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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.

The post Controversial New Hampshire Marijuana Study Commission Holds First Meeting appeared first on MPP Blog.

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The opioid ‘crisis’

DrugWarRant - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 09:29

In Scientific American: People Are Dying Because of Ignorance, not Because of Opioids by Carl L. Hart

I am concerned that declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency will serve primarily to increase law-enforcement budgets, precipitating an escalation of this same sort of routine racial discrimination. […]

It is certainly possible to die from an overdose of an opioid alone, but this accounts for a minority of the thousands of opioid-related deaths. Many are caused when people combine an opioid with another sedative (such as alcohol), an antihistamine (such as promethazine) or a benzodiazepine (such as Xanax or Klonopin). People are not dying because of opioids; they are dying because of ignorance.

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ACLU Pennsylvania: Blacks Eight Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession

NORML Blog - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 11:00

African Americans in Pennsylvania are over eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession offenses than are Caucasians, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU Pennsylvania report reviewed arrest data for all 67 counties from 2010 to 2016. Excluding Philadelphia, which decriminalized cannabis possession offenses in 2014, adult marijuana possession arrests increased 33 percent during this time period – at a cost of $225.3 million to taxpayers. Black adults were 8.2 times more likely than their white counterparts to be arrested for possessing marijuana – up from 6.5 percent in 2010.

Recent analyses from other states, such as New Jersey and Virginia, have similarly identified racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. Nationwide, African Americans are approximately four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana, despite members of both ethnicities using the substance at similar rates.

“Pennsylvania’s insistence in continuing to fight the war on marijuana, is at the root of the problematic data presented in this report,” the ACLU of Pennsylvania concluded. “Law enforcement has not only continued its business-as-usual arresting policies in enforcement of cannabis prohibition, it has ramped up enforcement as marijuana use has become more accepted throughout the commonwealth and the nation. If laws don’t change, this pattern will likely continue; law enforcement could become even more heavy handed until policymakers are clear that it is time to end this approach. The clearest way to send that message is to end prohibition altogether.”

This October 20th marks the third anniversary of the decriminalization of marijuana in Philidelphia, making the birthplace of the American Constitution the largest city to have marijuana possession a non-arrestable offense outside of a legalized state. Yet there is much progress to still be made beyond decriminalization.

“It is time for us to chart a better path forward. When politicians and police stop treating cannabis consumers like criminals, Pennsylvania can gain thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue,” wrote Temple Professor Chris Goldstein for Philly.com earlier this month. “I hope that by next October, the verdant harvest of Pennsylvania cannabis is something that will benefit every single resident of the commonwealth.”

And the political winds are changing.

In September, citing racism, bigotry, and mass-incarceration, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party adopted a resolution to “support Democratic candidates and policies which promote the full repeal of cannabis prohibition by its removal from the Controlled Substances Act, and to support the creation of new laws which regulate it in a manner similar to other culturally accepted commodities.”

“It’s time to stand on research, and the research shows it’s time to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia, who is chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.

“Millions of dollars are spent each year on marijuana prosecutions. And prosecution costs are just part of the story,” wrote Pennsylvania Auditor General of  Eugene DePasquale in September, “There is also the loss of income and other social, personal, and emotional impacts on those arrested for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana. That’s ridiculous. The police and court systems have more urgent issues to address.”

PA Resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of pending legislation for statewide decriminalization and then click here to send a message in support of pending legislation for outright legalization. 

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Open Thread

DrugWarRant - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 22:01

Apologies to all my fellow couch friends. Catching up after moving and a long trip took me away from this site for too long and the comments section expired, temporarily preventing people from commenting.

I’ve extended the settings so this won’t happen again. Thanks for your patience.

I’ll try to have some more new content here soon.

– Pete

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Study: Colorado’s Adult Use Cannabis Access Law Associated With Reductions In Opioid Deaths

NORML Blog - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 11:18

Retail cannabis distribution in Colorado is associated with a reduction in opioid-related mortality, according to data published online ahead of print in The American Journal of Public Health.

