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Maine Governor Vetoes Retail Legalization Implementation

NORML Blog - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 10:22

Gov LePage (R-Maine)

Republican Gov. Paul LePage today vetoed legislation that sought to regulate the production and sales of cannabis to adults. Members of the House and Senate approved the legislation late last month during a one-day special session, but did so without a veto-proof majority. (Members of the Senate voted 22-9 in favor of the bill. Members of the House voted 81-50 in favor of the bill.)

[11/6/17 UPDATE: Members of the House of Representatives voted to let Gov. LePage’s veto stand. Some House lawmakers are further calling for legislators to extend the existing moratorium on retail sales beyond February 1, 2018.]

LePage said, “Until I clearly understand how the federal government intends to treat states that seek to legalize marijuana, I cannot in good conscience support any scheme in state law to implement expansion of legal marijuana in Maine.”

The Governor’s veto reverses a campaign pledge where he indicated that he would support the enactment of adult use regulation if it was approved by a voter referendum.

A majority of Maine voters decided last November in favor of a statewide initiative legalizing the adult use, retail production, and licensed sale of marijuana. Governor LePage lobbied against the measure and in January lawmakers passed emergency legislation delaying the enactment of many of its provisions until February 2018. Since that time, the Governor has refused to work with lawmakers with regard to how to regulate marijuana sales and other provisions of the law. The Governor did endorse legislation that sought to delay any further implementation of the law until 2019, but lawmakers defeated that measure.

The Governor’s veto, if not overridden by lawmakers, will further delay the ability of legislators to regulate the commercial cannabis market in a manner that comports with the voters’ mandate.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal called the Governor’s actions “disappointing but hardly surprising.”

He said: “A majority of Maine voters decided in favor of regulating adult marijuana use and strong majorities of both the House and Senate approved legislation to implement this mandate. It is unwise for the Governor to stand in the way of this progress.”

He added: “It makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective for Gov. LePage to try to put this genie back in the bottle. It is time that he look to the future rather than to the past, and take appropriate actions to comport Maine’s marijuana laws and regulations with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.”

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri went further: “Governor LePage’s veto is just the latest in a line of anti-democratic attacks coming from his office and his stonewalling will only ensure the prolonged existence of a criminal black market in Maine and deny the state coffers of needed tax revenue. Maine should be looking at ways to expeditiously implement a robust legalization program that represents what state voters approved at the ballot box.”

Presently, adults may legally possess, consume, and cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis, but no regulations exist governing its retail production or sale.

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American Legion: One in Five Veterans Use Marijuana To Alleviate A Medical Or Physical Condition

NORML Blog - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 10:46

In a new poll of US service veterans conducted by The American Legion and presented today on Capitol Hill, one in five veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition.

Flanked by lawmakers including Reps Tim Walz, Mark Takano, Julia Brownley, and Matt Gaetz, veterans presented their own personal stories of the efficacy of marijuana as a therapeutic treatment for a litany of conditions.

Other notable data points revealed by the survey:

  •  81% of veterans support federally-legal treatment
  • 60% of respondents do not live in states where medical cannabis is legal
  • 40% of respondents live in states where medical cannabis is legal
  • And the partisan divide is nearly non-existent:
    • 88% of self-identified conservative respondents support federally legalized medical
      cannabis
    • 90% of self-identified liberal respondents support federally legalized medical
      cannabis
    • 70% of self-identified non-partisan respondents support federally legalized medical
      cannabis

My favorite data point from their poll: 100% of respondents aged 18-30 support federally legalized medical cannabis.

You can support the same legislation that the American Legion supports, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which would allow those who have served our country to discuss and be recommended medical marijuana in the states that have implemented programs by CLICKING HERE. 

DYK: 83 percent of #veterans households surveyed support legalizing #MedicalCannabis use. #Vets4MMJResearch #PTSD #Cannabis #TBI pic.twitter.com/GhJxv4MgyC

— The American Legion (@AmericanLegion) November 2, 2017

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American Legion Backs Medical Marijuana; Poll Shows Overwhelming Veteran Support

MPP Blog - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 08:36

A poll commissioned by the American Legion in October showed record support among veterans for medical marijuana.

