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Dallas Implements “Cite and Summons” Policy for Possession

MPP Blog - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 09:38

On Friday, Dallas — Texas’ third largest city — implemented a policy that instructs police officers to issue citations and a summons to appear in court, rather than arresting those found in possession of marijuana. This new policy will spare people an initial trip to jail, which is a step in the right direction. However, individuals still face all the same criminal penalties, including up to six months in jail, up to $2,000 in fines, and a lasting criminal record.

In Texas, a criminal record carries the following collateral consequences:

-Hindered access to employment
-Diminished educational opportunities
-Impeded housing options
-Jeopardized parental rights
-Suspended drivers license (six months)
-Obstructed right to self defense/ license to carry (five years)

To see meaningful changes to marijuana laws in Texas, we must change the unreasonable statewide policies that allow for such harsh penalties.

If you are a Texas resident, please contact your legislators now in support of more reasonable penalties for marijuana possession.

The post Dallas Implements “Cite and Summons” Policy for Possession appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Study: Alcohol Sales Fall Following Cannabis Legalization

NORML Blog - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 12:18

Sales of alcoholic beverages decline following the enactment of medical marijuana access laws, according to a working paper authored by a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University.

Authors evaluated the relationship between medical marijuana laws and retail alcohol sales for more than 2,000 US counties for the years 2006 to 2015. Alcohol sales trends in medical cannabis states were compared to sales trends in states where cannabis remained illegal. Researchers determined that counties located in medical cannabis states, on average, experienced a reduction in monthly alcohol sales of 15 percent.

Researchers concluded: “We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes. … States legalizing medical marijuana use experience significant decreases in the aggregate sale of alcohol, beer and wine. Moreover, the effects are not short-lived, with significant reductions observed up to 24 months after the passage of the law.”

Consumer trend data from California reports that those with legal access to cannabis frequently reduce their alcohol intake. A 2016 analysis of beer sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington reported that retail sales “collectively underperformed” in the years following the enactment of adult use marijuana regulation.

Full text of the study, “Helping settle the marijuana and alcohol debate: Evidence from scanner data,” appears online here.

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Legalizing Marijuana May End the Opioid Crisis, Say Scientists

DrugSense Blog - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 11:28
As we reported previously, scientists from the University of New Mexico have been studying how access to marijuana may help alleviate the opioid crisis, declared a national emergency by President Trump. Their study has now been published in the journal PLOS One, with the researchers concluding that there is “clinically and statistically significant evidence” that […]
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First Maryland Dispensaries Opening

MPP Blog - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 09:00

Maryland dispensaries are finally beginning to sell medical cannabis today, and more plan to do so by the end of next week according to media reports. Maryland’s rollout of the medical program has been one of the slowest in the country, so we are very glad to see it finally getting off the ground!

Unfortunately, prices are expected to be high, but hopefully they will decrease as more cannabis becomes available. Some dispensaries are using pre-registration or are limiting the amount patients can purchase to try and stretch the available supply. So far, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has licensed 14 out of 15 growers, 12 out of 15 processors, and 10 out of 104 dispensaries. The licensed dispensaries’ locations are listed on the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission’s website.

Disappointingly, local opposition has delayed some dispensaries. Despite concerns about crime increasing around dispensaries, a recent study showed that the opposite is true — crime increased when the dispensaries were forced to close.

MPP congratulates all of the advocates, patients, lawmakers, regulators, business owners, and individuals who helped make this moment possible, and we will keep fighting to ensure that Maryland patients have the access they need.

The post First Maryland Dispensaries Opening appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Illinois Governor Announces Opposition to Sensible Marijuana Policy

MPP Blog - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 08:55

In an interview with WSIL-TV in Marion yesterday, Gov. Bruce Rauner officially announced his opposition to ending the harmful policy of cannabis prohibition in Illinois. The governor wrongly claimed we don’t yet know the effects of legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults’ use, despite significant data available from states like Washington and Colorado, which both ended prohibition five years ago.

