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Updated: 28 min 10 sec ago

Controversial New Hampshire Marijuana Study Commission Holds First Meeting

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 12:28

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

MPP’s Matt Simon released the following statement:

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

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

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

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Kentucky Republican Senate Leader Proposes Regulating Marijuana

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 11:08

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 09:50

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

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

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

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

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

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South Dakota Enters Final Month for Signature Collection

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 09:34

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

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

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

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

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

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Voters Defeat Business Bans in Alaska

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 08:10

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

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

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

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

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

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Washington to Consider Allowing Home Cultivation

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 13:09

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

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

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

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

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

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Atlanta City Council Approves Decriminalizing Marijuana

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 13:01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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D.C. Bill Would Dramatically Expand Access to Dispensaries

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 09:37

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

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

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

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

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

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Maryland Expungement Bill Becomes Law

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 08:43

On Sunday, SB 949, which makes it easier for people who have been convicted of marijuana possession to clear their records in Maryland, went into effect. The bill became law in May without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature.

Prior to the bill’s passage, anyone convicted of cannabis possession was required to wait 10 years before applying for expungement, despite Maryland decriminalizing possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana in 2014. Now, the waiting period has been reduced from 10 years after conviction to four years.

While this reform is a step in the right direction, it is far short of the improvements Marylanders need. If you are a Maryland resident, please write to your state legislators, and ask them to support taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol.

The post Maryland Expungement Bill Becomes Law appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Marijuana Arrests Increasing Nationally Despite State Reforms

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 10:16

On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released their annual Crime in the United States (CIUS) report, and the stats are concerning.

Tom Angell reported for Forbes:

Marijuana possession busts comprised 37.36% of all reported drug arrests in the U.S. in 2016, and cannabis sales and manufacturing arrests accounted for another 4.18% of the total.

Added together, marijuana arrests made up 41.54% of the 1,572,579 drug busts in the country last year.

That means, based on an extrapolation, that police arrested people for cannabis 653,249 times in the U.S. in 2016.

That averages out to about one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds.

According to the same calculation, there were 643,121 U.S. cannabis arrests in 2015.

So arrests for marijuana are on the rise, even as more states legalize it.

These figures are only estimates based on the available information provided by law enforcement agencies, but represent the best current method for determining arrest rates. In addition, the FBI has ceased publishing the information about the drug arrest percentages by type of drug, making analysis even more difficult.

MPP’s Morgan Fox released the following statement:

Arresting and citing more than 650,000 people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty. Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested. Regulating marijuana for adults creates jobs, generates tax revenue, protects consumers, and takes money away from criminals. It is time for the federal government and the rest of the states to stop ruining peoples’ lives and enact sensible marijuana policies.

The post Marijuana Arrests Increasing Nationally Despite State Reforms appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Minnesota Hearing on Adding Qualifying Conditions to Take Place This Week

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 09:09

The Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program will be holding its second New Condition Review Panel Meeting on Tuesday, September 26. The panel will be reviewing five of the 10 petitioned conditions: liver disease, anxiety, obstructive sleep apnea, endocannabinoid deficiency, and dementia.

It’s important to expand Minnesota’s qualifying conditions so that more patients have access to medical marijuana. This meeting is open to the public. If you cannot make the meeting, written comments can be sent to: Health.Cannabis.AddMedicalCondition@state.mn.us

Here are the meeting details:

When: Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Where: State Office Building
100 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Room 200
St. Paul, MN 55155

In legalization news, we are glad to find out that most of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates for governor support taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. The Star Tribune reports that “St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, state Reps. Erin Murphy, Tina Liebling and Paul Thissen, and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz all support legalizing marijuana for recreational and not just medical use. Among the major DFL candidates, only State Auditor Rebecca Otto declined to do so.” Unfortunately, none of the Republican candidates support making marijuana legal.

Please talk to your local officials and explain that regulating marijuana is working in states like Colorado and can work in Minnesota too. With your help, we can continue to bring sensible marijuana policy reform to Minnesota.

The post Minnesota Hearing on Adding Qualifying Conditions to Take Place This Week appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Another Utah Poll Shows Strong Support for Medical Marijuana

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:02

The 2018 medical cannabis campaign in Utah is fully underway. Right now, the Utah Patients Coalition is collecting signatures from across the state in order to qualify for next year’s ballot.

A new poll was released showing that 74 percent of Utahns support medical cannabis. Other recent polls have showed similar levels of support.

With legislative inaction, a group now puts forward a citizen petition which would set up a medical marijuana (non-smoking) system in Utah, where a limited number of registered growers would provide types of marijuana to be prescribed by a limited number of doctors for specific diseases and/or chronic pain.

Here are some of the interesting numbers found by Jones in his latest survey:

— Utah Republicans favor passage of the citizen initiative on MM, 61-35 percent.

— Democrats really like the idea, 93-7 percent.

— Political independents, who don’t belong to any political party, favor MM, 87-13 percent.

