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Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/20/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 11:03

Welcome to the 4/20 edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

Today’s the day. The High Holy Day for cannabis consumers everywhere. Happy Holidaze, my people! Check out all the 4/20 events happening around the country, and remember to be safe and smoke responsibly!

There have been lots of significant developments in the marijuana space recently, specifically at the federal level. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced his intention to sponsor a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

Republican Senator Cory Gardner (CO) says that he has received a verbal commitment from President Donald Trump specifying that the administration will not take action to disrupt marijuana markets in states that legally regulate it. Also, Senator Bernie Sanders signed on as a co-sponsor of The Marijuana Justice Act. Yesterday,  Sen. Sanders joined Senator Cory Booker on a live stream for a conversation about ending prohibition and co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act.

Additionally, legislation was introduced this week to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

At the state level, Pennsylvania’s health secretary approved a recommendation from the medical cannabis law Advisory Board to allow sales of medical cannabis in flower form and to add new qualifying conditions to the list. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill into law that includes expungement for prior marijuana convictions. And unfortunately, South Dakota’s secretary of state rejected a proposed medical cannabis ballot measure because there were not enough valid signatures in a random sample.

At a more local level, Los Angeles, California’s top marijuana regulator said the city is considering allowing consumption lounges, and Denver, Colorado’s mayor is proposing raising the city’s marijuana sales tax from 3.5% to 5.5% to fund affordable housing.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Louisiana

House Bill 274 seeks to entirely decriminalize the possession and distribution of marijuana, contingent on the creation of a sales tax system that would regulate the legal sale of marijuana.

Update: HB 274 was heard by the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on 4/17.

LA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of decriminalization

Maine

Legislation is pending, LD 1539, to greatly expand patients’ access to medical cannabis. Among changes proposed by the bill: Physicians would be able, at their sole discretion, to recommend cannabis therapy to any patient for whom they think it would benefit; Caregivers would be able to manage more than five patients at one time; Regulators would increase the total number of licensed dispensaries from eight to 14.

Update: The Senate voted 25-10 to pass LD 1539 on 4/18, and it now heads to Governor LePage for his signature or veto. He has 10 days to act on the bill, but is expected to veto it.

ME resident? Click here to email Governor LePage in support of expanding the medical marijuana program

South Carolina

Legislation is pending, H 3521: The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, to allow for the physician-authorized use of marijuana for patients with specific debilitating medical conditions.

Update: The House Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs held a hearing on H 3521 on 4/19, and then approved the bill by a 14-3 vote.

SC resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana access

New Hampshire

Senate Bill 388 would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis.

Update: SB 388 was unanimously approved by the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on 4/18, after holding a public hearing and then an executive session on the bill.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expanding the medical marijuana program

California

Assembly Bill 1793 would “allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction for an act that is not a crime as of January 1, 2017, or for a crime that as of that date subject to a lesser sentence.

Update: The Assembly’s Public Safety Committee unanimously approved AB 1793 on 4/17 after a hearing was held. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expunging past cannabis convictions

Alaska

Senate Bill 184 prohibits the release of past records for any marijuana offense that is no longer defined as a crime under state law. The bill’s intent is to reduce barriers to employment for people who have been convicted of low-level marijuana possession crimes that would be legal under today’s laws, and to make it more likely that people convicted of only low-level crimes will become contributing members of society.

Update: The House of Representatives approved similar legislation by a 30-10 vote on 4/15, HB 316, which restricts the release of certain records of convictions to the public. The bill now heads to the Senate.

AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of sealing past records

Hawaii

House Bill 2729, to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status.

Update: The Senate approved HB 2729 with amendments on 4/10, but the House disagreed with the proposed amendments. Both Chambers will have to work to come up with a satisfactory compromise.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity

 

Additional Actions to Take

Oklahoma

Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens introduced HB 2913: The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. The bill would allow universities to cultivate hemp for research and development purposes.

Update: HB 2913 was approved by the Senate by a 39-1 vote on 4/16, and now awaits action by Governor Mary Fallin.

OK resident? Click here to email Gov. Fallin in support of industrial hemp research

Missouri

Senate Bill 547 seeks to modify provisions relating to industrial hemp. It would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a registration or permit to growers and handlers of agricultural and industrial hemp. It would also create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.

Update: SB 547 was approved by the House Rules Legislative Oversight Committee on 4/18 after holding an executive session. It’s on the calendar to be considered by the full House on 4/23.

MO resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of hemp modifications

Iowa

Senate File 2398 would establish The Iowa Industrial Hemp Act. The bill would allow the Department of Agriculture to establish a research pilot program that engages in the licensed cultivation, production, and marketing of industrial hemp. SF 2398 was already unanimously approved by the Senate earlier this month.

Update: The House Ways and Means Subcommittee approved SF 2398 on 4/11.