By announcing his stance, the governor is saying no to new jobs and to hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) in much-needed revenue for the state, and saying yes to allowing criminal enterprises to continue their control of a thriving and unregulated market. An estimated 750,000 Illinoisans consume marijuana monthly despite its prohibition — consumers who will likely continue to make illicit purchases whether it’s regulated or not. That money should go to our state and not into the pockets of drug cartels.

Chicago is one of the U.S. cities most closely associated with the failure of prohibition policies, and today, violence and harm continue on its streets. Instead of perpetuating a system that contributes to crime, revenue from taxing marijuana could be used to help prevent it.

Please make sure everyone in your network knows about Gov. Rauner’s misguided position. If you are an Illinois resident, please send a message to your lawmakers in support of legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adults.

The post Illinois Governor Announces Opposition to Sensible Marijuana Policy appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Bipartisan Letter To Congressional Leadership Urges Continued Protections For Medical Marijuana Programs

NORML Blog - Wed, 11/29/2017 - 12:24

Today, sixty-six members of Congress representing both Republicans and Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Ryan, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Pelosi, and Leader Schumer urging them to maintain the federal protections for the 46 states that have implemented some form of medical cannabis programs throughout the country.

This comes on the same day the Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference to discuss America’s opioid epidemic and made disparaging comments about marijuana.

“We’re working on that very hard right now,” Sessions said on Wednesday. “We had meetings yesterday and talked about it at some length. It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental and we should not give encouragement in any way to it. And it represents a federal violation which is in the law and is subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges that we face.”

From Rep. Rohrabacher’s press release:

Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) spearheaded a letter, signed by 64 other members of the House of Representatives, urging House and Senate leadership to ensure the inclusion of medical marijuana protections in any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond December 8, 2017. The provision, previously known as “Rohrabacher-Farr,” and now “Rohrabacher-Blumenauer,” bars the Department of Justice from using appropriated funds to prosecute individuals who are acting in compliance with their state’s medical marijuana laws. The provision was first signed into law in December 2014 as part of a larger spending package, and has been in force ever since.

Reps Rohrabacher and Blumenauer are both co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

In September, President Donald Trump reached an agreement with Congressional leadership to enact a three-month continuing resolution that maintains present federal spending levels and priorities through December 8, 2017, which included the amendment that was passed in the previous session of Congress.

Congressional leadership must reauthorize this language as part of the forthcoming budget in order for the provisions to stay in effect. In July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered identical language before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved it. However, House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) has refused to allow House members to vote on similar language. The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled.

It is imperative that the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment remain the law of the land and AG Sessions not be given the green-light to enact a crackdown. Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers and urge them to speak out about the need to protect the 2 million registered medical marijuana patients throughout the country.

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Rick Steves Testifies In Illinois In Support Of Legalization

NORML Blog - Wed, 11/29/2017 - 07:56

Rick Steves with Illinois NORML’s Ali Nagib

On Tuesday, travel radio and television host Rick Steves, a NORML Board Member, journeyed to Illinois to testify in support of marijuana legalization effort in the state legislature.

“When you legalize marijuana, use does not go up, teen use does not go up, crime does not go up, what goes up ix tax revenue, what goes down is the black market,” Steves said. “Seventy thousand people are locked up in our country every year, 700,000 people are arrested, for possession of marijuana, not violent crimes. They’re not rich white guys, they’re poor people and they’re black people. It’s amazing that it’s happening in our country right now and there is just a way out of this.”

Steves is well known for his public support of reform and has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy in support of outright legalization. During his press conference in Chicago, he was flanked by state lawmakers who have introduced the legislation. In their remarks, they laid out the economic realities of prohibition.

“It is clear that prohibition doesn’t work and that by lifting cannabis restrictions we can encourage economic development in Illinois,” State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said. “We are carefully considering all aspects and potential impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis, including job growth.”

“Legalizing cannabis will spur the creation of new small businesses and much-needed jobs,” State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) said. “We are leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity on the table by continuing the outdated status quo of prohibition.”

