Another election, and another historic night for marijuana reform!


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Another election, and another historic night for marijuana reform.

Michigan has passed legalization! MPP played a central role in this campaign from start to finish. From coordinating the initiative drafting to overseeing the production of TV ads, MPP staffers worked alongside a excellent campaign team for two years to make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to adopt legalization. This is a huge win that will maintain our momentum in Washington, D.C. to pass a landmark federal reform bill through Congress in the near future.

Utah passed medical marijuana! MPP led the drafting process and played an important supporting role throughout the campaign. We are so proud of the Utah Patients Coalition team on this historic win that will end the heartless policy of criminalizing patients. If we can pass medical marijuana in Utah, then we can pass it in any state in the country…and we will.

In Missouri, voters approved medical marijuana, and they chose the best of the three possible initiatives. We congratulate our allies in the marijuana reform movement for this important win that will help patients access the medicine they need.

Sadly, North Dakota did not pass its legalization initiative. In such a conservative state, it was always an uphill battle. The proponents ran a strong campaign, but in a midterm year, the electorate was always going to be a challenge. North Dakota passed medical marijuana in 2016. It’s only a matter of time before the state adopts legalization, either via ballot initiative or legislative action.

As a movement, we won three out of four states. And for MPP, we’ve now played a leading role in seven of the 10 states that have legalized marijuana for adults (Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, and Michigan).

We couldn’t do this work without the support of voters, allies, activists, and donors. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who made these crucial victories last night possible.

In other great news, voters elected at least seven governors who support ending marijuana prohibition — Ned Lamont in Connecticut, JB Pritzker in Illinois, Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Tim Walz in Minnesota, Gavin Newsom in California, Jared Polis in Colorado, and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan. For more details, check out our elections page.

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New poll shows Rhode Islanders support legalization by 20-point margin


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A new survey confirms that an overwhelming majority of Rhode Island voters support legalizing marijuana for adults. The poll, commissioned by WPRI 12 and Roger Williams University and conducted by Fleming & Associates, found that 56% of respondents favor ending marijuana prohibition, while only 37% were against the idea. Another 7% were undecided.

Leaders in the General Assembly have consistently refused to allow legislators to vote on marijuana legalization in recent years. This new poll provides further evidence that these politicians are out of touch with the Rhode Island people.

Legal marijuana sales will start in Massachusetts any day now, and the new Rhode Island legislative session begins in January 2019. With the public solidly on the side of reform, there is no excuse for delay, and there is no excuse for the General Assembly to not vote on legalization in this upcoming year.

The Marijuana Policy Project and Regulate Rhode Island are planning to mobilize constituents and organize an effective campaign to call on the General Assembly to vote on a legalization bill during the upcoming session.

Stay tuned for more updates soon!

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New Hampshire’s “drug czar” speaks against marijuana legalization


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The walls of marijuana prohibition have crumbled all around New Hampshire. It is now legal for adults in all three neighboring states to grow and possess cannabis, and retail sales will soon become a reality in Massachusetts, Maine, and Canada.

Sadly, Gov. Chris Sununu continues to oppose legalization, in part because he continues to rely on terrible advice from New Hampshire’s so-called “drug czar,” former Manchester police chief David Mara. Last week, during an appearance at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Mara went on camera and offered an incredibly weak argument in defense of the status quo.

In other news, Senate Democratic leader Jeff Woodburn has launched an online petition calling for Sununu to support legalization. Sen. Woodburn announced last month that he intends to sponsor a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis in 2019.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call Gov. Sununu’s office today — tell him it’s time to stop listening to Chief Mara and start listening to the people of New Hampshire, who overwhelmingly support ending marijuana prohibition!

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Rhode Island Legalization Bill Introduced


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Sen. Joshua Miller (D – Cranston) is once again submitting a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana in Rhode Island. As marijuana businesses are poised to open their doors in Massachusetts this summer, Sen. Miller hopes his colleagues will understand the wisdom in acting now.

“Legal marijuana sales will be available to Rhode Islanders as soon as Massachusetts retailers start offering it in July,” Sen. Miller said. “But Massachusetts will keep the revenue from the purchases when Rhode Islanders cross the border to get it.”

This legislation would make it legal for adults 21 and older to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana. It would also set up a system for the Department of Business Regulation to oversee the licensing and operation of legal marijuana businesses. Most importantly, Sen. Miller’s bill would end the failed approach of punishing adults who choose to use marijuana, a policy which has caused much harm in Rhode Island.

If you are a Rhode Island resident, please call your state senator and representative and ask them to push for a vote on Sen. Miller’s bill.

 

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MPP Continues Making Progress in 2018!


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Here’s a quick run-down of some of the progress MPP has made so far in 2018:

CONGRESS — In March, MPP helped coordinate the congressional advocacy effort that succeeded in renewing the federal policy that prevents Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department from interfering in state medical marijuana programs. This is an extremely important protection for patients and caregivers across the country.

VERMONT — Years of MPP-led advocacy work in the Green Mountain State yielded a major victory in January, when the legislature became the first ever to enact a marijuana legalization law legislatively (as opposed to a ballot initiative). We continue to work in Vermont with the goal of passing a law next year that will allow regulated and taxed sales (the current law only allows possession and home cultivation).

SOUTH CAROLINA — MPP, working with allied patients and loved ones, is maintaining an aggressive push for medical marijuana in the state legislature. Our bill was recently sent to the Senate floor, and we now have majority support in the House, leaving us well-positioned for passage in 2019.

