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Updated: 23 hours 14 min ago

California Bureau of Cannabis Control accepting public comments on proposed rules

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 06:04

Members of the public are invited to provide comments on California’s proposed rules for cannabis businesses. The Bureau of Cannabis Control and other agencies seek public comments as they consider a permanent set of rules — replacing those temporarily in place.

For background, including the text of the proposed rules, summaries, and the agencies’ reasoning for seeking changes, visit the state’s website. Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 27.

For the most part, permanent rules would mirror those currently in place – but there are some key differences. A big improvement is a clarifying statement that adults 21 and older could receive cannabis deliveries at their own homes, statewide. This is a much-needed solution for those who live in parts of the state that have banned retail sales.

Unfortunately, the transition from illicit to legal sales has not gone as quickly as many had predicted in California, due in large part to rural communities that have refused to allow legal sales. By ensuring that deliveries are available for adults everywhere, consumers are given an option for safe, discreet, and legal sales.

Not all proposed rule changes are positive. One change would limit medical cannabis dispensaries to the sale of cannabis products and branded merchandise, preventing them from offering holistic health services such as counseling and support.

If you are a California resident, take a look at the proposed rules and be sure to send comments so they can be received before the deadline on the 27.

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MPP has a new executive director!

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 05:56

We’re pleased to announce that Steve Hawkins has been named the new executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. Steve brings three decades of experience fighting for criminal justice reform, having previously served in leadership roles at the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, and the Coalition for Public Safety.

The entire MPP staff is thrilled to welcome Steve to our organization.

Steve began his career as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund challenging racial disparities in the criminal justice system. He later served as executive vice president of the NAACP, spearheading its efforts to end the police practice of “stop and frisk” in New York City and successfully encouraging the NAACP board of directors to adopt a policy in support of marijuana decriminalization. Steve also previously served as executive director of Amnesty International USA, as a program executive for the Atlantic Philanthropies, and as a senior program manager at the JEHT Foundation. You can read a more detailed biography here.

The marijuana reform movement has made incredible gains in the past several years but there’s still a great deal of work ahead. With Steve leading our experienced and talented team of reformers, and with your support, MPP will continue to enact medical marijuana and marijuana legalization laws that serve the interests of the American people.

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Vermont’s primary election is tomorrow

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 13:34

Check out our updated voter guides to learn where candidates for state legislature and governor stand on cannabis regulation!

The Vermont state primary election will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14. If you are a Vermont resident and haven’t already voted, please check out our legislative voter guide to learn where candidates for state legislature stand on marijuana policy. Then, please read our guide on the candidates for 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.

We have updated the gubernatorial voter guide to include a fifth candidate, state Sen. John Rodgers, who is running as a write-in candidate. At a recent public forum, all five Democratic candidates talked about their support for taxing and regulating cannabis.

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

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Connecticut primary election will take place Tuesday, August 14

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 10:01

Strong contrast emerges between Democratic candidates for attorney general

The Connecticut primary election will take place next Tuesday, August 14. If you’re a Connecticut resident and you’re not sure how or where to vote, please visit the secretary of state’s website for more information.

On the Democratic ticket, both candidates for governor and both candidates for lieutenant governor have said they support taxing and regulating marijuana. However, in the race for attorney general, there is a strong contrast between the Democratic candidates’ positions. At a recent debate, former U.S. Attorney Chris Mattei spoke strongly in favor of regulating marijuana, while the other two candidates, state Rep. William Tong and state Sen. Paul Doyle, “expressed reservations.” Additionally, Mattei has criticized Tong for his failure to support the medical cannabis bill when it passed in 2012.

None of the five Republican candidates for governor have spoken publicly in favor of ending marijuana prohibition.

The post Connecticut primary election will take place Tuesday, August 14 appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Medical marijuana initiative filed in Mississippi

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 09:43

Yesterday, Mississippians for Compassionate Care filed an initiative with the Secretary of State’s office that would make medical marijuana legal in Mississippi. The group is aiming to bring an amendment to the state constitution to voters in 2020. The first step to getting it on the ballot is to collect over 100,000 signatures from all over the state. You can read the proposed amendment here.

The signature collection is a huge undertaking and the campaign will need lots of volunteers to circulate petitions in their area. If you are a Mississippi resident who is willing to help collect signatures, please email the signature collection coordinator: JB Brown.

