine, OxyContin, Adderall and meth are Schedule II drugs. The move, Clinton said Saturday, would allow federal researchers to explore how to best use marijuana as medicine.

“What I do want is for us to support research into medical marijuana because a lot more states have passed medical marijuana than have legalized marijuana, so we’ve got two different experiences or even experiments going on right now,” Clinton said after being asked about marijuana prohibition during a town hall. “And the problem with medical marijuana is there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence about how well it works for certain conditions, but we haven’t done any research. Why? Because it’s considered what’s called a Schedule I drug and you can’t even do research in it.” 

“If we’re going to have a lot of states setting up marijuana dispensaries so that people who have some kind of medical need are getting marijuana, we need know what’s the quality of it, how much should you take, what should you avoid if you’re taking other medications,” she continued. 

Clinton has said previously that she does not support legalizing marijuana, but believes in the medical use of cannabis and reforming the criminal justice system to keep low-level drug offenders out of jail. 


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MPP’s Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers for 2015


FB link preview.Top 50 MPP 2015-01

MPP is pleased to announce the release of our annual list of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers” in the United States!

President Barack Obama is at the top of the list, followed by several 2016 presidential candidates. At least eight (and as many as 17) of the 23 major-party presidential hopefuls have said or strongly indicated that they have consumed marijuana: Jeb Bush, Lincoln Chafee, Ted Cruz, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and Rick Santorum.

Nine others do not appear to have said whether they have consumed marijuana, and they did not respond to inquiries from MPP: Joe Biden, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb. Only six candidates have said they never used marijuana: Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker. Read the rest of this entry »

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Colorado Court Overturns Marijuana Conviction


In what hopefully becomes a trend in other states, a Colorado court has overturned a marijuana conviction275px-Colorado_Court_of_Appeals that occurred just after the passage of Amendment 64.

Huffington Post reports:

A state appeals court has overturned the marijuana conviction of a Colorado woman who was sentenced and convicted for marijuana possession just days after voters approved a measure legalizing recreational marijuana in the state almost three years ago — retroactively applying the law to her case. 

Citing a decision in a previous case, the appeals court ruled that convicted criminal defendants should receive “benefit of amendatory legislation which became effective at any time before the conviction became final on appeal,” the opinion, issued last week, reads.

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Chris Christie Reaffirms Opposition to State Marijuana Legalization


In recent months, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly said that he does not agree with marijuana legalization and would most likely end the current policy which allows states to determine their own marijuana laws provided they meet certain criteria, earning him a grade of “F” on MPP’s Presidential Report Card.

On Tuesday, Gov. Christie reaffirmed this position, saying that state laws making marijuana legal are numbered if he is elected president. The Huffington Post reports:

“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie said Tuesday during a Newport, New Hampshire, town-hall meeting, Bloomberg reports. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

Christie, one of 16 Republicans campaigning for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, has made no secret of his long-held opposition to cannabis. As governor of New Jersey, he has opposed even his own state’s limited medical marijuana program and has called similar laws in 22 other states a “front” for full recreational legalization. He has described taxes generated from the sale of marijuana as “blood money.” And earlier this year in no uncertain terms, he said that, as president, he would “crack down and not permit” recreational cannabis in states that have legalized it.

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How Is Marijuana Policy Factoring into the Presidential Campaign?


MPP’s Executive Director Rob Kampia recently published his thoughts on how marijuana policy will factor into the 2016 presidential elections:

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) recently released its quadrennial report card detailing the most prominent presidential candidates’ positions on marijuana policy.

To be sure, most voters aren’t single-issue marijuana voters (on either side of the legalization issue). Most voters make their decisions after processing a soup of positions and paid ads. So MPP’s intent is to inform a piece of that upcoming decision-making process, rather than claiming that marijuana legalization is the main issue for many voters.Republican-Elephant-Democrat-Donkey

That said, it’s worth noting that hardcore supporters of legalization are now finally capable of having a measurable impact on campaigns. For example, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) raised more than $100,000 at a marijuana-specific fundraising event in Portland on June 5. This is real money for a U.S. House race.

MPP’s early donations to Peter Shumlin (D-VT) almost certainly made the difference in his first primary contest for governor in 2010. And during the 2011-2012 election cycle, MPP was the largest donor to his campaign, edging out donations from AFSCME, Coca-Cola, and the Democratic Governors Association.

As for the presidential race, many members of the marijuana industry — which is generally defined as marijuana-related businesses that are operating legally under various states’ laws — are supporting Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). At a group fundraising meeting at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s annual conference in Denver on June 30, a room of canna-business leaders discussed the issue with Sen. Paul and donated more than $100,000 to his campaign. (This is real money for any presidential campaign.) MPP had previously donated $15,000 to Sen. Paul’s three campaign committees.

Setting aside the ability of the cannabis industry to have some degree of impact on the current presidential race, what are the positions of some of the more interesting candidates?

You can read the complete analysis at the Huffington Post.

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MPP and Allies Launch Texas TV Ad Campaign


This week, we began airing a TV ad in Texas featuring Russell Jones, a retired narcotics detective and Texas Hill Country resident. Jones says that people under the influence of marijuana are much less problematic than people under the influence of alcohol, and that “law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time.” Its primary purpose: to urge lawmakers to support HB 507, which would reduce criminal penalties for marijuana possession in the Lone Star State.

The TV ad — online here — is airing on CNN, ESPN, and Fox News Channel through Thursday at midnight, and received a lot of media attention, including from Huffington Post, International Business Times, San Antonio Current, and many others.

The ad cites annual arrest reports produced by the Texas Department of Public Safety that show that more than 360,000 arrests for marijuana possession were made in Texas from 2009-2013.

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