The Cannabist reports:

With polling showing Americans’ support for marijuana legalization has hit new highs, a new survey by the American Legion shows strong support within the military veteran community for medical marijuana research and legalization.

The “robo-call” survey commissioned by America’s largest veterans service organization polled vets and their non-professional caregivers in early October. It found that 81 percent of veterans and 83 percent of caregivers support the federal legalization of cannabis to treat a physical or mental condition.

“We already know that greater than 80% of the American public supports research into the efficacy of medical cannabis,” Joe Plenzler, spokesman for the American Legion, said in a statement to The Cannabist. “What this survey shows is that America’s veterans feel even more strongly about the need to study cannabis and its potential in treating, PTSD, chronic pain and other ailments veterans face every day.”

You can find a full video of the American Legion press conference releasing the poll results below, and read about some veterans’ stories here.

The post American Legion Backs Medical Marijuana; Poll Shows Overwhelming Veteran Support appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Trump’s Commission Denies Evidence That Cannabis Can Mitigate Opioid Abuse

NORML Blog - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 11:37

Despite the growing body of scientific evidence showing that cannabis access is associated with reductions in opioid use and mortality, the Chairman of the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis today called upon the President to reject any efforts to acknowledge marijuana’s promising role in mitigating opioid abuse and dependency.

In a letter sent today to President Donald Trump by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Chairman of the Committee, he writes:

“The Commission acknowledges that there is an active movement to promote the use of
marijuana as an alternative medication for chronic pain and as a treatment for opioid addiction. … There is a lack of sophisticated outcome data on dose, potency, and abuse potential for marijuana. This mirrors the lack of data in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when opioid prescribing multiplied across health care settings and led to the current
epidemic of abuse, misuse and addiction. The Commission urges that the same mistake is not made with the uninformed rush to put another drug legally on the market in the midst of an overdose epidemic.”

President Trump established the Commission in May via an executive order. Members of the Commission issued their policy recommendations today.

In recent months, dozens of peer-reviewed studies have concluded that legal cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use, spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Summaries and links to these studies are available here.

Despite over 10,000 advocates communicating this information to the Commission, members of the committee have chosen to disregard it. Moreover, Gov. Christie opines in today’s letter that cannabis exposure increases the likelihood that one will become opioid dependent — an allegation that was recently rejected by the National Academy of Sciences, which, in a January 2017 review of some 10,000 peer-reviewed studies, failed to identify even one “good or fair-quality systematic review that reported on the association between cannabis use and the initiation of use of opioids.”

NORML thanks the thousands of you who took the time to try to inform and educate this Commission and regrets that its members continue to place political ideology above the health and safety of American lives.

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Domestic Hemp Production More Than Doubles In Past Year

NORML Blog - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 12:40

Domestic hemp production increased dramatically from 2016 to 2017, according to data compiled by the advocacy organization Vote Hemp.

The group calculates that US farmers cultivated over 23,000 acres of hemp in 2017, up from fewer than 10,000 acres in 2016.

Under a 2014 federal law, states may license hemp cultivation as part of a university sponsored pilot program. Thirty-two universities in nineteen states – including Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, and Tennessee – have participated in hemp cultivation projects this year.

“The majority of states have implemented hemp farming laws, in clear support of this crop and its role in diversifying and making more sustainable our agricultural economy,” Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra said in a prepared statement. “It’s imperative that we pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in Congress, so that we can grant farmers full federally legal rights to commercially cultivate hemp to supply the growing global market for hemp products.”

House Bill 3530: The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017 excludes cannabis strains under 0.3 percent THC from the federal definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. The bill is assigned before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

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Virginia State Crime Commission Holds Hearing On Decriminalization

NORML Blog - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 09:55

On Monday, October 30th, I took a short trip down to Richmond, Virginia to testify alongside Virginia NORML regarding proposals to decriminalize the personal possession of marijuana, in order for those who are stopped by law enforcement to no longer face jail time or a criminal charge.