For more information on the campaign or to get involved, please go to www.medicalmarijuana2020.com. It’s time for patients suffering in Mississippi to have access to medical marijuana.

The post Medical marijuana initiative filed in Mississippi appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Oklahoma medical cannabis law takes effect; revisions to problematic regs proposed

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 13:18

Yesterday, the penalty-reduction piece of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana initiative became operational. Individuals possessing up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis face a reduced penalty — a misdemeanor fine of up to $400 — if they “can state a medical condition.”

Meanwhile, regulators made application materials available online for patients and caregivers, along with information for businesses and physicians. It will begin accepting applications on August 25.

In another encouraging development, regulators released proposed revisions to many of the problematic final regulations. The Board of Health will meet on August 1 at 3:00 p.m. to consider them.

Draft revisions (summarized here) would make several welcome changes, including:

• Removing the ban on selling smokeable cannabis and edibles;
• Removing the THC cap;
• Removing the requirement that pharmacists dispense cannabis;
• Making the physician registration optional;
• Removing the requirement that doctors subject all “females of childbearing age” to a pregnancy test before recommending cannabis; and
• Removing the limitation on hours of operation, which banned Sunday sales.

However, we still have some concerns, including that:

• Patients who are tenants must obtain their landlords’ written permission to cultivate. Given federal law, even landlords who are open to cultivation may be unwilling to assent in writing.
• Physicians must to “ascertain” if a female is pregnant or likely to become pregnant before recommending cannabis. This strong language may essentially require pregnancy tests for many women, which is patronizing and invasive and drives up costs.
• Physicians must provide an in-person medical exam within 30 days of the certification. Oklahoma allows telemedicine for most medications.

Comments can be submitted to omma@ok.gov.

These proposed revisions follow a lawsuit filed by the Oklahoma ACLU on behalf of advocates, and advice from Attorney General Mike Hunter that some regulations exceeded the department’s authority.

If you live in Oklahoma, please speak out and spread the word. Congratulations again to everyone who worked to pass SQ 788!

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Vermont: Primary election voter guide published

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 08:11

Early voting is already underway for the Vermont state primary election, which is scheduled for Tuesday, August 14.

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.

If you are a Vermont resident, please take time to read our voter guide for state legislative races and our gubernatorial voter guide before you vote in the August 14 primary. Then, please share the voter guides with your family and friends!

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

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Maine Legislature overrides Gov. LePage on medical marijuana reform

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:42

Earlier this month, the Maine Legislature overrode Gov. LePage’s vetoes of LD 238 and LD 1539, bills to improve Maine’s medical marijuana program. LD 238 allows for third-party extraction of medical marijuana. LD 1539 is the culmination of the Health and Human Services Committee’s session-long work reforming the medical marijuana program.

The bipartisan omnibus reform bill:

  • removes the qualifying condition list so that any Mainer can use medical marijuana so long as their doctor thinks it would be helpful for them;
  • eliminates the requirement that a patient must designate a caregiver or dispensary as their sole provider, allowing for more patient choice;
  • adds two more dispensaries to the existing eight dispensaries and removes the cap on the dispensaries after January 1, 2021;
  • allows for caregivers to open storefronts, if the town approves; and
  • much more…you can read a summary of the changes here.

These reforms are a win for the patients and the industry, and a hearty “Congratulations!” is in order for everyone that worked hard to make this happen.

The post Maine Legislature overrides Gov. LePage on medical marijuana reform appeared first on MPP Blog.

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N.J. hits pause on low-level marijuana prosecutions

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 09:06

It was a confusing news cycle, with Jersey City’s municipal prosecutor, Jake Hudnut, releasing a memo effectively decriminalizing marijuana locally and state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal declaring that action invalid. Now, AG Grewal has told all prosecutors to “adjourn” (postpone) marijuana prosecutions in municipal court until at least September 4, when his office will issue new guidance.

Hopefully, the state will legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana prior to that, and people with pending cases will never be prosecuted. If you are a New Jersey resident, your lawmakers need to hear from you! Please click here to ask them to end New Jersey’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition today, before one more person is branded with a criminal conviction for choosing to use a substance safer than alcohol.

In other good news, Asm. Jamel Holley announced plans to propose amendments to improve upon Sen. Nick Scutari’s bill to tax and regulate marijuana, such as making it easier to expunge prior marijuana convictions. We hope the final bill will also include small business opportunities and provisions that ensure that people harmed by prohibition have an opportunity to participate in all aspects of the industry.

