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Texas: Marijuana policy voter guide released, early voting begins October 22

MPP Blog - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 07:12

Our allies at Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy released a voter guide for the upcoming election. Early voting starts today, so please check it out, spread the word, and head to the polls!

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy’s coalition partners surveyed state and federal candidates and provided their unedited responses. They also included voting records from the last two legislative sessions for state-level incumbents.

Find out where your candidates stand.

Early Voting: October 22 – November 2, 2018
Election Day: November 6, 2018

For more information on where, how, and when to vote, visit VoteTexas.Gov.

Unfortunately, Texas doesn’t allow voters to collect petitions to put initiatives on the ballot. Only state lawmakers can initiate changes to the state’s marijuana policies. Who gets elected in November will be key to deciding when and if Texas enacts a medical cannabis law and stops criminalizing cannabis consumers.

So, please get educated and get voting!

Many thanks to Heather Fazio of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, Texas NORML, and everyone else who worked on the voter guide!

The post Texas: Marijuana policy voter guide released, early voting begins October 22 appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Rhode Island: Dept. of Health approves medical marijuana for autism

MPP Blog - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 08:27

Great news! The Department of of Health has announced that Rhode Island families can now access medical marijuana to treat autism. The decision was issued this week after a petition was filed in April to add autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

The announcement imposes some stipulations for physicians interested in recommending medical marijuana for patients with ASD, including that they first try FDA-approved medications and CBD products. The statement can be read in full here.

The Health Department held a public hearing on ASD and medical marijuana in August. At the hearing, Nicole Cervantes, a mother of a son with ASD, testified that CBD had significantly improved her child’s condition. “He has been able to focus more,” she said. “He no longer bangs his head.”

In recent years, families across the country have spoken out about how medical marijuana has helped minimize the worst symptoms of ASD. Rhode Island now joins seven other states that make some allowance for medical marijuana in the treatment of autism.

This is a great step forward for Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program. Let’s keep working to make further improvements to the state’s marijuana policies.

The post Rhode Island: Dept. of Health approves medical marijuana for autism appeared first on MPP Blog.

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The fight for Measure 3 is heating up in North Dakota

MPP Blog - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 14:55

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

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

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

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

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

With our help, they can win this.

The post The fight for Measure 3 is heating up in North Dakota appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Vermont general election voter guide published

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 14:27

Early voting is already underway for the Vermont general election, which is scheduled for Tuesday, November 6. Before you vote, please check out our legislative voter guide to learn where candidates for state representative and state senator stand on marijuana policy. Then, please read our guide on the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.

This year, we sent candidates a survey consisting of only one question: “Do you support regulating and taxing the production and sale of cannabis in Vermont for use by adults 21 and older?” Our voter guides include responses from candidates for state representative, state senator, and governor, in addition to public statements and incumbent legislators’ votes on the legalization bill. If a candidate in your district has not responded to the survey, we encourage you to reach out to them directly and ask their position!

For information on where and how to vote in Vermont, click here.

Again, please take time to read our voter guide for state legislative races and our gubernatorial voter guide before you vote in the November 6 general election. Please share the voter guides with your family and friends!

The post Vermont general election voter guide published appeared first on MPP Blog.

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South Carolina: November 6 is General Election Day!

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 11:58

South Carolina’s general election, set for Tuesday, November 6, is just 21 days away. The governor’s race and every House of Representatives seat is on the ballot. This is a particularly important election as lawmakers are expected to vote on a medical cannabis bill in 2019, and it will likely need the support of the governor. Those in office will have a huge impact on the future of South Carolina’s patients and their treatment options.

Our voter guide is now available online. It includes all House candidates who either co-sponsored the 2018 medical cannabis bill or who responded to our questionnaire on medical cannabis support. It also includes committee votes and the candidates for governor. While James Smith (D) is a strong supporter of allowing medical cannabis, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said he would not sign a bill unless law enforcement signs off — which they show no inclination of doing.

Voters’ choices this year will have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in the state. If you are registered to vote, know where your candidates stand, and be sure to vote!

If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you have until October 17. For more information, including polling places and other key information, check out the state’s elections website here.

 

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The Illinois general election is around the corner

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 11:54

The Illinois general election takes place on November 6. It’s fast approaching, and voters this year will have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in Illinois. Lawmakers continue to look closely at ending marijuana prohibition and legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and over, and the differences between the two major party candidates for governor couldn’t be bigger on this issue: JB Pritzker (D) has come out in strong support of legalizing and regulating marijuana, while Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) remains opposed.