Among the policy proposals are options that are line with those of numerous other states, including Nebraska and Mississippi. Such a change will save taxpayers money and allow police and the courts to re-prioritize their resources toward addressing more serious crimes.

Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.

Watch the testimony of Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director of Virginia NORML below. You can support their work by clicking here. 

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Congressional Lawmakers Demand The VA Study Medical Marijuana

NORML Blog - Mon, 10/30/2017 - 13:44

Members of the US House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs are demanding the Department of Veterans Affairs facilitate protocols to assess the efficacy of medical cannabis in veterans suffering from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress.

Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz, along with nine other Democrat members of the Committee, authored an October 26, 2017 letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin stating: “[The] VA is uniquely situated to pursue research on the impact of medical marijuana on veterans suffering from chronic pain and PTSD given its access to world class researchers, the population it serves, and its history of overseeing and producing research resulting in cutting-edge medical treatments. … VA’s pursuit of research into the impact of medical marijuana on the treatment of veterans diagnosed with PTSD who are also experiencing chronic pain is integral to the advancement of health care for veterans and the nation. We ask VA to respond … with a commitment to the development of VHA-led research into this issue.”

In September, representatives from The American Legion addressed a separate letter to VA Secretary Shulkin encouraging the VA assist in an ongoing, FDA-approved clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of various strains of cannabis in veterans with PTSD. To date, the VA has refused to assist in patient recruitment for the trial. The VA has yet to publicly respond to the Legion’s letter.

Survey data finds that military veterans report using cannabis therapeutically at rates far higher than the do those in the general population, and that many are already using it as an alternative to conventional medications in the treatment of pain and post-traumatic stress.

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Colorado’s Top Doc Debunks Legalization Fears

NORML Blog - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 10:21

Contrary to the claims of many marijuana prohibitionists, regulating the adult use of cannabis in Colorado has not been associated with any significant adverse effects on public safety. So affirmed Colorado’s top doctor, Larry Wolk, Chief Medical Officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health, in an interview Tuesday with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Specifically, Dr. Wolk said that legalization has not negatively impacted teen use or traffic safety. He also expresses skepticism at the suggestion that legalization may stimulate the greater use of other controlled substances.

Here is a sample of his comments:

TEEN USE

CBC: What have you seen since recreational cannabis has been legal in Colorado?
Dr. Larry Wolk: “The short answer is we have not seen much. We have not experienced any significant issue as a result of legalization. … I think the concern was that by legalizing marijuana, we should certainly see an increase in adult use, and maybe that would leak into our youth. [There was also a concern that] youth would somehow gain greater access, and/or feel entitled to go ahead and use in greater numbers. We just haven’t seen that pan out.”

DRUGGED DRIVING

What about drugged driving?
“We have actually seen an overall decrease in DUI’s since legalization. So, the short answer is: There has been no increase since the legalization of marijuana here.”

MARIJUANA AS A SUPPOSED GATEWAY

Do we know if cannabis legalization is leading to higher uses of hard drugs?
“We are not seeing those kinds of increases. … I think we have yet to answer the question of whether or not legalizing marijuana helps reduce the consumption of those harder, more addictive drugs, or acts as a gateway. The jury is still out.”

NORML has recently posted a number of fact-sheets online here summarizing the relevant peer-reviewed science specific to these and other public policy issues, including: cannabis and traffic safety, marijuana regulation and teen use patterns, legalization and crime rates, the relationship between legal cannabis access and opioid abuse, the gateway theory fallacy, and the economics of statewide legalization policies.

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Jeff Sessions: We Will Do Our Best To Enforce The Laws As We’re Required To Do

NORML Blog - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 09:06

In an interview with conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his position against marijuana, his commitment to enforcing its prohibition, and expressed an openness to use RICO suits against businesses that handle the plant.