IA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp research

California

Senate Bill 930 seeks to assist financial institutions in safely conducting transactions with licensed cannabis businesses.

Update: SB 930 was unanimously approved by the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 4/18 after a public hearing was held.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking access

That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates, and I wish everyone the happiest 4/20!

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Chuck Schumer To Introduce Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Legislation

NORML Blog - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 14:37

In a video tweet posted on Vice News, Leader Schumer says:

“I’ll be introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, from one end of the country to the other.”

With this announcement, Senator Schumer has effectively made it clear that a legislative priority for the Democratic Party is to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. As Democratic Leader, it is his role to ensure that the caucus as a whole falls in line with this public policy position — a position that is held by more than 60 percent of Americans.

BREAKING: Senator Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) changes position and says he will submit a bill aimed at decriminalizing marijuana. See the exclusive interview on VICE News Tonight at 7:30PM on @HBO pic.twitter.com/2FvF7IvMQS

— VICE News (@vicenews) April 19, 2018

This legislative relief must come sooner rather than later. Over 600,000 Americans, a disproportionate percentage of which are black, brown, young, and poor, are arrested for violating marijuana laws annually. These people bear the greatest burden and lifelong consequences of this ongoing failed federal policy, and it is time for Congressional leaders to take a stand to right these past wrongs.

Vice reports: “The legislation, which his office expects will be released within the next week, has six main points. First, it would remove marijuana from Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances, which would end federal prohibition and leave it up to states to decide how to regulate the drug. Schumer stopped short of calling it legalization, but de-scheduling would essentially make marijuana legal at the federal level.”

With Chuck Schumer now joining Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Ron Wyden in sponsoring comprehensive marijuana law reform legislation, it is time for the Democratic party to speak with one voice. The Party must be clear and consistent in their intent to legalize marijuana, as well as expunge the criminal convictions that hold millions of Americans back from basic needs like employment, housing, and pathways to higher education.

As states start dialing back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were impacted by this oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied, and be provided the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation. We fully applaud Senator Schumer acknowledging this reality with today’s announcement.

More information about Senator Schumer’s bill to come in the days ahead. 

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Playing flamingo

DrugWarRant - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 14:32

I’ve been away from the couch for a bit, as I somehow managed to significantly pulverize the bones in my left leg just from falling off a bicycle. I’m home now, trying to figure out how to do everything in a wheelchair with an extended leg brace (the only other option is standing on one leg).

For those interested in the details of my little adventure, I have written a story in the form of a letter to my Aunt Betty:

A little tale of a bicycle… trip

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Key House Committee Advances Medical Marijuana Bill in South Carolina

MPP Blog - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 11:32

The House version of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, H 3521, emerged from committee today in a landslide 14-3 vote.

Unfortunately, a key deadline has passed, and it’s too late for the medical cannabis bill to become law this year. However, it’s important to remind lawmakers that patients and those who care for them are counting on their support.

There is much to be done before the bill becomes law, but today’s vote marks a big step forward for patients. Both the House and the Senate versions made it through their committees, and the bills were sent to the full bodies in both chambers.

Thank you to bill sponsors, Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy, and the many supporters who have been active behind the scenes and at the hearings, including those who attended an educational symposium for lawmakers yesterday evening.

If you are a South Carolina resident, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support the Compassionate Care Act in the next legislative session.

The post Key House Committee Advances Medical Marijuana Bill in South Carolina appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Senator Sanders Co-Sponsors The Marijuana Justice Act

NORML Blog - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 09:47

Today, Senator Bernie Sanders joined Senator Cory Booker on a live stream for a conversation about ending prohibition and co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act.

But they can’t do it alone.

Right now, 33 members of Congress have put their name on the House and Senate versions of this legislation, but we still have a long way to go. Politicians are starting to realize that legalization is not only good policy, but good politics. Send a message to your federal officials and tell them to put their name on this legislation too.

The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. The Marijuana Justice Act would be the sensible, moral, and rational way to end the failed policy of marijuana criminalization.

In 2016, over 650,000 people were arrested for marijuana. The consequences are staggering. From time spent in jail to the costs of legal fees – to the collateral consequences, including but not limited to having to list a criminal offense on a job or housing application, the criminalization of cannabis is a cruel concept that most hurts those in poverty and is disproportionately enforced against people of color.

Don’t wait until 4/20 to take action. Send a message to your lawmakers NOW.

Thanks for standing up, speaking out, and being a NORML citizen.

Your friends at National NORML.

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Bipartisan Legislation Introduced To Facilitate Medical Cannabis Trials For Veterans

NORML Blog - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:29

United States Rep. Timothy Waltz (D-MN), along with over 30 bipartisan co-sponsors, has introduced legislation, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans.

The legislation states: “In carrying out the responsibilities of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, … the Secretary may conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety of forms of cannabis … on the health outcomes of covered veterans diagnosed with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions the Secretary determines appropriate.”