A recent poll of Illinois voters shows that 66% support the outright legalization of marijuana, and 74% support an end to arrests and penalties for simple possession.

You can watch the press conference by clicking here.

Make sure to follow Illinois NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website: https://illinoisnorml.org/

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Associations between medical cannabis and prescription opioid use in chronic pain patients

DrugSense Blog - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:14
The clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life warrants further investigations on cannabis as a potential alternative to prescription opioids for treating chronic pain. Study: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0187795
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Federal marijuana legislation clears House of Commons, headed for the Senate

DrugSense Blog - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:11
MPs passed the Liberal government’s bill to legalize cannabis Monday evening, sending the legislation down the hall to the Senate for further study and debate. The legislation was largely supported along partisan lines, although it secured the support of the NDP and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. The final vote was 200 MPs in favour, […]
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Travel Guru Rick Steves Joins MPP and Illinois Lawmakers to Support Legalization

MPP Blog - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 08:49

On Tuesday, travel guru Rick Steves visited Illinois to advocate for legislation to make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. Steves joined Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and House Committee on Public Safety and Appropriations Chairwoman Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) for a news conference to discuss why Illinois lawmakers should support regulating and taxing marijuana. Immediately following the press conference, Steves testified in front of a joint hearing of the Illinois General Assembly.

From CBS Chicago:

“What we need to do is take that black market down and turn it into a highly regulated, highly taxed legal market so that we can gain credibility and focus on the real risk to young people in our society which is hard drug abuse,” Steves said.

Steves said prohibition does not work. He said this is not about being pro-pot. He knows it can be dangerous, but said it’s time to stop making it criminal.

His travels in Europe opened his eyes.

He also studied the effects legalization has had on Colorado and his home state of Washington. He said more people are not using it.

State Senators Kelly Cassidy and Heather Steans are the lead sponsors of the bill to regulate cannabis. They estimate legalization could generate up to $700 million for the state every year.

“It would enable individuals to buy and possess up to 28 grams or grow five plants, just for adult use,” Steans said.

The post Travel Guru Rick Steves Joins MPP and Illinois Lawmakers to Support Legalization appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Double Your Impact on #GreenTuesday

NORML Blog - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 08:22

#GivingTuesday is a day that unites us in generosity and celebration for all that we have accomplished. After the two most busiest shopping days of the year, #GivingTuesday gives us all a chance to give back. This year we’re going BIG, and the only way we can ensure that happens is with your help.

The holiday season is in full swing, and naturally we are forced to think about all we are thankful for. We at NORML could not be more grateful for YOU and all of your continuous, unconditional support as we work for our shared vision of a legalized nation.

During this joyous time of giving thanks, one of our generous supporters offered to match the first $5,000 in donations for #GivingTuesday.

Double your impact and make a donation to propel us to the finish line and end marijuana prohibition.

We’ve made so much progress over the last year, all thanks to you. But there is still so much to be done. We expect 2018 to be even more successful for the movement, and we need you to help continue our momentum by making a contribution in honor of #GivingTuesday. Now more than ever is when we need your support to ensure that we achieve a fair legalization and equitable marijuana market.

Donate today to have your contribution matched dollar for dollar!

Every act of generosity counts, and each means even more when we give together. Join NORML’s global giving movement where millions of people have come together to support and champion our cause of ending marijuana prohibition. Become one of those people today, on #GivingTuesday.

Many thanks,
The NORML Team

P.S. Shopping on Amazon for holiday gifts or just day to day expenses? Through the Amazon-smile program, you can have a portion of your costs be donated to NORML and our reform efforts.  

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Canada: House Members Overwhelmingly Pass Adult Use Regulation Bill

NORML Blog - Tue, 11/28/2017 - 04:34

Members of the Canadian House of Commons voted 200 to 82 to approve legislation that seeks to legalize and regulate the adult use cannabis market. Liberal Party members, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, back the measure, which now faces debate in the Senate.

