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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The fight for Measure 3 is heating up in North Dakota


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With less than three weeks until Election Day, efforts to pass Measure 3, which would legalize marijuana for adults in North Dakota, are ramping up. While opponents rely on the standard prohibitionist fear tactics, the Yes on 3 team is sharing a positive message of personal freedom and criminal justice reform with their neighbors across the state.

Please contribute here to help them reach and educate more voters. And if you live in North Dakota, commit to voting for Measure 3 and encourage friends, colleagues, and neighbors to do the same.

In a sign of growing support, state Republican legislative leaders Rep. Rick Becker and Rep. Luke Simons recently made public statements in favor of the legalization initiative. Legendary travel host and anti-prohibition activist Rick Steves also visited the state to tout the benefits of legalizing marijuana, which he’s seen in his home state of Washington.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteer advocates, North Dakota could become the next state to legalize marijuana for adults.

Please donate to the campaign and give the Yes on 3 team the help they need to fight back against their opponents’ anti-marijuana propaganda. And follow the campaign by liking their Facebook page.

With our help, they can win this.

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Teen Use Down in Washington Since Legalization


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Yet another study was released this week showing that teen marijuana use did not increase after legalization, this time from Washington.

Seattle Times reports:

Youth use of pot and cannabis-abuse treatment admissions have not increased in Washington since marijuana was legalized, according to a new analysis by the state Legislature’s think tank.

Under Initiative 502, the state’s legal-pot law, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) is required to conduct periodic cost-benefit analyses of legalization on issues ranging from drugged-driving to prenatal use of marijuana.

The think tank’s findings on youth use were not surprising as they were based on a biannual survey by the state Department of Health of students in the sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades released earlier this year.

Pot use by students in all four grade levels was stable or has fallen slightly since I-502 was enacted, the WSIPP report said.

For instance, 17 percent of the 10,835 high-school sophomores surveyed last year said they consumed pot in the previous month. The level was 18 percent in 2006 and 20 percent in 2010.

Legalization was approved by Washington voters in November 2012. Legal sales began in July 2014.

The study also found that admissions to public treatment centers for cannabis abuse had fallen since legalization took effect, and that the cannabis industry had created more than six thousand full-time jobs.

 

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Federal Survey Finds Teen Marijuana Use Remains Unchanged Following Legalization


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The federal government quietly published new national survey data in December that shows rates of teen marijuana use in Colorado and Washington — the first two states to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use — decreased more than the national average in 2014-2015. Fewer teens in the two states are reportedly using marijuana than in 2012-2013, just prior to the commencement of legal adult marijuana sales.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the results of the 2014-2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) on Tuesday along with a press release that did not include any mention of marijuana.

According to the NSDUH:

–    In Colorado, the rate of 12-17-year-olds who used marijuana in the past month dropped 1.43 percentage points from 12.56% in 2013-2014 to 11.13% in 2014-2015, compared to 11.16% in 2012-2013. The rate of past-year use dropped 2.46 percentage points from 20.81% in 2013-2014 to 18.35% in 2014-2015, compared to 18.76% in 2012-2013.

–    In Washington, the rate of 12-17-year-olds who used marijuana in the past month dropped 0.89 percentage points from 10.06% in 2013-2014 to 9.17% in 2014-2015, compared to 9.81% in 2012-2013. The rate of past-year use dropped 1.92 percentage points from 17.53% in 2013-2014 to 15.61% in 2014-2015, compared to 16.48% in 2012-2013.

–    Nationwide, the rate of past-month marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds dropped 0.02 percentage points from 7.22% in 2013-2014 to 7.2% in 2014-2015, and the rate of past-year use dropped 0.42 percentage points from 13.28% to 12.86%.

The overall findings of the NSDUH are in line with those of the annual Monitoring the Future survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which were released last week and found little change in rates of teen marijuana use.

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MPP and Institute for Justice Fight for Free Speech in Alabama


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Recently when attempting to lobby for marijuana policy reform in Alabama, MPP legislative counsel Maggie Ellinger-Locke discovered that she would have to travel to the Yellowhammer State and take an ethics class before she could speak with any lawmakers on the subject. This is a clear violation of free speech, and Institute for Justice is helping us fight back.IJ logo

Alabama Today reports:

Virginia-based public interest law firm Institute for Justice filed a new federal lawsuit on behalf of Maggie Ellinger-Locke and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

At issue is an Alabama law requiring all registered lobbyists to attend an ethics class offered only four times a year and in only one place – Montgomery.

Part of Ellinger-Locke’s job, says IJ Senior Attorney Paul Sherman in a recent op-ed, is to talk with legislators and government officials in nearly a dozen states on ways to make marijuana policy “more just, sensible and humane.”

“Unfortunately for her,” Sherman writes, “all lobbyists in Alabama are required to take an in-person ethics class.” The problem is, Ellinger-Locke lives in Arlington, Virginia and works at the MPP headquarters in Washington DC.

Sherman also points out that mayors, city and county council members, as well as members of local boards of education, are each required to take similar training – a program that could easily be offered online.

Nevertheless, Sherman adds that such a requirement is not only bad public policy but also unconstitutional. That is why IJ filed a First Amendment challenge in federal court.