According to nationwide survey data compiled by The American Legion, 39 percent of respondents affirmed that they “know a veteran” who is using the plant medicinally. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they themselves “use cannabis to treat a mental or physical condition.” Yet, VA Secretary David Shulkin has consistently rejected calls from veterans groups and lawmakers to study the use of cannabis among military veterans.

Passage of HR 5520 explicitly authorizes “the Secretary to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis.”

Representative Walz, who is the ranking member of the House VA committee, said: “While we know cannabis can have life-saving effects on veterans suffering from chronic pain or PTSD, there has been a severe lack of research studying the full effect of medicinal cannabis on these veterans. Simply put, there is no department or organization better suited to conduct this critically important research than VA, and there will never be a better time to act.”

Please click here to urge your federal lawmakers to support HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

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Are You Doing 4/20 Right? Here’s a List of What’s Happening

NORML Blog - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:00

Following tradition, marijuana consumers and advocates from around the globe are organizing rallies, marches and other acts of political expression or civil disobedience in advance of this year’s celebration of 4/20, an annual protest against the prohibition of marijuana. While these public events are often effective at generating some buzz and raising public awareness, they are rarely organized to directly influence or appeal to those elected officials who continue to oppose common sense marijuana law reform efforts.

To increase the political effectiveness of these events, NORML chapters are planning to combine these traditional events with a robust presence on social media that includes a call-to-action urging federal lawmakers to support HR 1227: The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act. If passed by Congress, this legislation will eliminate federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing marijuana, give states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference, and remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, which would allow for more marijuana research both recreationally and medicinally.

NORML Chapters will continue to use these public events to demonstrate that our culture is a growing part of the broader community, and to raise awareness and support for marijuana law reform efforts.

A couple examples of which are:

Members of Chicago NORML have a lot to celebrate after voters in Cook County, Illinois voted to approve, “the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older,” through a non binding referendum earlier this year. Organizers are planning a 4/20 celebration that will help fund educational & outreach efforts in their community.

In South Carolina, members of Lowcountry NORML are hosting a 4/20 rally in downtown Charleston to raise awareness about marijuana’s proven medicinal benefits, its hundreds of industrial uses, and the obvious need to end the mass arrest, stigmatization, and incarceration of nonviolent marijuana consumers. To help spread the word, supporters will be wearing t-shirts, holding signs, sharing stories, and asking others to join the fight to end marijuana prohibition.

Below is a list of events that are taking place around the country:

Alabama

Alabama NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/144416092932869/

California

Humboldt NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/176073716520697/

Monterey County NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/150183702470495/

Colorado

Denver NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/2137082429854938/

Southern Colorado NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/165225564129646/

Delaware

Delaware NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/420211771762876/

Florida

Northeast Florida NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/2049355575350535/

Illinois

Chicago NORML – https://chicagonorml.z2systems.com/np/clients/chicagonorml/eventRegistration.jsp?event=503&

Indiana

Indiana NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1964672153792901/

Purdue NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/353749958430389/

Iowa

Iowa NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1173742189395622/

Kentucky

Kentucky NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/155608048425043/

Minnesota

Minnesota NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/582709222121912/

Minnesota NORML Women’s Coalition – https://www.facebook.com/events/121504848551480/

New Mexico

New Mexico NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1546743615424372/

New York

Western New York NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1983972578530607/

North Carolina

North Carolina NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1568205869881130/

Charlotte NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/296119900919588/

NC NORML of the Triangle – https://www.facebook.com/events/457312888018481/

South Carolina

Aiken NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/146375166036064/

Lowcountry NORML – https://normlsc.org/pages/420-rally

Tennessee

Memphis NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1673604129371656/

Texas

DFW NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/185597428714345/

El Paso NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1779571042339535/

Houston NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/556580421390187/

Hub City NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1893685727608368/

Hub City NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/576627839344019/

Southeast Texas NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/221071241791222/

Texas NORML – http://www.austinreggaefest.com/

Virginia

Hampton Roads NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/217136348839688/

Roanoke NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/158436751510406/

Wisconsin

Southeastern Wisconsin NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1894312693920769/

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Meta-analysis: Cannabis Exposure Not Associated With Residual Adverse Impact On Cognitive Performance

NORML Blog - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:07

Cannabis exposure in adolescents and young adults is not associated with any significant long-term detrimental effects on cognitive performance, according to a systematic literature review published today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Investigators affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine and with the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania reviewed data from 69 separate studies published between 1973 and 2017 involving 8,727 subjects (2,152 frequent or heavy users and 6,575 controls). Researchers reported no significant long-term deficits in memory, attention, or other aspects of cognitive functioning that could be independently attributed to cannabis use, regardless of subjects age of initiation. These findings are in contrast to similar studies assessing the impact of alcohol use and other controlled substances on cognition, which “have shown medium to large effect sizes.”

