Virginia Election Could Have Big Impact on Marijuana Policy


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Virginia will elect its next governor tomorrow, November 7. Please take a minute to examine each candidate’s position on marijuana policy before you head to the polls. While every candidate favors some form of reduced penalty for simple possession, they have significant differences in opinion regarding marijuana penalties in the commonwealth.

  • Democrat Ralph Northam supports decriminalization of marijuana and legalizing the medical use of marijuana.
  • Republican Ed Gillespie opposes decriminalizing marijuana but favors a three-strikes approach for simple possession. The first two violations would not carry criminal charges, but a third would. He is open to “appropriate, limited, tightly regulated use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.”
  • Libertarian Cliff Hyra supports decriminalization, the establishment of a medical marijuana program, and allowing responsible adults ages 21 and older to consume marijuana.

This election is important, as the governor holds considerable sway over the direction of Virginia’s policies. Please visit your local polling station between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. tomorrow, November 7, if you are a Virginia resident. If you don’t know where your polling station is, click here to find out. Check your voter registration here, and be sure to bring a photo ID with you when you head to the polling station. Make your voice heard tomorrow!

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Another Utah Poll Shows Strong Support for Medical Marijuana


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The 2018 medical cannabis campaign in Utah is fully underway. Right now, the Utah Patients Coalition is collecting signatures from across the state in order to qualify for next year’s ballot.

A new poll was released showing that 74 percent of Utahns support medical cannabis. Other recent polls have showed similar levels of support.

With legislative inaction, a group now puts forward a citizen petition which would set up a medical marijuana (non-smoking) system in Utah, where a limited number of registered growers would provide types of marijuana to be prescribed by a limited number of doctors for specific diseases and/or chronic pain.

Here are some of the interesting numbers found by Jones in his latest survey:

— Utah Republicans favor passage of the citizen initiative on MM, 61-35 percent.

— Democrats really like the idea, 93-7 percent.

— Political independents, who don’t belong to any political party, favor MM, 87-13 percent.

— Even those who self-described themselves as politically “very conservative” favor medical marijuana legalization, 51-42 percent.

— The “somewhat conservatives,” favor it, 71-25; the “moderates” like the petition, 84-14 percent; “somewhat liberals,” 92-8 percent; and the “very liberals,” 97-2 percent.

Those who said they are “somewhat active” in the LDS Church like MM, 80-15 percent; former Mormons who have left the faith like it, 87-5 percent; Catholics favor MM, 80-20 percent; Protestants (which includes born-again Christians), 61-26 percent; and those with no religion like it, 96-4 percent.

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Indiana Republican Introducing Medical Marijuana Legislation Next Session


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In August, Republican Representative Jim Lucas announced that he is planning to introduce medical marijuana legislation in the upcoming legislative session in Indiana. This is great news for the Hoosier State! Last fall, a poll commissioned by WTHR/Howey Politics found that 73% of voters in Indiana support medical marijuana legislation.

Will you ask your lawmakers to stand with voters and protect Indiana patients? If you are an Indiana resident, please urge your lawmakers to support Rep. Lucas’ medical marijuana bill.

We are so excited that a Republican has stepped up to help champion medical marijuana legislation. It’s not always easy to stand up for what you believe in, so please take a second and send a “thank you” to Rep. Jim Lucas.

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Republican Congressman Urges Conservatives to Support Medical Marijuana Ahead of Crucial Budget Rules Vote


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On Tuesday after Congress returned from recess, Rep. Dana Rohrbacher published a column in the Washington Post asking his conservative colleagues to support his budget amendment that would protect state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers from federal interference.

Not long ago, a supporter of mine, visiting from California, dropped by my Capitol office. A retired military officer and staunch conservative, he and I spent much of our conversation discussing the Republican agenda.

Finally, I drew a breath and asked him about an issue I feared might divide us: the liberalization of our marijuana laws, specifically medical marijuana reform, on which for years I had been leading the charge. What did he think about that controversial position?

“Dana,” he replied, “there are some things about me you don’t know.” He told me about his three sons, all of whom enlisted after 9/11.

Two of his sons returned from the battlefield whole and healthy. The third, however, came home suffering multiple seizures each day. His prospects were bleak.

His medical care fell under the total guidance of the Department of Veterans Affairs, whose doctors came under federal restraints regarding the treatments they could prescribe. (Among the treatments allowed were opioids.) Nothing worked.

Finally, a sympathetic doctor advised our young hero to see him in his private office, where he could prescribe medication derived from cannabis. The prescription worked. The seizures, for the most part, ceased.

“Dana,” said my friend, “I could hug you right now for what you’ve been doing, unknowingly, for my son.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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New Jersey Primary Elections a Victory for Marijuana Policy Reform


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This week’s New Jersey gubernatorial primary elections were great news for supporters of marijuana policy reform. On the Democratic side, Phil Murphy said during his victory speech that:

“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana … And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”

On the Republican side, the victor was Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. While she opposes legalization, she has said she supports decriminalizing marijuana and easing patient access to the medical marijuana program, unlike current Gov. Chris Christie.