Take a minute to check out our Illinois Voter Guide and see where the candidates on your ballot stand on cannabis reform. Not all the candidates have a voting history on cannabis bills in the state House or Senate, but for those that do, we’ve summarized the voting record on key cannabis-related bills over the past several years.

If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you have until October 21 to register online. For more information, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open, check out the state’s website here.

In nearby Michigan, voters will have an opportunity to legalize marijuana themselves. But in Illinois, there’s no citizen initiative process, so only lawmakers can end the wasteful and cruel policy of prohibition. This year’s elections will likely have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in Illinois. Now is the time for voters who support a better path for Illinois to make their voice heard.

 

The post The Illinois general election is around the corner appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Oct. 17: You’re invited to a special event for Michigan’s YES on 1 campaign!

MPP Blog - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 13:19

Proposal 1, the Michigan legalization ballot initiative, is up in the polls, but it’s still too close for comfort. The opposition campaign is just a couple of big checks away from being able to launch a large misinformation campaign.

We’re in the final weeks of the election, and we need to make sure the Yes on 1 campaign has the resources it needs to educate voters about the benefits of legalizing marijuana. Next week, I hope you’ll join me in Ann Arbor for a special evening to support this important campaign.

RSVP via phone (517-974-2265) or email (robin@regulatemi.org). If you can’t attend, please consider making a contribution directly to the campaign here. And please share the word with other supporters. Let’s win this!

The post Oct. 17: You’re invited to a special event for Michigan’s YES on 1 campaign! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Vermont’s Addison County will host two expungement events in October

MPP Blog - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 13:07

State’s attorney’s office and legal experts will assist Vermonters with clearing misdemeanor marijuana conviction records on October 12 and 28.

Now that Vermont’s marijuana legalization law has taken effect, the state’s attorney (prosecutor) for Addison County has announced that two expungement clinics will be held to assist Vermonters with having their records cleared of misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Volunteers will assist people who have been convicted of marijuana possession in Addison County with filling out expungement petitions on Friday, October 12 and Sunday, October 28.

WHAT: Addison County Expungement Clinic
WHERE: Probate Court Room, Addison County Court House, 7 Mahady Ct., Middlebury
WHEN: Friday, October 12, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

WHAT: Addison County Expungement Clinic
WHERE: Middlebury College Kirk Alumni Center, 217 Golf Course Rd., Middlebury
WHEN: Sunday, October 28, 2:00 to 4:30 p.m.

A fee may be required. Financial assistance may be available. Click here for more details on the process.

If you have been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession in another Vermont county, you may wish to call and ask what it would take to have your record expunged. You can find phone numbers for all of Vermont’s state’s attorneys’ offices here.

We are very grateful to the Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office, Vermont Legal Aid, the Center for Justice Reform at Vermont Law School, and the Pennywise Foundation for sponsoring these clinics. Thanks also to drug policy reform advocate Dave Silberman for working to make this happen.

Please share this news with your family and friends!

The post Vermont’s Addison County will host two expungement events in October appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Pennsylvania committee approves partial decrim bill

MPP Blog - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 11:14

Although 59% of Pennsylvania voters think it should be legal for adults to use marijuana, state law lags far behind popular sentiment. Pennsylvanians found with cannabis can still be locked in a jail cell and branded criminals.

But that could change soon. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a decriminalization bill, H.B. 928. Unfortunately, however, it first amended the bill to exclude minors and people in vehicles from decriminalization.

If you live in Pennsylvania, ask your state representative to support and fix the decriminalization bill.

Currently, simple possession is a misdemeanor carrying up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500, plus a six-month or one-year driver’s license suspension.

Except in the case of minors, possession in cars, or possession on school property, H.B. 928 would downgrade first and second offense possession of under 30 grams to a summary offense carrying a fine of no more than $300. Subsequent convictions would be misdemeanors carrying up to a $1,000 fine, but with no jail time.

Please take a moment to ask your rep to support H.B. 928, but to work to amend the bill. Let them know: Minors should also not be incarcerated for cannabis, and criminalizing possession in cars will still senselessly ruin lives.

Then, spread the word to others, so that they, too, can raise their voices.