A team of investigators from the University of North Texas School of Public Health, the University of Florida, and Emory University compared changed in the prevalence of monthly opioid-related deaths before and after Colorado retailers began selling cannabis to adults.

They reported: “Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.”

Authors concluded, “Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths.”

Their data is consistent with prior studies finding that cannabis access is associated with reductions in prescription drug spending, opioid-related hospitalizations, and opioid-related fatalities.

An abstract of the study, “Recreational cannabis legalization and opioid-related deaths in Colorado, 2000-2015,” appears online here.

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Congressman Earl Blumenauer: Medical Cannabis Is Safer Than Opioids

NORML Blog - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 11:17

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) speaking at a NORML Conference

On Wednesday, October 11th, Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) testified before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health on how to deal with the opioid crisis in America.

In his testimony, the Congressman makes the case for medical cannabis as a safer alternative to highly addictive opioids, especially for our veterans—as well as the need to remove barriers to medical cannabis research.

It is well documented that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

Watch the video below and click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of the CARERS Act of 2017 in support of medical marijuana and click here to send a message to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Opioid Commission to urge them to include medical marijuana as part of the national strategy to combat the opioid crisis.

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Eric Holder: Attorney General Sessions “Almost Obsessed With Marijuana”

NORML Blog - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 14:54

Former Attorney General Eric Holder Photo by Ryan Johnson

In recent remarks at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, former US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about current Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ views on marijuana, saying “The Sessions almost obsession with marijuana I think is the thing that’s put the Justice Department in this strange place,” in regards to potential changes in current policy held up by what is known as The Cole Memo.

Authored by US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states, the memo directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

Despite Holder’s comments, he took no action while he had the power as the Attorney General to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

Jeff Sessions has a long history of advocating for the failed policies of the “Just Say No” era — policies that resulted in the arrests of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens who possessed personal use amounts of marijuana.

This comes as Congress is currently debating the extension of federal protections for the 30 state lawful medical marijuana programs and the 16 state lawful limited CBD access programs, know as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

At a time when the majority of states now regulate marijuana use, and where six out of ten votes endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle. It is high time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.

Take action to contact your federal lawmakers and urge them to support the descheduling of marijuana to prevent Jeff Sessions from implementing a crack-down on marijuana consumers. 

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Kentucky Republican Senate Leader Proposes Regulating Marijuana

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 10:08

The lack of progress on marijuana policy reform in Kentucky has been frustrating, but it appears that the tide may finally be turning. Last week, Senator Dan Malano Seum (R-Fairdale) gave Kentuckians something to get excited about when he announced that he would sponsor a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.

Advocates couldn’t ask for a more influential champion than Senator Seum. He has been in the state Senate for more than 20 years, and he currently serves as caucus chairman for the Senate Republicans, who hold a 27-11 majority in Frankfort. However, he won’t be able to pass this bill unless he receives a great deal of support from his colleagues.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please email your representative and senator today, and urge them to support Senator Seum’s proposal!

We expect that this bill will be introduced in early 2018, but the important work of building statewide support for reform must begin now.

The post Kentucky Republican Senate Leader Proposes Regulating Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

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What Are the N.J. Gubernatorial Candidates’ Views on Marijuana Policy?

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 08:50

New Jersey will elect its next governor on November 7, 2017. Our friends at Marijuana Moment put together this useful guide on where the major party candidates for governor, Phil Murphy (D) and Kim Guadagno (R), stand on marijuana policy reform issues — please check it out!

In brief, Mr. Murphy supports legalizing marijuana, and Ms. Guadagno opposes legalization but supports decriminalization. Additionally, this article outlines the views of the five declared candidates from other parties if you’d like more information.

In order to vote, you must register by Tuesday, October 17. Even if you have a criminal record, you can vote as long as you are not currently incarcerated, on parole, or on probation, but you must re-register after you have served your sentence.

Can’t make it to the polls between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 7? Any New Jersey voter can vote by mail; click here for more information. If you are a New Jersey resident, please make your voice heard, and register to vote in the Garden State today!

The post What Are the N.J. Gubernatorial Candidates’ Views on Marijuana Policy? appeared first on MPP Blog.