Authors concluded: “Associations between cannabis use and cognitive functioning in cross-sectional studies of adolescents and young adults are small and may be of questionable clinical importance for most individuals. Furthermore, abstinence of longer than 72 hours diminishes cognitive deficits associated with cannabis use. [R]esults indicate that previous studies of cannabis youth may have overstated the magnitude and persistence of cognitive deficits associated with marijuana use.”

Commenting on the study’s findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These conclusions are consistent with those of prior studies – in particular, recent longitudinal twin studies reporting that cannabis use is not independently associated with any residual change in intelligence quotient or executive function. These findings, combined with other recent studies reporting that cannabis exposure appears to have minimal adverse impact on brain morphology — particularly when compared to the dramatic effects of alcohol —dispute the long-standing ‘stoner-stupid’ stereotype. These findings should help to assuage fears that cannabis’ acute effects on behavior may persist long after drug ingestion, or that they may pose greater potential risks to the developing brain.”

Presently, the medical use and dispensing of cannabis is regulated in 30 states. Eight states also regulate the retail sale of cannabis to adults. According to numerous peer-reviewed studies, neither the enactment of medicalization or adult use legalization has been linked to increased marijuana use or access by young people.

Full text of the new study, “Association of cannabis with cognitive functioning in adolescents and young adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” appears in JAMA Psychiatry.

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Pennsylvania’s Department of Health Rapidly Approves Advisory Board Recommendations

NORML Blog - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 07:41

Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law created an Advisory Board to make recommendations to the Department of Health. The Board is comprised of medical professionals, law enforcement representatives, patient advocates and appointees from the majority and minority parties. Pursuant to section 1201(f) the Board “shall have the power to prescribe, amend and repeal bylaws, rules and regulations governing the manner in which the business of the advisory board is conducted and the manner in which the duties granted to it are fulfilled. The advisory board may delegate supervision of the administration of advisory board activities to an administrative secretary and other employees of the department as the secretary shall appoint.”

The Advisory Board submitted its first recommendations to the Department of Health. The recommendations included allowing “dry leaf or flower” to be cultivated and sold at Pennsylvania’s licensed dispensaries. The law previously defined “medical marijuana products” as processed oils (including concentrates), tinctures, pills, and topicals. While smoking cannabis is specifically prohibited by the law, a form that can be “vaporized or nebulized” is permitted, thus opening the door to flower. The Board also recommended adding four qualifying conditions – Neurodegenerative Diseases, Dyskinetic and Spastic Movement Disorders, Addiction substitute therapy – opioid reduction and Terminally ill. Further, it recommended cancer in remission as qualifying as well as simplifying the definition of “chronic or intractable” pain.

The Department of Health had up to one year to act on the recommendations of the Board. In a move that excited patients and advocates, Dr. Rachel Levine on behalf of the Department acted quickly adopting all of the recommendations above. Her rapid reaction is significant for a number of reasons: 1. It demonstrates the importance of the support of the Executive Branch. During the efforts to pass medical cannabis reform activist and legislators ran in to a brick wall in former Governor Tom Corbett (R). The former Governor refused to meet with patients and dismissed medical cannabis as a “gateway drug.” When Governor Tom Wolf took office in 2015 he made it clear that he fully supported the program. 2. The Advisory Board does not exist in name only. It clearly took its responsibilities seriously and acted quickly to address some important patient concerns; 3. Adding dry leaf/flower as a “medical cannabis product” give patients greater ability to find products that effectively treat their condition. Equally important is affordability. Processed oil products have been expensive as PA waits for its licensed cultivation facilities to be come full operational. Providing access to the plant itself at a lower price point than processed products is critical for patients on fixed incomes as medical insurance does not cover medical cannabis products.

As more cultivation facilities become licensed and operational patients will have increased abilities to find the strain or product that most effectively treats their condition. By adding cancer “in remission” and streamlining the definition of “chronic pain” more patients will have access to medical cannabis. The four added conditions bring the number of defined qualifying conditions up to 21 from 17. Adding “addiction substitute therapy” is especially critical as Pennsylvania, like the rest of the nation, struggles to cope with the opioid crisis and the consequences of over-prescribing addictive narcotics. Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program may have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, but patients can feel confident that the Advisory Board takes its role seriously and is committed to improving the program.

Patrick Nightingale is the Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML. You can follow their work on Facebook and Twitter. Visit their website at http://www.pittsburghnorml.org/ and make a contribution to support their work by clicking here. 

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GOP Lawmaker: Trump Administration Pledges Non-Interference In Legal Marijuana States

NORML Blog - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 12:09

Republican Senator Cory Gardner (CO) says that he has received a verbal commitment from President Donald Trump specifying that the administration will not take action to disrupt marijuana markets in states that legally regulate the substance.

“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” Gardner told the Associated Press. “Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.”

He added: “Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all. Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees.”

