House Committee Blocks Medical Marijuana Protection Amendment


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An amendment that would keep the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana programs was voted “out of order” by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, preventing the House from including it in its version of the FY 2018 federal budget.

This amendment, introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would prevent the Department of Justice from spending any resources to target medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a similar budget amendment in the Senate, which was approved in a committee voice vote in July.

In 2014, Congress passed a similar amendment to an omnibus-spending bill. This amendment was subsequently renewed, but it now stands to expire on September 30 unless the Senate version of the budget is approved in a joint House/Senate conference committee or Congress fails to pass a budget.

If the amendment is not included in the budget or carried over, the Department of Justice will have nothing to prevent it from targeting state medical marijuana programs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly stated that he opposes marijuana being legal for any reason and in May sent a letter to Congress urging it to vote down the amendment and allow him to resume prosecuting medical marijuana providers.

MPP’s Don Murphy released the following statement:

When an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose federal interference in state medical marijuana programs, it is unconscionable not to let their Representatives vote on whether to continue this policy. Unless Congress chooses the Senate budget version, millions of seriously ill patients and the legitimate businesses that provide them with safe access to their medicine will be at risk of prosecution.

“This vote is a slap in the face of patients, their families, their elected representatives, and the 10th Amendment.

UPDATE: A federal budget deal has extended the medical marijuana protections until Dec. 8, but inclusion in the final budget for next year is still in danger.

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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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Vermont Senate Passes Another Marijuana Bill


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On Friday, for the second time this year, the Vermont Senate voted to legalize marijuana for adults’ use! The Senate voted 20-9 to attach the legalization language from H. 170 to an unrelated bill, S. 22, and added a study commission to consider regulation and taxation. It will now be up to the House whether or not to concur with the Senate’s offer of amendment.

This move represents an attempt by the Senate to compromise with the House, which voted for the first time in its history to legalize marijuana earlier this week. H. 170, which would eliminate penalties for adults’ possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, two or fewer mature plants, and four or fewer immature plants, passed the House in a 75-71 vote. The Senate prefers a regulated market approach, but today’s vote shows that senators are willing to accept H. 170 as long as it includes a pathway to sensible regulation.

Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Projectreleased the following statement in a press release:

“You have to give the Senate credit for standing up for Vermont voters, who strongly support making marijuana legal for adults. We hope the House will do the same and concur with S. 22 as amended by the Senate. This is not just a reasonable compromise, but an important step forward for supporters of both home cultivation and regulation. The bill would eliminate penalties for adult possession and cultivation, as the House sought to do with H. 170, and create a commission to explore regulating and taxing marijuana, which the Senate clearly supports. This bill proposes a very thoughtful and deliberate approach to replacing prohibition with a more sensible marijuana policy.”

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Colorado GOP Senate Leader Downplays Federal Interference Fears


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Colorado Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg

In response to statements made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer last week, Colorado Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg said that he does not think the federal government will crack down the legal marijuana market in states where it is legal for adult consumption.

Denver Post reports:

“I’m not sure I’d put too much thought or too much credit into what he was saying,” Sonnenberg told reporters Monday morning. “This president has been all about federalism and giving the states more authority, this just flies in the face of that. So I would anticipate not much coming from that.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper downplayed the suggestion a day earlier in a “Meet the Press” interview, affirming that he didn’t believe the federal government would target states like Colorado that legalized weed.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has suggested a change in federal policy toward states on marijuana is unlikely, but Sonnenberg’s comments are the most forceful Republican pushback against the White House on the issue since the announcement Thursday.

“Colorado has been the leader when it comes to marijuana and the regulation,” he said. “People look to us for leadership, and I don’t think our new president will turn his back on allowing states to do what they need to do, whether (marijuana) or anything else.”

MPP will continue to monitor the Dept. of Justice for more info on their intended policy going forward.

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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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MPP’s Nebraska Medical Marijuana Voter Guide


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In March, Nebraska Sen. Tommy Garrett’s compassionate medical marijuana bill came a few votes shy of the super-majority needed to stop a filibuster.2000px-nebraska-stateseal-svg If patients are to get the protections they deserve next year, they’ll need legislators who stand up for them.
On November 8, half of the Nebraska Legislature is up for re-election.