The post Pennsylvania committee approves partial decrim bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Major compromise reached in Utah

MPP Blog - Fri, 10/05/2018 - 06:51

On October 4 in Salt Lake City, medical marijuana supporters and opponents announced that they have reached an agreement on a compromise medical marijuana law that will be enacted during a November special session after the 2018 election.

Regardless of the outcome of Prop 2 — the medical marijuana ballot initiative that MPP helped to draft — the legislature will enact the compromise bill. Utah Governor Gary Herbert has committed to calling the special session.

MPP strongly supports the agreement because it will ensure that a workable medical marijuana law is enacted and implemented. In Utah, a statutory ballot initiative can be amended or even repealed by a simple majority in the legislature. If Prop 2 passed without any agreement on next steps, patients may have been left waiting years to access legal medical cannabis. This compromise eliminates that uncertainty and ensures legislative leaders are committed to making the law work.

This agreement has the support of the Utah Patients Coalition (the Prop 2 campaign committee), Utah Governor Gary Herbert, the Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, the Utah Senate President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Utah Medical Association.

The compromise bill, while not ideal and cumbersome in certain respects, is workable and provides a path for Utah patients to legally access medical cannabis, including whole-plant products. MPP staff were consulted during the negotiations and provided critical input on the final agreement.

MPP has been assisting the campaign since its inception in early 2017. We helped draft the initiative, and we made significant financial contributions to fund the successful signature drive (and its subsequent legal defense). While we still wish to see Prop 2 pass, both sides have agreed to de-escalate their campaign activities.

MPP would like to thank the many individual donors who supported the Utah Patients Coalition over the last 18 months. Your generosity enabled a successful signature drive. If Prop 2 had not qualified for the ballot, yesterday’s agreement would not have been possible.

Very soon, one of the most conservative states in the country will enact a medical marijuana law. That demonstrates that any state in the country can have a medical marijuana law. MPP will continue to work across the country to achieve that goal.

The post Major compromise reached in Utah appeared first on MPP Blog.

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California Gov. Brown vetoes several key bills, signs others; medical patients hit the hardest

MPP Blog - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 10:08

If you live in California, click here to support access on school grounds and tax breaks for donated cannabis. 

Gov. Jerry Brown recently acted on a raft of cannabis bills that passed this year. Here is a quick breakdown of what was signed and what was vetoed.

Among the bills signed into law:
  • AB 1793 allows adults convicted of cannabis-related offenses that are no longer considered illegal to have them automatically removed from their records.
  • SB 1294 creates equity provisions that will allow cannabis business licensees who qualify to get access to low- or no-interest loans and grants.
  • AB 2215 requires the Veterinary Medical Board to establish guidelines for licensed veterinarians to discuss the use of cannabis on animals.
  • AB 2020 allows cannabis to be sold and consumed at special events.
Unfortunately, Gov. Brown vetoed several important bills:
  • SB 1127 would allow medical cannabis to be administered on school property for registered patients.
  • SB 829 would exempt cannabis from taxes when donated free of charge to dispensaries for their low-income patients.
  • SB 1863 would allow licensed cannabis companies to deduct standard business expenses under the state’s personal income tax.
Lawmakers are now considering whether they have the two-thirds votes to override the vetoes. Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of tax breaks for cannabis donated to needy patients and protections for medical cannabis patients at schools. Cannabis policy made big strides this year, but there is more to do.

The post California Gov. Brown vetoes several key bills, signs others; medical patients hit the hardest appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Analysis: Michigan legalization measure would generate $520 million in new tax revenue over five years

MPP Blog - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 14:29

A recent study of the potential fiscal impacts of legalizing marijuana in Michigan found that passage of Prop 1 would generate over half a billion dollars in additional revenue for the state in the first five years of implementation. Read local coverage of the analysis here.

Much of the revenue generated from marijuana would be directed to Michigan’s roads, schools, and local communities, which are currently underfunded.

The report, conducted by marijuana policy consulting firm VS Strategies, made predictions based on a model that drew upon analysis of multiple data sources. By 2023, the study predicts that total annual marijuana sales will exceed $800 million in Michigan. Read the detailed findings of the analysis here.

Election Day is just over a month away, and voters will soon be receiving absentee ballots. There’s not much time left, and the YES on 1 campaign needs your help to ensure the measure passes. Chip in with a contribution today to help them dispel the fear tactics and propaganda of their prohibitionist opponents.