In January, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidelines directing federal prosecutors not to take action against those who were compliant with state-sanctioned cannabis regulations. In response to that decision, Rep. Gardner had vowed to block all nominees for Justice Department jobs.

On Friday, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said, Trump “does respect Colorado’s right to decide for themselves how to best approach this issue.” At a separate press conference, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the President and Sen. Gardner had spoken about the issue and that the senator’s account is “accurate.”

In response to the administration’s pledge, NORML Director Erik Altieri stated: “We applaud this commitment from President Trump, who promised during his campaign to take a federalist approach with regard to marijuana policy. That campaign promise was not reflected by Trump’s appointment of longtime marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to the position of Attorney General or any of the actions that Sessions has taken since becoming the nation’s top law enforcement officer.”

“With the President now reiterating this commitment, it is time for Congress to do its part and swiftly move forward bipartisan legislation that explicitly provides states with the authority and autonomy to set their own marijuana policies absent the fear of federal incursion. Doing so would not only follow through one of Trump’s campaign promises, but it would codify the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans.”

Senator Gardner reiterated that he and his colleagues “are continuing to work diligently on a bipartisan legislative solution (to the state/federal conflict) that can pass Congress and head to the President’s desk.”

Thirty states have enacted statutes regulating the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Nine states have passed laws regulating marijuana use by adults. By contrast, federal law defines the marijuana plant as a ‘Schedule I’ prohibited substance that lacks “currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

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Florida Judge Says Medical Marijuana Patient Can Grow His Own Medicine

MPP Blog - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 11:10

On Wednesday, Leon County Judge Karen Gievers ruled that Joseph Redner, a 77-year-old cancer patient, may grow his own marijuana plants. Redner is a registered medical marijuana patient in Florida. Unfortunately, the Department of Health has already filed an appeal and will fight the decision.

Tampa Bay Times reports:

The ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers applies only to Redner, 77. The Florida Department of Health responded quickly, filing an appeal.

The department had said Floridians are barred under state rules from growing cannabis for their personal use, including those who are legally registered as medical marijuana patients.

But Redner and other critics across the state say the health department continues to create barriers for more than 95,000 registered patients in Florida that could benefit from marijuana. Redner is a stage 4 lung cancer survivor and a registered medical marijuana patient.

“Under Florida law, Plantiff Redner is entitled to possess, grow and use marijuana for juicing, soley for the purpose of his emulsifying the biomass he needs for the juicing protocol recommended by his physician,” Gievers said in her ruling. The word “solely” is bolded and underlined for emphasis in the document.

“The court also finds … that the Florida Department of Health has been, and continues to be non-compliant with the Florida constitutional requirements,” the judge added, referring to the constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 that made medical marijuana legal.

Redner’s attorney, Luke Lirot of Clearwater, said the judge was right to “castigate the health department for being a barrier to medicine.”

While this ruling only applies to Joseph Redner, it most certainly opens the door for other Florida patients to finally be allowed to cultivate their medicine at home.

The post Florida Judge Says Medical Marijuana Patient Can Grow His Own Medicine appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Albuquerque Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

MPP Blog - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 11:01

Yesterday, Albuquerque, New Mexico Mayor Tim Keller signed an ordinance that decriminalizes simple possession of marijuana under city law.

Once the ordinance goes into effect, the city’s penalty for under an ounce of marijuana will be a $25 civil fine. It will go into effect five days after it is published by the city clerk. Council members Pat Davis and Isaac Benton sponsored the ordinance, which passed the council in a 5-4 vote.

Police Chief Mike Geier voiced his support, saying, ”This new legislation allows officers to focus on violent crime, property crime and drunk driving.”

It will still be possible for a person to be charged under the statewide penalty — a fine of up to $50, up to 15 days in jail, or both. If you are a New Mexico resident, please let your state legislators know you want the state follow suit and stop criminalizing marijuana consumers.

The post Albuquerque Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Lead the Marijuana Legalization Movement

MPP Blog - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 09:48

The Marijuana Policy Project is looking for our next Executive Director to run the nation’s leading marijuana policy reform organization! We are taking advantage of our first-ever change in executive leadership to cast the widest net possible so we can find just the right person to lead us into the future at this critical juncture in marijuana policy.

We are looking for a leader with a personal commitment to marijuana policy reform and individual liberty who has the drive, skills, and experience to end marijuana prohibition. Marijuana reform is one of the country’s most popular and bipartisan issues, with public support more than doubling over the last 20 years. The opportunity has never been greater to make historic changes to the nation’s marijuana laws.

The Executive Director will lead the team responsible for over half of the current medical marijuana and adult use legalization laws in the country. The position develops and implements the organization’s political strategy and goals in conjunction with the staff and Board of Directors. Ensuring fiscal stability is a major part of the job, and the ideal candidate will have a track record of successful fundraising and a demonstrated ability to run a fast-paced, mission-driven organization of 20 or more employees with a primary focus on changing laws.