Earlier this year Cully Stimson of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank that has a tremendous amount of influence within the leadership of the Republican Party, penned an 11-point plan advising the Justice Department on how to crack down on the states, businesses, patients, and consumers of marijuana. So far, Sessions has followed the first 4 points and the 9th is the implementation of RICO suits.

Just because the Justice Department has yet to make overt policy changes or action in the first 9 months of the administration, it certainly does not mean that it is not coming. You can see it in the words of the Sessions himself. We have already seen them issue new guidelines to rev up charges against those suspected of drug-related crimes, pursue maximum sentences for those charges, and an escalation in the department’s ability to utilize civil asset forfeiture to deprive those charged of their possessions.

Click here to send a message to your Representative and demand a descheduling of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act to end federal prohibition. 

Below is the transcript of the exchange (emphasis added):

HH: I hope they’re looking. It’s becoming a little bit chilling how big they are. Let me turn to marijuana, Mr. Attorney General. A lot of states are just simply breaking the law. And a lot of money is being made and banked. One RICO prosecution of one producer and the banks that service them would shut this all down. Is such a prosecution going to happen?

JS: I don’t know that one prosecution would be quite as effective as that, but we, I do not believe that we should, I do not believe there’s any argument, because a state legalized marijuana that the federal law against marijuana is no longer in existence. I do believe that the federal laws clearly are in effect in all 50 states. And we will do our best to enforce the laws as we’re required to do so.

HH: But one prosecution that invokes a supremacy clause against one large dope manufacturing concern, and follows the money as it normally would in any drug operation and seizes it, would shut, would chill all of this. But I haven’t seen on in nine months, yet. Is one coming?

JS: Really analyze all those cases, and I can’t comment on the existence of an investigation at this time, Hugh, you know that, so, but I hear you. You’re making a suggestion. I hear it.

HH: I’m lobbying.

JS: (laughing) You’re lobbying.

 

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St. Louis Alderwoman Introduces New Marijuana Ordinance

MPP Blog - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 08:57

Missouri Alderwoman Megan Green is introducing an ordinance in St. Louis to prevent the use of city resources to enforce laws prohibiting the use of marijuana. Specifically, the ordinance would:

  • Prohibit city police and other officials from using city resources to enforce marijuana prohibition against adults; and
  • Continue to enforce marijuana prohibition laws against minors and those who provide marijuana to minors.

Alderwoman Green said, “We’ve come to a point as a country, and as a city, where marijuana usage is not taboo in the way that it used to be.”

And people across Missouri are beginning to agree.

Earlier this year, voters in Kansas City approved a measure to reduce the penalties for simple possession of marijuana, amending local laws regarding possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana for adults age 21 and older from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine.

Also in Missouri, there is a citizen initiative to place a measure on the 2018 ballot that would implement a medical marijuana program. New Approach Missouri is leading the campaign. Please visit their website to get involved.

MPP worked closely with Alderwoman Green and others allies in St. Louis to provide guidance on the details of the proposed ordinance and we thank her for being a leader on this issue.

With all of this local government involvement and citizen-initiated activity, let’s not forget that Missouri’s legislature is at a standstill. If you are a Missouri resident, please tell your state representatives to move forward with improving the state’s marijuana policies.

The post St. Louis Alderwoman Introduces New Marijuana Ordinance appeared first on MPP Blog.

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National Gallup Poll Shows 64% Support for Legalization

MPP Blog - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 06:56

The latest Gallup poll showed that nearly two thirds of Americans support making marijuana legal, a record high.

Tom Angela reports for Forbes:

The 64% of Americans who say cannabis should be legal in a new Gallup poll released on Wednesday represents the highest level of support in the organization’s 48 years of polling on the topic.

The new survey also shows that a majority of Republicans — 51% — support legalization for the first time. Seventy-two percent of Democrats and 67% of independents are on board.

Gallup been asking the same question — “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not? — since 1969. That year, only 12% of Americans backed legalization.