“If a person wants to talk to an elected official about a matter of public policy,” Sherman concludes, “they shouldn’t have to take a government-mandated class. Instead, the only thing they should need is an opinion.”

We will post updates as they happen.

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MPP’s Voter Guide for D.C. Council Primary June 14


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MPP has just released our first-ever voter guide for D.C. Council elections. We hope that D.C.’s Democratic voters will find this guide useful as they prepare to vote in D.C.’s Democratic primary elections on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. There are big differences between the candidates, whose grades range from A+ to F based on their responses to our survey (and, for sitting council members, key votes on marijuana policy reform).Flag_Map_of_Washington_DC

D.C. Council elections are important because the nation’s capital can serve as an important model of sensible marijuana policy. In addition, each member of the council has a lot of influence since there are only 13 council members, while most state legislatures have over 100 members.

Some of these races are expected to be very close. For example, the last time that current Ward 8 Council member LaRuby May and challenger Trayon White faced each other (in a special election), the race was decided by only 78 votes. 

We have also included information about how to register to vote, update your registration information, and find your polling place.

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Washington State Lawmakers Pass Limited Marijuana Policy Reforms


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While there were over two-dozen marijuana-related bills introduced in Washington this year, only a handful passed before the regular legislative session wrapped up. Those that did pass now await Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature. They make improvements, but their changes are slight compared with many others that fell short this year.2000px-Flag_of_Washington.svg

Those before the governor include HB 2584, which would limit the amount of information a marijuana business must publically disclose about its operations. Another tweaks the procedural hurdles that might prevent dispensary staff from disposing of marijuana when ordered to do so, and a third would create a category of license for those cultivators who grow plants for cooperatives.

Two other marijuana bills passed but were vetoed because they did so after the regular legislative session ended. One would have allowed retails shops to sell non-marijuana items, and the other addressed laws related to cannabis research licenses.

While many of this year’s marijuana bills technically remain alive as the legislators continue to meet in a special session, most believe they will not advance further. The special session was called to address the state budget, where deep divisions remain in Olympia.

Unfortunately, key efforts like establishing marijuana café licenses will have to wait until 2017 when new bills can be introduced. But with the strong interest lawmakers showed in marijuana legislation this year, we will no doubt revisit many of these issues next year.

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Mexico Moving Closer to Making Marijuana Legal


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Our neighbor to the South is one step closer to making marijuana legal after a recent court ruling!

The New York Times reports:

The Mexican Supreme Court opened the door to legalizing marijuana on Wednesday, delivering a pointed challenge to the nation’s strict substance abuse laws and adding its weight to the growing debate in Latin America over the costs and consequences of the war against drugs.Mexico_Flag_Map.svg

The vote by the court’s criminal chamber declared that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for their personal use. While the ruling does not strike down current drug laws, it lays the groundwork for a wave of legal actions that could ultimately rewrite them, proponents of legalization say.

The decision reflects a changing dynamic in Mexico, where for decades the American-backed war on drugs has produced much upheaval but few lasting victories. Today, the flow of drugs to the United States continues, along with the political corruption it fuels in Mexico. The country, dispirited by the ceaseless fight with traffickers, remains engulfed in violence.

The marijuana case has ignited a debate about the effectiveness of imprisoning drug users, in a country with some of the most conservative drug laws in Latin America. But across the region, a growing number of voices are questioning Washington’s strategy in the drug war. With little to show for tough-on-crime policies, the balance appears to be slowly shifting toward other approaches.

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New Gallup Poll Shows 58% of Americans Support Making Marijuana Legal


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A Gallup poll released Wednesday shows 58% of adults in the United States think marijuana should be made legal, up from 51% in October 2014. Just 40% think it should remain illegal.

The national poll of 1,015 adults was conducted October 7-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%. The full results are available at here.

Gallup 2015

 

Americans’ support for legalizing marijuana is the highest Gallup has measured to date, at 58%. Given the patterns of support by age, that percentage should continue to grow in the future. Younger generations of Americans have been increasingly likely to favor legal use of marijuana as they entered adulthood compared with older generations of Americans when they were the same age decades ago. Now, more than seven in 10 of today’s young adults support legalization.

But Americans today — particularly those between 35 and 64 — are more supportive of legal marijuana than members of their same birth cohort were in the past. Now senior citizens are alone among age groups in opposing pot legalization.

These trends suggest that state and local governments may come under increasing pressure to ease restrictions on marijuana use, if not go even further like the states of Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in making recreational marijuana use completely legal.

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Washington to Issue Additional Marijuana Retail Licenses


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On Wednesday, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced the adoption of emergency rules that will allow the agency to begin the process of licensing additional retail establishments that will sell both medical and adult-use marijuana.LCB Existing Washington retail stores can apply for a medical marijuana endorsement as well.

The application window opens October 12. The WSLCB has not capped the number of licenses they will approve initially. Please note that existing dispensaries “must be licensed by July 1, 2016 or face closure by local authorities.” The WSLCB also announced that medical cooperatives can register with the agency after July 1, 2016.

The emergency rules allow the WSLCB to move forward while giving officials and the public ample time to read, digest, and comment on the draft rules before they become final. Please visit the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board’s website for further details on licensure and to comment on the draft rules.

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