Find the full job description here.

Interested parties should contact edsearch@mpp.org with a cover letter, resume, and a list of professional references.

Matthew Schweich, the current executive director, is committed to leading the organization until his successor has been named. He will then focus his attention on the Michigan and Utah ballot initiatives campaigns. Mr. Schweich joined MPP in early 2015 as the director of state campaigns, and he was the campaign director for the 2016 legalization ballot initiative campaigns in Maine and Massachusetts, and also worked on the 2016 Nevada campaign. He was named executive director of MPP in November 2017.

The post Lead the Marijuana Legalization Movement appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 4/13/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 09:25

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

I first want to bring your attention to some key developments happening at the federal level. United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, introduced legislation to remove low THC hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act and amend federal regulations to better facilitate industrial hemp production, research, and commerce. Identical companion language, HR 5485, was also introduced in the House.

Additionally, the United Nations World Health Organization is due to review the current international classification of marijuana, THC, cannabidiol, and other related compounds and preparations this year. In the lead-up, the WHO is asking member nations to submit feedback. Between now and April 23rd, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comment from “interested persons” (I.E. you) regarding the international Schedule 1 Status of marijuana under international agreements. Over 8,500 NORML members have already sent in their comments.

At the state level, Governor Bill Walker of Alaska signed SB 6 into law, to establish an agricultural pilot program to permit the cultivation, production, and sale of industrial hemp by registered providers. The Pennsylvania Department of Health Medical Marijuana Advisory Board recommended adding flower (to be vaped) as a form of medication, and a Florida judge ruled that a medical cannabis patient has the right to grow his own marijuana.

South Carolina and Maryland state legislatures adjourned this week, effectively killing a SC medical marijuana bill, and a MD decriminalization expansion bill.

At a more local level, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller signed a bill into law Thursday decriminalizing the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in the city.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Rhode Island

Legalization
House Bill 7883 seeks to place a non-binding marijuana legalization question on the state’s November ballot.

The proposal question would read: “Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”

Update: The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HB 7883 on 4/10.

RI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting the voters weigh in

Employment Protections
H 7899 seeks to protect state-registered medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination.

Update: The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HB 7899 on 4/12. The Committee recommended the bill be held for further study, effectively killing it for this year.

New Jersey

Legislation is pending, S2426 and A3740, to further expand the state’s medical marijuana law.

The measures provide doctors the discretion to recommend medical marijuana to any patient for whom they believe it will provide a benefit. A third proposal, S2373, is also pending to allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition.

NJ resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of letting doctors decide

Louisiana

House Bill 579 seeks to expand the state’s nascent medical cannabis program.

The measure would expand the pool of patients eligible for medical cannabis by permitting physicians to authorize cannabis therapy to those suffering from chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, severe muscle spasms or glaucoma.

Update: HB 579 was approved by the House 60-39 on 4/12, and now heads to the Senate. As amended by the House, the bill also adds Parkinson’s disease to the list of conditions eligible for cannabis therapy.

LA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

New Hampshire

Home Cultivation
House Bill 1476 is pending, which seeks to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use.

Update: The Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on HB 1476 on 4/12. The committee’s vote is expected as soon as next week.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of home cultivation rights

Expungement
House Bill 1477 would permit those convicted of past marijuana convictions to seek expungement.

If passed, HB 1477 would allow individuals to file a petition with the court requesting that the court annul any past marijuana violations involving the possession of up to ¾ of an ounce of marijuana. The bill already passed the full House earlier this year.

Update: HB 1477 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 4/10. The bill is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate on 4/19.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of expungement

Medical Expansion
Senate Bill 388 seeks to expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

The bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a second dispensary location in the geographic area that includes Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties for therapeutic cannabis. It already passed the full Senate last month.

Update: The Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee held a public hearing on AB 388 on 4/11. and there will be an Executive Session on the bill at 10 am on 4/17 in LOB 205.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical expansion

California

Assembly Bill 2069 seeks to strengthen employment rights for medical cannabis patients. The bill would explicitly bar employers from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a medical cannabis patient, or due to testing positive for medical marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

Update: The Assembly’s Labor And Employment Committee will hold a hearing on AB 2069 on 4/25 at 1:30pm, rescheduled from 4/18.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of employment rights for patients

 

Additional Actions to Take

Hawaii

House Bill 2729 seeks to allow for out-of-state medical marijuana cardholders to access medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. Other provisions in the bill prohibit employers from either discriminating against or taking punitive actions against employees solely based on their medical cannabis use or patient status. It already passed the full House last month.

Update: HB 2729 passed the full Senate unanimously on 4/10, but the House disagreed with the proposed amendments.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of reciprocity

Maine

Lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to amend a key provision of the state’s voter-initiated adult use marijuana law. Under existing law, adults may legally cultivate as many as six mature marijuana plants on their property. Lawmakers are suggesting halving this amount. The bill already passed the full House earlier this month.