MPP’s Morgan Fox released the following statement:

It makes sense that support for ending marijuana prohibition is increasing. Americans are tired of wasting resources arresting hundreds of thousands of individuals every year for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. In the five years since the first states made marijuana legal for adults, it has become increasingly clear that — unlike prohibition — regulation works. Adult-use marijuana laws create jobs, generate tax revenue, and protect consumers while taking the marijuana market out of the hands of criminals.

As public support for ending marijuana prohibition continues to grow, it is crucial that states continue to be given the freedom to serve as laboratories of democracy. We urge the Department of Justice in particular to continue its policy of not interfering in states with well-regulated adult-use and medical marijuana programs while lawmakers catch up to the will of the people.

The post National Gallup Poll Shows 64% Support for Legalization appeared first on MPP Blog.

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All Time High: New Poll Shows Two-Thirds Of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization

NORML Blog - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 05:54

Source: Gallup

A record percentage of US adults, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and for the first time ever, Republicans, believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal, according to polling data released today by Gallup.

Sixty-four percent of adults believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States” — the highest percentage ever reported by Gallup since they began asking adults their views on legalization in 1969, which began at 12%. The following year NORML was founded.

“At a time when the majority of states now are regulating marijuana use in some form, and when nearly two-thirds of voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or moral perspective to maintain the federal prohibition of marijuana,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “It is high time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and to end the needless criminalization of marijuana — a policy failure that encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.”

Source: Gallup

There are multiple pieces of legislation now pending that would deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to regulate marijuana for responsible adult use in a manner similar to alcohol.  You can click here to contact your member of Congress to support HR 1227, The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.

Since its founding in 1970, NORML has provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting marijuana consumers. As a nonprofit public interest advocacy group, NORML represents the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who consume marijuana responsibly, with over 150 chapters across the United States and internationally.

For nearly 50 years, NORML led the successful efforts to reform local, state, and federal marijuana laws — as well as to change public opinion. Today, NORML continues to lead this fight through our legal, lobbying, and public education efforts. Among other activities, NORML serves as an informational resource to the public and the national media on all topics specific to cannabis, marijuana policy, and the lawlobbies local, state, and federal legislators in support of reform legislation; publishes a regular newsletter; hosts an annual conference; places op-eds and letters to the editor in newspapers throughout the country, publishes timely and important reports and white papers, and serves as the umbrella group for a national network of citizen-activists committed to ending prohibition and legalizing marijuana.

Our efforts are supported by thousands of people throughout the country as we work to advance marijuana reform in all 50 states and the federal level. Can you kick in $5, $10 or $20 to help us keep going?

 

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Texas House Committee Tasked With Studying Marijuana Laws

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 13:56

Although the Texas legislature does not reconvene until 2019, marijuana policy reform is on its agenda in the interim! Yesterday, Speaker of the House Joe Straus announced “interim changes” that committees will look into between legislative sessions — including by holding hearings and reporting back — and one of them is marijuana policy.

The House Criminal Justice Committee, led by Chairman Joe Moody (D-El Paso), will “study current practices for the enforcement of criminal laws against low-level possession of marijuana” and “examine the use of alternative punishments and improvements to criminal enforcement mechanisms and community supervision.”

The subject is familiar to both Chairman Moody and his fellow committee members. Earlier this year, the committee heard testimony on and ultimately passed House Bill 81, Chairman Moody’s proposal to replace criminal penalties with a simple citation/ fine for low-level marijuana possession. The bill died after it did not receive a floor vote.

Please stay tuned for opportunities to be part of this important conversation between legislative sessions, during which time an estimated 120,000 Texans will be arrested for marijuana possession.

If you are a Texas resident, please contact your legislators today in support of more sensible marijuana policies for Texas!

The post Texas House Committee Tasked With Studying Marijuana Laws appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Florida’s Dept. of Health to Delay Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Licensing

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 11:42

The Florida Senate Health Committee convened this morning and received an update from Christian Bax, Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, on the implementation of regulations in Senate Bill 8A, which was passed by the legislature this summer.