The post Analysis: Michigan legalization measure would generate $520 million in new tax revenue over five years appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Oklahoma City ordinance reduces penalty for marijuana possession!

MPP Blog - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 07:54

Ask your state lawmakers to take this reform to the state level.

Starting on October 26, Oklahoma City’s maximum penalty for simple possession of marijuana will be reduced to a fine of up to $400. The Oklahoma City Council approved the proposal to remove jail time and reduce the penalty for marijuana possession last week. Until the new law takes effect, the maximum fine for possession is $1,200 and six months of jail time.

If you live in Oklahoma, let your lawmakers know the time has come for statewide decriminalization!

Penalizing individuals with jail time and a criminal record for possessing small amounts of marijuana wastes law enforcement resources. It can also lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses. You can find more information on decriminalization here.

Please spread the word!

The post New Oklahoma City ordinance reduces penalty for marijuana possession! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Penn. legalization and regulation bill has been introduced!

MPP Blog - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 07:50

Ask your legislators to end marijuana prohibition in Pennsylvania!

The drum beat for sensible marijuana policy is picking up in Pennsylvania!

Last Monday, Rep. Jake Wheatley introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana for adults 21 or older. This bill would also expunge the records of people who have been convicted of certain cannabis offenses.

If you are a Pennsylvania residentemail your state legislators today urging them to support HB 2600!

Ending marijuana prohibition would let adults make their own decisions about a substance that is safer than alcohol. Earlier this year, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a report estimating that legalization could generate more than $580 million in tax revenue for the state.

In other exciting news, on Tuesday Lancaster City Council decriminalized simple possession and use of marijuana! Possession of marijuana or related paraphernalia will be now be classified as a summary offense – carrying a fine or community service – rather than a misdemeanor.

Please spread the word so that together, we can end prohibition in the Keystone State.

The post Penn. legalization and regulation bill has been introduced! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Register to vote and make your voice heard!

MPP Blog - Fri, 09/28/2018 - 07:41

Click here for help registering in your state.

Election Day may not be until Tuesday, November 6, but in many states voter registration deadlines are coming up soon! MPP has teamed up with non-profit Rock the Vote to make it easier for our subscribers to register in their state. Just click here, and their simple tool will help you fill out the voter registration form in your state or tell you where to register online, if your state allows that.

After you fill out their form online, you’ll get an email with your official registration form attached, and all you have to do is print it and mail it in! Easy. Can’t make it to the polls on Election Day? You can also click here if you want to learn more about voting policies in your state, like early voting or voting by mail, as well as whether you can vote if you have a prior conviction.

Voters in Utah, Michigan, North Dakota, and Missouri will get to vote on marijuana initiatives this year, and MPP or our coalition partners have released voter guides in New Hampshire and Maryland. Click here to learn more, and please get out and vote!

The post Register to vote and make your voice heard! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Ask candidates for the Maryland Legislature to commit to supporting marijuana policy reform

MPP Blog - Thu, 09/27/2018 - 10:31

The latest Goucher poll shows that 62% of Marylanders “support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.” Unfortunately, Maryland’s lawmakers have lagged behind the public on this issue — but this could change in November’s election. If you are a Maryland voter,  please let the candidates in your district know that this issue is important to you. (And don’t forget to check out the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition’s Voter Guide here.)

If you are interested in hearing more about MPP’s work — and meeting our new executive director, Steven Hawkins — please consider attending the Spark! Maryland networking event on October 4 at 6:30 p.m. at The Reserve at Two Rivers, 4105 Mountain Road, Pasadena, MD 21122. You can purchase tickets here.

Marylanders are ready to join the eight other states that have legalized and regulated marijuana for adults 21 and older. Click here to ask the people who want to represent you in the General Assembly if they’re ready too.

The post Ask candidates for the Maryland Legislature to commit to supporting marijuana policy reform appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Rick Steves to tour Michigan in support of legalization ballot measure

MPP Blog - Thu, 09/27/2018 - 10:26

Next week, legendary travel host Rick Steves will be visiting Michigan to give talks in support of Prop 1, the ballot initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana. Known for his hit PBS series “Rick Steves’ Europe,” Rick’s engaging personality and first-hand experience seeing the benefits of legalization in his home state of Washington make this an event you don’t want to miss.