NORML opposes this law change.

Update: Members of the Senate voted 24-10 in favor of the measure. The legislation, which would implement retail marijuana sales, in addition to making numerous other changes with regard to taxes, social clubs, and home cultivation, has enough support to override a potential veto from Gov. LePage — who opposes marijuana sales.

ME resident? Click here to email Governor LePage and urge him to veto this bill

Oklahoma

Senate Bill 1120 seeks to preemptively challenge provisions in State Question 788. SQ 788 is written in a manner to be patient-centric. The changes proposed by SB 1120 are unduly restrictive and are not in the best interest of physicians or their patients. The bill already passed the full Senate last month.

NORML endorses State Question 788 and opposes SB 1120.

Update: SB 1120 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on 4/11 by a 11-5 vote.

OK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in opposition to this effort

Illinois

Senate Bill 2298 provides for the ability for individuals to cultivate hemp with a state license even if they are not part of the state’s Agriculture Department pilot program. That program only permits hemp cultivation as part of a state-sponsored research program.

Update: SB 2298 was heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee on 4/12, and was then approved by the Committee.

IL resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of hemp cultivation

California

Assembly Bill 3157 seeks to temporarily reduce tax rates imposed on the retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis.

Update: AB 3157 will be heard by the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on 4/23.

CA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of temporary tax reductions

That’s all for this week, check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

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We Have a Winner for MPP’s 2018 Shirt Design Contest!

MPP Blog - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 07:43

After two rounds of voting by thousands of our supporters across the U.S.A. — beginning with a public vote on Facebook before moving on to a members-only vote —we are excited to announce the winner of the Marijuana Policy Project’s 2018 T-shirt Design Contest.

Congratulations to Michelle Geiger of Apollo Beach, Florida! Her polished and imaginative design features our organization’s full name, our motto We Change Laws, our website URL (mpp.org), and our inaugural year all cleverly shaped to represent MPP’s nationwide impact. 

We look forward to using this new shirt to help amplify our advocacy and educational efforts on the state and federal levels, starting with its unveiling at the National Cannabis Festival on April 21, 2018 in Washington, D.C. It will also be available in multiple color and size variations on our online shop this summer.

Thanks to everyone who participated in MPP’s 2018 Design Contest and for your ongoing commitment to MPP’s mission. Between the integral role MPP played in passing adult-use marijuana legalization in Vermont and our successful efforts to secure state medical marijuana protections in Congress, we have already made significant progress this year. With upcoming ballot initiatives in Utah (medical marijuana), Michigan (adult-use), and other states this year, your continued support is crucial.

The post We Have a Winner for MPP’s 2018 Shirt Design Contest! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Maine Legislature Passes Commercial Marijuana Regulations

MPP Blog - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 07:09

This week, the Maine House and Senate overwhelmingly passed LD 1719, which would set up Maine’s adult-use marijuana market. MPP was neutral on the bill, as it removed social club licensing from the initiative voters passed in 2016. LD 1719 also reduced the number of plants adults can cultivate at home from six to three flowering plants. That said, it’s been 18 months since Maine voters passed Question 1, and it is time that adults had a legal place to purchase marijuana.

Given the veto-proof margins that LD 1719 passed by, we are uncertain if Gov. LePage will veto the bill. If he does, many lawmakers will have to change their votes to sustain his veto. We will keep you posted on what happens next.

The post Maine Legislature Passes Commercial Marijuana Regulations appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Senate Majority Leader Introduces Bi-Partisan Hemp Legalization Bill

NORML Blog - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 11:59

United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation today to remove low THC hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act and amend federal regulations to better facilitate industrial hemp production, research, and commerce.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 allows states, not the federal government, to regulate hemp production and allocates grant funding to federally subsidize industrial hemp cultivation. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established agricultural crop.

Senator McConnell said: “Today, with my colleagues, I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which will build upon the success of the hemp pilot programs and spur innovation and growth within the industry. By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans, we can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the county.”

Senator McConnell previously shepherded federal reforms (Section 7606 of the Farm Bill) in 2014 permitting states to legally authorize hemp cultivation as part of academic research pilot programs. Over two-dozen states have established regulations permitting limited hemp cultivation under this provision. In 2017, state-licensed producers grew over 39,000 acres of hemp, up from roughly 16,000 acres in 2016.

Separate legislation, HR 3530, is currently pending in the US House of Representatives to exclude low-THC strains of cannabis grown for industrial purposes from the federal definition of marijuana. That measure has 43 co-sponsors.

To contact your members of Congress in support of this legislation, please click here!

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NORML Responds as Ex-House Speaker Signs On With Marijuana Industry Leader

NORML Blog - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 09:43

It has been announced that former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, along with former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, have joined the Board of Advisors for Acreage Holdings, a multi-state corporation operating in the medical and recreational marijuana space. The company holds licenses for dozens of cannabis businesses in the United States.