The post N.J. hits pause on low-level marijuana prosecutions appeared first on MPP Blog.

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New Jersey announces it’s doubling the number of medical marijuana businesses

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 15:13

Good news! Today, the New Jersey Department of Health announced that it will begin accepting applications for six additional businesses that can grow, process, and sell medical cannabis in the state. The winning businesses are supposed to be announced on November 1. Unfortunately, there is no provision yet for equity applicants, although applicants may be awarded up to 50 (out of 1,000) points for diversity.

With the tiny number of existing businesses, patients have experienced supply shortages and high prices due to a lack of competition. Today’s expansion should help begin to address these problems, although more will need to be done. Separating the licenses for growing, processing, and selling cannabis will help make many more types of products available to patients, and the health department plans to consider additional applications for these licenses beginning in the fall.

In other news, while the June 30 budget deadline came and went without legislative action on any of the pending marijuana bills, Senate President Steve Sweeny has said he believes there could be a vote on legalizing and regulating this summer.

If you are a New Jersey resident, click here to ask for your lawmakers’ support.

The post New Jersey announces it’s doubling the number of medical marijuana businesses appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Oklahoma Board of Health restricts voters’ marijuana law

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 13:17

On June 26, 57% of Oklahoma voters approved SQ 788 — a broad medical marijuana initiative that required swift implementation.

The Department of Health had been working for three months on regulations in case the initiative passed and swiftly released draft emergency regulations. MPP and many other advocates and patients submitted comments raising concerns, flagging several regulations that included onerous restrictions inconsistent with SQ 788.

Unfortunately, yesterday the Board of Health met to consider those regulations and approved almost all of the regulations we expressed concern about. They also added new restrictions — such as prohibiting the sale of smokeable cannabis.

The rules:

• Prohibit cannabis from being sold with more than 12% THC in infused products and prohibit plants from exceeding 20% THC.
• Prohibit dispensaries from selling smokeable, flower cannabis, and edible cannabis.
• Require each dispensary to have a pharmacist on staff.
• Require physicians to register before making recommendations, complete medical cannabis-specific training, and screen patients for substance abuse, mental health issues, and whether the patient presents a risk for diversion.
• Require physicians to perform a pregnancy test on “females of childbearing years” before recommending cannabis.

These restrictions will deprive some patients of the medicine that works best for them, while driving up costs and driving down doctor participation.

Advocates are considering next steps, including possible litigation. Stay tuned for updates. Also, we want to express our hearty congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to pass SQ 788!

The post Oklahoma Board of Health restricts voters’ marijuana law appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Minnesota patients with autism and sleep apnea now qualify for medical cannabis

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 14:46

Last November, the Minnesota Department of Health approved adding autism spectrum disorders and obstructive sleep apnea as qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program. Under state law, the additions take effect the following summer.

Starting on July 1, 2018, patients with a doctor’s certification and either of those conditions could begin registering for the program. They can start accessing medical cannabis no sooner than August 1. Our allies at Sensible Minnesota offer one-on-one assistance to patients who need help navigating the process. Learn more here.

Congratulations to Sensible Minnesota and to all the advocates and health professionals who were involved in petitioning to expand the program!

Sensible Minnesota is now working on petitions to expand the program to include opioid use disorder, hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury, and insomnia.

If you are a Minnesota medical professional who might be willing to add your voice to the petition, contact Sensible Minnesota at 952-529-4420 or by email.

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Hawaii governor considering medical cannabis/opioid bill

Fri, 07/06/2018 - 06:13

Earlier this year, the Hawaii Legislature overwhelmingly approved SB 2407, which would allow opioid and substance use disorders, and their symptoms, to be treated with medical cannabis if a physician recommends it. But last week, Gov. David Ige announced he intends to veto this compassionate bill.

Medical cannabis can ease the devastating symptoms of opiate withdrawal and make it easier for individuals to stay on treatment regimens. For some, this is an issue of life or death.

The governor has until July 10 to act on the bill. If you are a resident of Hawaii, please call Gov. Ige at 808-586-0034 or send him an email to urge him to reconsider. We’ve provided some talking points and a draft email message to make the process easy.

The post Hawaii governor considering medical cannabis/opioid bill appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Rhode Island legislative session ends…and the election season begins

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 13:37

The 2018 Rhode Island legislative session recently came to a disappointing close. By extending its unproductive marijuana study commission into next year and failing to expand the number of medical marijuana compassion centers, the General Assembly has once again ignored the overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders who support sensible marijuana policy reform.