The Cannabis Act, Bill C-45, amends the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act so that those over the age of 18 may legally possess, purchase, and grow personal use quantities of cannabis. It further seeks to establish rules and regulations governing the commercial production of retail cannabis products. Proponents of the legislation hope to have the new law in place by July 1, 2018.

Health Canada is presently seeking public feedback regarding the regulations. Written comments will be accepted through January 20, 2018.

Additional information regarding C-45 is available from NORML Canada. Updates regarding the text and status of the legislation is available from the Library of Parliament here.

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Setting The Record Straight

NORML Blog - Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:10

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

The majority of NORML’s rebuttals are penned by Deputy Director Paul Armentano. In the past few weeks, he has published numerous op-eds highlighting the therapeutic effects of marijuana, the racial disparities in prohibitions’ enforcement, and the overall need for reform.

Below are links to a sampling of his recent columns:

“Cannabis has a record of safety, efficacy”
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. November 23, 2017

“African Americans are disproportionately arrested for low-level marijuana violations — and the disparity is growing”
Alternet. November 21, 2017.

“Cannabis saves lives”
Santa Fe New Mexican. November 13, 2017

“Medical marijuana should be legal in Indiana”
Indianapolis Star. November 10, 2017

“How to heal our sick system for managing pain and fighting the opioid epidemic”
Los Angeles Times. November 3, 2017.

“American opinions have changed when it comes to marijuana, federal law should change too”
The Hill. October 28, 2017

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

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

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New York Poll Shows 62% Support for Legalization

MPP Blog - Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:09

A new poll shows that 62% of New York voters support making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. Only 28% are opposed. The poll, conducted by Emerson College and commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance, is available here.

The poll also found that voters were far more supportive of legalizing and taxing marijuana than other options for addressing the state’s budget deficit. Sixty percent of respondents supported legalizing and taxing marijuana to help address New York’s budget deficit, with 28% opposed. Between 15% and 27% of voters supported each of the other options presented — increasing sales or income taxes, increasing tolls, or cutting public education or other services.

It’s time New York stop wasting resources punishing otherwise law-abiding residents for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. Let your lawmakers know voters want them to take marijuana off of the criminal market, so we can create good jobs, build the economy, and fund essential services.

New Yorkers have spoken clearly — it is time to legalize marijuana in the Empire State.

If you are a New York resident, please email your lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo today. Let them know it is time to replace marijuana prohibition with thoughtful regulation.

 

The post New York Poll Shows 62% Support for Legalization appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Action Alerts, #GivingTuesday, Issue 1000, Remembering Rep. Hinchey

Stop The Drug War - Fri, 11/24/2017 - 11:20

I hope that those of you who mark Thanksgiving had a good holiday.

read more

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ALERT: Medical Marijuana Is Under Threat -- Tell Congress to Act!

Stop The Drug War - Fri, 11/24/2017 - 10:08
For the first time in years, there's a chance that the federal budget law which has protected medical marijuana won't get reauthorized.

read more

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Talk About Marijuana At Thanksgiving This Year

NORML Blog - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 13:29

We have much to be thankful for this year. Lawmakers in 26 states have passed legislation to advance cannabis reform, including New Hampshire becoming the 21nd state to decriminalize marijuana and West Virginia becoming the 30th state to pass a medical marijuana program.

This progress has come as a result of years of organizing and conversations with our fellow citizens about the role of government in relationship to a plant. Having the tough conversations about the scope of the government’s right to stop, search, and incarcerate individuals for possessing or consuming marijuana for either personal or medical benefits.

And now for the first time ever, Gallup polling recorded outright majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents supporting the legalization of marijuana. The only way to find out if this includes your aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives is if you bring it up.

So use us as a resource – NORML.org has FactsheetsTalking Points, and you can even pass your phone or computer around the table to have your friends and family contact their lawmakers right then and there to support reform in our Action Center.

As we look toward an uncertain future, we know we must work to both sustain our existing gains and to win future victories. With your continued financial support, we are confident that we can bring the era of marijuana prohibition to an end and usher in the new era of legalization. Together, we will be unstoppable. Together, we WILL legalize marijuana across this great country.