The general election will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. You must be registered to vote by October 17; click here for more information or to check your registration status. If you have been convicted of a crime, you can still vote as soon as your sentence (including probation) is completed, but you must re-register. If you’re unable to vote in person on Nov. 7, this website has lots of helpful information on voting by mail.

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West Virginia Becomes the 29th Medical Marijuana State


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Today, West Virginia officially became the 29th state to pass medical marijuana legislation!

Gov. Jim Justice signed the law today after the bipartisan bill passed both the Senate and House earlier this month.

While the law isn’t perfect, it’s a great start toward providing safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients. A summary is available here.

This achievement didn’t happen overnight. In fact, MPP, along with many other advocates, has been working tirelessly to get a medical marijuana bill passed for years.

MPP released the following in a press release:

“This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state.”

Six states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws in the past 12 months. Three of those laws, including West Virginia’s, passed through Republican-controlled legislatures. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Ohio approved them last April and June, respectively. The other three were approved by voters in November in states won by Donald Trump — Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.

“Intensifying public support and a growing body of evidence are driving the rapid growth in the number of states adopting medical marijuana laws,” Simon said. “Lawmakers are also learning about marijuana’s medical benefits from friends, family members, and constituents who have experienced them firsthand in other states. More than nine out of 10 American voters think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. In light of this near universal support, it is shocking that some legislatures still have not adopted effective medical marijuana laws.”

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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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MPP’s New Hampshire Voter Guide


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There has never been a more important opportunity to advance marijuana policy reform in New Hampshire than this year’s general election, which is now less than a month away. Granite Staters overwhelmingly support reforming marijuana laws, and MPP’s newly published voter guide shows that legislators and candidates are finally getting the message!Seal_of_New_Hampshire.svg
This year, for the first time in New Hampshire history, both major party candidates for governor — Democrat Colin Van Ostern and Republican Chris Sununu — have clearly stated their support for decriminalization. At this point, there does not appear to be a significant difference between Van Ostern and Sununu on marijuana policy, and either candidate would certainly be an upgrade over Gov. Maggie Hassan. A third candidate appearing on the ballot, Libertarian Max Abramson, supports legalization.
Even more exciting than the governor’s race is the prospect of improving the make-up of the state Senate, which has killed seven decriminalization bills since 2008. As the voter guide illustrates, several of the worst prohibitionist senators from last session are not seeking re-election, and many of the candidates seeking to replace them have much more enlightened positions on marijuana policy.
If you are a New Hampshire resident, please mark your calendar for Nov. 8, and share the voter guide with as many people as possible on Facebook and other social media platforms!
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Next New Hampshire Governor Will Support Decriminalization


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MPP’s endorsed candidates for New Hampshire governor did not win their primaries this week, but overall, the results bode well for the future of marijuana policy reform.Seal_of_New_Hampshire.svg
For the first time in the state’s history, both major parties’ nominees for governor, Executive Councilors Colin Van Ostern (D) and Chris Sununu (R), are clearly on record in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession. It now appears virtually certain that MPP and its allies will finally be able to pass a decriminalization bill in 2017.
That wasn’t the only bit of good news. The two worst prohibitionists running for governor, Ted Gatsas and Jeanie Forrester (who both opposed decriminalization and voted against medical cannabis), came in third and fourth in the GOP primary. The pro-decriminalization Republicans, MPP-endorsed Frank Edeblut and Sununu, finished in a near-tie for first with a combined more than 60% of the vote, laying to rest any lingering belief that Republican voters might support continuing the state’s war on marijuana users. Edelblut conceded to Sununu yesterday after reportedly falling short by only 804 votes.
In the Democratic primary, MPP-endorsed Steve Marchand helped spark a serious conversation about marijuana legalization across the state. Despite entering the race very late and being out-spent by a large margin, he ran a strong grassroots campaign, earned several key editorial endorsements down the stretch, and finished a respectable second.
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MPP Endorses Maryland Delegate David Moon for State Senate


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Del. David Moon

The Marijuana Policy Project announced Wednesday that it is endorsing Del. David Moon for the Maryland Senate in District 20. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee is expected to appoint a successor to Sen. Jamie Raskin, who is running for Congress.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Delegates, David Moon has been an impassioned leader and a continuous advocate for marijuana policy reform, including acting as an important sponsor of legislation to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. While some Democratic members of the House were joining their Republican counterparts in co-sponsoring bills to recriminalize smoking in public, which would have continued the racially disparate enforcement of the criminal law against people of color, Del. Moon was trying to move Maryland’s policy forward.

For example, he introduced a bill to help victims of prohibition expunge past convictions for marijuana possession. This is especially important because African Americans in Maryland have historically been 2.9 times more likely to be arrested for possession despite very similar usage rates. Thus, Black Marylanders are more likely to be burdened with a criminal record that can derail their ability to get a job and cause other collateral consequences — an issue that was not addressed in the decriminalization bill.

Delegate Moon is as impassioned about bridge-building as he is about policy solutions. He regularly crosses the aisle to discuss key civil liberties and decriminalization issues with conservative colleagues from across the state.

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