If you are a Rhode Island resident…

The best way to make your voice heard now is to become active in local elections. When candidates hear from voters about an issue on the campaign trail, they’re far more likely to take action when elected.

If you see a campaign event happening in your district, attend and ask candidates if they will push for legislation to legalize marijuana. Make sure they know that your support for them depends, in part, on their support for ending the senseless policy of marijuana prohibition.

During the 2019 legislative session, MPP plans to launch a robust legalization effort in Rhode Island. Getting involved in local elections is the most effective way for you to help us lay the groundwork for victory next year.

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New Hampshire’s “drug czar” speaks against marijuana legalization

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 13:31

The walls of marijuana prohibition have crumbled all around New Hampshire. It is now legal for adults in all three neighboring states to grow and possess cannabis, and retail sales will soon become a reality in Massachusetts, Maine, and Canada.

Sadly, Gov. Chris Sununu continues to oppose legalization, in part because he continues to rely on terrible advice from New Hampshire’s so-called “drug czar,” former Manchester police chief David Mara. Last week, during an appearance at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Mara went on camera and offered an incredibly weak argument in defense of the status quo.

In other news, Senate Democratic leader Jeff Woodburn has launched an online petition calling for Sununu to support legalization. Sen. Woodburn announced last month that he intends to sponsor a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis in 2019.

If you are a New Hampshire resident, please call Gov. Sununu’s office today — tell him it’s time to stop listening to Chief Mara and start listening to the people of New Hampshire, who overwhelmingly support ending marijuana prohibition!

The post New Hampshire’s “drug czar” speaks against marijuana legalization appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Georgia PTSD and intractable pain patients may now enroll in low-THC oil program

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 13:31

Georgians suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and those with intractable pain may begin signing up for the state’s low-THC oil program. A bill passed earlier this year, House Bill 65, went into effect on July 1, adding these two serious conditions.

Intractable pain is devastating and is often defined as constant and excruciating. Those who experience it sometimes turn to reliance on opioid medications. While low-THC oil may not replace opioids for these patients, many have found medical cannabis products can allow them to use fewer opioids by reducing pain levels, helping patients maintain appetite and serving as a sleep aid. It can be an important new tool in a treatment program.

Many who suffer from PTSD can also find relief through use of medical cannabis products. This debilitating disease can affect all aspects of a person’s life, and like intractable pain, pharmaceutical drugs used to treat the condition can themselves cause harm. Veterans and those experiencing PTSD deserve a safer alternative.

The state’s program has grown in recent years, but Georgia’s limited, low-THC approach remains flawed. While patients have some protections, there is no regulatory system behind production or sale, leaving access to cannabis in the shadows. We hope Georgia can improve its program when lawmakers reconvene in 2019.

While short of a complete solution, these changes are welcome.

The post Georgia PTSD and intractable pain patients may now enroll in low-THC oil program appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Legalization becomes reality in Vermont

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 07:50

It’s a big day. July 1, 2018 will go down in Vermont’s history as the day the state officially stopped punishing adults for consuming marijuana.

Residents of Vermont are seeing the fruits of our movement’s tireless efforts to reform harmful and ill-conceived marijuana laws. Adults can now legally possess, consume, and grow limited amounts of marijuana. Read our summary of the law here.

MPP was a primary driving force behind this victory – and we’re currently on the front lines of legalizing marijuana in many other states, too.

Days like these are powerful reminders of what we can achieve together. Many of you have made one-time contributions in the past and others make monthly donations. Thank you. You are part of these victories, too. We are only able to do this work because thousands of allies across the country support our work.

MPP has big plans to continue changing marijuana laws around the country in the next two years. Through the dedicated work of our teams throughout the country, we could see up to eight more states legalize by mid-2020. But what we can achieve is limited by our funding. Our success depends on you.

Together, we are bringing the era of marijuana prohibition to an end. Let’s keep going.

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Don’t miss the MPP and NJCIA Golf Tournament in New Jersey on July 15

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 11:47

In partnership with the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association (NJCIA), the Marijuana Policy Project is bringing supporters together for a friendly golf competition at the Linwood Country Club in New Jersey as we ramp up legalization efforts statewide. Please join us just across the bay from Atlantic City as we bring policymakers, politicians, cannabis industry experts, and friends together for a round of golf followed by a cocktail reception on Sunday, July 15.