— Even those who self-described themselves as politically “very conservative” favor medical marijuana legalization, 51-42 percent.

— The “somewhat conservatives,” favor it, 71-25; the “moderates” like the petition, 84-14 percent; “somewhat liberals,” 92-8 percent; and the “very liberals,” 97-2 percent.

Those who said they are “somewhat active” in the LDS Church like MM, 80-15 percent; former Mormons who have left the faith like it, 87-5 percent; Catholics favor MM, 80-20 percent; Protestants (which includes born-again Christians), 61-26 percent; and those with no religion like it, 96-4 percent.

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

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Florida Accepting Medical Marijuana Business Applications

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:32

The Florida Department of Health has proposed regulations to establish the procedure to apply for Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) licenses and to outline the evaluation process for applicants. The application is posted on the Office of Compassionate Use website, and applicants may begin completing applications for submission.

In order to become a licensed MMTC, each applicant is required to submit financial statements and to pass a background check. The law regulating Amendment 2 provides for 10 new licenses to be granted to growers in the state in addition to the seven that already exist and would require another four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients added to the state’s medical marijuana registry.

The post Florida Accepting Medical Marijuana Business Applications appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Delaware Adds PTSD to Medical Marijuana Qualifying Conditions

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:20

On Monday, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed the Bravery Bill into law, which allows PTSD patients to receive a medical marijuana recommendation from any properly licensed physician. Previously, patients suffering from PTSD could only get a medical marijuana recommendation from a licensed psychiatrist.

While this is a step in the right direction, there are many other patients in Delaware who do not have access to medical marijuana. Whether they have a condition that the state hasn’t approved or they simply cannot afford the cost of a recommendation, many would benefit from expanded access. The best way to expand access for suffering patients is by taxing and regulating marijuana for all adults.

As you may know, the Adult Use Cannabis Task Force had its first meeting this month. They are discussing how Delaware could make marijuana legal. The next meeting will cover consumer safety and local authority and control. Here are details:

When: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Wednesday, October 4
Where: House Chamber, 411 Legislative Avenue, Dover, DE 19901

The post Delaware Adds PTSD to Medical Marijuana Qualifying Conditions appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Hampshire Decriminalization Law Takes Effect

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 09:10

New Hampshire will finally take a critical step toward living up to its motto today as HB 640 takes effect, and the “Live Free or Die” state becomes the 22nd state — and the final New England state — to decriminalize marijuana possession. You can read a summary of the new law here.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call Gov. Sununu’s office today to thank him for signing the decriminalization bill and to encourage him to support ending marijuana prohibition.

MPP has been working with our allies in Concord since 2008 to achieve this victory. We greatly appreciate all of the support you have provided over the years!

Unfortunately, we know that our work in New Hampshire is far from complete. A commission has been formed to study marijuana legalization, and most of the commission’s members are skeptical if not downright hostile to our position.

The post New Hampshire Decriminalization Law Takes Effect appeared first on MPP Blog.

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UPDATE: Congressional Budget Deal Extends Medical Marijuana Protections

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 12:05

A budget deal approved in Congress on Friday extended federal protections for state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers until Dec. 8, potentially creating another opportunity to ensure they are inluded in the FY 2018 budget.

Earlier this week, the House Rules Committee blocked an amendment introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) from being heard by the House during the rest of the budget negotiations. This made it very likely that the amendment, which prevents the Department of Justice  from targeting state medical marijuana programs, would not be included in the final budget for next year. Without inclusion, these protections would have expired Sep. 30.

This budget deal gives us a little more time to put pressure on Congress to do the right thing. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support medical marijuana.

The post UPDATE: Congressional Budget Deal Extends Medical Marijuana Protections appeared first on MPP Blog.

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National Survey Shows Teen Use Dropping, Possible Substitution for Alcohol in Adults

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 12:05

The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that teen marijuana use rates decreased nationally in 2016. Past-month use rates among adults increased slightly, but alcohol use rates among all age groups decreased, indicating the possibility that adults are substituting marijuana for alcohol.

Past-month use rates for the 12-17 age group decreased by 0.5% from 2015 to 6.5% nationally in 2016. This is the lowest level of marijuana use in this age group since 2002. The data also shows a steady decrease since 2014, when the first states to make marijuana legal for adults began allowing regulated retail sales. The full report is available here.

“Critics of legalization worry about the message being sent to youth by marijuana policy reform efforts, but the real message is that marijuana should only be used by responsible adults, and it seems to be sinking in. Regulating marijuana for adults reinforces that message and creates effective mechanisms for making it more difficult for teens to obtain marijuana,” said Morgan Fox, senior communications manager for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and regulation gives adults the legal option to choose the safer substance.”

The post National Survey Shows Teen Use Dropping, Possible Substitution for Alcohol in Adults appeared first on MPP Blog.

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House Committee Blocks Medical Marijuana Protection Amendment

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 11:35

An amendment that would keep the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana programs was voted “out of order” by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, preventing the House from including it in its version of the FY 2018 federal budget.