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South Dakota Enters Final Month for Signature Collection

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 08:34

In the final weeks of signature collection, New Approach South Dakota is pushing forward to reach their goal. Two petitions are being circulated — one petition seeks to legalize marijuana for medical uses and the other to legalize certain amounts of marijuana for adult use and to regulate and tax marijuana establishments.

These ballot measures are of critical importance since the South Dakota Legislature has only taken a symbolic step toward patient access. A bill passed during the last session would hypothetically allow patients access to CBD oil, but the law includes a requirement that any recommended CBD oil be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which would indefinitely curtail access to the oil in South Dakota.

Furthermore, South Dakota’s marijuana possession laws may be the nation’s harshest. Specifically, individuals who have consumed marijuana elsewhere are subject to penalty if they test positive for past use — even if they consumed marijuana in a state where it was legal!

November 6 is the date to submit signed petitions, so if you haven’t added your signature, there is still a bit of time left! Check out New Approach South Dakota’s Facebook page for most up-to-date information on signing locations and events!

The post South Dakota Enters Final Month for Signature Collection appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Testimony Submitted By MassCann/NORML In Massachusetts To Cannabis Control Commission

NORML Blog - Sun, 10/08/2017 - 11:46

You can follow MassCann/NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website

MASS CANN/NORML TESTIMONY BEFORE THE CANNABIS CONTROL COMMISSION

10/02/2017

We are the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, Inc., state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, known as MASS CANN/NORML.

We are the largest, oldest and most successful cannabis law reform organization in the northeastern United States. We have run the annual Boston Freedom Rally on Boston Common every year for 28 years, which has raised over $500,000 for our cause. We have run over 50 public policy questions in local districts throughout the Commonwealth – all of which were approved by voters by healthy majorities. The results of those public policy questions and our professional polling persuaded the Marijuana Policy Project to finance the decriminalization of marijuana by ballot initiative in 2008.

We alone have been representing cannabis users for years. Our activists made decriminalization, medical marijuana and, now, regulated cannabis the new reality. We represent the voters who made your Commission possible.

Unlike others seeking to advise you, we alone purely represent the interests of cannabis users. We are the marijuana user group in Massachusetts. We are motivated by our collective desire to be free from overly intrusive, overly repressive government.

We are not motivated by money, as so many others who hope to advise you are. We are an all- volunteer organization. None of us are paid for what we do.

We are not motivated by career interests, as so many others who hope to advise you are. MASS CANN/NORML employs no one.

We are not motivated by a desire for political power, as so many others who hope to advise you are. We are a public education organization and are barred by law from doing political work.

What MASS CANN/NORML is asking you to do:

We are asking for no regulations about marijuana that would be ridiculous if applied to alcohol. As a recreational substance, marijuana is less debilitating and less addictive than alcohol. As a medicine, it is one of the safest therapeutic substances known, far safer than aspirin. Regulations concerning storage, distribution, and handling that require marijuana to be treated like enriched plutonium—regulations like those put out during the disastrous rollout of medical marijuana—have no basis in reality. They’re just the kind of governmental overreach the voters rejected in passing Question 4. You recall that Question 4 was called an act to “tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

We want you to avoid regulations based on fear-mongering:
– Legalization has NOT led to increased marijuana use by youths.
– Legalization has NOT led to more highway accidents.
– Opening marijuana outlets has NOT increased crime in the neighborhoods that have them.
There are many, many other examples of false claims that we can disprove.

Value freedom over compromise. No compromising with our freedom. Freedom is precious. The first colonists came to Massachusetts to escape repressive government. Ever since, many have fought in many ways for freedom and some have died for it. You have no more sacred duty than to maintain whatever freedom is possible.

We want you to evaluate the other stakeholders in this discussion in light of their particular interests.

It is in the interest of capitalists, for instance, to corner the market. Therefore, they would favor regulations making it hard for us users to grow our own plants for free. The influence of those well-heeled interests is hard to resist. Please resist.