1. If you’re not sure what state Senate district you live in, click here to find out. If your Senate district is an odd number, it’s on the ballot this year.

2. If you live in an odd-numbered Senate district, check out our voter guide see where the candidates in your district stand on allowing medical marijuana.

To compile our Nebraska voter guide, we reviewed the medical marijuana voting record of all incumbent senators who are running for re-election, and sent a questionnaire to all candidates. Unfortunately, only one candidate responded to our questionnaire. While they’re trying to earn votes, please consider reaching out to candidates in your district to let them know you want them to stand up for patients. The voter guide includes all candidates’ contact information.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves VA Physician Recommendation Amendment


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The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill that is intended to ease access to medical marijuana for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, serious injuries, and other debilitating conditions.US-DeptOfVeteransAffairs-Seal-Large

The amendment, authored by Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), would prohibit the spending of funds on enforcement of a Veterans Health Administration directive that prohibits VA physicians from recommending medical marijuana to their patients, even in states that have made it legal.

If enacted, VA physicians would no longer face penalties for discussing medical marijuana with their patients or completing the paperwork patients must submit in order to participate in state medical marijuana programs. Currently, veterans in states with medical marijuana laws must find a doctor outside of the VA system to discuss medical marijuana as a treatment option and provide the requisite documentation.

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New Hampshire House Approves Decriminalization Bill


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Yesterday evening, despite a negative recommendation from the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, the New Hampshire House of Representatives kept its streak of passing marijuana decriminalization bills alive when it overturned the committee and approved HB 1631 in a voice vote. 2000px-Seal_of_New_Hampshire.svgSponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), this sensible bill would reduce the penalty for possessing up to one-half ounce of marijuana to a violation punishable only by a fine. The House has now passed decriminalization bills seven times dating back to 2008.

Every other New England state has already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Unfortunately, the Senate has failed to pass any of the six decriminalization proposals that have been approved by the House. Last year, the Senate nearly reached a compromise on a bill similar to HB 1631, but it was tabled on the last day of session.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please send your senator an email in support of this bill.

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Vermont Senate Approves Marijuana Regulation Bill


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Today, the Vermont senators who support ending marijuana prohibition stepped onto the Senate floor knowing they would face a contentious debate from their prohibitionist colleagues. After much discussion, the champions of reasonable regulation narrowly prevailed when the Senate voted 16-13 to approve S. 241!

However, S. 241 must survive an additional floor vote before it advances to the House.

If you are a Vermont resident, please send one more message to your senators and let them know how you feel about this historic development! Consider editing the form message to express your own thoughts about how marijuana prohibition has failed Vermont.

In approving S. 241 today, the Senate became only the second legislative chamber in the United States to approve a marijuana legalization bill. (The New Hampshire House of Representatives narrowly passed a similar bill in 2014, but it did not advance.). The fact that it has made it this far is a testament to the strength of our robust Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, your many calls and emails, and the leadership of Gov. Peter Shumlin and legislative leaders.

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Key Marijuana Bill Passes Oregon House


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A bill that would make several changes to the Oregon medical and adult use marijuana programs passed the House yesterday on a vote of 48-11.2000px-Seal_of_Oregon.svg

HB 4014 would lower the annual patient registration fee for veterans from $200 to $20, and it would allow medical cannabis patients on probation to be treated the same as if they were administering a prescribed pharmaceutical medication. It would also allow patients who have submitted physicians’ statements to receive medical marijuana before the state issues registration cards — avoiding what for many can be a long delay.

HB 4014 also makes significant changes for businesses. In particular, it would remove current residency requirements for business owners and investors. This has been somewhat controversial — while many support this change as a way for local businesses to get access to much-needed loans, others oppose it as creating more competition for smaller, locally owned shops.

If you are an Oregon resident and support HB 4014, please take a moment to ask your senator to support this important bill and pass it without delay.

Two other bills may also advance this week, including one that makes clear that banks serving marijuana businesses would not be subject to state criminal laws, and another that would allow nonmedical retail businesses to serve medical patients without imposing taxes.

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