You can catch him in two locations, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Both speaking events are free and open to the public. The tour schedule is listed below.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2
It’s Time for a New Approach: Rick Steves on why legalization is a better solution
Time: 7:30 p.m., doors at 7:00 p.m.
Location: Peter Martin Wege Theatre, 341 Ellsworth Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Cost: FREE
Register here

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3
It’s Time for a New Approach: Rick Steves on why legalization is a better solution
Time: 8:30 p.m., doors at 8:00 p.m.
Location: Rackham Amphitheatre, 915 E Washington St., Ann Arbor
Cost: FREE
Register here

As a board member of NORML, Rick Steves has been a long-time advocate for sensible marijuana policies. Audiences around the country have heard his informative and entertaining talks on marijuana legalization, and now you have a chance to see him, too. Register for one of the events above and share the word by inviting friends and family.

The post Rick Steves to tour Michigan in support of legalization ballot measure appeared first on MPP Blog.

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NY: Medical marijuana program adds acute pain management as qualifying condition

MPP Blog - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 08:44

On Monday, September 24, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that adds acute pain management to the list of approved conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana as an alternative to opioid use. This new law formalizes regulations the New York State Department of Health issued in July, which added opioid replacement and opioid use disorder to the list.

This is great news for patients! Access to medical marijuana is no longer limited to those suffering from chronic pain. This bill and regulations allow more patients who could benefit from medical marijuana a safe and effective alternative to highly addictive opioids.

Find more information on New York’s medical marijuana program, including the list of qualifying conditions and how to register, here.

The post NY: Medical marijuana program adds acute pain management as qualifying condition appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Michigan legalization campaign wins a big endorsement

MPP Blog - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 12:23

Great news! The Detroit Free Press, one of Michigan’s largest media outlets, has endorsed the Yes on 1 legalization campaign!

The paper’s supportive editorial echoed many of the Yes on 1 campaign’s core messages: marijuana prohibition wastes law enforcement resources, unfairly harms communities of color, and prevents the state from collecting millions in tax revenue that could fund critical social programs. This is a huge boost for Prop 1, but we have to make sure the momentum is carried forward into November.

You can help the Yes on 1 team by making a donation here. Supporters can also promote the effort by picking up Yes on 1 gear from the new campaign store. There, you’ll find some great items, including t-shirts, hoodies, and yard signs, with the official Yes on 1 logo.

We’re just a few weeks away from Election Day (November 6). Michigan residents should visit the Secretary of State’s voter page to get information about polling locations, absentee voting, and more. The deadline to register to vote is October 9. If you’re not already registered, click here for the registration form. Be sure to fill it out and deliver it to your city or town clerk’s office by October 9.

If you have friends or family in Michigan, please forward this email to them and ask them to vote “Yes” on Prop 1. I’m confident that if enough people pitch in, we’ll be celebrating another major victory on November 6.

The post Michigan legalization campaign wins a big endorsement appeared first on MPP Blog.

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U.S. territory to legalize, regulate marijuana!

MPP Blog - Fri, 09/21/2018 - 05:34

The remote U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands is so far ahead of the mainland U.S., it’s already late evening there. And the Northern Mariana Islands are also far ahead of the mainland U.S. when it comes to reforming marijuana laws.

The Northern Marianas just made history when it became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. where a governing body enacted legislation to both end marijuana prohibition and establish a system of regulation to replace it! Earlier today, Gov. DLG Torres signed the Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018, after it was approved overwhelmingly by the commonwealth’s House and Senate.

All eight state laws that legalized, taxed, and regulated marijuana passed by voter initiative. And earlier this year, the Vermont Legislature enacted a bill that legalized adult-use possession and cultivation of marijuana. However, unlike the Northern Marianas’, Vermont’s law doesn’t include sales. (MPP spearheaded six of those nine campaigns.)

We’re proud of our allies at Sensible CNMI and lawmakers in the Northern Marianas for crafting a comprehensive, thoughtful bill that includes home cultivation, micro-producers, and on-site consumption. And we were honored to play a supporting role.

Check out our summary of the bill here.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Legislature could enact a law to legalize and regulate marijuana soon. Please consider making a generous donation to MPP so we can convince lawmakers in other states and territories to follow the Northern Marianas’ lead!

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