Prosecutors and police want to maintain their ability to target us marijuana users and to define us as criminals. They have used marijuana laws to enforce institutionalized racism. They still will seek to criminalize us to the greatest degree they can. Voters rejected their approach when they passed Question 4. The job of prosecutors and police is to enforce the laws that are given them. They should not be shaping policy.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has proved they are interested only in benefitting their bureaucracy, expanding their budget, employing a larger workforce, and consolidating their power—NOT in helping medical marijuana patients. In fact, they are a principal reason that so many patients have gone for years without legal access to their medicine. They should not be listened to as some kind of voice of experience. They should just be studied as a history of horrible examples.

Treatment professionals are interested in maintaining their gravy train. They want all cannabis use to be defined as drug abuse, and they want all users to be forced into expensive court-ordered rehab programs. They have no larger social interest at heart, and they do not deserve a seat at our table.

All of these stakeholders have an interest in treating legal marijuana as a disaster to be delayed and restricted as much as possible. But the voters didn’t vote for a disaster, they voted for an opportunity: new jobs, new revenue, safer communities, better community-police relations. We want you to respect the will of the voters, and that means not working against legalization as some kind of threat, but moving ahead with legalization as a fine new opportunity. Legal marijuana is a great thing for Massachusetts! Make it happen!

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NORML Founder Keith Stroup to Speak at First Annual Cannabis Fund Gala & Awards

NORML Blog - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:00

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

Portland, OR: The Cannabis Fund, a PAC created by Representative Earl Blumenauer to support cannabis-friendly candidates, will be hosting its first annual Gala & Awards on October 6th at the Marriott Waterfront in Portland, OR with NORML founder Keith Stroup as the featured speaker.

“It is an honor to support Rep. Earl Blumenauer and The Cannabis Fund in 2017. I first met the Congressman in 1973, when he was a freshman state legislator in Oregon who helped pass the nation’s first marijuana decriminalization bill, ending the practice of treating marijuana smokers as criminals. It is exciting to see him continuing to lead the charge to legalize the responsible use of marijuana under federal law, co-founding the Cannabis Caucus in Congress, and author HB 1823, the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act,” said Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, “NORML is proud to stand with Rep. Earl Blumenauer in his efforts to end marijuana prohibition and establish a regulated market.”

Congressman Blumenauer’s Cannabis Profile:

For more than 40 years, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) has fought for the reform of our outdated marijuana laws.

As an Oregon state legislator, Blumenauer supported the Oregon Decriminalization Bill of 1973, which abolished criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, he has championed several legislative efforts to protect medical marijuana patients, allow the federal government to tax and regulate marijuana, and normalize taxes and banking for marijuana businesses in states where it is legal.

Blumenauer received the National Organization for the Rationalization of Marijuana Laws Award for Outstanding Public Leadership in 2010. In February 2017, Blumenauer launched the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

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VA Secretary Shulkin Still Hasn’t Responded to The American Legion’s Call for Marijuana Research

NORML Blog - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 11:00

The American Legion has been calling on the federal government for over a year – specifically the Veterans Affairs Department – to support research into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in treating veterans with PTSD.

Many veterans have told both the Legion and NORML that they have been able to eliminate or reduce their dependency on other drugs, specifically opioids, by using cannabis.

The Legion recently ramped up their efforts to convince VA Secretary Shulkin to expand research into the therapeutic and medicinal effects of cannabis by sending him a letter demanding for his direct involvement in making sure the medical marijuana study meets its goals.

That letter was sent on September 19th. 17 days ago.

Has Secretary Shulkin or the Dept. of Veterans Affairs responded? No. Have either even acknowledged receipt of the letter? To public knowledge, no.

Why hasn’t Sec. Shulkin or the VA responded? Is he going to listen to the nation’s largest Veterans advocacy group? One that is pleading for help that our veterans so desperately need and deserve? Great question. The American Legion seems to be wondering the same thing.

The Legion has been expressing their frustration on Twitter for Sec. Shulkin’s failure to act on this pressing issue.

 

Secretary Shulkin is doing himself, our veterans, and to a larger extent, our nation, a huge disservice by not acknowledging the Legion’s cry for help and support.

Join us in calling upon Secretary Shulkin to listen to the pleas of Veterans.