The discussion focused on the application structure for adding additional medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs). Last month, a lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of part of the state law that requires a medical marijuana license to go to a black farmer, and today the Office of Medical Marijuana Use said it will not issue any new licenses until the lawsuit is resolved.

When further questioned by the committee, Director Bax said, “We want to move the process as quickly as possible forward,” but cited concerns of legislative process that might invalidate the Department of Health’s licensing. If you’d like to watch Christian Bax’s testimony, the Florida Senate’s Health Policy meeting can be found on its website.

Amendment 2 established a deadline of October 3, 2017 for the Department of Health to issue additional MMTC licenses. If you are a Florida resident, please contact the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, and ask Director Bax to end the delay in medical marijuana licensing so that patients can have more access to treatment.

The post Florida’s Dept. of Health to Delay Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Licensing appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Another Utah Poll Shows Strong Support for Medical Initiative

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 11:28

Yet another poll has showed that a strong majority of Utah voters support the medical cannabis ballot initiative.

Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Utahns continue to show broad support for a proposed 2018 ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in the state, according to a new poll by The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.

The new survey finds 75 percent of Utah voters either strongly or somewhat support the proposed initiative, all but mirroring a July poll that had 77 percent of voters backing legalized medical marijuana.

And it appears support for medical marijuana is growing in Utah: A Tribune-Hinckley Institute poll commissioned in January found 54 percent of voters somewhat or strongly backed legalization.

“Things are trending in the right direction,” said DJ Schanz, executive director of the Utah Patients Coalition, the group organizing the ballot initiative.

“It’s a positive change in our state and across the country. We’re seeing such a positive [stance toward medical marijuana],” said Christine Stenquist, president of Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE), which is working to educate Utah voters on medical marijuana.

 

The post Another Utah Poll Shows Strong Support for Medical Initiative appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Maine Legislature Approves Marijuana Implementation Bill

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 07:31

Maine lawmakers approved a bill late Monday that would establish regulations for the legal marijuana market, with the House voting 81-50 and the Senate voting 22-9 before both chambers passed the measure in an “under the hammer” or unanimous vote. This omnibus bill, LD 1650, was the culmination of nearly seven months of work by the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee. The bill creates the rules for licensing and regulating marijuana producers, processors, and retail establishments; sets the tax rates for adult-use marijuana; and will delay marijuana consumption social clubs until the summer of 2019.

“We commend the legislature for supporting the will of the people by passing this bill to implement a regulated marijuana market without further delay,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This bill was created transparently and inclusively, and while it may not be perfect, it essentially does what Maine voters wanted when they approved Question 1 last year. It is time to start working toward that goal of getting the marijuana market out of the hands of criminals and under the control of the state and legitimate businesses.”

Last week, Gov. Paul LePage and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) announced legislation that would further delay legal marijuana sales and cultivation until 2019 — three years after voters approved Question 1, which made marijuana legal for adults and regulated similarly to alcohol. This moratorium bill was defeated in the legislature on Monday. Gov. LePage has also threatened to veto the implementation bill, but MPP will continue working to ensure that the voter initiative is rolled out in a timely manner.

The post Maine Legislature Approves Marijuana Implementation Bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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#ACT: Medical Marijuana Could Be On The Line

NORML Blog - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 05:17

Protections for the medical marijuana markets that are now legal in 30 states are set to expire on December 8th.

After that, over 2 million registered patients’ continued access to their medication will rely on the prohibitionist whims of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been lobbying aggressively for the ability to use the full force of the Justice Department to interfere with their operations.

But your member of Congress could make the difference. We’re targeting key elected officials who we need to publicly support these continued protections and need your Representatives to speak up and encourage them to stand with patients.