MASSACHUSETTS — After winning the 2016 ballot initiative campaign and defending the law from political interference in 2017, we have remained engaged in the year-long implementation process in the Bay State. MPP has also been pushing back against local marijuana business bans. As a result of MPP’s work in Massachusetts, the licensing process for marijuana businesses just started, and the first adult-use marijuana stores in New England will open later this year.

CONNECTICUT — Since last year, MPP has led the advocacy effort to legalize and regulate marijuana in Connecticut. Last Thursday, for the first time ever, a committee approved a legalization bill, sending it to the full House.

MPP is also playing a leading role in two ballot initiative campaigns:

MICHIGAN — The Michigan marijuana legalization campaign is leading in the polls, but might face a well-funded opposition campaign. You can donate directly to the Michigan campaign here.

UTAH — The Utah medical marijuana campaign is supported by over 70% of Utah voters, but still needs to finish its signature drive. You can donate directly to the Utah campaign here.

There is no shortage of work ahead in 2018 but, with your support, MPP can and will continue to win. Thank you for your commitment to the Marijuana Policy Project mission.

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Massachusetts Governor Vows to Uphold Legal Marijuana Laws


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On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker reinforced that Massachusetts will respect the will of Massachusetts voters. In response to Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind Obama-era rules that protected state-legal marijuana markets, state and local law enforcement officials vowed that they would not raid retail marijuana establishments that were operating in compliance with state law.

Shortly thereafter, Gov. Baker echoed those sentiments, stating, “We have two laws in Massachusetts: One that was passed by voters several years ago around the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries, which are regulated and overseen by the commonwealth, and another law that was passed by the voters in 2016 that requires the state to create a legal infrastructure for recreational marijuana. Those are the laws that state and local law enforcement officials are bound to uphold and that’s what they’re going to do.”

Baker’s statement is important because it represents a sharp break from Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling who said in a statement he couldn’t guarantee that medical marijuana dispensaries, recreational pot shops, cultivators, and customers would be immune from federal prosecution. We applaud Gov. Baker’s statement and his principled stance against Lelling’s regressive direction on legal cannabis that attempts to flout the will of the voters.

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Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Begins Public Discussion of Marijuana Regulations


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The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has begun its public policy discussion for the retail marijuana regulations to implement Question 4. While we will address a few items during the upcoming public hearings, the first few days have generally shown encouraging results! The commission has looked at a variety of issues around marijuana business licensing and has made a few key determinations already:

  • Businesses that derive more than 50% of revenue from marijuana may apply for a social consumption license, which would allow on-site consumption of marijuana. Other businesses that derive less than 50% of their revenue from cannabis sales may apply for a mixed-use license and may only sell marijuana in conjunction with another service, such as a restaurant, spa, movie theater, or yoga studio.

 

  • The regulations will give priority review to business license applicants who have lived in areas disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and who hire employees that live in areas of disproportionate impact. This change will help the communities that have been most affected by the racial disparity in enforcement of marijuana prohibition.

 

  • Applicants will receive priority for hiring people with prior drug convictions.

 

These decisions show the Cannabis Control Commission’s willingness to address the problems created by marijuana prohibition and the racial disparity in its enforcement, and we applaud their willingness to craft a fair and effective regulatory scheme. The commission will continue looking at draft regulations through next week, at which point the rules will be open for public comment. The final regulations are slated for March of next year.

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Massachusetts Governor Signs Marijuana Compromise Bill


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On Friday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the compromise bill that makes changes to Question 4. While the tax rate has increased and local control has been amended slightly, the bill largely keeps the legalization law intact.

This marks the end of our legislative battle to defend Question 4. As you know, the Massachusetts House originally proposed a very problematic bill that would have repealed and replaced the law, thereby raising the tax rate far too high and eliminating entirely the right of voters to approve or reject local bans.

With your help, we sent a strong message to the Legislature to respect the will of the people and to only make minor changes. We generated over 1,000 calls to state representatives and state senators. To everyone who called, emailed, or otherwise contacted their elected officials: thank you! Your advocacy had a real impact.

The final outcome is a major improvement on the House proposal. The tax rate will only increase to 20%, and by January 2020, all local bans will require approval — until then, local governments in towns that voted “no” in 2016 can establish bans without voter approval.

It is now time for the state government to begin the work of implementing the law and establishing a regulatory system for marijuana in Massachusetts. That means providing proper funding and crafting specific regulations without delay.

We will continue to keep you updated, because we may need your help again to defend Massachusetts’ legalization law.

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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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Massachusetts Lawmakers Attempting to Repeal and Replace Legalization Law


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In Massachusetts, the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy just approved a “repeal and replace” bill that bears very little resemblance to the legalization law passed by 1.8 million voters in November.

The bill would undermine efforts to replace the unregulated market with a system of licensed businesses. It would take away the right of voters to decide on local marijuana policy, and it could impose a tax rate on marijuana that exceeds 50%. It authorizes the sharing of information with the FBI on cannabis commerce, including employees and medical patients. It also makes the Cannabis Control Commission — the entity that will regulate marijuana businesses — less unaccountable.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, please call your state representative and tell them not to vote for this bill when it is presented for a vote in the House on Thursday. We must not allow politicians to repeal and replace the will of the people, especially when their proposed changes are so flawed and misguided.

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