Boehner, in comments to the press, made it clear that he has reversed his long held opposition to marijuana legalization. In an interview with Bloomberg news wire, he stated: “Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically. I find myself in that same position.”

In response to this announcement, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri issued the following statement:

“John Boehner’s evolution on marijuana legalization mirrors that of both the American public in general and Republicans specifically. Recent polling finds that over 60 percent of Americans support adult use marijuana legalization and, for the first time, this percentage includes a majority of self-identified Republicans. Allowing states the flexibility and autonomy to set their own marijuana regulatory policies is consistent with conservatives’ long-held respect for the Tenth Amendment, as well as with the party’s recent embracing of populism.”

Altieri continued, “Regardless of motive, former Speaker Boehner is still held in high regard by a large percentage of the GOP membership and voter base. We look forward to his voice joining the growing chorus calling for an end to cannabis criminalization. Anything that expedites the ability for patients to access this safe and reliable treatment alternative, and that facilitates an end to the practice of arresting otherwise law abiding citizens for the possession of a plant should be welcomed with open arms.”

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Former House Speaker John Boehner Reverses Position on Marijuana

MPP Blog - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 07:09

Early this week, former Republican House Speaker John Boehner announced his support for descheduling marijuana at the federal level. At the same time, he revealed his plans to become advisor to a multi-state marijuana industry firm with dozens of locations. This is a stark departure from his previous stance on marijuana. While in Congress, Boehner voted in favor of legislation that prevented the District of Columbia from implementing its voter-approved medical marijuana program for more than a decade, and was a vocal opponent of legalization.

Marijuana Moment reports:

Boehner, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R), is joining the Board of Advisors of Acreage Holdings, which holds 35 licenses for cannabis businesses across the U.S.

“When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head,” Boehner said. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”

In a tweet, Boehner, who did not endorse marijuana law reform while serving as the House’s top official, said he now supports removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, a process known as descheduling.

In a 2011 letter to a constituent, the speaker wrote, “I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug. I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.”

But now, Boehner says that he and Weld will advise Acreage on navigating confusing and conflicting federal and state marijuana laws.

While Boehner should be commended for seeing reason and adding his voice to those calling for sensible marijuana policy reform, many advocates are concerned that he is set to profit from policies he opposed and is not doing enough to counteract the impact of his words and actions while in office.

MPP’s Morgan Fox told The New York Times that Boehner “should be actively working to reform federal marijuana laws to allow states to determine their own policies, rather than just consulting with a business to navigate the conflicts between state and federal law. His positions on the issue while in House leadership most likely slowed progress for marijuana reform legislation, and he owes it to anyone whose life has been negatively impacted by a marijuana arrest to use his considerable influence to make up for that.”

 

The post Former House Speaker John Boehner Reverses Position on Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

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MPP Continues Making Progress in 2018!

MPP Blog - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 09:24

Here’s a quick run-down of some of the progress MPP has made so far in 2018:

CONGRESS — In March, MPP helped coordinate the congressional advocacy effort that succeeded in renewing the federal policy that prevents Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department from interfering in state medical marijuana programs. This is an extremely important protection for patients and caregivers across the country.

VERMONT — Years of MPP-led advocacy work in the Green Mountain State yielded a major victory in January, when the legislature became the first ever to enact a marijuana legalization law legislatively (as opposed to a ballot initiative). We continue to work in Vermont with the goal of passing a law next year that will allow regulated and taxed sales (the current law only allows possession and home cultivation).

SOUTH CAROLINA — MPP, working with allied patients and loved ones, is maintaining an aggressive push for medical marijuana in the state legislature. Our bill was recently sent to the Senate floor, and we now have majority support in the House, leaving us well-positioned for passage in 2019.

MASSACHUSETTS — After winning the 2016 ballot initiative campaign and defending the law from political interference in 2017, we have remained engaged in the year-long implementation process in the Bay State. MPP has also been pushing back against local marijuana business bans. As a result of MPP’s work in Massachusetts, the licensing process for marijuana businesses just started, and the first adult-use marijuana stores in New England will open later this year.

CONNECTICUT — Since last year, MPP has led the advocacy effort to legalize and regulate marijuana in Connecticut. Last Thursday, for the first time ever, a committee approved a legalization bill, sending it to the full House.

MPP is also playing a leading role in two ballot initiative campaigns:

MICHIGAN — The Michigan marijuana legalization campaign is leading in the polls, but might face a well-funded opposition campaign. You can donate directly to the Michigan campaign here.

UTAH — The Utah medical marijuana campaign is supported by over 70% of Utah voters, but still needs to finish its signature drive. You can donate directly to the Utah campaign here.

There is no shortage of work ahead in 2018 but, with your support, MPP can and will continue to win. Thank you for your commitment to the Marijuana Policy Project mission.

The post MPP Continues Making Progress in 2018! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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