Share one or more of the following tweets (and this blog on all of your accounts):

Why hasn’t @SecShulkin responded to @AmericanLegion call for help? https://twitter.com/AmericanLegion/status/911576050043408384

.@SecShulkin failure to act on this issue is hurting our veterans. @AmericanLegion
https://twitter.com/AmericanLegion/status/913010589668188160

RT to help the @AmericanLegion call upon @SecShulkin to take action on behalf of veterans

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DEA Report: Marijuana Seizures Increased By 20 Percent In 2016

NORML Blog - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 08:36

Seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops reported by the US Drug Enforcement Administration rose in 2016, according to annual data compiled by the agency.

According to the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, law enforcement confiscated more than 5.3 million marijuana plants nationwide in 2016. The total is a 20 percent increase over the agency’s reported 2015 seizure totals and is the most plants seized by the DEA and its cooperating agencies since 2011, when law enforcement confiscated more than 6.7 million plants.

As in past years, the DEA-sponsored eradication efforts primarily targeted California. Of the total number of plants confiscated nationwide by the DEA and cooperating agencies in 2016, 71 percent (3.78 million) were seized in California. Law enforcement seized an estimated 552,000 plants in Kentucky, 333,000 in Texas, 128,000 in Tennessee, and 124,000 in West Virginia.

Only seven percent of all marijuana seized by law enforcement came from indoor grows.

The agency and its partners reported making 5,657 arrests in conjunction with their cannabis eradication efforts – a ten percent decline from 2015.

The DEA also reported seizing some $52 million in assets during their confiscation operations – nearly twice as much as the agency reported the prior year.

Full data from the DEA’s 2016 report, as well as from past years’ reports, is available online here.

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Voters Defeat Business Bans in Alaska

MPP Blog - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 07:10

Three measures aimed at banning cannabis businesses were soundly defeated in Tuesday’s Alaska elections. Voters in the city of Fairbanks, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough each rejected measures aimed at banning cannabis businesses.

This is fantastic news! Huge congratulations go out to all those who voted, and the many supporters and advocates who worked hard in opposition. Your great work paid off!

All indications are that the measures were defeated by wide margins. The KPB’s unofficial result was 64% in opposition, with the city of Fairbanks estimated at 69% and FNSB’s estimate at a whopping 70%.

If the prohibitionists had succeeded, businesses would have been shuttered, taking jobs and livelihoods with them, and adult consumers would have been cut off from legal, regulated access. But just as they have in other legalization states like Washington, Colorado, and Oregon, voters continue to support the better approach.

The post Voters Defeat Business Bans in Alaska appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Alaska: Voters Decide Against Municipal Marijuana Bans

NORML Blog - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 12:19

Voters in Fairbanks and on the Kenai Peninsula (south or Anchorage) have decided against a number local ballot measures that sought to prohibit the operation of cannabis retailers and providers. Each proposal lost by wide margins.

Under a 2014 voter-initiated state law, local governments may opt out of regulations licensing the production and retail sale of cannabis to adults.

If the ballot measures had been approved, local retailers would have to had to close within 90 days. A significant portion of the state’s cultivators and retailers are located in Fairbanks and on the Kenia Peninsula.

Proponents of the ban cannot put a similar issue before voters until 2019.

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Washington to Consider Allowing Home Cultivation

MPP Blog - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 12:09

Regulators overseeing the Washington state adult-use cannabis industry are considering a change in the law that would allow adults to cultivate cannabis at home. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) conducted a hearing yesterday and is accepting written testimony through Wednesday, October 11.

We strongly encourage Washington residents who support home cultivation to submit comments. Comments can be submitted to rules@lcb.wa.gov.

All seven of the other adult-use states allow at least some adults to grow their own cannabis at home, and every state allows adults to brew their own beer.

The law directs the board to study home cultivation in light of federal policy and consider options. One option would be for the state to oversee home cultivation activities directly. Another option would provide more local control. A third option would simply leave the law as is and continue to prohibit non-medical home cultivation.

The post Washington to Consider Allowing Home Cultivation appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Atlanta City Council Approves Decriminalizing Marijuana

MPP Blog - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 12:01

In Georgia this week, he Atlanta City Council took a historic step when it voted unanimously to stop jailing people for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana! Following the vote, Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed tweeted that he will sign the ordinance into law.