Send a message to your Representative NOW

Here is the full backstory: The House Rules Committee, led by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), blocked multiple marijuana-related amendments from receiving consideration by the full House earlier this year, including the one known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer. Specifically, this language maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

However, in July, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed similar language in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This means that the amendment will be considered in a bicameral conference committee despite the fact that the House was denied the opportunity to express its support.

If the Republican Congress decides to strip the amendment out of the Senate budget, over 2 million patients in 30 states will lose these protections and could face the full attention of Jeff Sessions.

We need your Representative to speak up. Send a message right now.

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Setting the Record Straight

NORML Blog - Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:20

One of NORML’s primary missions is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults. One of the ways we successfully achieve this goal is by debunking marijuana myths and half-truths via the publication of timely op-eds in online and print media. Since the mainstream media seldom casts a critical eye toward many of the more over-the-top claims about cannabis, we take it upon ourselves to set the record straight.

The majority of NORML’s rebuttals are penned by Deputy Director Paul Armentano. In the past few weeks, he has published numerous op-eds rebuking a litany of popular, but altogether specious claims about the cannabis plant – including the contentions that cannabis consumption is linked to poor health outcomes, problems with regulations, and the effects of opioid abuse, hospitalizations, and fatalities in the states that have robust medical marijuana programs.

Below are links to a sampling of his recent columns:

Trump’s opioid agency fails to cite marijuana’s benefits, despite mounting evidence
The Hill, October 23, 2017

This is how legal cannabis is improving public health
National Memo, October 22, 2017

RMHIDTA’s marijuana reports are nothing but propaganda
Denver Westword, October 21, 2017

Marijuana is now a driving engine of the American economy
Alternet, September 28, 2017

When will our govt stop ignoring that marijuana is a major regulation success story
Alternet, September 19, 2017

Blowing up the big marijuana IQ myth — The science points to zero effect on your smarts
The National Memo, August 7, 2017

For a broader sampling of NORML-centric columns and media hits, please visit NORML’s ‘In the Media’ archive here.

If you see the importance of NORML’s educational and media outreach efforts, please feel free to show your support by making a contribution here.

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Study: Cannabis Use Inversely Associated With Fatty Liver Disease

NORML Blog - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 10:37

Adults with a history of cannabis use are less likely to suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) than are those who have not used the substance, according to data published online in the journal PLoS One. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most prevalent form of liver disease, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people in the United States.

An international team of researchers from Stanford University in California and the Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea evaluated the association between marijuana and NAFLD in a nationally representative sample of over 22,000 adults. Researchers reported that cannabis use independently predicted a lower risk of suspected NAFLD in a dose-dependent manner.

“Active marijuana use provided a protective effect against NAFLD independent of known metabolic risk factors,” authors determined. “[W]e conclude that current marijuana use may favorably impact the pathogenesis of NAFLD in US adults.”

The findings are similar to those of a prior study published in the same journal in May. In that study, authors reported that frequent consumers of cannabis were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with NAFLD as compared to non-users, while occasional consumers were 15 percent less likely to suffer from the disease.

Separate data published online earlier this month in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis also concluded that daily cannabis use is independently associated with a reduced prevalence of fatty liver disease in patients co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

Full text of the study, “Inverse association of marijuana use with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease among adults in the United States,” appears online here.

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Controversial New Hampshire Marijuana Study Commission Holds First Meeting

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 11:28

On Tuesday, the inaugural meeting of the New Hampshire marijuana legalization study commission took place in Concord. The commission, which was created by the passage of HB 215, is tasked with studying the potential impacts of legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adults’ use.

MPP’s Matt Simon released the following statement:

This commission has a fantastic opportunity to learn what is really happening in states that have pioneered sensible marijuana regulations. Sadly, the commission includes staunch opponents of reform such as the Association of Chiefs of Police and New Futures, but supportive organizations such as the ACLU-NH were excluded in the language of the final bill. Additionally, none of the six legislators who were appointed to the commission has ever publicly expressed support for ending marijuana prohibition.

Regardless of what this commission decides to recommend, most Granite Staters clearly recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and they’re ready for the state to start treating it that way.

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