MPP’s West Virginia Primary Voter Guide


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2018 was a frustrating year for marijuana policy in the West Virginia Legislature, with the Senate’s excellent version of a medical marijuana improvement bill never getting a House vote, and other reforms stalling. Fortunately, it is now election season, and candidates all over the state have been talking to voters about marijuana policy. The primary election will take place on Tuesday, May 8.

Before you go to the polls tomorrow, please take time to review MPP’s voter guide for the West Virginia primary election. After sending surveys to all candidates for state House of Delegates and state Senate and compiling their responses, we now have quite a bit of information available on candidates. The voter guide also includes votes cast by incumbent legislators and any available public statements.

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Illinois Senate Approves a Safer Option for Opioid Patients


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An important medical marijuana bill emerged from the Senate yesterday that could bring welcome relief to seriously ill patients around the state. Senate Bill 336 would allow patients who qualify for opioid prescriptions to enroll in the state’s medical cannabis program. SB 336, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Don Harmon and Chris Nybo, emerged with a strong 44-6 vote in support. The bill is now in the House.

Seriously ill patients should not be pushed towards some of the most harmful drugs available, particularly when there is a safer alternative. Studies in recent years have supported what many medical marijuana patients already know: medical cannabis can be an effective alternative for patients who might otherwise rely on opioid drugs.

Sen. Harmon’s bill would not only provide that alternative, it would also make other critically important improvements to the state program, including removing the current fingerprint requirement for all patients. Rep. Kelly Cassidy has already stepped in as chief co-sponsor in the House, along with over two dozen other House members who have joined with her as co-sponsors. But it’s crunch time in Springfield, and lawmakers are now working through the busiest time of the year — it’s important the bill continue to advance without delay.

If you are an Illinois resident, please ask your representatives to support this bill and to consider co-sponsoring if they haven’t signed on already.

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Virginia Senate Unanimously Approves Limited Medical Marijuana Bill


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On February 5, the Virginia Senate unanimously passed legislation that will permit doctors to recommend CBD or THC-A oil to their patients for any diagnosed condition or disease. The companion bill passed the House of Delegates unanimously on Friday, and the bill will now go to Gov. Ralph Northam, who is expected to sign it.

This bill expands Virginia’s CBD oil law, which previously limited the use of CBD oil to cases of “intractable epilepsy” only. This bill represents a major expansion of that program, allowing doctors to determine whether CBD or THC-A oil is right for any given patient. This law will provide relief to thousands of patients in the commonwealth and could help curb the ongoing opioid crisis in Virginia. We applaud all of the activists and patients who worked diligently to see this moment.

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Penalty Reduction Bills Slated for Virginia Legislative Session


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The Virginia General Assembly convened last week, and marijuana law reform is on the docket! After a disappointing conclusion to last year’s session, the General Assembly appears ready to tackle decriminalization of marijuana.

Late last year, the Virginia State Crime Commission looked at the benefits of marijuana decriminalization in Virginia, and the majority leader of the Senate, Sen. Tommy Norment (R), expressed his intent to introduce a bill to decriminalize simple possession of small amounts of marijuana. Sen. Norment’s bill has not yet been introduced, but he has indicated it will make the first offense a misdemeanor rather than making it a civil offense; we don’t expect the penalty for subsequent offenses to be reduced.

Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), on the other hand, has introduced SB 111, which would reduce the penalty for simple possession to a civil penalty: $50 for the first violation, $100 for the second violation, and $250 for the third and subsequent violations. This bill is a huge step forward for Virginia, and Sen. Norment should stick to his promise of real decriminalization and support SB 111.

Considering Gov. Ralph Northam’s pro-decriminalization position during his campaign and the new makeup of the House of Delegates, 2018 could be the year the commonwealth stops arresting Virginians for simple possession.

If you are a Virginia resident, please contact your Senators today and tell them to support decriminalizing marijuana.

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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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