We are grateful to Gov. Phil Murphy for his commitment to ending marijuana prohibition in New Jersey. As a trusted leader in marijuana policy reform, MPP has worked on the front lines of changing marijuana policies and laws, both federal and state, for 23 years. Our event partner, the NJCIA, is the state’s largest nonprofit trade organization dedicated to advancing the legalization of cannabis through sensible policies that optimize the responsible growth and development of New Jersey’s cannabis industry.

FORMAT OF PLAY:
Better ball scramble

SCHEDULE FOR THE DAY:
1 p.m.: Afternoon Shotgun Start FOR GOLFERS ONLY
5-8 p.m.: Cocktail Reception and BBQ, Awards Ceremony and Program

REGISTRATION INFORMATION:
Individual Golfer: $350 per person
Foursome: $1,400 per foursome
Cocktail Reception and BBQ ONLY: $125 per person

For sponsorship opportunities or for more information, please contact Dara Servis of the NJCIA at dservis@newjerseycia.org.

Registration fee for golfers includes food and beverages during the day and also includes the cocktail reception and barbecue at the al fresco bar and dining patio overlooking the course. Menus are created by the same legendary team behind the acclaimed Dock’s Oyster House, Knife and Fork Inn, and Harry’s Oyster Bar in Atlantic City.

LODGING INFORMATION:
Bally’s Casino in Atlantic City
Number to call for room registration: (888) 516-2215
Group Name: NJCIA Room Block
Group Code: SB07NJ8 Bally’s
For online booking, use this link.

 

This event will sell out, so register today!

The post Don’t miss the MPP and NJCIA Golf Tournament in New Jersey on July 15 appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Delaware House majority votes to legalize cannabis, but bill fails

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 11:36

On the evening of June 27, the Delaware House of Representatives voted 21-15 (with five not voting) to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults. This was only the third time that the majority of a state legislative chamber voted to legalize and regulate marijuana!

Unfortunately, however, a majority was not enough. A three-fifths supermajority — 25 votes — is required for any Delaware bill that includes taxes and fees.

While we are disappointed that this will not be the year Delaware legalizes marijuana, together we’ve made tremendous progress. This is an election year, and we’ll be putting together a candidate questionnaire and voter guide, so stay tuned! Helping elect allies is an important way to make sure prohibition ends sooner rather than later in Delaware.

If you are a resident of Delaware …

Please take a moment to email your state representative to thank them if they voted “yes” or to politely express disappointment if they didn’t. (Many voters and lawmakers alike evolve on the issue, and it’s crucial that we don’t alienate lawmakers.) Once you type in your contact information, a draft email will appear based on how your representative voted.

You may also want to send a note of gratitude to the remarkable legislative champions, Rep. Helene Keeley and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, to thank them for their relentless work. They are both retiring from the legislature, and they championed both medical cannabis and decriminalization, too.

In other news, a bill to make it easier to expunge marijuana possession convictions passed the Senate in May and is on the House floor now. Please also call your representative to ask them to vote “yes” on SB 197 so that Delaware will stop derailing dreams for conduct that is decriminalized.

The post Delaware House majority votes to legalize cannabis, but bill fails appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Compassion wins: Oklahoma legalizes medical marijuana!

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 11:24

Mark another victory down for 2018. Oklahoma just became the 30th state to approve medical marijuana, as voters approved SQ 788 57% to 43%!

Despite an advertising blitz from opponents in the final days before the election, the Yes on 788 team emerged victorious. Thanks to the campaign’s efforts — and the voters of Oklahoma — tens of thousands of patients will soon be able to safely access medical marijuana with approval from their doctor.

The passage of State Question 788 highlights the strength and diversity of public support for laws allowing the medical use of marijuana. It is noteworthy that this measure passed in such a red state during a primary election, when voter turnout tends to be older and more conservative than during a general election.

Oklahoma lawmakers now plan to pass legislation to implement State Question 788. Read a summary of SQ 788 here.

The win in Oklahoma shows that our movement for sensible and compassionate marijuana policies is growing stronger and stronger. Later this year, voters in Utah and Michigan will also have an opportunity to approve legalization initiatives. Please consider supporting these important efforts:

>> Donate to the Utah medical marijuana campaign.

>> Donate to the Michigan legalization campaign.

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