From all of us at NORML to all of you, we hope you have a hempy and happy Thanksgiving.

Onward.

 

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MPP Founder Rob Kampia Transitioning to New Role

MPP Blog - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 13:04

As MPP’s role in national and state marijuana policy reform efforts continues to grow and evolve, our leadership structure must also evolve. As such, MPP founder Rob Kampia is stepping down as executive director and will be assuming a new role in the organization.

We would like to thank Rob for his leadership and his continued work to end marijuana prohibition. Rob released the following statement:

I am excited to announce that I will be transitioning to the new position of director of strategic development with the Marijuana Policy Project.

Matthew Schweich, who joined MPP as the director of state campaigns in early 2015, will serve as interim executive director as the organization searches for a permanent executive director.

Back in 1993, I moved to D.C. three days after graduating from Penn State for the sole purpose of legalizing marijuana. Fully 19 years later, in 2012, MPP stunned the world by legalizing marijuana in Colorado, and in the four years since then, MPP legalized marijuana in four more states, being responsible overall for five of the eight states’ legalization laws.

When I co-founded MPP in 1995, medical marijuana was illegal in all 50 states, and it had been a decade since a good marijuana bill was even pending in Congress. Since 1995, MPP has passed half of the 29 states’ medical marijuana laws, and MPP was the lead organization that successfully lobbied Congress in 2014 to block the Justice Department from interfering with those state laws, and that amendment from Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is still the law nationwide.

I’m looking forward to spending more time on Capitol Hill to help craft and pass the best possible legalization law nationally. I also want to focus on legalizing marijuana in three of the 10 most populous states – Texas, New York, and Michigan.

Just yesterday, our Michigan campaign submitted a sufficient number of signatures to that state government, virtually guaranteeing that Michigan will be the only state to vote in November 2018 on a statewide ballot measure to legalize marijuana.

I’m honored to have served as executive director, I’m excited the board chose the person I nominated to serve as interim executive director, and I’m energized to help identify a new executive director to finish the job of ending marijuana prohibition in the U.S.

The post MPP Founder Rob Kampia Transitioning to New Role appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Michigan Adult Use Campaign Submits Petition Signatures

MPP Blog - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 13:22

On Monday, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will submitted petitions to put a ballot initiative on the 2018 ballot in Michigan that would make marijuana legal and regulate it for adults.

Associated Press reports:

Organizers of a ballot drive to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in Michigan submitted 365,000 signatures to the state Monday, which appears to be more than enough to qualify the initiative for a statewide vote in 2018.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said the prohibition against recreational marijuana is “a massive failure.”

Michigan has allowed medical marijuana use for nearly a decade. If the new proposal were to make the ballot and win voter approval, it would make Michigan the ninth state to legalize the drug for recreational use.

If passed, people 21 and older could possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent tax on marijuana would be assessed on top of the 6 percent state sales tax.

Josh Hovey, a spokesman for the coalition, said fully legalizing the drug for adults would generate hundreds of millions in new tax revenue. He estimated that 20,000 people in the state are arrested annually for marijuana possession and cultivation.

“Oftentimes it’s just adults using a plant that is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco,” he said at a news conference a couple of blocks from the state Bureau of Elections. “It’s breaking up families. It’s destroying communities. … We can impose some regulations, create a new industry in the state. You’re going to see not only the tax benefits of that, but jobs, less crime and letting law enforcement go after things that are more important.”

State officials will take about two months to review the voter signatures. If they determine that about 252,000 are valid, the bill would go to the Republican-controlled Legislature. Lawmakers would have 40 days to adopt the measure or it would be placed on the November 2018 statewide ballot. Legislators could propose an alternative marijuana bill to put before voters alongside the initiative.

The campaign is proud to have the support from both national and local advocacy organizations including the Marijuana Policy Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, Michigan NORML and MI Legalize.

The post Michigan Adult Use Campaign Submits Petition Signatures appeared first on MPP Blog.

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