Once the measure is in effect, a person caught with one ounce or less of marijuana in the city would face a maximum fine of just $75 and no jail time under city law. Unfortunately, state law would not change, so it is possible that local law enforcement could still arrest under the harsher state penalties. This is also the case on college and university campuses, which may or may not change policy.

In other words, advocates should remain vigilant to ensure the spirit of the law is respected.

For the measure’s sponsor, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, the change is about fairness in Atlanta’s criminal justice system. Shockingly, 92 percent of those arrested for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in the city of Atlanta are African-American, even though they make up just over half the resident population in the city. This change to the law is a welcome one.

You can read the text of the measure adopted by the city council here.

If you are a Georgia resident, please let your state lawmakers know that you want them to follow Atlanta’s lead and stop arresting marijuana consumers.

The post Atlanta City Council Approves Decriminalizing Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

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NORML Weighs In For Personal Cultivation Rights In Washington State

NORML Blog - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 10:18

On Wednesday, NORML and Washington NORML both submitted public comment to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) in support of the regulatory body drafting model legislation to allow the lawful home cultivation of marijuana for personal use.

You can review the comprehensive assessment and recommendations made by Washington NORML’s Legislative Associate Bailey Hirschburg and Executive Director Kevin Oliver by clicking HERE.

NORML Board Member and Travel Writer Rick Steves submitted:

The ending of a wrong-minded prohibition happens incrementally. Home-brewing of beer was not immediately on the docket as states made alcohol legal again with the repeal of Prohibition back in the 1930s. It eventually became clear that “home brewing” was a logical extension of the progress made on that issue and today we have the right to home brew as part of the rights afforded to adults that allow them to engage in responsible drinking. In the same way, we believe that home cultivation of marijuana is a smart step for our state to take at this time.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano wrote:

NORML maintains that the inclusion of legislative provisions permitting the non-commercial home cultivation of cannabis serves as leverage to assure that the product available at retail outlets is high quality, safe, and affordable to the general consumer. Just as adults have the right to brew small amounts of alcohol for personal purposes, adults should also have the right to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis at home. There is no reason or compelling state interest to infringe this right in a jurisdiction where the cannabis plant is no longer defined as contraband.

Legislation enacted in 2017 directed the WSLCB to “conduct a study of regulatory options for the legalization of marijuana plant possession and cultivation by recreational marijuana users.” The study must take into account the “Cole Memo,” issued by the United State Department of Justice in 2013, which outlines the federal government’s enforcement priorities in states where medical or recreational marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized. The study and recommendations are due to the Legislature on Dec. 1, 2017.

Media hits surround NORML’s involvement in this area includes:

Public comment closes on October 11, 2017. If you are a Washington State resident, you can easily submit written comments by clicking HERE.

Follow Washington State NORML by clicking HERE.

 

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D.C. Bill Would Dramatically Expand Access to Dispensaries

MPP Blog - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 08:37

In the District of Columbia, Councilmember David Grosso (I, at large) has introduced a bill, B22-0446, that would allow anyone 21 and over to access a dispensary if they provide a signed affidavit that they are using marijuana for medical purposes and are aware of state and federal marijuana laws. It is being co-sponsored by Robert White (D, at large), Brianne Nadeau (D, Ward 1), and Vincent Gray (D, Ward 7).

This bill would allow many more people to access the regulated dispensary system who are currently forced to shop in the grey market if they are unable to cultivate their own cannabis. It will increase public safety, because disputes in illicit markets are often solved with violence, and protect public health, because consumers will know what they are purchasing. The bill would also give patients a safe, lawful place to consume cannabis outside their home.

Additionally, this bill allows D.C. to move forward in expanding access to cannabis in an environment where Congress is blocking it from setting up adult-use retail stores. It gives people who cannot afford to see a doctor access to this medication and could also facilitate access for people who may be struggling with opioid addiction, for whom studies suggest marijuana can be an “exit drug.”

If you are a D.C. resident, please ask your councilmembers to support this bill.

The post D.C. Bill Would Dramatically Expand Access to Dispensaries appeared first on MPP Blog.

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