This amendment, introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would prevent the Department of Justice from spending any resources to target medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a similar budget amendment in the Senate, which was approved in a committee voice vote in July.

In 2014, Congress passed a similar amendment to an omnibus-spending bill. This amendment was subsequently renewed, but it now stands to expire on September 30 unless the Senate version of the budget is approved in a joint House/Senate conference committee or Congress fails to pass a budget.

If the amendment is not included in the budget or carried over, the Department of Justice will have nothing to prevent it from targeting state medical marijuana programs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly stated that he opposes marijuana being legal for any reason and in May sent a letter to Congress urging it to vote down the amendment and allow him to resume prosecuting medical marijuana providers.

MPP’s Don Murphy released the following statement:

When an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose federal interference in state medical marijuana programs, it is unconscionable not to let their Representatives vote on whether to continue this policy. Unless Congress chooses the Senate budget version, millions of seriously ill patients and the legitimate businesses that provide them with safe access to their medicine will be at risk of prosecution.

“This vote is a slap in the face of patients, their families, their elected representatives, and the 10th Amendment.

UPDATE: A federal budget deal has extended the medical marijuana protections until Dec. 8, but inclusion in the final budget for next year is still in danger.

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Indiana Republican Introducing Medical Marijuana Legislation Next Session

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 14:50

In August, Republican Representative Jim Lucas announced that he is planning to introduce medical marijuana legislation in the upcoming legislative session in Indiana. This is great news for the Hoosier State! Last fall, a poll commissioned by WTHR/Howey Politics found that 73% of voters in Indiana support medical marijuana legislation.

Will you ask your lawmakers to stand with voters and protect Indiana patients? If you are an Indiana resident, please urge your lawmakers to support Rep. Lucas’ medical marijuana bill.

We are so excited that a Republican has stepped up to help champion medical marijuana legislation. It’s not always easy to stand up for what you believe in, so please take a second and send a “thank you” to Rep. Jim Lucas.

The post Indiana Republican Introducing Medical Marijuana Legislation Next Session appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Republican Congressman Urges Conservatives to Support Medical Marijuana Ahead of Crucial Budget Rules Vote

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:41

On Tuesday after Congress returned from recess, Rep. Dana Rohrbacher published a column in the Washington Post asking his conservative colleagues to support his budget amendment that would protect state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers from federal interference.

Not long ago, a supporter of mine, visiting from California, dropped by my Capitol office. A retired military officer and staunch conservative, he and I spent much of our conversation discussing the Republican agenda.

Finally, I drew a breath and asked him about an issue I feared might divide us: the liberalization of our marijuana laws, specifically medical marijuana reform, on which for years I had been leading the charge. What did he think about that controversial position?

“Dana,” he replied, “there are some things about me you don’t know.” He told me about his three sons, all of whom enlisted after 9/11.

Two of his sons returned from the battlefield whole and healthy. The third, however, came home suffering multiple seizures each day. His prospects were bleak.

His medical care fell under the total guidance of the Department of Veterans Affairs, whose doctors came under federal restraints regarding the treatments they could prescribe. (Among the treatments allowed were opioids.) Nothing worked.

Finally, a sympathetic doctor advised our young hero to see him in his private office, where he could prescribe medication derived from cannabis. The prescription worked. The seizures, for the most part, ceased.

“Dana,” said my friend, “I could hug you right now for what you’ve been doing, unknowingly, for my son.”

What had I been doing? With my Democrat friend Sam Farr, the now-retired California congressman, I wrote an amendment to spending bills that prohibits the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana cases in states where voters have legalized such treatment. The amendment passed two consecutive years, the second time with a wider margin than the first, and has been extended through continuing resolutions and an omnibus spending bill.

Unfortunately, my longtime friend Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, has urged Congress to drop the amendment, now co-sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). This, despite President Trump’s belief, made clear in his campaign and as president, that states alone should decide medical marijuana policies.

I should not need to remind our chief law enforcement officer nor my fellow Republicans that our system of federalism, also known as states’ rights, was designed to resolve just such a fractious issue. Our party still bears a blemish for wielding the “states’ rights” cudgel against civil rights. If we bury state autonomy in order to deny patients an alternative to opioids, and ominously federalize our police, our hypocrisy will deserve the American people’s contempt.

You can read the whole article here.

The amendment must be approved by the House Rules Committee in order to get a vote, where it will likely be approved for the FY 2018 federal budget. If it is not, a conference committee will need to choose the Senate version of the budget later this month. If one of these two options doesn’t happen, medical marijuana patients and providers will be open to federal prosecution once again.

We can’t let these protections expire. Please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support medical marijuana, and to ask their colleagues on the House Rules Committee to rule the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment “in order.”

The post Republican Congressman Urges Conservatives to Support Medical Marijuana Ahead of Crucial Budget Rules Vote appeared first on MPP Blog.

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